Charlotte Tyler turned four this week.
Char changed our world four years ago with her dramatic entrance, her big puppy dog hands, and her thick head of brown hair. I’ll never forget what it felt like to hold her for the first time, warm and soft on my chest. (If you care about that sort of thing, you can read her birth story here).
And now I’ve gone ahead and blinked, and she’s a little girl. I can’t believe how Char’s grown this year. She is thoughtful, curious, and kind.
She loves her family with a relentless ardor. And is completely obsessed with her cousins, aunties/uncles, and grandparents. She has a special affinity for each person in her life, always remembering specific details like what people wore and what they played with her and WHEN WILL SHE SEE THEM AGAIN.
When she says something, she means it. Every friend is her best friend. Every day is the best day. I love watching her experience life because she is blown away by every little thing. She loves to explore and try new things. And I hope this never changes about her.
She started preschool in September and adores it. She loves, loves, loves her teacher and is constantly reporting back on her discoveries (“mom, the leaves are changing because it’s FALL” and “F is for FIRE”). We are eating it up, fawning over every new letter she learns to write and cheering her on when she returns with the name of a new friend she made in the sandbox.
Char loves puzzles, Barbies (yeah, I just let that one go), and any kind of PROJECT. She loves to create and build: sand castles, block towers, any kind of furniture, lol. Tyler got her some Frozen Legos for her birthday, and she spent the entire day tinkering with them on the counter, well after Tyler had finished helping her put all 154 pieces together. And then the next day she asked, “Dad, can we take it apart and start over?”
It’s not that I’m against crafts, per se, but it would just never occur to me to round up the babies for a festive round of paint? (Stamps? What is it that you cutie moms do anyway?). Well–just my luck–Char lives for arts and crafts. She was also completely manic about all of the Halloween decorations up in our neighborhood last month and kept asking Tyler and I where ours are (how can I put this, kid, this isn’t really a Halloween family).
Now listen, I don’t think kids should always have their way, but Char was just SO excited about “Happyhalloween” (never just “Halloween”). I decided to humor her and pick up a Halloween banner kit for us to put together–a brilliant “two birds” moment, if you ask me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her more excited; I swear she was shaking a little bit as we sat side-by-side at the counter and kept saying the most adorable things like “Mom, thank you for this craft” and “thank you for spending this time with me!” I’m not kidding. (Get what I mean by “earnest” now?)
They spend their days drifting back and forth between playing together and apart. They are starting to get the hang of sharing although it’s not without constant practice. I’ve been trying to let them work things out on their own, but that, of course, is easier said than done.
We recently moved them into the same room which, for the most part, has been awesome. I love that they have to share a space now and think it will be so good for them in the long run–both on an individual development level and from a relationship standpoint. My goal is to let their bond grow naturally, with some light puppet string-pulling behind the scenes.
In response to Emmie’s occasional bedtime riots, Tyler and I will threaten to move her back to her old room. Usually we only have to say it once, but anytime we do, Char begs us to let her stay. Char is kind of scared of the dark now, and having Emmie in there with her at night has quickly become a comfort.
She loses her temper at the drop of a dime, so Tyler and I have had to navigate this by trial-and-error. We want to validate her but not let her think it’s okay to scream and yell when she doesn’t get what she wants. This, of course, worsens when she is hungry or tired (same), so I’ve also learned to stay ahead of it with protein-dense snacks and daily quiet times.
We switched ballet studios this fall, and her new teacher is your classic old school dance instructor, quirky but very serious. She has this mystical, airtight classroom management that just naturally nudges the girls to fall in line. I think it’s been good for Char, this no-nonsense hour of arabesques and pliés. The class has been working very hard, practicing for their dance in the upcoming Nutcracker performance–Charlotte still calls it “The Grahamcracker,” LOL. She LOVES ballet.
I’m sure Tyler will want to start her in soccer or something too next year. And he’s set his sights on a daddy-daughter golfing relationship with the girls too. He’s taken Char on “dates” to the driving range a few times, and they both seem to have the time of their lives.
She’s always randomly telling us she loves us, asking us about our days, checking on Emmie (“my Emmie girl,” usually). If she has to step out of the room, she says, without fail, “Mom can you keep an eye on my Uni/coloring book/snack?”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, over and over again, it’s that I have no control. As much as I want to, I can’t orchestrate the circumstances around her–not completely, anyway. And I can’t number the nights I’ve spent curled in a ball, sleepless and praying–begging–God to keep my kids safe in this godless world. But for every night spent worrying, there are a million moments of laughter, play, and unbridled “can’t believe this is my life” bliss. I’m learning, painstakingly, that gratitude is a mindset, that each day is precious, and that joy is something to be fought for. Joy is worth fighting for.
To this day, I still can’t believe Char is ours. She amazes me and challenges me and reminds me each day how beautiful life is. Watching her be delighted is my greatest delight. We are so, so proud of her and can’t wait to see how she grows this next year.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?