Three years (36 months)

I used to write posts marking each month in Hudson’s first year, with photos of him on the same couch. My intention was to switch to every six months, but it’s been two years. So this one is extremely long. I thought about editing it, but instead I’m just posting with the caveat that you might just want to look at the photos and leaving the reading (and re-reading) to me and his dad.

Happy Birthday, Hudson! You can officially call yourself three, now.

It’s been confusing for Hudson: he asks me “How old I am?” and isn’t satisfied with the answer “You’re almost three.” “No, how old I am?” “You’re two. But you’re almost three.” That’s been the answer for a while, ever since we had an early faux birthday celebration for him at his preschool before everyone left on summer vacation. Then there was a party last weekend, so it’s been confusing. Now, officially, I can answer “You’re three.” I think he’s going to be happy about that.

He asks all kinds of wonderful little questions now. Some have grown tiresome, like “What’re you doing, Mommy?” “What’re you doing, Daddy?” whenever he’s the slightest bit bored (and repetitively, even after you’ve answered). Others are catch us off guard! Like: “What does ‘sneaky’ mean?” “What does ‘in the past’ mean?” “What does ‘truth’ mean?” “Why I do that?” And don’t even try to answer with sarcasm or irony. It begins a circle of questions reminiscent of “Who’s on First?”

Tiresome or delightful, he is quite chatty. We had to laugh when he paused just long enough to take a drink once, during dinner, and then said—almost disappointed—”I can’t talk when I doing that.” We’re of course working on getting him to wait his turn in conversation, but I really enjoy hearing all of his thoughts. (Sidenote: my parents like to tell me how my first grade teacher asked of me, “Does she ever stop talking?” We’ve only just begun.)

Car rides are often the best time for appreciating all of this chattiness. For a while, Skyler screamed so much that our driving conversations were impossible, but they’re back. And just recently, he’s begun “reading” aloud some of his books in the car. Here’s a brief video from this week’s pick, Going On A Bear Hunt. He’s on the fence when it comes to singing aloud, however. Perhaps one of his biggest meltdowns this year was when he didn’t want me to sing along. “No, they’re singing.” (He’s since told me I have a pretty voice, thank goodness. I was a little crushed!)

He’s not too shy to start conversations with the odd passerby, and I enjoy translating “I got a black dog named Sawyer” to everyone we meet. (Those two.) That is, when he’s not introducing his “baby named Skyler” and offering that they pet her head. I find him to be pretty understandable these days, with the most confusing pronunciation to be using “o” in place of “you” (and correspondingly “oar” in place of “your”). But once you get that, he does a pretty good job of making his point.

In fact, he shouts hellos to passerby and neighbors. “Hi Neighbor!” “I riding my bike. It’s my new bike.”  Just shouts to people. Then turns to us and says “I telling him ’bout my bike. I like that.” And I sat in awe during his three-year-checkup with the doctor as the two of them carried on their own conversation. It’s like when you’re on a double date with your partner and you get to see him or her through new eyes and hear him or her recount a story you thought you already knew.

As for becoming a big brother this year, Skyler’s arrival has gone pretty smoothly with Hudson. We already thought he was the sweetest kid ever, but his behavior toward her verified it. Lately, one of his favorite things to do is kiss her and hug her and make her smile. And now he can make her laugh (more so than anyone else)! She adores him.

Hudson’s favorite things have been fairly constant this past year: firetrucks, trains, diggers… with planes and bugs being the newer additions. He loves bugs and spends hours outside looking for them. It used to take us a good while to leave preschool because he’d stop at every bit of ivy on the fence to point out spiders. As for books, he loves to read, and after starting with Aron around 7am, he’ll come and get me for more reading in our bed 20 or so minutes later. “Mommy, I got booo-oook,” he’ll say while climbing in to sit beside me and share a pillow. The stories of Winnie the Pooh, and of Curious George have been staples for sometime now (though Clifford had a big moment early this year and a collection of 5-minute Disney stories are in high rotation). Most notably, however, there was a time when we read Three Billy Goats Gruff over and over. He was at first afraid of the goats and then of the troll, but even as he feared him he would want to read the story and reenact it again and again. The troll seems to have recently been replaced by dragons. And the fear replaced by a fear of unexpected shadows on his bedroom walls.

“O play firetrucks with me?” means lots of rescuing people. But he likes to play the “baaaad guy,” too. Basically, being the bad guy seems to mean saying “we’re bad guys, right!?” and roaring. And he gets very fixated on villains and character in books who look angry (often pointing them out and asking “what he saying?”) Thankfully, however, we’ve not reached any phase involving actual or simulated physical battles.

Actually—knock on wood—Hudson’s a pretty even-keeled little boy. He’s sensitive (and there was a period when he seemed more fragile than average), and pretty gentle. He’s good at “using his words” and rarely gets angry. But when he does, he shows it by stomping one foot very loudly. Funny enough, when he tells me about something that made him mad at school, the story often includes the foot-stomping: “she broke my [sand] cake and I was SO mad at her. I stomped my feet and said ‘I SO mad.'”

But I think he’s good at sharing. (He’s a good sharer, rather, as I try to remember to praise the character in these instances and the behavior for the less desirable actions.) Lately, he’s really into sharing food and asking “What it taste like, Mommy?” If you turn the question around, he’ll reply with a string of adjectives: “salty, sweet, mushy, crunchy, nummy” (before deciding, one bite later, that he’s all done). He also wants to help (most of the time): the other day, I brought home a water melon. He wanted to keep it on his lap for the whole car ride so we could cut into it together. “Cause we’re a team, right? Right, Mommy?!”

Don’t get me wrong: he has his moments—whining “I don’t want to” or hiding under a table when it’s time to get dressed. But his first instinct seems to be that of agreeability. It’s common that he replies, almost as if surprised by your request “Ready to go to the store?” “Oh! Of course!” Lately, “of course” is the new “yes” and the new “you’re welcome.” Somedays he exhausts us and drives us nuts! And then we find ourselves showing each other photos off our phone and talking about how charming and sweet he is.

He freely gives kisses and hugs and many of my favorite came at the moment he’d come walking out of preschool to show me an art project (sometimes a single swath of paint he likely made on the way to ride bikes with a most-admired buddy, Banlu) or show me his treasure. We’d of course cuddle with him more if we could (he’s most emotionally fragile after waking up from his nap—which tends to occurr from 3 to 5—which often means that’s one of the only times you can sit and just hold him in your arms), but he’s generally on the move.

Aron told me, “I don’t think it’s fatherly bias when I say he has a gift for movement—bikes, scooters, push-cars, running, climbing… he can’t get enough. Maybe we need to indulge it, the way one indulges a talent for music.” So we have. And he has multiple means of transportation now. Just recently (the first week of July), he got up on a pedal bike! He’s so proud of himself on it—and so determined to start without any push or help that he will stop and start again if you try—and goes so fast. It’s a little scary. Aron gets a workout running beside him.

But most of the year was spent on a wooden balance bike. There too, he was so determined when it came to self-reliance. (“I do it myself.” Or a sing-song “All by myself” is common.) I remember one outing in particular: on this trip to the arboretum, I was walking behind him on a small footpath. You couldn’t see that, at its end, the path went down two stairs and Hudson went right off and over his handlebars. It looked scary! When I caught up, he was in tears and needed some hugs and comforting. ( Luckily, he seems to truly believe that Band-Aids or kisses will heal all wounds.) But then he wanted to do it again. He picked up the bike (heavy for him), carried it back up the two stairs, and then walked it back down.

Aron and I both just gave each other a wide-eyed expression of surprise and probably both said “Good job, buddy!” (We could probably temper the praise based on how much Hudson dishes it out. He’ll say “Good job, daddy!” to Aron on his bike, or “Good job, Skyler!” when she rolls over.)

He’s a little sponge, and it surprises me sometimes to hear him repeat something we’ve said (thinking he wouldn’t notice). For example, you might recall that we met a new Mickey at DisneyWorld (one who could talk rather than just gesture). We were talking about how fun the encounter was with Hudson’s grandparents, about this improved “new Mickey,” and though we only used that phrase once, Hudson tells the story as the time he met “new Mickey.” In fact the emphasis is on the word “new.”

At three, he’s still sleeping in his crib. He’s very content in there and likes to sleep with stuffed animals at nap time (but says that his crib is too crowded to sleep with them at night). I like it when they join him because I get to listen in on his imaginative conversations with them! Though he could easily crawl into and out of his crib by himself, he doesn’t try without permission. Still, I think it may be time to convert it—for that reason and for potty training.

As I write this (on his birthday), he is taking a nap without a diaper and has been without one all day. I think he’s ready. One of my favorite stories from the past few months was when he ran out of a bathroom in a restaurant in Seattle, shouting “Mommy, mommy! I go poop in the potty!” And then hearing this story from Aron.

Hudson’s favorite food is banana and peanut butter (which we let him have every morning for breakfast). And for a while the most special of special treats he could imagine was chocolate milk. He loves it and brought chocolate milk and banana bread to preschool to celebrate his birthday this year.

He now goes under the water without any tears, and has really taken to “swimming” this year.

This morning, while working out, I tried to think back to the day he was born. To the midwife helping me figure out how to labor, to the doctor telling he would need to use forceps after all those hours of pushing (yikes), to that first time I looked down and saw his super-watery eyes staring up into mine (watery, too, but for different—happy— reasons). I tried to remember how we walked all over New York together in his first year, those same eyes often looking up at me from a carrier strapped to my chest, and how he’d moan when the stimulation of the city grew to be too much for him. (If he only knew now how often he saw taxis and ambulances. And that he lived across the street from a fire station! Oh, kiddo.)  How we’d run across the street to the Y and sing and catch bubbles and he’d drool all over those wooden egg rattles. I tried to picture him at one, toddling around the Hudson River park, or at nearly two, jumping off any six-inch step he could find in Paris, scooting under tree tunnels in Davis, holding his best friends’ hands, and just appreciate him.

And I think how glad I am that I wrote about him every month that first year, because it makes me sad to think how “Baby Hudson” is already gone and how much about him I’ve probably already forgotten. He’s still our baby, but he’s a little boy (and, actually, every month is more fun that the last). You just can’t hold onto it all (even if you take a billion pictures like I do).

For so many reasons, parenting can be hard. Hard. But this kid is just all pleasure. Happy birthday, Hudson. We love you so much. 

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