Oh, Owen. There is so much to say. You’re four, and just very four. This past half year, we’ve seen kid-you emerge from toddler-you, these glimpses into your boyhood, interrupted by moments when it feels like you’re two again. And from what my friends tell me, this is four. An in-between age.
Your summer was full of sprinklers and the beach and pool, and digging in the mud with Elsa in the backyard (“We’re MUD monsters, Mom!”). Our bathtub was constantly ringed with washed-off dirt. There was puddle jumping and playdates with Estella, Archie, and Milo, walks at the nature center. You always hold my hand on the floating bridge, your fear of heights ever with you. At the playground, I’d most often find you digging in the sand, making a volcano. At the beach too, it was volcanoes. Pyramids of sand melting into the lake as you dumped buckets of lava-water over them, calling them the names of volcanoes both real and made-up: (your favorite) Mount Satin Helens, Krakatau, Vesuvius, along with KrashABoom and Peetolados.
The volcano-frenzy continued well into the fall. We had between 5-11 volcano books in our house at anyt imd (until I put a cap on how many you could bring home from the library, fun mom that I am), and you began carrying one specific beloved volcano book around with you like your stuffed monkey, even going to bed with it. We started having no-volcano talking times, where we would forbid you from talking about them. It felt absurd, but necessary. When in an anxious situation, meeting new people, it was volcanoes you would turn to, trying to engage them in conversation on your familiar ground.
But! A month or so into preschool, your interests seemed to diversify a bit. And while your penchant for natural disasters still runs strong (you badly wanted a Tornado book for Christmas), you just started talking about volcanoes less. It’s honestly been huge relief. Though it seems like you’re kind of searching for your next thing. You dabbled in David and Goliath again for a while in Novmber, and we tried to push space and planets for a while, but at very least, we are talking about volcanoes far less at this point.
Your current OTHER interests include: throwing snowballs and building snowmen, dressing up in costumes (you favor “Fireman James,” Superman, Batman, “Robin-Man”, and Iron Man), reading books (we just finished our first read-aloud chapter book Little House in the Big Woods, and you would ask for it every afternoon, making me so happy. ) And you love to build. You are a natural at it. We spend a lot of time building magnet structures, and more recently legos – you get a lot of joy from following the step by step instructions in a manual and building towards the outcome. And you’re really good at it, even figuring out the steps by yourself sometimes. You seem like you have strong spacial reasoning skills.
Let’s go back to preschool. You started preschool this fall, 2 mornings a week at Mount Calvary Lutheran Preschool. Your teachers are Ms. Marisa (you say it Meerissa instead of Mareesa) and Ms. Jessica. It has been such a good experience so far. Your first day, you were nervous, but you put on your Superman backpack, brought along your monkeyandvolcanobook (it’s basically one entity at this point, even Elsa says it like this), and you stood, nervously, proudly, on our back porch as your dad took 27 pictures, and I tried not to cry. You asked that he take you in that first day, and he did, and it was a good day. And most of the days have been good so far. You love your teachers, you are quick to tell me about the science projects and recess times, and always the snack. Your favorite friend there is a girl named Addison (recently, you told me that your “just going to come in love with Estella, Adelay, and Addison” – what?!). Apparently, she too is a little bit shy, and the two of you have found each other (her mom says she says your her only friend at preschool). At your fall conferences, we learned you make your teachers laugh with your comments, that you always need to know why something is happening (not shocking), and that you really know your letters and sounds and numbers, though you still sometimes write your name OMEN by mistake. We’ve been encouraged.
Along with preschool, you started asking us lots of spiritual questions, often citing terms I believed you learned at preschool – the good team and the bad team. You have asked me questions in recent months, like, “Do I have to wear a shirt in heaven?” and “Can I bring my monkey to heaven?” and “When will I die?” You ask really good questions after our Bible story time, and for a few months, we were a teeny bit concerned because we kept hearing you say things like, “I don’t want to go to heaven; I want to be on the bad team” when you’d get a consequence. But! on December 13, as we sat down to eat dinner, you, out of nowhere, said, “So I want to be on the good team, but I keep doing bad things.” Of course, you would bring it up all on your own, not because we wanted you to (eye roll). We talked you through the gospel, explaining that ALL of us do bad things. We told you the story of Paul, and how Christ saved him from being the captain of the bad team and made him the leader of the good. We said again, in many ways – Believe! Ask Jesus to help you, to make you new, to put you on the good team, tell him you know that He was perfect and that you’ll never be good enough. And after a few minutes, you said you wanted to ask Jesus for all of that, but you needed help, and you repeated after me as I prayed you through your salvation prayer. Perhaps the best part was how right after we said amen, you jumped off your chair and exuberantly high fives your dad and I. It was such a sweet, sweet moment, one that we’ve prayed for. And while I know you’re only four, and while I fully expect you to have your ups and downs of faith, I think this is a good first step down the straight and narrow path. We rejoice in that.
For as fiery as you can be, for as unaccepting of correction, for as much as you say no, or wait, or “but, Mom…” we’ve seen you grow so much in this past few months, starting in summer, when you became a big brother again. From day 1, you have loved Lewis. You have been so sweet to him, so interested in him, so, so addicted to making him laugh. When he cries as he wakes up, you rush into our room, and push his rock-n-play out like it’s a car, delighting in the smiles he gives you. When he cries, you don’t freak out like you did with Elsa, but you gently talk to him or bring him toys, or make silly noises to try to distract him. You care about him so much, you ask to have him with you during your rest time, and I peek down the stairs to see you dancing around him, making monkey sounds, or playing peek a boo. You are such a good big brother to him, and I have loved watching the two of you get to know each other. And I have to mention…the first day that Lewis came home, I was a hormonal mess. I kept crying that afternoon and evening. At dinner, you reached over and gave me this big, unsolicited hug. All summer, when my hair would be down or I’d be wearing a skirt you’d say, “you’re beautiful, Mom” often followed by, “You look like Jane,” giving me lots of hugs. It’s been really sweet to see that side of you develop more.
And you love Elsa. The two of you have become such buddies lately. You play guys together, build magnets together, dress up in costumes and “pack up,” placing every toy you can find in a heap on the couch, telling me you’re going to your grandparents’ house. You dig in the mud, play in the rain, throw balls back and forth together. I love it – your two sets of feet, pound-running through the house, laughing, is just the best.
You love to help me cook, taking interest in what foods and flavors go well together, always willing to give something new a try (like brie cheese with apples), and telling me honestly if you like it or not, but I love that you try. You stand next to me on kitchen chairs, mixing and whisking and kneading dough, slowly learning knife skills (you are awesome at cutting cucumbers). I love that we can share in that.
As always, your vocabulary is out of this world. Your dad summed it up well the other night, after you and Elsa kept getting out of bed. Our patience was spent, and we sent you both up the stairs again, to your protests of, “But it’s TERRIFYING up there.” Your dad rolled his eyes nd said under his breath to me, “Why can’t he just say scared like every other kid?” and we laughed, because that’s just so you. There are not bad circumstances, there are crisis in your life. There are not happy moments, but elation. Your ups and downs have always been extreme, and it’s one of the best and worst things about you. The smallest thing (me throwing a snowball at your car window) causes you to fist pump and jump with excitement, the smallest thing (me telling you to put your own floor-falled-pretzel in the garbage) sends you into whine spiral.
Some recent Owenisms:
No, I amn’t.
The good guys fight begenst the bad guys.
Mannequins – skeletons
Sardines – swedish fish. (that one is my favorite).
Beyond preschool, this past half year has brought a lot of change. We said goodbye to the only house you’ve known, and you were surprisingly unphased by it. You love our new house – you love to sit (and stand) in our bay window. And you love the basement. That’s one of the first things you told your teachers when they asked you about our new house. It’s basically toyland down there…so, unsurprising. But you handled the move like a chance.
You also lost a good friend this fall. Along with the rest of the Propsts, your bestie Estella moved away to Uganda. We did a lot of talking about it ahead of time, and I wept my way through Toot & Puddle each and every time we read it, sharing tears with Jen each time we said goodbye those last few weeks. Estella has been such a good friend to you, Owen. So kind, and so entertained by you. We’re trying to stay connected….talking to them on the computer every couple weeks, talking about why they’re there, writing letters. But I miss our friends, and I think you do too.
Your love of puns grows daily, and you called Lewis our boybe (boy + baby) soon after he was born, and my heart melted. You think my puns are hilarious, though you always get mad when I parody your favorite songs..I’m not entirely sure why.
I love to see you and your dad together, on the floor wrestling or out in the backyard playing baseball the minute he comes home. This summer, you started crushing balls over our fence, up onto the roof of Bill St. Mane’s. You got good at bouldering our front porch, and watching you and your dad jump in leaf piles was a highlight of my fall. We are so lucky to have him, aren’t we?
You continue to adore your Auntie Sara. The two of you are so silly together. You love all of your grandparents. You chase Ole in a crawl. You still dislike dogs, from giant Sol to tiny Bear.
I still so often wonder about who you will become. I think you will either be someone who does really smart things but lives a quiet life with a few close friends, or potentially someone who will change the world. You can be so dynamic, such a leader, but also so anxious around people. I pray all the time that you will indeed find yourself on God’s team, doing his work with your wit and vocabulary and emotions.
Owen, we love you so much. You are unlike any kid I’ve ever met, and I am thankful I get to be along for the ride.