For the most part, C transitioned to this new lifestyle pretty effortlessly. He went from napping daily, to napping every other day, to napping just a few days of the week. We instituted "Charlie Time" during nap-time, where the only rule is that he needs to stay in his room, playing quietly. He challenges this sometimes, but usually not without some kind of justification. ("I need my green guy so I'm coming out to find him. I can do that, it's okay even though it's Charlie Time.") Other times, he blatantly refuses to participate in resting or Charlie Time. (I think I don't want Charlie Time or nap-time. I'll just choose just to stay out here.) But for the vast majority of time, he plays in his room while the timer ticks down from 60 minutes.
This new free time has opened up our afternoons-- those once strictly reserved for napping. We now venture out, grocery shopping, running errands, or walking lazily around the block. We bake brownies and do laundry and every once in awhile I'll over-achieve and we'll make some kind of seasonal craft. Sometimes, when I go in to excuse him from his exile, I linger at the doorway. I listen to him reading book after book, or rescuing his farm animals from his book shelf. Sometimes, I watch him as he fits together a puzzle or sprawls out on his tummy, intently playing his "Lets Go Fishing" game. Other times, I go in and scoop him up into my lap and ask him if I can read the books to him, or join in his game. Sometimes he allows it, other times he asks me to go away and come back in a few minutes. And I smile, and chuckle, and think, "Wow, this little person has his own needs and wants and is old enough to articulate them in a pretty appropriate way."
In the evenings, his tank tends to run out of gas and he turns into a crazed wild-running animal, who appears to have been raised by wolves. He's aggressive and short-tempered, and shows affection by head butting and squeezing. By 8:00, his eyes are heavy and his body is limp. He usually drifts off to sleep well before 8:30, something that never happens if he gets a little shut-eye during the day.
Last night, as I slipped out of his bed, I looked at him curled up under his cozy flannel sheets. His knees were tucked up to his chest and his arms were wrapped protectively around his two most loved stuffed animals. His eyelids twitched and he snored so softly, you had to bend down to hear it. He looked so peaceful and sweet-- don't all kids when they're tucked in and sleeping for the night? But he also looked so....big.
Somewhere between dining on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gaining the ability to go potty entirely on his own, Charlie transformed from a toddler to a little boy. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, and sometimes (in the midst of a tantrum), I wonder if it actually has happened. But then I glance again, and sure enough, my little chubby cheeked, squatty, blonde haired, grubby fingered toddler has thinned out and somewhat cleaned up.
In some tiny ways, I get a little achy thinking about what's behind us. For the past four years, I've been curling into this tiny body at approximately 1:00 every day. When he was a baby, I'd crawl into his crib, and nap right along with him (which sounds about as creepy as the "I'll Love You Forever" book). But this momentary sadness is nothing compared to the excitement that comes with getting to know my little boy. His personality is starting to shine, and his vocabulary constantly amazes us and cracks us up.
I love this new milestone in our family-- I love being able to spend meaningful time and interact with Charlie in the afternoon. I'd be lying if I said I won't miss snuggling up together with books and a snack before drifting off to sleep in the middle of the day, always with his hand curled around mine and his little knees tucked up underneath both of us. But I'm so grateful I had the chance to spend almost four years snoozing the afternoon away with this sweet little boy. And now, looking forward, I'm so grateful to have two future years of afternoon downtime spent together.
|Walks around the block on warm days...|
|Science experiments on cold days.... (float or sink?)|
|Shoveling on snowy days....|
|And hiking on sunny days.|