I was induced at 41 weeks with you. Have I ever told you that particular detail? I cannot remember. You were finally brought into this world via an emergency c-section and after sitting in my birth canal for so long when you did come out, your head was cone-shaped. Your dad thought it was actually going to stay cone-shaped and the nurses were just being nice by not saying anything about it. In any case, at the time I just thought you were a difficult birth. In hindsight, I know that you were really mad that you had not been born on your terms. I can actually imagine you sitting inside me with your arms crossed pouting refusing to come out. You were an angry infant for the first few weeks of your life. You would sleep all day and then be up all night long. Every night I would nurse you and change your revolting diapers on a fifteen-to-thirty-minute cycle. I kept one of those journals everyone told me I was supposed to keep about when you nursed and when you slept. After awhile I stopped because it was so repetitive it seemed silly to write it down. Midnight: nurse. 12.30: change diaper. 1.00 AM: nurse. 1.15 AM: change diaper. It was, I would tell people, like living in a town being ravaged by a werewolf. Night would fall and you would start screaming. Like I said, in hindsight, I think you were just really angry about being forced into the world on someone else’s terms other than your own.
Three years later, you are actually a pretty good sleeper, not that we didn’t have to sleep train the hell out of you for months on end. But for the most part, you usually fall asleep on your own sometime between the time I shut the door at 8.00 and when I check on you around 10.00. Of course, the other night I checked on you and you were asleep on the floor with your head half under your bed. Who knows what you had been doing when sleep finally descended. But the point is not about you sleeping, it is about living your life on your terms. That part of your personality has not changed one bit and once again I feel like I am that villager living in the werewolf ravaged town except that those villagers could just keep an eye on the moon and know when to lock their doors. I feel like I am living with a land mine that could go off at the moment when I least expect it.
Just like that it’s really hard again. I am reading a book right now called Your Three Year Old, Friend or Enemy. The book, published in 1985, came before the word frenemy came into being, but that is exactly what you are right now. You are my best friend and my worst enemy rolled into one very frustrated, eager, adorable, charming, maddening little boy. But instead of being mad like an infant because you were hungry (or just mad about being born) you can tell me why you are angry and much of the time it isn’t rational at all. I know, I realize I am expecting way too much of you if I think you can be rational at three. Well, maybe it is rational, but it just seems incredibly annoying to me. If I take the iPad away from you after your allotted 30 minutes in the morning you throw yourself across the couch and scream. Where warnings of 10 more minutes, 5 more minutes used to have some effect, now we get to the end of a time period and you just flat out refuse to do anything else. Sometimes you suddenly decide that putting on your shirt is “too hard,” or that you don’t know any of the letters of the alphabet.
You collapse onto the ground at the slightest provocation and nothing short of threatening to take your favorite toys away will compel you to get up and start moving again. If I try to take you on a walk, you will stop stock-still and not move at all. You demand to be carried and when I refuse (you weigh more than 30 pounds now) you resume your soldier-like stillness and simply say, “I can’t walk.” You will crumple at the smallest thing telling me, “Don’t look at me. Don’t smile.” and you contradict every single thing that I say. If I mention that the sky looks particularly blue, you will respond, “It isn’t blue Mama. It’s red.” My favorite, because it is just so obviously meant to get a rise out of me, is at bedtime when I am closing the door and say, “I love you Luke. See you in the morning.” Your response? “I don’t love you Mama. I won’t see you in the morning.” Last week I walked into your room in the morning and you cried for ten minutes because you thought I shut the door. I am sure the teen years are even worse, because when you tell me you hate me you’ll probably mean it, but it feels like I am living with a tiny 13 year old. Nothing is ever right. Nothing will ever be right and everything I do makes you very angry. You might as well say, “You never let me do anything!” slam your door and turn on some terrible music that will give me a headache. Actually, you started asking for the Polar Express song again and you do slam your door, so we’ve got two out of the three already. Who needs 13 when you’ve got three?
It’s not all gloom and doom every minute of the day even though it feels like it some days. You finally totally understood Halloween this year and could not wait to get into your costume and go trick or treating. You are still talking about it weeks later. You were Thing One from the Cat in the Hat and everyone kept asking, “Who is going to be Thing Two?” Luckily your dad stepped into the role with a helpful sign reading, “Thing 2″ the night of Halloween. You also dressed up for Red Butte Garden’s After Dark Halloween event and had the most magical amazing time running through the twilight with your friends. The other week we took you to a model train show, which you could not get enough of. Your father and I were fairly certain that we were the only registered Democrats in the building given the number of Tea Party conversations we overheard, but you had an amazing time and managed to keep your sticky little fingers off of most of the trains most of the time.
Thanksgiving was a few days ago and you spent some time this week at home and at school talking about what you were thankful for although I am not sure you totally grasped the meaning of the word. You reported that at school you said you were thankful for the bikes. At home you said you were thankful for me, Dad, Buddy and the chickens, but I am fairly certain that came from the fact I told you I was thankful for those same things. You also said you were thankful for “all the food,” but I know that came from your Thanksgiving plate from Pottery Barn Kids printed with those same words. I think that you love us most of the time ins spite of your behavior to the contrary. You are an incredibly outgoing friendly kiddo and are rarely shy except when asked to sing your Turkey song from school; then you clam up immediately.
But a lot of our conversations are about the same topics and you repeat the same greetings and goodbye routines verbatim every morning and evening. The night we drove home from Thanksgiving with friends and your dad and I were chatting about the party and what a nice evening it had been. We were above the city and the valley was filled with twinkling lights and some houses already shone with Christmas lights. Suddenly you piped up from the backseat, “I like both your voices.” My eyes filled with tears because I could not at that moment think of anything I was more thankful for than driving in the car through the beautiful night with you and Dad and hearing that sweet completely spontaneous comment from you.