Hudson at 5 Years Old

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Five. Five years old. There are so many ways to make five with your fingers and Hudson will happily show you them all as he proudly announces the milestone.

I feel like five is to the preschool set what 18 is to the high school one. The world seems to open up when you’re five. The real (small) legos. Swim camps. Kindergarten. Maybe you’ll start reading. Maybe you’ll see the same Princess Leia adults seem to all know. Maybe you’ll get to go on the bigger roller coaster. “Maybe when you’re five.” Meanwhile, for those of us watching, it seems to come too fast. It means our baby is a real little boy.

Of course it has been a long time since Hudson was a baby (and as all parents seem to say, he’ll always be our baby), but—as a friend wrote—now seems to be the age where his memories and ours will start to diverge. And I hope he shares them all with us, because I love hearing what he has to say.

And he has a lot to say. “Wow, you have a lot of thoughts!” I told him the other day after a bout of nonstop chatter. “Especially today!” he replied. Uh-huh.

He’s a bright, creative, sensitive boy. He loves books—and seems to judge babysitters by how many books they are willing to read to him. Sometimes I see him showing interest in learning to read himself (and he will recite books in order to “read” to Skyler), but other times it feels like it’s still probably a long way off. He’s going to a total Spanish immersion school in the fall, so it could be a while. I’m not concerned: I know one day it will just come to him, and when it does I’m certain he’s going to love it.

He’s very excited about going to kindergarten. I’m sure he’ll be a bit nervous when the time comes—he can be shy around new children at first (despite having absolutely no qualms about talking to new adults)—but he has been talking about it a lot.

Hudson never misses a chance to jump, climb, or run. When we travel, we need to be sure to incorporate some time for this, or else he will start trying to climb up the walls. (Or at least that’s how it feels.) We have taken him to a nearby climbing gym called Rocknasium a few times now, and the challenge for the belayer is to keep up. I figured this photo of him jumping off the couch while singing “Go Bananas” from his summer camp was an appropriate representation of him at this age.

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Hudson Age 5

We usually allow Hudson 20-50 min of screen time per day (the longer times often with one show and one game), and it has been fun to watch him play some of the more creative and challenging ones that are available for his age group. Some of the Toca Boca open-ended games have been recent favorites. For shows, he prefers Wild Kratts and Octonauts, but will still enjoy Daniel Tiger and Caillou when we put them on for Skyler.  We usually let them watch one at breakfast and he gets so engrossed that I usually have to remind him to eat. It worried me at first—it was like he was in a trance! But then we’ll be out somewhere and he’ll start telling me about things like Dewclaws and arctic tundra, or the Orcas that never get full.

He still really enjoys puzzles—although he prefers working on them collaboratively to working on them alone. More recently he has really gotten hooked on coloring, and we started seeing him run for the art table instead of the toys at school. He really likes follow directions and works hard to stay inside the lines; he prefers to follow an image to know what color goes where (unless the colors are too boring, in which case he is likely to throw in some rainbows). Before this, however, he was more content with scratch pads and mazes.

Hudson also loves building with his Magnatiles—houses and rocket ships are common results. He likes to play outside: digging in the garden, discovering bugs, exploring, and climbing trees.

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In the winter, Hudson got to try skiing for the first time—the first day was a bit of a fail—a combination of lack of sleep, altitude, and a Californian’s low tolerance for sub-freezing temperature perhaps, but the next day was full of “pizza pies” on the slopes. He’s often willing to give things another try. And I’m constantly remarking on his bravery and intrepid spirit. That said, he would have been just as happy building snowmen and making snow balls!

Hudson loves to swim—and to challenge himself to hold his breath and dive to the bottom of the pool to collect the toys that Skyler throws in for him. He practices above water—where he can hold his breath for 30 seconds.

He spends a lot of time pretending with friends, and though the dress-up accessories are less important, he will often get inspired by something he’s wearing. Today, for example, I gave him new underpants with some sort of Power Ranger on them. He’d pointed them out at Target one day and so I read off the package “Dino Power Ranger.” Showing me his newly festooned behind, “What’s this one, mommy?” “The red one?” Soon he was racing about the house and pushing out his fists, “I’m a red Dino Power Ranger!”

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Their relationship is full of ups and downs throughout the day, but is ultimately full of love. Skyler adores him, and wants to be close to him all the time, so the conflict is often that she’s “in his bubble” or knocking over something he has built. Of course she also loves the reaction, so this generally only encourages her to provoke him more. But they also profess their love until the embrace gets too tight. She calls him “Hudsee” and he calls her “Skye,” and at times they seem to have their own language. As an only child, it’s remarkable to watch. They’re just starting to get to that point that they play for extended periods together, independently.

Hudson has a propensity to say “Watch me, watch me” over and over. (And over.) So it’s lead me to start playing Silentó’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae”) in the car and the two of them laugh and dance. Hudson tries hard to get it just right. He wants to say it perfectly and learn the moves while Skyler just keeps repeating “Bop bop bop” or “whip whip whip whip.”

There’s a similar dynamic with other favorite songs, like “The Bare Necessities,” or “Do Re Mi.” It’s characteristic: Hudson very much wants to get things “right.” But he’s also willing to practice and want to try to do it by himself.

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Peanut butter and banana remain a daily staple for breakfast, although we have managed to throw in some really good (and unfortunately really expensive) yogurt. Lunch and dinner is harder to figure out—while PB&Js are a sure bet, everything else is hit-or-miss on a case-by-case basis. Cheese, tomatoes, pistachio nuts, lox, dumplings… even pasta might be in one day and out the next! Ham and bacon are new favorites, but most other foods he just tolerates and eats because we tell him to. Treats and anything with sugar excepted: Cinnamon rolls and donuts and ice cream are always welcomed.

In fact, when he does get something he loves, he’s so enthusiastic and expressive about it that it’s hard to resist indulging him! He throws his head back and closes his eyes: “I just love it so much. It’s the best things ever.”

He points out how beautiful things are, how lovely a street looks, how golden trees shine in low light—and will say “I want to live here forever.” The superlatives continue.

And we’re lucky: he uses them when expressing his affection for us, too. Morning cuddles, bedtime kisses, and yelling “I love you, mommy!” across a field of friends—it makes my heart swell to think of it!

It’s hard to write these updates sometimes, because I know I’m leaving so much out. It’s like trying to explain breathing (and almost feels as vital). How to relate the difference between shallow and deep breaths—unique yet universal, common but particular? Something you do so routinely that you sometimes forget to pay attention until suddenly something changes—you laugh, you cry, you get angry, you feel tremendous pride—and you feel the breath catch? You feel it throughout your whole body—but struggle when you try to recreate it, to remember it forever. It’s not possible to recreate, and yet the feeling remains.

I can’t recreate it here, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget this feeling: We love you so much, Hudson! Happy 5th Birthday!

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P.S. A look back at this year on Instagram: #HudsonBisFour. And all of the monthly updates—we took these same couch photos every month for the first year of life and then ever 6 months thereafter—but recently at ages 4 and 4-1/2.

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