Monday, April 26, 2010

Nate's Newsletter, Four Years Seven-ish Months

Dear Nate,

Another late newsletter, another attempt to redeem myself. In my defense, you aren't changing as much, month to month, as you did when you were little - there's not always an amazing transformation to write about. But you are so special, and so particular, that I want to make sure to keep writing down the things you're doing and learning and saying to us.

You are such a mix: 2/3 of you is sweet, considerate, thoughtful, caring, concerned, and the other bit is moody, prickly, solitary, independent. Sometimes you're ripping a toy out of Jack's hand, and sometimes hunting one down to help him cheer up when he's upset. A month or so ago, you told me you wished we could always have a baby Jack's size in the house. Then you said you want him to stay two forever. I told you I did, too, and you said "Yeah, because I love him!" When he tried to crawl up onto "your" recliner the other day, you put down a hand to pull him up, and you guys shared it for the whole movie.

You are coming out of a full-blown obsession with death, now just a passing interest. It has been troubling and hard to answer your questions about death, especially with the sadness and fear you've shown about it. More than once, when we've talked about your Grandma Fredi, you've actually cried. You feel her loss as keenly as if you'd known her and loved her. We've had to stop joking about Daddy being "old" because it has sent you into long crying spells where you talk about how when Daddy dies you "won't ever see him again." It was so heartbreaking.

I wish I was a believer. I wish I had a strong, sure path to show you. The best I've been able to do is to tell you that Daddy and I will always be with you, every second of your life. That even when we die, we're with you. The first time I told you this you cocked your head to the side, considered it, and amended it with "until I die, right?" Ugh.

The sadness and fear has mostly passed, and now you ask more practical questions. A few days ago in the car on the way to school you asked me "When we all die, does the world end?" It was 8 in the morning. I am prepared for questions about where babies come from, but these death ones throw me off my game. I think I told you that when Grandma Fredi died the world kept going, and it would after we die as well. But when we have children we live on in them, just like Grandma Fredi lives through us. You seemed okay with that explanation.

You and I are having a lot more fun these days - I've gotten better at handling your pricky times and you're having less prickly times. I've been stressing the word "agreeable" with you, making sure to praise you every time you demonstrate it. It's gotten predictable enough that now, when you say "okay" to a request, you look at ME and grin and sing-song what I've been saying: "That was very agreeeeeeeable!"

There's another thing you've been doing that I'm having a hard time putting words to: you don't like me to get mad at, or discipline, anybody else. You rush to their defense immediately. One time when we were driving your friend Leo home from Pump It Up, I asked him not to talk rudely to Jack; you immediately jumped in with "He was just joking!" (He wasn't.) And when I harshly scolded Jack for leaving the house without me, making him cry, you asked me to stop, saying "But you're making him sad!"

Last week when I picked you up at school, I asked you what I always do: what was the best part of your day and what was the worst? You told me that the worst was that Leo says he's not your friend anymore. When I asked why you told me that at recess Leo and Gabriel were planning to chase and tease another little boy, Matthew, so you "told on the teacher."

You are all heart. I prayed that you'd be a man of character, and you're already showing more than I could have dreamed of.

This past weekend I took you and Jack to Charlottesville for Uncle Fred's 80th birthday. At night the three of us shared a bedroom; Jack in the crib in the middle of two twin beds. I got you tucked in and got into bed, and after it was dark and quiet for a few minutes you said "I love you Mom." I hope I never forget.

I love you.

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