In my late 20s, years seemed slip together, distinguished mainly by what vacations I took or other special events. But as a parent, the transition from one year to the next feels much weighter, with time measured in huge milestones in your child’s life. While I usually reflect on major milestones on Sprout’s birthday, I liked Mommy’s Shorts reflections on her six year old for New Years. Plus, Chris and I were just reflecting about how much Sprout has changed over the last year.
This year, Sprout learned to –
Talk and actually have conversations: At the beginning of the year, he had a handful of words, with his communication virtually all non-verbal. After his language explosion just before his second birthday, he had a much bigger vocabulary, but still lacked the grammar and understanding to put it together. But in the last six months, he’s turned into a little conversationalist. He can tell you a bit about his day, narrate what someone else is going to do (we got a multi-part explanation of Chris pouring his cereal this morning), and describe the plot of a book. He even makes jokes, which at least he thinks are hilarious. Before his bedtime, we always ask each other what our favorite thing was that day. Invariably, he answers, “My favorite thing was going to the park,” even when he knows perfectly well we didn’t go to the park that day. When we reply, as we always do, “But we didn’t go to the park today,” he just giggles.
Make-believe and tell stories: At the beginning of the year, he loved to listen to us tell stories, but didn’t have the language skills to do it on his own. Now he regularly makes us pretend food in his kitchen, including tea and apple cider. He takes it quite seriously too – he was clearly hurt the other day when he “made” me coffee the other day and I reminded him that I don’t like coffee! He also loves pretending to talk on his play phone. The other day we had a series of conversations where he talked to different relatives who were all coincidently played by me. On storytelling, he’s already picked up on our “There once was a boy named Sprout” structure. Just out of the blue one day, he told us “There once was a boy named Sprout and he loved cake.” Not much of a plot, but it’s a start! To encourage his storytelling skills, I bought him this neat deck of cards for Christmas. While he can’t use them on his own yet, he seems to enjoy making them up with Chris.
Identify his alphabet, numbers, and colors: While we don’t super-emphasize the academic stuff, we do have a bunch of alphabet and counting books. Reading the Dr. Seuss ABC book so many times (even with its made-up words) seems to actually sunk in a bit.
Sing and (sort of) make music: This child loves to sing. (Unless it’s actually in music class, of course.) Chris and Sprout have now been attending Music Together classes for over a year. While we signed him up just to get some socialization in, it seems he’s actually picked up some musical skills, including a sense of rhythm. Considering I played saxophone for eight years and still have trouble keeping a beat, I’m quite proud of him. More importantly, he really loves music. He can sing a bunch of songs (including House at Pooh Corner, albeit garbled) and when he doesn’t remember the lyrics, just sort of says “la la la.” After we put him to bed tonight, he sang “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to his stuffed animals. He got a mini-drum set and kid’s “saxophone” for Christmas and they’re some of his favorite gifts. Earlier tonight, he was pretending to use a microphone and declared, “Needs more…saxophone!” As my love of music has brought me joy in good times and comfort in difficult ones, I’m so glad that I can share that with him.
Show emotions clearly: For quite a while, Sprout’s emotions were surprisingly hard to read. When he didn’t like something a lot, he let us know, but it was difficult to tell the difference between enjoyment and tolerance. These days, he smiles and laughs easily and often. Similarly, he definitely lets us know exactly when he doesn’t like something with a series of “No no no no nos!” He’s still a serious, focused little boy when there’s something he’s really interested in or in a new situation, but he’s not like that all of the time. Earlier, we could have urged him more to show emotion, but I’m glad we respected him where he was so he could feel free to become himself.
Form opinions on things: So many opinions. It takes 15 minutes to get him dressed because he wants to pick out his own clothes, resulting in some hilariously mismatched outfits. He knows what toys he enjoys the most, especially that great love of trains. He even has specific, quirky opinions on music – he’s requested Bob Dylan several times lately! (Mr. Tamborine Man, specifically.)
Run and climb: Sprout adores running, especially around the house and at church. (The long hallway at our church with a ramp and water fountain at one end is irresistible.) While he’s still cautious, he can scramble right up the cargo net at the playground. He has an absurd amount of energy, so that I actually fall asleep on the couch some nights after putting him to bed, even when he’s chatting to his animals for the next hour.
This year has been challenging, demanding and wonderful. Watching Sprout not just grow up but grow into himself is such a privilege as a mom. I can’t wait to see what happens this year.