Three year olds are difficult.
Understatement of the year.
We are struggling with our vivacious, extroverted, testing-the-limits boy. He has started to wake up several times during the night, sometimes with a mini-night terror and sometimes just "asking" (there is nothing polite about the screaming demands) to be tucked back in. Then, he is up for good at 5am. So much for the OK to wake light. He prides himself on telling me when it goes off, but that is usually when we have been awake for 1-2 hours already and are playing with cars or go upstairs to finally get dressed for the day. We have tried EVERYTHING we can think of in the morning and are gladly accepting suggestions of what we can do to keep him better rested.
He doesn't nap anymore either. We attempt a daily quiet time for 45-60 minutes. I have left his door open during nap 2 times: the first time I found him in Rachel's crib (while she was napping), standing over her with a bottle of spray and wash (Since then I have toddler-proofed the house yet again). The second time I found him proudly in his room having colored on the walls, his growth chart and himself. Then, this past week he learned how to take off the child-proof handles from the backs of doors. I think we must resort to installing a lock on the outside of his door. He is strong and crafty but not smart enough to know (and avoid) ways that he could hurt himself when left alone.
But, then he is our sweet little J man. He took the battery out of JB's pager and said, "See, now you don't have to go to work". Yesterday I couldn't see him on the monitor so I ran upstairs expecting the worst. He was asleep on the floor right in front of the door where he likes to peek under during his quiet time. He proclaimed on his second day of school, "Mom, you forgot to send me with a treat. All the other kids have treats for lunch." Confident little boo. He body slams his sister with hugs and kisses and goes ga-ga over her.
He loves his friends and will literally run outside naked in excitement to play with them. He's learning to share his toys and sometimes even initiate sharing toys and treats with me. He loves his dad and has memorized every song that Jonathan has written and recorded with Ben and Allyson. J loves to don his headphones, shut the door to our 'recording studio' and jam on the drums. He and JB love to scooter and skateboard around ODU, getting lots of adoring looks from college kids.
He still only eats chicken nuggets as his protein source but he can throw back some peppers and hummus, usually consuming one full pepper each night at dinner (that is an expensive veggie habit but hey, if it's eating a veggie, we'll buy it!). He loves fruits and will often choose those instead of desserts.
Jackson is silly and fun. He loves to sing real songs with a twist by adding in his own made-up words and modifying the tune. He never sits still and is usually hanging from our banister, walking along the back of the couch (we don't condone this!), climbing trees (but not knowing how to get down yet) or jumping off of our living room table. He still has no interest in letters but he loves numbers and we now count everything! He can easily throw things out like, "there go three yellow dump trucks" as we are driving down the road. He has an avid imagination, sometimes playing by himself and sometimes getting us to play along with his ghosts, sharks, camping, fishing, construction stories. He also has an incredible memory, recalling a name of someone he just met or an event from a year ago. I used to doubt him but now realize that he can remember things that I don't even pay attention to.
We started an obedience jar and it's working well. Every time he does something such as follow instructions, initiate one of his chores without being asked, is kind to his friends, obeys the first time, we put 1-2 marbles in his jar. When it reaches the blue line we go out for ice cream or another treat of his choice. The first time we went to Cold Stone and the employee was so impressed with Jackson and his obedience that he hooked us up with a waffle cone and filled the cup super full. He also gave J a dish of marshmallows too. What a great positive reinforcement for good behavior!
J started school on December 9th and has loved it. I drop him off at "Katie's school" each morning. Our neighbor goes there but J still doesn't realize that it's now also his school. He confidently walks to his classroom, hangs up his jacket and 'back-packet' on the hanger and walks into his classroom without looking back. He tells us things about the day: there are toys that stay on the playground, I didn't eat all my lunch, I play bells during music, I saw Katie, I had to dump some glitter off my craft. He proudly screams, "Mom's here" and runs to greet me (best moment ever), shoving his craft in my hands and proclaiming, "I made this for Rachel" each time. I know that our life is about to be full of crafts but I just adore having my walls covered in his first art projects (that were not done in my house!).
Amidst all the struggles, frustration, anger, time-outs and discipline, we can't stop loving this boy more and more each day. God continues to give us grace and patience when we are completely empty. He is faithful to us and we continue to pray that we could be loving and faithful parents to our precious children, whom we get to care for on this earth.