Alexander and Emily, 4 and 1.5

Alexander at age four, some snapshots:

  • On his birthday, whenever someone told him “Happy Birthday,” he responded “Happy Birthday!” Happy Alexander’s birthday to all, indeed.
  • He’s not shy at all, and getting more and more independent and confident. This has its pros and cons. Pros: he charms the socks off of everyone he meets, he can dress himself in the mornings, brush his own teeth, put on his jacket, etc. Cons: He’s sometimes a little too brave. We had a get together for his birthday at the park behind our house. There are two ways you can get to this park — hop over our back fence (which is how we got there), or walk all the way down our street, and follow the path around the house at the end of the street and behind four other houses…sort of following the sidewalk in a long “U” shape, if that makes sense. So, we’re celebrating A’s birthday with family and neighbors, Tim had helped the kids over the fence and was supervising at the park, and the rest of the adults were hanging out on our deck. At one point, Tim looked at me and asked where Alexander was. At that same moment, Alexander appeared on the deck, coming out from the sliding door into the house. I didn’t think much of it at the time, figuring he somehow climbed back over our relatively short fence himself. Later, though, Tim asked him about it, and, you guys. Alexander, age 4, had simply walked himself home the long way — down the sidewalk behind our neighbors’ houses, around the corner, and back up the street to our house, where he let himself in the front door. All by himself. He was fine, obviously, and we live in a safe neighborhood on a quiet street, but still. My mind spun with all the things that could have happened. After that, we started having more conversations with him about the Rules for being Outside.
  • Speaking of Rules, we’ve started talking to him about things like strangers and appropriate behavior re: private parts, and all those other conversations you wish you didn’t have to have, but are an unfortunate reality. After one such conversation, Tim said to me, “I think the hardest part of parenting is going to be stripping away our kids’ blissfully innocent view of the world.” And…yeah. It is really hard.
  • Alexander has an incredible imagination. He’s so smart and creative, I can hardly stand it. He loves the Dinotrux cartoon on Netflix, and when he spotted some big construction equipment in the neighborhood, he exclaimed, “Look! REAL Dinotrux!” Of course he wanted to go see them right away, but first: “I want to put on my dragon costume and ride my bicycle so I look like a Dinotruck. Because Dinotrux have claws and wheels, and my dragon costume has claws, and my bicycle has wheels!”
  • Smart as he is, he has no real concept of time or measurement, though he tries really hard. I’ll ask him how long it’s going to take him to put his socks on: “Probably about a million hours.” Or how big something is: “About five units.” How many blueberries does he want for dinner? “Twenty-eleven!”
  • He is SUPER into dinosaurs, his favorite being T-Rex. He’ll hear the washing machine making noise from an unbalanced load and say, “Mommy! I just heard a T-Rex!” We found a hole in the back yard and speculated that one of the dogs had dug it, but Alexander was quick to correct us: “I’m pretty sure it was a dinosaur. Probably an Eater-Raptor.”

Emily, at age one-and-a-half, is just as delightful as her brother, but in her own unique ways:

  • If I had to pick one term to describe Emily, it would be Fiercely Independent. She wants to do everything herself, and gets really frustrated if she can’t do it and/or you offer to help. The result is a lot of frustrated screams on her part, but also a lot of huge, proud grins when she succeeds.
  • She’s obviously very smart and understands everything you say, but she’s not saying many words yet. At last count she has fewer than 10 words. It’s so different from Alexander who, at her age, had 30+ words, but she still manages to communicate fairly successfully with us. She’s trying, occasionally, to say more words, but we suspect she’s just frustrated that she can’t speak perfectly, and it’s keeping her from wanting to try. When she does try a new word, and it doesn’t come out exactly right, she is visibly embarrassed and refuses to try again, despite our encouragement. We’re pretty sure she’s just biding her time and one of these days, seemingly out of nowhere, she’s going to whip out a full paragraph of precisely pronounced words.
  • She has opinions. She insists on picking out her own clothes each morning, and her jammies at night. And if you try to suggest that her chosen sun dress may not be the best choice for a snowy day, Lord help you. Remember the fiercely independent bit I mentioned above? Yeah, better just pair a cardigan and leggings with that sundress rather than try to convince her to wear more seasonally appropriate clothing.
  • I’m almost afraid to mention it publicly, but Emily is an amazing sleeper. I remember hours upon hours of bedtime battles with Alexander, and to this day we still sometimes have to bribe him to stay in his room after bedtime. But Emily? TOTAL opposite. I change her diaper, put her jammies on, read a quick story, and — if I’m lucky — get to snuggle her for a couple of minutes before putting her in bed. The snuggles are all for my benefit, though; she doesn’t tolerate much before she’s turning in my arms and pointing at her crib. The child asks to be put in bed. And then stays there happily once she’s there. I didn’t know children came in this model, but I highly recommend getting one like her if you can.
  • Emily’s also developing a sense of humor, and, if you ask her, she’s absolutely hilarious. Oh, were we in the car more than 30 seconds and you thought she’d keep her shoes and socks on? NOPE! Hilarious! Did you put her hair in adorable pigtails and expect it to stay that way? But look how funny it is when she pulls it down and sweeps her hair into her face again! Hilarious! Did you want her to come put her jacket on? Silly you, it’s WAY funnier for her to run down the hall as fast as she can, giggling all the way.
  • As is the case with most younger siblings, I assume, she wants to be just like her big brother and do everything that he does (except talk, apparently). Watching them play together, pausing occasionally to give each other hugs and kisses, is everything we hoped for when we decided to have a second kid.

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