Earlier today, Cam asked me, “Is it hard taking care of two kiddos?”
This could mean I’m so obviously struggling that he became aware of the difficulty. But, I’d rather think he’s a curious, inquisitive and thoughtful little human. I like the idea that he is potentially a tiny but “beyond the id”.
My answer was, “Sometimes, but always worth it!”
And then I asked, “Why did you think to ask me that?”
He had a wry little smile and said, “Because we’re always doing things like eating and playing and napping….”
Come to think of it, he might be aware that it’s tough because I keep asking him “How many arms does mommy have?”
That always makes him laugh and lighten up on the requests.
Maybe I should start balancing things on my head too.
He was excited but I may have been more excited because after reading the reviews, I learned it would only take a total of 2 weeks for them to grow, go into their chrysalises and come out as butterflies. It also sounded like it was foolproof–you just keep them in their container and wait for things to happen.
Well, we got home from our egg hunt and Cam was sitting on the arm of the couch looking at his caterpillars. We were discussing where we should put them so that they’d be comfortable and safe. A place where we could watch them, but that Demi wouldn’t be able to reach.
Just then, Cam fell off the arm of the couch head first, smashing his face on the floor and crushing… no… obliterating the caterpillar habitat. I yelled for Joe, made sure Cam was okay and then immediately began picking up the plastic shards and frantically trying to locate the tiny caterpillars.
Meanwhile, Cam was crying because his hand was bleeding, which made Demi cry, which made Mila howl and amidst all the confusion we only recovered 3 of the 5 caterpillars.
We re-created the habitat with a mason jar and a coffee filter and hoped for the best.
In the end, it was a really cool process to watch. The caterpillars grew extremely fast, then one by one they attached themselves to the coffee filter lid and went into their chrysalises. One week later, the first one began to emerge and we tortured the poor thing as he warmed up and started testing out his wings. The next two came out 2 days later.
Cam has many friends, but they are all kids of friends and neighbors. In fact, if you ask him who his friends are, he says “I have 2 friends, Kaya and Morgan. I only have 2 friends, I was just born that way.”
Kaya is our neighbor across the street (she also goes to the same preschool) and Morgan is our friends’ daughter, the one who is just 8 days older than Cam. So, as far as close friends go, those are the ones he gets to play with often and that I think he feels completely comfortable with.
Cam has been going to preschool for about 8 months now and it hasn’t been easy for him. While he does great in school (his progress report confirms this and his teachers say he’s doing a good job), he still has a very hard time getting excited about school days. He cries or at least whines every school morning and has to be coaxed and urged and bribed to get ready, out the door and into school. It’s tough on us too. Well, let’s be real, mostly Joe. I don’t even witness it most days. But that’s why we’ve been so eager for him to make friends.
Every couple weeks we ask who he played with and who is friends are at school and he always answers that his best friend is Mrs. Karla. Mrs. Karla is the Director and while she’s very sweet, we’ve been waiting for the day he names a classmate.
And it happened!!! Finally!
Last night after stories and before falling asleep, we were talking about his week and I said, “I’m so glad you had a good week at school and now it’s the weekend so you won’t go back for 4 days.”
He replied, “Aww, but I’ll miss River!”
I wanted to shriek and hug him, but I had to play it cool. I said, “Oh, is River a nice person?”
And he said, “Yes, she’s nice and sometimes we play together, but sometimes people are already sitting next to her and she’s blocked. I can’t sit next to her.”
This was the second mention of River this week, so we know she’s real, but I guess we’ll have to wait to find out who this person is and if the friendship is mutual.
I’m hoping hoping hoping that this helps him get into a better place on school days. I’m also hoping River’s a cool girl and she doesn’t crush my little guy’s heart. Because if she does, I’ll have some words to share.
In the meantime, I’ll keep working on his idea of friends and that he can make new friends anytime he wants. I’ve been trying to explain to him what an ‘open mind’ is… I think he kind of gets it. We’ll see.
For at least the last year, Cam has wanted us to be the voice of his stuffed animals, bath toys, action figures, and really anything with a face and a mouth. I still remember how he used to tell us to use a voice: “he talk.”
It used to be mostly in the bathtub where we would create stories with his magnetic fishes or the Dory figurines. We’d play hide-and-seek with the otter saying “hello!” when Cam found him under the bubbles.
More recently, this has picked up steam and I estimate that approximately 50% of our communications with Cam go through his toys. Sometimes when he is being difficult or defiant, we can get him over the hump by talking like a toy. Seriously.
Just this evening when Cam said “I’m still hungry” after he’d already eaten a few different post-dinner snacks, we told him to have some of my lemon chicken. He said he didn’t like lemon chicken. And so I told him that Iron Man loves it and said like Iron Man “I love lemon chicken, yum yum yum.” Cam immediately popped up and shoved a big piece of lemon chicken in his mouth.
I especially love when Cam gets used to Joe doing a particular voice and then he asks me to make Spiderman talk, but when I do he says (totally straight faced, totally serious), “that’s not his voice.”
While it’s ridiculous sometimes, most often he is expressing such rich imagination that it is so fun to listen to. It makes me smile. I love hearing him teach his animals how to brush their teeth and why it’s important. I love listening to him talk about his plan to build a cannon to launch the cannon ball into the alien guns. I love hearing him consult monkey on whether or not we picked the right bedtime books.
Side bar: he is obsessed with Joe’s childhood action heroes. Cam doesn’t even know where they come from and has never seen a movie or even a YouTube clip of them. He calls them “the superheroes” and takes them on our walks, takes them into the bathtub, props them up in a circle and gives them game pieces for a round of “Candy World” (Candy Land). It has been a few weeks now and the novelty hasn’t worn off. I think these guys are here to stay.
“See superheroes, this is how you brush your teeth.”
I think I’ll be asking Cam to finish his dinner with Captain America’s voice for the foreseeable future. And that’s okay with me.
CamO is such a complicated guy. But, I think it’s a three-year-old thing and totally natural. Talk about highs and lows and more highs and lows all in the same day. In addition to that, he’s exhibiting definite signs of being a “three-nager”… he’s got sass! I even had to talk to him about sass because he left me wide-eyed with his comments.
Highs: Cam is so smart and creative and entertaining. I love watching him think and draw and create and talk and ask questions. He came home from school and told me all about Mercury and narwhals. Evidently, Mercury is a rocky planet with lots of volcanoes and narwhals sometimes get their horns frozen in the ice. Here he is just talking and talking and talking in his imaginary world where he enjoys tea time with superheroes and bandits steal cake from his bedroom:
He can also be so sugary sweet. Just melt your heart sweet. Look at this little angel face!
Lows: He gets so into whatever he’s doing that he has a tough time transitioning. If he’s coloring, he doesn’t want to stop coloring. If he’s playing in the yard, he doesn’t want to stop playing in the yard. If he’s bathing, he doesn’t want to stop bathing. Etc. And this can turn into a tantrum, like today when Joe and Cam were leaving the Stadlers’ house. He had so much fun playing with Morgan that when it was time to go, it was a 5-alarm meltdown.
He also seems to have a few good weeks with no real moments and then a tough week filled with defiance and tears and tantrums. It’s so hard to figure out how to handle an upset, irrational kid who is normally able to tell you exactly what he wants or needs.
And then there’s the sass. Here are a couple gems from the last week:
Me: If you can’t be nice to your sister, especially in her own room, you need to take a moment to yourself and leave the room.
Cam: Fine! “B” is for BYE! *Slams the door*
Me: Please stop throwing things, you could hurt someone. Cam throws something else across the room as he looks at me. Me: Since you’re not listening to me, I’m going to have to put away one of your toys.
Cam: We’ll see about that.
Joe and I left for the weekend and came back on Sunday, so I barely got any time with him before it was already Monday and time for work. I missed his sweet face so much I think I kissed it 150 times by the time he got into bed tonight. He might be complicated but he’s the best little bug.