It’s hard to sum up a whole year in one little post. Especially a year where Jack has changed so so much. I wrote for my “Year Two” post that I couldn’t believe how much Jack had learned. Well, not surprisingly, he’s learned even more than I could have imagined. Let’s just get this part out of the way first. Regarding, I guess we’ll say “academics”, Jack is pretty much killing it. He’s so far ahead of most of his peers that it’s crazy. I don’t say this to brag because he’s behind in other areas (we’ll get to that later), but in regards to letters, numbers, reading, and math, the kid is approaching (or at?) kindergarten level. According to the kindergarten teachers I know of course. He can count in the thousands, millions, and even loves to yell at me that “a billion has NINE zeros!!” I would say the eeriest thing about him is his uncanny ability to remember numbers of things. I call him “Rainman” and it’s really not that far off. Right now, sitting in our living room, I could ask him how many aisles Vons has and he would tell me. And Home Depot, and Target, and Trader Joes, and CVS, and every other store that we’ve been in. And, sure, we’ve been in Vons a lot of times….but he can do it after one trip to a store. Then there’s the counting. For the past six months he has labeled each fountain we drive past a number. So on the way to preschool we pass fountain #3, near his friend Owen’s house is fountain #4, etc. The amazing thing is that fountains #1 and 2 are literally ones we've driven past once. And never again. But he kept that tally and added on throughout the months. He calls everyone’s cars by their license plate numbers…taking the last couple digits. So one day he talked about Grandma coming to visit in “84” and I had no clue what he was talking about. Well, sure enough, her car’s last two numbers are 84. He knows my car, his daddy’s, his grandma’s, his grandpa’s, his aunt’s, etc. There have been many times when we’ve gotten a number after ordering food at a place like Poquito Mas or some other little restaurant. Well, weeks later Jack can tell us what our number was at that restaurant. And he’s always right. He’s literally never been wrong so John and I use him as a fact checker.
He seems to be learning to read all on his own. I certainly don’t do anything actively to teach him but all of a sudden he’ll read something and I’ll be amazed. New words every week. And he loves writing his lowercase and uppercase alphabet letters. He spends so much time outside with his chalk drawing all of the letters and numbers. The other week at school his teacher literally ran up to me at pick-up and said “Jack was SO AMAZING today!” I got excited thinking that maybe he talked a ton during circle time or really participated in dance class like a superstar. Instead she says, “Jack wrote all of the numbers up to 20 and then wrote the whole alphabet!” I was like, “Yeah”. Big deal lady. But she was shocked. I guess they hung up his paper in class after she walked it around to the teachers of the 4 year old class and the 5 year old class.
One of John’s special bonds with Jack is music. He makes Jack mix CDs in sort of a dictionary or encyclopedia style. So he has an “A-B” cd, an O-P-Q” cd, a “R-S” cd, etc. Jack has them all memorized. And not just the song lyrics but the track numbers. He can hear a song on the radio and tell us exactly what number track it is on his CD. He loves to sit and watch John play the songs on his guitar. He’ll yell out “song number 11!” and John will play that song and then he’ll go “next!” and be able to tell him that the next song is a Talking Heads song or Rolling Stones song. But if he gets to a jazz or rap song, he tells John to skip it because “I’m sorry, there’s no guitar in those songs.” So funny.
The biggest change this year for Jack though has been preschool and his socialization. He’s come so far in that area. I think part of it is just growing up and the other part has been being in a preschool away from mommy. At two years I wrote that Jack, in a big crowd, throws a tantrum and runs to mommy. And that he never plays “with” his friends. Well, I am happy to say that’s not the case anymore! He certainly isn’t Mr. Social and never will be. But he has become much more comfortable with kids. He still prefers smaller groups (FOR SURE) but is able to head off to preschool with no tears and sit down and just start drawing or doing puzzles or whatever. And now he actually plays WITH his best friends. It’s awesome. The boys that he has known for years he plays so well with. They’ll chase each other and giggle or push bikes and draw together. John and I went to a parent-teacher conference the other week at school and it was pretty illuminating. Or at least just confirmed our own thoughts. At school, Jack will play really well one-on-one with kids. If the group gets too big or too loud or too chaotic, he sort of retreats and wants nothing to do with it. He’ll read by himself in the corner. During the weekly “enrichment” classes of gymnastics or dance or whatever, he is VERY slow to join in. I believe it took about 4 weeks of observing gymnastics before he would actually sit with the group. And then a few more weeks before he would actually get up and attempt a somersault, etc. But the teachers were always fine with it because it’s not like he wasn’t participating and then running around and distracting the class. No, he was paying strict attention and watching every move. They say he has his own mind and won’t be swayed by peer pressure or anything else. He’s going to do what he wants to do. I was worried for awhile when I kept seeing him playing alone until I realized it’s not like the kids were shunning him. Quite the opposite. They beg him to play and some days he just ignores them and does his own thing. In that way, he’s just like his daddy. Totally secure and confident and not swayed by peer pressure or what people think of him. Hopefully it serves him well in the future.
Now on to that stuff that Jack is still working on. Let’s see… There is potty training. Or a complete lack of potty training. He is NOT INTERESTED. Like, at all. Not even an iota. I would say that 90% of his friends his age are out of diapers but not him. Sigh. It’s not that fun having two kids in diapers but I suppose there are benefits to not having to use every gross public park bathroom in town. His hard-nosed pediatrician and his teacher surprisingly both told me to ignore it. That, someone like Jack was just going to one day decide he doesn’t want diapers and that will be it. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later so I’m not still talking about this in my “Year 4” letter. In the past few months he’s gotten good at utensils and drinking out of a regular cup. Though I wouldn’t say he has mastered either. Which I know is so late but, what can I say? Maybe I didn’t give him enough opportunities to practice. But he’s fine now so we’re okay. He still can’t undress or dress himself so I suppose we need to work on that this year. The really cute thing is that he’s just gotten into taking showers. He loves it! And who wouldn’t? He gets in there and turns it on himself and takes his time and sings songs. Then he turns it off, opens the shower door and yells “I’m done!”
Watching Jack become a big brother has been so lovely. It was rough at first (VERY ROUGH) but Jack has bounced back and loves baby Sam now. He smothers him with hugs and I often have to tell him to back off a little. He says he can’t wait til Sam can walk and talk. There are occasions when he asks for Sam to stay home so that just Mommy and Jack can go somewhere but he’s not too bothered when I tell him that Sam can’t stay home by himself.
For my Year Two letter I wrote that I couldn’t imagine a better age than 1 to 2 because he was so sweet. And I don’t know that I can say that 2 to 3 was “better”. It was certainly different. Jack is far less “sweet” but it is also so much fun to see his imagination and intellect grow by leaps and bounds. He will sit and tell a story he’s made up for 30 minutes. He has completely independent thoughts and feelings and he can communicate so well. Of course, this year was also full of epic temper tantrums and asserting independence. But we survived. One big happy family. (Most of the time.)
So happy 3rd birthday to my lil’ Jack! I love how much he loves his daddy, his grandparents, and his aunts and uncles. He talks about them all the time and loves to visit them. I love how much he loves his new little brother (and how much Sam loves him).
I love how much he loves playing outside, getting dirty, shooting hoops, counting, and playing song after song. I love it when he sprints to me as I approach the preschool playground at pick-up time and gives me a giant hug. I love that he wants us to stay in his bed at bedtime so that he can fall asleep with either me or John.
I love his laughter and his curiosity and his mop of dirty blonde hair. Happy birthday "son #1" (as he calls himself). Don't grow up too fast.