Happy 4th Birthday, Joey

4 years ago, at 7:22pm, the most amazing 7lb 1oz, 19inch long little boy was born 3 weeks early.  From Day 1 we knew we had an assiduous little man on our hands.  While mommy was rushed away to the OR, you were brought down to the nICU and kicked butt.  I told daddy to go to you, I had grandma at my side but daddy wanted to make sure I was getting better.  The 24 hours of not being able to see you was worse than all the unexpected complications.  Everyone always talks about being scared to care for a baby, not me.  I was excited.  I had my own little person to watch how he grows and learns and I was excited to teach him how to be a good, moral human.

Fast forward 1 year and you have impressed us with how much you love to learn already.  By 1 you were already walking, spoke 8 words, knew dozens of ASL signs and when to use them (at 10 months old you signed to me you needed a diaper changed and I was blown away), and you were already starting to learn colors and shapes, and animals through the games we played.  Who knew beanbags and stuffed animals could teach so many things?  Since the very beginning, you made everyone fall in love with you with those big brown eyes and contagious laugh.  12-23 months was super fun watching you develop your language and start piecing together little sentences.  Your favorite thing to talk about was that you were going to home depot (while carrying a hanger on your arm pretending it was a purse) and yelling at moose to get down from the coffee table.

At year 2 you mastered counting to 15, knew all your shapes, all your colors, could identify all upper case letters, had 300 ASL signs under your belt, and became such a flirt.  You’d always make the ladies go gaga over your smile and playing peek-a-boo with anyone who would catch your eye at a restaurant.  You were also (and still are) nosy.  You knew all the parents at daycare.  Even the ones who weren’t in your age group.  Your love for sports or any activity that depended on physical exertion started blossoming at this age.  Everyone said watch out for the terrible twos, that’s nonsense…two was amazing.  Your personality developed and you just loved going anywhere and doing anything with mommy and daddy.  Tantrums never happened.  Ever.  You happily did everything while singing or talking nonstop about everything you saw which sometimes embarrassed mommy with your lack of filter!  Ages 24-35 months was absolutely impressive for learning.  A few of the things that stand out are being potty trained in just a few days, reciting the abc’s backwards, knowing all the planets in the solar system, knowing how plants grow (even having a very basic understanding of photosynthesis), knowing how rain forms and what thunder and lightning is.  You couldn’t decide if you wanted to be a fire fighter or an astronaut when you grew up.

Year 3 was supposed to be the year of the threenager.  I can say that this most definitely was not the case.  You are a kind, caring, loving little boy.  You share.  Your smile lights up a room.  You are the master of hugs and so empathetic.  When you are about to get upset about something you look at me and rethink how you handle those emotions and we talk.  Sometimes it’s a teary eyed talk, but we talk.  It gets confusing when you see children around you in the public acting in a different way but you always remember (sometimes with just a little reminder) to use Joey’s words and Joey’s actions and not worry about how others are acting.  You are your own YOU.  And that makes you so special.  Your adventurous side is really shining through.  We learned you love thrill rides just like mommy.  You are going to be my roller coaster buddy for sure.  You LOVE water parks and water slides.  You can swim on your own without any flotation device.  That’s something I still can’t wrap my head around!  I thought the second half of year 3 was going to be a challenge when we switched your school to give you a better opportunity to exercise that brain of yours.  You adapted in less than a week.  You didn’t resist going to school in the morning anymore like you did in your last 2 months of the old center, you couldn’t wait to get there in the morning and you didn’t want to leave when it was time to go.  You love your teachers and your new friends (and some old that transferred as well!).  This year was the biggest learning leap yet.  I can’t believe you are starting to read and spell on your own already.  You can count to 120+, you know your 100s chart, and are already doing simple math.  My heart swells with every new thing I see you do.  I was hoping I could get you to spell antidisestablishmentarianism by your fourth birthday to freak grandma out, but you just knowing how to say the word is impressive enough for me.  Haha.  We almost freaked her out when you said it without me asking you to! LOL!

What have I learned from you?  I’ve learned to be more patient.  I’ve learned that you can’t talk at a child while towering above them – that’s intimidating, you need to kneel down and get on their level and understand from their point of view.  Talk with them.  I’ve learned that emptying my brain and pretending I was learning so many things at once can be overwhelming which has made me empathetic on when you get upset over something that, to me, may seem silly.  I’ve learned how to tell by just a simple change in the tone of your voice whether you are happy, sad, annoyed, mad, or scared.  I’ve also learned that by being hands on and engaged, you are the happiest you can be when we are out gallivanting and you never get upset.  I’ve also learned that when a child doesn’t know a word they come up with the best version you could imagine that word would be.  “Boobie Costume” is by far a better word than “bra”.  I’ve also learned that I am the best version of myself when I have you in my sight.  The most pure and true form of love was created when your heart beat inside of me and then I finally saw it beat outside of me.

Joey, I can’t wait to see what you are going to do this year.  It seems every year gets better and I know this one is going to be the best yet.  This year we are going to go on so many adventures and I can’t wait to watch how you handle yourself in everything we do.

xoxo,

Mommy

Here are the highlights from year 3 (newest to oldest)

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