Tag Archives: letters to spoon

Running too fast

Dear Spoon,

We played hooky from school yesterday. We’ve never done that before. But a too-late visit with your grandparents at the airport and too much exhaustion and stress in our house made for a decent excuse. Besides, I missed you.

We slept late, all of us. Then you and Connor and I went out to breakfast and for a hike. I don’t remember the last time we did that. Maybe not since before Connor was born. You’re still the best person in the world to hang out with. And each day I see less and less of the baby and toddler you were as more of who you will be shows through in ungainly long arms and legs, a thinning face, and grin nearly completely absent of front teeth. There is no other word for it — you are gangly, in that wonderful way that elementary kids can be. But so much more than that: you are witty, and goofy, and vibrant. You are sensitive, and sometimes mercurial, and you are oh so hard on yourself. We talked about that a lot yesterday. I wish you could see you as I see you, and know how really amazing you are.

You raced down the trail ahead of me, laughing as the dog followed at your heels, and I caught myself shouting, “Slow down!” as you reached the rocky bend near the river. It occurred to me how that one phrase is becoming a mantra when I think of you. You are so, so smart. You are often bored at school, and race through your math homework, often making a silly mistake, for which you berate yourself. Or you read one of your chapter books in an hour, but can’t really tell us what it’s about. “Slow down. There’s no extra points for finishing first.” I tell you over and over when you cry over missing a question on your math test. “Be gentle with yourself. There’s no such thing as perfect.” You are already one grade level ahead in school, and based on your most recent tests, you should skip the next one, too. But I won’t let you. Conversely, the school district has a silly rule about birthdates, which causes them to insist that you repeat first grade next year, even though you are testing at the end of second grade. To me this seems purely cruel. Slow down, but don’t go backwards. Consequently, we are wrestling with what to do for you next year.

Among our options, I am considering homeschooling you. The premise of this is overwhelming, because I am finishing my own schoolwork to return to work full time, and I’m certain I’ll still freelance here and there, and take care of you and Connor and the house, and grow our food, and… teach you? I’m not sure I have it in me, but I know I’d pull the sun from the sky if you needed me to. On the other hand, maybe homeschooling would help? No more rushing to get you out the door in the morning, and arguing with you because you don’t want to go. No more driving, driving, driving, every day. And maybe you would learn even more if you weren’t in a room with 25 other voices, some of whom you have told me that you are afraid of? Is this, perhaps, how we slow down?

Looking back over this, I realize I am writing this letter more for myself than for you. I may not show this one to you. Maybe I’ll just tell you that I want to encapsulate this time with you, because I feel you tugging farther and farther away, and I know it scares you too sometimes. I’ll just tell you that I love you, and you’re the coolest person I know, and I want you to forgive yourself for being a kid sometimes. I want you to see yourself as I see you, because at six years old, you are already your worst critic. I want to put your laughter in a bottle that I can take off the shelf and open one day when one of us needs to hear it and remember the important things, like sun and butterflies, and wading in the muddy edges of the river. When we need to stop running so fast.

I love you.

Mama

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Slow down

Dear Spoon,

You started Kindergarten today.

You were so very excited, you came running into my room at 6:30 this morning, determined not to be late by even a moment. Overjoyed by the newness of it all — new backpack, new shoes, new school, you floated through the morning.

Once we reached the school, you led the way across the meadow to your classroom, shouting over your shoulder, “Come on, Mom!” You ran up to every kid who was about your size on the way and introduced yourself, asking each of them if they were in your class. A few minutes on the playground before the bell rang, and you already had a pack of new friends.

How did you grow up so much, so fast?

The bell rang, and I asked if I could give you a hug goodbye. “Oh, okay, Mom. If you have to.” Already worried about what the other kids might think. “I have to.” I said, and I gave you a quick hug and kiss, wondering how my baby had suddenly decided to become a preteen overnight as you ran to your classroom.

Once I was back in the car, the silence was so foreign. I thought about you all day, and tried not to feel sad that in your excitement, in your sudden maturity, my status had somehow shifted. I am so happy for the person I see you becoming, and feel so grateful for every opportunity you have which I am fortunate enough to witness.

So this is the difference between parenting a toddler and parenting a kid: watching from the sidelines, and quietly cheering.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overjoyed when I met you at the end of the day and you flung yourself into my arms, words coming at a tumble: “MAMA! I missed you, Mama! I had the best day ever! We went on a hunt for a raccoon and there were clues! I have a new best friend! School is great! I love you, Mama! My teacher is awesome!”

These are the times when I get to hold tight to your smallness, and bite my tongue a little to keep from whispering, “Slow down. Stay little.”

I love you, little one.

xo,

Mama

 

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Tiny Superhero

Dear Spoon,

It has been so long since I wrote you a letter. Our days get busier as each week passes, as you race the sun to grow up (too quickly, in my opinion). You are five now. A joyful, insightful, curious, and emphatically loving child. You amaze me on a daily basis.

You wake each morning early and tumble into our room, where you crawl in bed with me and we have long talks about your dreams the night before and any number of other things — science questions, kids at school, books, cartoons, and the big goals you tell me you have for your life. You want to be a paleontologist, and sometimes a ballerina. You tell me that you plan to marry 1,000 people: every one of your friends, even the ones you haven’t met yet, because you love them all so much. You tell me I can come live with you and your 1,000 spouses, because you don’t want to be away from your mama — but you tell me we’ll need a really big house. Your pragmatism cracks me up.

Your best friends are Maeve, Annabella, Lyla, and Payden. You love school to the point that you get upset when there’s a snow day. You’re doing really well in school. You are reading on your own now, leveled readers from your teacher as well as your own storybooks. You like math, and are doing addition and subtraction easily now. Your favorite way to spend your day at school is making art, though. You come home some days with three or more finger paintings, a craft, and a crayon-drawn picture for me. You color mandalas in your yoga class that you insist must be perfect. You bring them home half-finished, and spend hours at the dining room table with your colored pencils creating masterpieces.

You are my star, bright and fearless. You love riding horses and skiing. You seek out the tiny “jumps” we let you go over on your skis in the kid terrain areas, and love winding your way through the trees. When it’s warm enough, you race down hiking trails with the dogs; the third in their little pack. You love all animals, from snails and snakes to horses and goats, and everything in between. Somehow, already at five, you have learned to stand up smiling whenever you fall. I wish I could say I taught you that. I wish I could say I did it myself. You operate on the principle that people are good and the world is joyful, even when bad things happen, and for that you are my tiny hero.

Sometimes I miss the baby you were not so very long ago, and other moments I see the person you are becoming, and am so filled with joy and pride and eagerness for you. I am so proud of you always, little one.

I love you.

xo,

Mama

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Four

Snowshoeing at Yule 2014

Dear Spoon,

It has been so long since I wrote you a letter. The moments spill into days, the days into weeks, and each evening I find we both collapse in a pile as though there is simply nothing left of us. You turned four about a week ago, and this year has been busy for you. Each day you tumble into my bed between 5 and 6 in the morning, demanding snuggles and sleep, but really wanting to tell me everything about anything. Do I remember the toy you had as a baby? There was a deer outside. You had a silly dream where you rode on a dragon’s back and ate marshmallows with him. Do I like your pink blanket? She really is the softest blanket, and therefore, you are fairly certain she is magical.

You love helping in the kitchen, and helping around the house. Sometimes, you are a little too eager to help, and make a huge mess, or get yourself into a bit of a pickle. Other days you surprise me by saying things like, “Pi cat was hungry so I fed her.” All by yourself, no big deal. Your independence will carry you far I know, though sometimes it is a source of frustration for both of us. You are caught in that place between baby and child right now, and want desperately to “be big”, while at the same time, you are scared of not being little. So I snuggle you and tell you that you will be my baby when you are 106, and let you crack the eggs for breakfast.

You started preschool this year, and you have taken it by storm. You are reading in earnest now, and you love spending time in the greenhouse and library at your school. You also love making art and “doing science to things”. You have made many friends at school, which is good, since I was very worried when we left our Iowa home to come to Colorado that you would miss your friends in Iowa. While you have missed them, you have developed so many more friendships here that you cherish.

For your birthday, you wanted to have an ice skating party, so we invited some of your school friends and their families to join us at Evergreen Lake and then have pizza at Beau Jo’s. Within ten minutes on skates, you were skating circles around everyone, and you and the other kids held hands and danced as you skated around the rink. You declared it the best day ever, and I have to agree. We got you an aquarium for your birthday, and you are so excited because you want to learn more about fish. You still want to be a marine biologist, so maybe that will stick. You picked out a few freshwater fish for your tank, and you take such good care of them. You remember to feed them, and often spend an hour at a time just watching them swim circles among the plastic castle and brightly colored rocks you placed there.

You have become quite the naturalist since we moved to Colorado. You are learning all the native trees, you identify birds with me, gather rocks and pinecones, and you are the first to spot herds of deer or elk, or the shadow of a fox slinking between the aspens. You love going on hikes with the dogs, and you recently tried snowshoes, which you also took to faster than your dad or I ever could. You still love gardening with me and at your preschool, and we are planning to put in a flower bed and a greenhouse this next spring. In the meantime, you have been bringing home forced bulbs and baby houseplants that you have started at school, and between the two of us, our house has become quite a jungle while it snows outside.

You love music, and play songs for us on your ukelele and on my old guitar. You make up songs about your friends, about the cat, about pink blanket. Your favorite song is Wailin’ Jenny’s Glory Bound — we sing it and play it over and over for you.¬†You love board games right now, and reading stories together, and playing dress up. When people meet you, they are struck by your intelligence and your kind heart, and I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t be prouder of you.

I love you,

Mama

Ice Skating at Evergreen Lake 2014

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Second midsummer

Dear Spoon,

It’s Midsummer of your second year. Another solstice has come, and I have still not done a blessing ceremony for you. Life keeps getting in the way, I suppose. First health issues, then a cross-country move, now house problems. Despite my best efforts, holidays have fallen by the wayside a bit for us. Perhaps we will welcome the universe together when the time is right. This evening, instead of a formal ceremony, I said a little prayer for you, kissed you on the forehead, and thanked you for the last two and a half years. Perhaps that is enough. Perhaps you are here to remind me that all the fussiness and formality really doesn’t matter.

I want to tell you about yourself right now, in case you do not remember when you are older. You are my fierce, fearless little girl, and you are taking two by storm these days. You begin each day with laughter, and chase ferociously after joy until we tuck you into bed each night. Everything is incredibly fun for you. You refer to everyone you meet as your “new friend”. You love to snuggle and hold hands and sit in my lap, and yet you have a stubborn independence that will occasionally bring you to tears when you can’t do things all by yourself.

You love to help around the house. You gather eggs from the chicken coop and feed the dogs each day. You love helping Aaron make pancakes on the weekends, or baking chocolate chips cookies with me during the week. (Your job is always to pour in the chocolate chips and to taste the dough.) You are wickedly funny without even realizing it; you told me the other day that you have to gather eggs from the chickens because “Mama is too old”. You play pretend and make up jokes all day long and I have to admit, though it may be my own unrefined sense of humor, you always keep me laughing. Your best friends in the world are Ella and Noah next door, and you love visiting all of the neighbors. You spend your days “helping me” in the yard or the community gardens, digging holes in the dirt and stacking rocks into your collection. You love art and reading, and we spend hours each day coloring on paper or with sidewalk chalk and reading your picture books.

You are obsessed with dinosaurs. Two of your favorite books are all about different dinosaurs and paleontology. Your favorite cartoon is “Dinosaur Train”, followed closely by “Word Girl”. Your favorite movie is “Brother Bear”. You like listening to Captain Bog & Salty and to Jimmy Buffet. Your two favorite lullabies are “I Go Like The Raven” and “A Pirate Looks at 40” (which you call “the pirate song”).

We just started doing toddler swim lessons this week which you seem to really like, despite often getting pretty cold in the pool. The first day you were in the water, jumping into my arms from the edge of the pool, blowing bubbles, and trying to stand on kickboards before the lesson even began. Yesterday, when they suggested we take all the kids down the water slide, you ran to it begging to go down. You are so brave, and the world is such a wonderful fun place for you.

Like everyone, I suppose, I worry that I am not doing enough with you or for you. Should we spend more time trying to write letters? Are you able to count past 20? Am I working too much? Should we do more “storytimes” or “play dates”? But you approach life with a wonderful casual zeal. You are passionate about everything, and you enjoy everything. Most importantly, while you are happy in a tidy structured activity, you are equally happy just running around, crayons strewn everywhere, rocks and dirt and plastic ponies and dinosaurs in your wake. Maybe you are here to remind me that it’s not always going to be perfect. That some days, time spent picking dandelion bouquets trumps bids for website optimization or blog posts. Sometimes, it’s okay to not have a plan, because you might decide to go to the park instead, or take a nap, or make art. This is why it feels okay that the only ceremony I have had for you has been a hasty prayer, a kiss, and a quick reminder that I will always be there for you, no matter what.

And I will, too.

I love you, little one,

mama

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Two.

Dear Spoon,

Now you are two. This is such a wonderful, joyful time for you. You are huge – already wearing size 3T clothes, and with grins equally over-sized. Your joy takes over a room, and your goofy laughter is infectious. You engage everyone you meet as a playmate. Just yesterday when we went to the grocery store, you were insistent on walking beside me instead of riding in the cart, just so you could run up to each person we encountered and shout out, “HI!” You later told me that they were all your friends.

Nearly every morning, you stumble across the hall from your bed into my room, mumbling, “I want to be in Mama Daddy bed.” I tuck you in next to me with your head under my chin, and hold you while you sleep for another hour. I love this time, even when I long for more sleep myself. You still like to snuggle but it has become more rare, so I try to soak up every minute I get with you like this. I’m certain it won’t be long before you are asking me to drop you off a block from the mall so none of your friends see us together.

You are growing up so fast, and want so much to do “big girl” things. You asked for a clock for your birthday, and wanted to learn how to tell time. You also asked for a tea party. Where most kids want Dora or Thomas the train, you wanted “little sammich”. I made sure to also put out a giant paper table cloth with crayons and a dozen sugar cookies to decorate. You are incredibly verbal for a kid your age, speaking entire paragraphs (often all day), and walking up to people and introducing yourself.

You are beginning to imagine when you play. Your play dough blobs are specific items which you have carefully sculpted — You tell me they are bunnies, dogs, frogs, flowers. Though one day when you handed me a carefully layered stack of play dough of different colors and I asked you what it was, you looked at me strangely, then said, “Mama, it’s clay.”, which I still laugh about. You love having tea parties with your stuffed animals and the cat. You are obsessed with reading and with making art. Your best friends in the world are Noah and Ella, who live next door. They are five and ten, respectively. Sadie is also still at your side constantly, as I imagine she will be for at least a dozen more years. You love taking her for walks, and will cry if you wake up and she is not asleep on her dog bed next to your bed.

When you look back at this time, I hope you know how creative and joyful you are at this age. How the world is such fun for you, and how much sweetness there is in your life. I hope you know how willingly you share all things, but especially your joy. You fill my days.

Nearly every day, I wish I could put this time in a box and keep it forever. I wish I could keep you this small for the rest of my life. So I lock each day up in my heart, and pray that when the time comes that I need this sweetness, it will still be there. I’m nearly certain it will.

I love you right up to the moon and back, Little One.

Mama

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Paint the world in joy

Dear Audrey,

Today you are one. You woke today as you usually do, babbling and laughing in your crib. We carried you into our bed and sang “Happy birthday” to you. You seemed to think that was the best thing ever. Later, presents, macaroni and cheese, the first taste of cake, and the resultant mid-day bath made this a pretty great day for you, I think.

You are boundless joy and determination at this age. You know several words, and are determined to learn more each day. I watch you consistently working through phonemes, and wonder when you really started to work out those first few words: “Mama”, “Dada”, “Cat”, “Hi”… It seems you may have started practicing those on day one. You practice all those things you really want to try; you often whisper a words for days before you say it, and you have spent the last month and a half almost walking. I’m fairly certain that you can walk at any moment, as soon as you realize you can. I also know that you will not be the child to quietly let go of our hands and take a few tentative steps — you will only be happy if you can suddenly stand up and cross the room on your own. So, I continue to offer my hand and wait until you are ready. And you grin and giggle as you stumble alongside of me. My big girl.

You love people; you constantly wave at strangers and you have an uncanny knack for finding those who will not only wave back, but will play with you for several minutes. You also love dogs of all sorts, and I occasionally worry that you will crawl up to one and begin chewing on it and petting it before we can explain to you that it may be less receptive than your dog, whom you call “Day-dee”.

We spend our days exploring the house, playing with your toys, and playing the piano. You are absolutely in love with music, and often sit on our laps while we play the piano so you can play a “duet”. You also sing to us, your silly songs of made up baby sounds, which occasionally echo the lullabies I sing to you and make me do a double take. Not much gets past you these days.

In all, the world is a wonderful place for you, and I am so happy for that. You seem to have fun no matter where you are or what is happening; you always find a way to play and learn, and your laughter and squeals brighten every room you visit. This last year has certainly had its ups and downs for all three of us, but I am so happy that you are here to show me how wonderful and joyful the world really is. You are my light.

Happy birthday, Spoonie. I love you all the way to the moon and back.

xo,
mama.

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