You are now forty-one months old. How on earth did that happen?! I am only writing to you every few months now. Although you provide enough high jinks and antics to warrant a letter every WEEK, I would rather be participating in the awesomeness than writing about it. And yes, sometimes that “awesomeness” would be better described as “time in the trenches”.
Your spirited personality has not changed over time, only amplified.
We’ve had a rough couple of months, Little Bear. Your beloved Nanny (my mom) suffered cardiac arrest in the early morning of November 29th and passed away on December 7th. It was unexpected and devastating and tore my heart apart in grief. She left us as she would have chosen, but way, WAY too early.
You are too young to fully understand death (I’m not sure I even do) but I did my best to involve you in the transition, while shielding you from the scary stuff. We were very straightforward with the facts. You visited the hospital waiting room almost every day while Nanny was in the ICU and we talked about how she was in a coma and not waking up. When she was taken off life support you chose to come in to say goodbye to her, and you climbed up on a chair so you could kiss her arm and cheek. You attended Nanny’s memorial and participated in some of the planning and many of the discussions.
Although you don’t entirely understand what has happened, I hope that as you get older you will have these memories to knit together. You will know that you were part of the process. My Grandma Bee (Papa Bear’s mama) died when I was four, so I know what it’s like to have confused memories and to be cheated out of having an amazing woman in my life.
You will probably experience the same thing.
Please know that your Nanny loved you with all of her heart. I feel so blessed that she got to know you, know your personality, and spend so much time with you. She was so proud of you, Roper. And in awe of your strong-willed character – I think you guys would have gone toe-to-toe quiet often through the years. I want you to know that she loved you, that when you weren’t together she was thinking about you and buying you presents, and that she got a kick out of telling stories about you.
Rarely a day goes by that you don’t mention Nanny. You ask about why she’s gone, where she is, if she’ll wake up again and if she can see you. We look at pictures and I tell you that she’s in heaven and that she’s your little angel, and that she will always be in our hearts. I tell you that it’s OK to be sad, but it’s also OK to be happy. That we should celebrate her as much as possible.
It’s been brutal. You’ve seen your mom mourn, rage, weep (ahem…ugly cry) and sometimes raise emotional walls that even you can’t get through. Your schedule was completely upended and you didn’t get to spend much time with me while Nanny was in the hospital and while we were planning her service.
In addition, your mama has been fighting unrelenting health issues and Daddy’s building project at Hootin’ Holler came to a standstill (yes, there is a reason I kick the backhoe every time I get near it). All of this has to be unnerving – our home has not been the nurturing, safe haven I so desperately strive to provide for you.
But I am proud of the amazingly resilient little man you’ve become.
You and your forcefully full-of-awesome personality compelled us to be festive through the holidays. It was such a blessing to have to work toward your excitement about Christmas, decorations, presents, gingerbread houses, and yes, your Elf on the Shelf. You got to spend time with Big Monkey, Auntie C, Super Kate and Austintacious. You helped run the Christmas Tree Farm and were Papa Bear’s little buddy. You brought the Christmas spirit to us and you owned it. And we love you all the more for it.
Thank you, sweet boy.
For Christmas, we got you a kitten. And then we felt so bad for taking the kitten from its litter mates that we adopted its brother. We are now the proud (and somewhat stressed out) owners of Stumpy and Jax, who are adorable, friendly and completely insane. They fit this family perfectly. You love them both so ferociously that I question their ability to survive you. You bathe with them, rub their face on them, pet them into the ground and sometimes I catch you lying on them. We had to create a new rule stating that whatever you do to the cats, we can do to you. You don’t like this rule.
Quotes from recent months:
– “Whatevs” peppers your conversation like a thirteen-year-old girl.
– “40,000” or “40 pounds” That’s what time it is. Always.
– “Do tigers live under our house, too? Why do we only get ants?” Tigers would be cooler than ants, but also a tad imposing.
– “I can’t grow up anymore. I’m stuck. I’ve grown up so fast and I DON’T want to pop.” Valid concern, kiddo.
– “Can you get a penis at the penis store? I want you to be the same as Daddy and me.” This is still a NO.
– “I’m just choking.” Said whenever you’re joking.
– “You’re my sweet girl and I’m Spider Man and I’ll keep you safe.” Said after I asked you to keep an eye out for deer while we were driving home from Papa Bear’s house.
– “Papa Bear is the coolest guy in the whole world.” You know what you like…and you like Papa Bear. You also pathetically cry out for him whenever you’re in trouble. You know he’ll always be on your side.
– “He smells so yummy. I want to eat him up in my tummy like he’s dinner. He’s yummers in my tummers. He’s also my best friend.” About Jax, who mostly smells like the litter box.
– “Mama, you have two options…” You’re constantly giving me “two options”, neither of which I like. Which is probably how you feel all the time.
– “I don’t like Alfie.” Referring to your Elf on the Shelf who tells Santa when you’re naughty or nice. Apparently, you aren’t keen on that sort of accountability.
– “He’s just telling me he loves me. That’s all.” Referring to the cat’s mewling when you’re squishing him.
I’ve become proficient at picking locks. You like to lock yourself in Mama and Daddy’s room and DESTROY it. You take all the hangers out of the closet, throw dirty laundry and garbage all over the floor, and throw all of the books and magazines on the bed. The worst part is that you usually lock the cats in the room with you. And you scare them. You scare the poop out of them.
Dude, you made one of them poop in my bed. Not that you haven’t done that yourself.
Roper, it’s been a crazy several months. You learned to ski!! I threw out my shoulder with my overenthusiastic fist pumping just now. You rode the trolley. We made many, many loops around town that day. Hanne visited us from Denmark. You went trick-or-treating and participated in Turkey on the Run. We found out that you are MUCH better at preschool than I am. Seriously, if you don’t graduate from high school it will be because I couldn’t read the instruction correctly, or you were in jail at the time. Equally likely.
You went through a phase of BAing me in public. While wrestling with Daddy and me, you pulled a steak knife. You like to wake me up by throwing things at my head. One time I hid behind the staircase and shouted “boo!” as you came around the corner. You punched me in the nose. Roper, you have unbelievable instinct and an ability to sense weakness and attack. You give your mama hell. Your focus, willfulness and tenacity will serve you well in the future. Right now, it just exhausts me.
But underneath your quick reflexes and unparalleled stubbornness is the sweetest boy I’ve ever met. Your capacity to love people and animals, so wholly and fully, amazes me. We could all learn from you. Little Bear, I love you with a ferocity and depth that takes my breath away. If someone told me on that first day I was finally allowed to hold you (hooked to all those machines and looking like the tough little guy that you are) that I could ever love you more than at that moment, I wouldn’t have believed them. But I do. I love you to the moon and back, times infinity. And then a little more each and every new day.