Sunday, September 2, 2012


Dear Ben,

We survived! I don't think I've said that since your first birthday, but this year has been rough. Before you turned three I got a little warning from some friends with older kids that three was worse than two, and boy were they right! We've been struggling this year, with independence, with wanting more attention than I can give and with the fact that you want to do so many things, but you just can't do them all yet. Hopefully our level of fighting this year isn't reached again, well EVER, but realistically until you're a teenager. It hasn't all been bad, of course, but I'm committed to showing a realistic picture of parenthood, so I'm not going to only sing your praises just because it's your birthday. :)

You had several big life changes this year. Of course, the biggest was Sam being born. It was a little tough on you at first. For the first couple months you were obviously out of sorts, but overall I'm so impressed with the way you welcomed him into our family. You never took your frustration out on the baby, just on us (which is how it should be). And as Sam's gotten older and more interactive you're having more fun with him. One of the best parts of this year has been listening to you boys laugh together. You love to make Sam laugh and he loves watching you. You're so sweet with him, giving him hugs and kisses and mostly sharing your toys. I can see the very beginnings of sibling rivalry, as Sam becomes more mobile, but I think you guys are going to have a lot of fun, too.

Another big event of the year was going binky free. Daddy and I were a little afraid of this milestone, so we pulled out the big guns: bribery. With your remaining binkies you bought a bike and you never looked back. Once again your ability to roll with big changes blew my mind. Which always makes it so odd when you break down over the littlest things, like who went into the house first.

The last big event, which was probably bigger for me than for you, was going nap free. All summer you've been whittling down the number of naps you take per week and at this point you're down to one or two. On days when we have nothing to do it can be a little maddening for me (since you still won't play by yourself for any length of time), but on busy weekends it's actually kind of nice. So, the good with the bad.

You absolutely loved your first year of preschool and Daddy and I are so excited by that. Every single day when I picked you up from school your teacher said, "Ben's had a great day." We never had a bad report about you and your teacher was always telling us you were a good friend and a good leader in class. I'm so proud of you for that.

Your interests continue to run toward building and reading and just running around. You're an odd mix of Daddy and me, but I guess that's what we were going for! Although I complained about it incessantly, I was a little sad when your obsession with trains waned this year. It had been such a huge part of your life for two and a half years, it's hard to believe it's over. For a while we thought a Lego obsession might manifest, and I still think it will, but it might be a little early. Right now your focus has turned to ANGRY BIRDS. Everything you play becomes some version of Angry Birds: someone's a pig, someone's a red bird, something's a stolen egg. You're very imaginative with it and it's fun to watch.

With three behind us I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. You still throw yourself on the floor in agony every time we tell you to brush your teeth, BUT sometimes when I tell you to get dressed you just... do it. Without a fuss, without a fight. It's amazing. And you're helpful around the house, sometimes without even being asked. Between the tantrums and the deliberate disobedience I can see flashes of you becoming a great kid. And I have hope that there are better years ahead. Maybe even next year!

Happy birthday, Ben. I love you.


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