I've noticed that when I say "the kids" I mean "Landon and Claire" and not Cora. And the other day when I heard a woman in barre class say she had 3 kids, my first thought was, "wow, that's a lot!" before I remembered that wait, I also have 3 kids. In my mind, it's just 2 kids and a baby and that doesn't seem like so much. The big kids are easy and the tiny one is only awake for 25% of the day- right now, life is pretty easy and we have a good rhythm going. So of course we're going to screw it up and drive to Colorado next week for our much anticipated ski vacation and then I'll go back to work the day after we return.
But we'll ignore that for now and check in with the big kids.
Landon is 6.5 and very much his own self- Claire is still an extension of us to some extent, but Landon is his own man. He loves to be outside (in the blurry picture below we were exploring a secret hiking trail off the side of one of our favorite parks), loves to run, ride his bike, play basketball, and run some more, LOVES to write, loves to read, and continues to love other kids in a social ringleader butterfly way that baffles and amuses JP and me. If we're at a playground, Landon will start a game (usually a convoluted form of tag) and before you know it, everyone is playing. He explains the rules to kids as they join and we often hear him tacking on, "and this is my sister Claire. She doesn't usually follow the rules, but that's okay, we just keep playing."
Below is an example of one of his writings. When he's not outside, holding Cora, or creating marble runs, he's sitting in the playroom writing stories. He won't show them to us until they're finished and then he just drops them unceremoniously on the kitchen counter before going back to write more. We try to go back over them with him and write corrected spellings under some of the words, but you can always figure out what he's trying to say and we love getting a little glimpse into his creative 6-year-old mind.
He's quite prolific. These are the stories he wrote last Wednesday evening after I picked him up from after-school care and before we ate dinner. All of his stories involve animals and most have their birthday at some point in the narrative.
He remains one of baby Cora's biggest fans and is always looking to help. He also requested additional boy babies as soon as possible, which is not happening, though he would be an excellent eldest child of a large gaggle of siblings. On Saturday, I was passing through the living room and looked down at Cora in her monkey bouncer (it's growing on her) and wondered, what's that thing sticking out of Cora's head? I paused to investigate and saw that it was Landon's beloved seal lovey and fuzzy blanket. "See! She's so happy!" he exclaimed when I looked around for an explanation.
I think she mostly looked confused at why there was a seal growing out of her head, but it was very thoughtful.
Six has been an interesting age for us. On the one hand, he's still very much his sweet, generous self, particularly with Claire and Cora, and the transition to Kindergarten has been no transition at all. But on the other, in the last few months we've seen him get worked up over things that he previously probably wouldn't have even noticed and certainly wouldn't have cared about. And when he gets worked up, it's hard to bring him back down. I admit this is in part because JP and I just don't really know how- ages 1 through 5 were so blissfully easy for us with him. He was the mellowest of toddlers and kids and tantrums were rare and over clear things we could often simply explain to him, and then if that failed, sending him to his room to calm down always worked quickly. We just didn't have to work very hard with him- in our mental list of things to do, his name just always had a check by it, allowing me to focus on the next household item or that good book I'd just downloaded, and now when he gets upset over something that so greatly surprises me and nothing I say or do makes much of an impact I worry that I/we didn't expend enough effort getting to know him up until now. He made it easy, so we took it easy, and now when he flips out because I say he can't have a snack before dinner, even though he's never allowed to have a snack before dinner and he stomps his foot and bars his teeth and yells indecipherable sounds, I kind of just stare at him like I've never seen him before, because I feel like I haven't, and then I'll send him to his room to calm down because I'm in the middle of cooking dinner and he doesn't calm down on his own- I still hear him making random yelling noises and saying "I'm just SO BAD" and I think, where on earth is this coming from? We've never called him bad- he isn't bad, like ever, except kind of right now, but I didn't say that, and what the hell? And later, when he's back to his normal self and we try to talk about it, I feel like I can't reach him. Or I don't know how, because I never had to learn before so I didn't try and I let him and Claire be very much their own little unit while I did my own thing and now he's 6.5 and I worry about that. And then later, when we're reading books together or playing games or on a bike ride, that all seems so ridiculous I wonder how I could have thought it. But sometimes, I do. So like I said, six has been interesting. Mostly so very good, with the super fun reading and writing and general big kidness, but also a bit confusing, for us all perhaps.
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Clairebear is 3.5 and remains everything I've ever written about her before- funny, smart, FIERCELY affectionate, fierce generally, fast and physical, loving and lovable.
She kicked my butt in memory the other night, but she is the most gracious of losers during our new nightly Uno games ("Oh good job Daddy! You are the winner!" then "Good job Yandon! You are the SECOND winner!" and then "Good job Mommy! You are the NEXT winner! Oh, and I am not the winner this time."). She loves playing board games and card games before bed, loves reading stories together on the couch, loves sharing the stroller with Cora on our long family walks- loves anything and everything the whole family does together. She loves her Yandon and will play with him for hours, but there is nothing Claire loves more than doing something that involves all 5 of us together in a small space. 14 hour car ride to Colorado next week? Pure bliss as far as the Bear is concerned.
She is very into the fact that she's a big sister. She has started calling Landon "brother," something she'd never done before, and anytime she does anything remotely impressive (and it's a low bar) she announces loudly, "I can do ___ because I'M A BIG SISTER NOW!!!". Putting on her shoes? Big sister now. Brushing her hair? Big sister now. Getting dressed in the morning? Big sister. Never mind that she did every one of things before Cora's momentous arrival, she is all about her big sister status.
She has a bit of deviltry in her. She pokes at Landon because she can and she will often maintain eye contact with one of us and do the exact thing we just told her not to do, but she takes her timeouts and other punishments in stride, at least when she knows she deserves it. If you punish her when she thinks she was acting properly she drops to the floor like her heart is broken and will never be fixed. Until 2 minutes later when it is and she wants to know what we're having for dinner. She is so many things, but she is almost always making us laugh, even if we're holding it in because we're trying to be stern.
At 3 Claire's world is still quite simple- she's got all her basic skills well mastered and she can just focus on the delights around her every corner. She announces everything that she sees, experiences, or knows is about to happen in a voice nearly breathless with excitement. This morning, she snuck into our room while JP was trying to get the kids out the door for school, walked over to my side of the bed where I was half hiding under the covers in a cloud of Nyquil and she said in a soft and reverent voice, "Mom, did you know that today is Monday and I am wearing my pink shoes?!!" Like her whole day was made, right there. Then I got six kisses, several questions about why I was still in bed and what we were having for dinner, and then, as she heard JP yelling for her, she shot her eyebrows up and said "Oopsies! Gotta go mom, love you SO MUCH!" and raced out, closing the door again behind her. And I stayed in bed in my haze of cold medicine and thought, I adore age 3.