Thursday, July 7, 2011

Landon, right now

Landon turns 4 in eight days and I'm starting to realize how very much you forget from kid-to-kid and year-to-year, so I'm going to try to capture the essence of the Lanman by sharing a few stories and conversations we've had in the past few days. Because, while I know I've written this so many times, he's just so much fun right now.

Landon remains the consummate big brother. He is always concerned for Clairebear's happiness and well-being, even as she now shuns most of his affection. JP and I frequently hear Landon trying to direct Claire to some super fun activity, imagine Claire walking fast in the opposite direction, and then hear Landon saying, "okay, let's go do that!" As we joke, he just wants her to love him, and Claire, she just wants to rule the world.

Claire has recently taken up hitting. She thinks it's hilarious; we do not. The other day, she walked up to Landon and popped him on the head. We scolded her, but Landon said, "it's okay Mommy, when I was a baby I hit my big brother too." It took us a little while to straighten him out on that one...

Later that day he suddenly said with a sigh, "Mommy, Clairebear isn't a baby anymore. Pretty soon she's going to be a big kid like me. We need another baby." I suggested a goldfish.

His teacher just got married and is on her honeymoon. When I picked him up from daycare yesterday he said, "Mommy! We saw a picture of Ms. Ari getting married and she was BEAUTIFUL."

Then, "Did you and daddy go on a honeymoon?"
Yes, I said, we went on one later.
Landon, "But who watched us?"
Me, "You weren't born yet sweetie."
Landon, "What?!"

For as utterly laid back as he is and as well behaved as he is, he is not at all apathetic or lackadaisical. He excitedly flits from one activity to the next. He has opinions about everything, they're just very rarely negative (JP says he gets that from me). He loves to play superheroes, loves to "help" me cook, and LOVES to play outside. I think he has inherited his dad's athletic skill. He was holding a hat for JP to toss a ball in the other day. He asked for a turn to throw the ball and then proceeded to make all five shots he attempted, with JP moving the hat around. We were pretty impressed.

At almost-four, he goes to bed at 7:30, wakes up around 6:30(ish, we really don't know exactly when he gets up, but we'll hear him in Claire's room trying to make her laugh around 6:45), and takes a nap from 2-4 on weekends but never naps during the week at daycare. He eats all vegetables, all fruit, all carbs, and some meat. He plays on his own, but prefers to play with Claire or one of us. He loves his extended family and daycare teachers and always wants everyone to come to our house (again, definitely something he gets from me and not his dad). He has a stubborn streak that is identifical to his daddy's and watching the two of them butt heads on a regular basis is both amusing, frustrating, and a frightening glimpse of the teenage years ahead.

We got him a bike for his 4th birthday present. Since last weekend was the only time we could shop for one, we gave it to him a few days early. He loves it. I nearly had heat stroke following behind him on all the bike rides he requested over the weekend, but he did a great job on his new wheels. I think one of his friends must have recently gotten a bike because he told us over and over, "It's okay if I fall. Sometimes when you get a new bike, you fall down a lot, but it's okay. My helmet will keep my head from being bonked." He never did fall, but it cracked us up to hear his little pep talks about how that was okay.

I started this post two days ago and have been trying to pay attention to the less positive aspects of this age because I keep unintentionally leaving them out. The difficult moments are just so brief, or dealt with so quickly and completely (i.e. misbehavior, sent to room, apologies and reunions, moving on), that I honestly don't think of them when I think of him generally. But I'd say he still has one fit a day (more on weekends when we're together all day, probably an average of 2 or 3). Lately, it's like he's picking a fight because one isn't naturally available to him. For example, he'll request something reasonable for breakfast, I'll say okay, and then he'll suddenly cry out in a whiny voice, "but I wanted [new unreasonable thing]! You're not being fair!" And I look at him like he has a different head. Because, for that moment, it's like he does. I give him a chance to reconsider the tone of voice, to use his words to talk about what else he might like, and then send him upstairs if he can't get back on track (right now, he needs to go upstairs to restart 1 in 4 times or so, usually a look or warning snaps him back). We're pretty emphatic that the whiny voice (or any yelling, acting out, etc.) is not tolerated in the common family areas, but he is welcome to throw a fit in his own room with the door closed if he'd like and we look forward to having him back in the kitchen when he's done with that. He rarely takes us up on our offer.

He's such a kid now. Sometimes when I go to tuck him in at night, I see vestiges of that chubby cheeked little baby I held for hours on end nearly four years ago, but mostly, I just see a fun, independent, sweet KID. A kid who dresses himself every morning, puts his pj's away, puts on his own shoes, carries on long conversations with me, and talks incessantly about going to kindergarten- an event that is now only a year away.

And while I rejoice in his independence and budding big-personhood, I do love the little reminders of how much he loves and needs us. Last night JP had a meeting until 8 p.m. As I tucked Landon in bed at 7:30 I told him daddy would come give him a kiss when he got home later. I meant that daddy would come give a sleeping Landon a kiss when he got home, but when JP climbed up the stairs at 8:45 he found a little Lanman with his eyes WIDE open, like he was trying so hard to stay awake. And when JP came to sit by him, Landon slowly got a huge smile and whispered, "daddy you're here!". JP ended up turning on the light and reading him a few books before coming downstairs at 9 to eat dinner and change out of his work clothes. And while I had fleeting concerns for Landon's next-morning behavior, I knew JP needed those 15 minutes even more than Landon did.

So that's almost-four for us. But for a few daily, temporary bouts of madness, it's a pretty awesome age. He's still learning so much and is so excited about everything, he always makes the every day more fun. He's nearly beside himself with excitement over our trip to the beach this weekend. The first thing he asks in the morning is "how many more days?" and two nights ago, when I tucked him back under his covers at 11pm, he muttered "I'm going to the beach..." I hope Galveston lives up to his expectations, but one of the fun things about four is everything still does.


  1. Do you think his temperament is a result of the way you and JP have raised Landon and Claire or are kids are naturally happy or sad? I would imagine that you can help go in either direction, for example, by providing structure to reduce tantrums. But I'm curious how much of the personality you think is inherent in the child. I don't know anything about kids but I'd like to have some in a few years so I'm trying to prepare.

    Also, Landon's bike helmet is awesome!

  2. WONDERFUL post! Really, so perfect. One day he'll love reading it and seeing what he was like. This age sounds awesome.

    Quick question: How do you feel about the timing of your kids? I feel like it's an impossible thing to get right ... our little one is 14 months and I know for a fact I need a while longer before wanting another one, but I was just wondering how the age difference has been for you? Too much, too little? Any advice would be great!

  3. Hi Elizabeth! I think I wrote about this once and guessed Landon's behavior was about 50% inherent personality and 50% us. I think that was about right for the toddler ages. Now that he's a little older and his behavior can be somewhat separated from his personality, I think we can still take some credit for his behavior, but he gets all credit for his generally laid back personality. That's just who he is. I think we do a good job of enforcing clear boundaries and rules, and we are very strict about mealtime and public behavior, but the overall low number of tantrums, etc. comes from something inside him, if that makes sense. I see this even more clearly now because I think Clairebear is going to be a tantrum queen - she does NOT have a laid back attitude at all. She's very happy and sweet and adorable, but oh man does she have OPINIONS. Landon was always more of a "slight preference" kid :)

    And to Cristy- I've found 3 years to be a really wonderful age gap. Landon was old enough to do a lot of things himself and to understand that Claire was a baby, etc. I also felt like the lack of regression of sibling rivalry was partly a product of the bigger age difference. He'd stopped sleeping in a crib and I had stopped carrying him months before Claire was born, so I don't think he felt "replaced" by Claire. Plus he could play indepedently when needed, dress himself, feed himself, etc. And he was just so excited about having a baby come to the house- he really understood the idea of growing our family. But all that said, my friends who have spaced their kids closer have said while it was really hard in the beginning, it's fun having kids that are so close in age and activity-level. I'm sure all spacing has it's pros and cons, but I can definitely say that for us, 3 years apart has been awesome.

  4. Thanks for this post. I have one who just turned 4, so I recognize so much here (including the temporary bouts of madness). I think if I loved that girl more I would burst, and the love just grows and grows (even though there is now a personality there that is separate from mine -- I feel as if being with her used to require complete concentration from me, and now suddenly she's off thinking about things and playing on her own).

    On the nature vs. nurture thing, it's impossible to separate, isn't it? Your own personality is a part of them and a part of how you raise them.

  5. His smile says it all! My son is 5.5 and I swear every day there is less and less "baby" in his face. Speaking of bikes, he just learned to ride without training wheels...its a whole new world! In less than a month I will be a mom to a kindergartener.

  6. That first picture, in particular, gives a great glimpse of what he'll look like as a teenager, don't you think? If I'm right, you're going to have teenage girls coming out of your ears. He's soooo cute and will be soooo hunky!

    I continue to be a voice in the wilderness for 5 years apart. I saw several examples in my own family (and several cousins who copied us) and in my circle of acquaintances but it seems to be less common now-- thus doth the pendulum swing. I still feel that even with a 5 year gap (which has elements of siblings to play with as well as single-child-ness) their whole childhoods rushed by too fast. I would feel like I'd been hit by a truck with the 22 months apart that my brother and I had. I know someone who has 3 under 2 and always looks like she hasn't slept in a week. I'm sure she can't recall too much about early days of any of them!