Christmas 2021: Memories

I’ve said this before, but I have to say it again: age five has been such a sweet, special phase with Trevor. He’s still so innocent, so full of natural joy, so free of judgment. When I check on him before going to bed, I’ll often find him deep in sleep with both arms stretched above his head. Breathing so deeply and calmly. His beautiful little face so serene. His hands and arms still so tiny. He seems to be at perfect peace. And I’ll say a prayer in my mind, “is there some way that he could just hang on to his innocence and joy and open-mindedness forever?” Why do we have to lose it all as we grow? 

This sweet boy teaches me that Love can only expand! Here’s everything that’s fun about this age:

Whenever he and Chris get home from anywhere, Tru bursts into the house yelling, “MAMA!!” immediately (these days, he sometimes calls me “Mom” but often still “Mama.”) Then he comes bounding up the stairs to tell me all about what he’s done. He still holds my hand once in a while when we’re out. He still likes to curl up in my lap to read a bedtime story. When he gets up in the morning he jumps straight into Chris’s and my bed for “cuddles” (i.e. a wrestling match where my hair is pulled and my ribs are elbowed). I’ll kiss his hair, which always smells so sugary sweet. And rub his back and his arms, which always seem so impossibly tiny. Sometimes when I tuck him into bed after his story, he’ll say, “Mama lay beside me.” So I’ll lie on top of the covers and put my head on the pillow beside him. And we’ll whisper our secret plans for the next day. He’s so eager to join Chris and I in almost any activity. I’ll say, “Tru do you want to draw a picture in this birthday card I’m mailing?” And he’s so excited to draw a picture. Or I’ll say, “do you want to help me make pumpkin muffins?” And he’s ready to get started! 

We love to watch Encanto together (Tru has been watching it daily these days). I think it’s officaly become my favorite Disney movie. When the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” song comes on, we love to get up and dance to the music. Tru is always great about doing the “Thunder!” part in a really loud and deep voice. I’ll usually turn on the movie when he first wakes up in the morning and he’ll ask if we can cuddle on the couch while we watch. He’ll wrap my big white robe around himself because he “needs to get warm” (since it takes a while for the downstairs to warm up first thing in the morning). Another song we love to dance to these days is Heat Waves. Tru has some really great dance moves for that one. The song Tru loves to sing along with on the radio most is “Come Back as a Country Boy” by Blake Shelton. Blake sings in a very deep, gruff voice about lots of tough guy stuff and and it’s completely unsurprising that Tru loves it!

He really makes me laugh too. We were playing darts the other day and Trevor wanted to write down our scores (have I mentioned his competitive nature yet?) He wrote his name and then tried to sound out how to write “Mama” (they’ve been studying how to “sound out” words in school). He made his best guess and wrote “mumu.” That cracked me up. “Mumu” didn’t even score half the points that Trevor did, by the way!

He’s obsessed with growing taller and the height of everyone around him. The other day on the playground after school, he asked another mom and me to stand back to back so he could determine who was taller. Then he told that mom the height of everyone in ou family, grandparents included! Last night when I was getting him ready for bed, he asked me to stand underneath the bathroom chandelier to see if I was tall enough to touch it. I had my hair pulled up into a bun on top of my head. He informed me that my “hair ball” was just barely touching the chandelier.

I love how Tru says “aminals” and “socc-uh” (soccer) and “hockey pwactice.” He has such a fun sense of humor too. The other day, Tru told us about how he was learning about synonyms and antonyms in school. Chris said, “oh yeah, I love synonym. I like to sprinkle synonym on my toast for breakfast.” Tru was laughing so hard about that. Joining in his laughter is my favorite thing in the world.

Kindergarten is keeping Tru busy. He seems to really enjoy school. He never has any complaints and he’s always pretty eager to leave in the morning. He talks especially about the games he plays in gym class and the projects he does in engineering. He’s been really proud of the maps of the continents he’s been creating (he did beautiful work with watercolors to paint those). He’s also reading progressively more challenging books at school each week (that seems to really bring out his competitive nature – he often reports on who is “farthest along” in the reading list). He’s done a lot of incredible art projects and learned about various famous artists from his teacher Mary. So Chris and I took Tru to two special Van Gogh exhibits that came to Boston. We all had a lot of fun with those.

Trevor absolutely loves to be active and he has endless energy. Chris and I have found that he seems to do best (i.e. not drive us all stir crazy) when he has lots of scheduled activities. So he has yoga class and hockey practice during the week. Sometimes Chris will take him to an indoor rock climbing facility after school. And then hockey, indoor soccer, and swimming on the weekends. He continues to be very athletic and seems to pour his whole heart/being into his sports activities. He’s also been very eager to try basketball (he went to his very first Celtics game in December to see Steph Curry and he loved it!), so Chris signed him up for a basketball class that starts in February. When he’s home, he loves to do more sports: “basketball” (throwing giant bouncy balls into a big cardboard box), magnetic darts, corn hole, and “golf” (throwing his beanie babies at specific “holes” such as a rocking chair). He also loves building structures with blocks and his Magna-Tiles toys. For a while, his favorite thing was to build pyramids with red Solo cups. He’ll also sit at his art table sometimes to draw a picture or write out number charts. His movies of choice these days are the Clifford movie and Encanto. It’s so funny: he’ll watch a movie every day for a few weeks straight, and then suddenly drop it and refuse to ever watch it again.

There are daily struggles too, of course. My natural wake-up time is around 7:15, but Trevor regularly wants to start his day as early as 5:30 am. I often feel like a zombie forced to be an early riser. We’ve hit the dead of winter, so getting to school each day requires extra planning: in addition to packing his lunch and getting him into his jacket and mask and lanyard, I now also need to remember: mittens, hat, snow pants, and boots. It all gets covered in mud with the slush and snow and needs to be washed at least a few times a week. And then lugged upstairs each day after school so I can put the sopping wet mittens and boots over the heating vents to dry overnight. Plus I need to pack sneakers on gym day. When I pick him up from school, he lets me know he’s disappointed it’s not Chris picking him up and then he’s eager to play on the playground. He’s amazing in that he never feels cold! The other day, he threw off his jacket when it was 35 degrees out! I’ll stand on the playground, holding all the gear I just listed, shivering and fingers turning blue and dreaming of getting back to a heated car. Meanwhile Tru runs around with a smile, determined to never leave! There’s also a contentious side that’s emerging in Tru this year. When he was a baby, he wailed and cried when he wasn’t happy. As a toddler, he threw a tantrum when he didn’t get his way. As a young child, he’s turned to anger and blame. For example, I got him dressed nicely for school one day and told him he looked really handsome. He got pretty angry and said, “don’t say that! I don’t look handsome, I hate these clothes. I want comfy clothes.” He can be pretty mean and hurtful! I’ve learned not to ask, “how was school?” because he’ll angrily reply, “don’t ask me that, I don’t want to tell you.” Instead, it’s best to ask a very specific question about a topic I know he really enjoys. For example, “did you get to play corn hole in gym today?” I think the full days in school drain him a little bit. He doesn’t hear most of the things I say to him (in terms of asking questions, asking for help, asking him to do things). It’s unpleasant to feel so ignored. He learned at a very young age to simply tune me out! Walking Cal was a challenge when Tru was a baby; five years later, it’s still a challenge. I can remember a time when I used to look forward to evening walks with Chris. Our neighborhood strolls were invigorating for me. Now, walks feel like the most draining thing ever! Tru frequently complains about going for a walk. And then he stops to eat dirty snow and pick up trash that’s blown out of a trash can and move at a snail’s pace. The other day, he wasn’t paying attention and walked straight into a mailbox and started sobbing. It’s just a struggle. I think maybe my main problems is that – like a lot of adults – I tend to view a walk as having the goal of leaving home to just get home again. But Tru is interested in every potential discovery and fun experience along the way. On our last walk,  for example, he found the biggest and tallest stick he could find. He reached his arm up as high in the sky as he could and said, “I think this stick is ten feet tall!” And he wandered off because he found a little trail on a small hill. He helps me slow down and view walks through the little boy lens, where finding a new rock is fascinating and throwing a snowball against a tree is joyful.

As for the holidays, here’s one thing I never knew until becoming a mom: the “magic” of Christmas, in fact, comes from really hardworking parents! The decorations indoors. The decorations outdoors. The tree. The daily advent calendar gifts. The cookies from scratch (and then the clean-up). The special events and planning. The holiday clothes. The letters to and calls from and visits with Santa. And of course, the gifts. And trying to come up with the “perfect” gifts. And the stockings. How completely exhausting it all is! I know that, for me, every single thing feels important and necessary. There’s a voice in me that says, “you must do all of it!” But then I look at sweet Tru, and he doesn’t need any of it. He enjoys everything that comes his way, of course. But he doesn’t need any of it. So I don’t even know why I cling to all of these endless traditions.

One thing Tru was really excited about was a gingerbread decorating class at a local bakery. He decorated his house – with frosting and candies – all on his own. I just sat beside him and watched – he didn’t need me for anything. He’s becoming so independent, and it’s wonderful to see. Anyway, he was so proud of the final product. And he loved eating it afterward. The boy has a major sweet tooth, have I mentioned!?

One of Tru’s favorite activities during the holidays is his advent calendar. Each morning in December he’ll jump into my bed after waking up and immediately ask, “did you put something in my advent calendar for today?” He’s been into collecting “ware wocks” (rare rocks) the past couple of months. So I put some gem-type rocks in his calendar. He’s also still in love with golf so Chris and I found him a few little golf items too. But what Tru loves the most is a chocolate treat. So yes, he starts his day with chocolate on many days in the month of December!

We took Trevor to see a children’s holiday show of the Boston Pops. I thought the show was very inspired and fun and the perfect length (about one hour). Tru sat (fairly) still and watched the whole show. He said he enjoyed it. I was excited to get dressed up and take photos before the show. Tru just fights me so much on photos these days. He tells me he hates dressing up – he only wants “comfies.” And he tells me he hates doing photos. My strategy has been to rarely ask for photos. But doing these family journals is special to me so – once in a while – he can help me out! We seem to have such polar opposite personalities. I love food and he mostly hates all food. I like to sleep in and he’s up at the crack of dawn. I want to read quietly and he wants to hurl beanbags around the house. I want to shop for cute outfits and he can’t stand to be in a store for two minutes. A lot of times I can’t help but wonder in amazement, “did this little guy really come from me?”

Anyway, after the show we went to Davios restaurant in the Boston Seaport for lunch. We had a table by a big window overlooking the harbor, and a light flurry of snow was falling. We had so much fun joking around, laughing, being silly. The food was delicious. We played tic-tac-toe using the children’s menu and crayons. It was one of those “ordinary” moments I’ll always remember.

Here are some of the bells that Tru has collected from riding the Polar Express train in Portland. It’s been an annual tradition since Trevor was one year old. Trevor just completely believes that anything is possible. And don’t we all wish we could do the same? He believes in Santa without question. Tru was certain that the Polar Express train took us to the North Pole. When Tru asked how we could get to the North Pole when we were moving so slowly, Grampy joked, “we’re moving at such high speed, it feels slow.” And Trevor just accepted that answer. And when the train conductor stopped to tell Tru that his bell was taken from Dasher, “the first reindeer leading the sleigh,” Tru had no doubts. He was only disappointed that he didn’t get Rudolph’s bell! Little children have the blessing of strong faith. After that, we went to Scales for dinner. It’s become another annual tradition. The restaurant is right on the harbor and always so beautifully decorated for the holidays. Tru ordered a candy cane flavored ice cream for dessert and Chris and I had a caramel sundae. That was another special family night.

Tru was excited to write a letter to Santa and put it in the mailbox. I helped him with the spelling, but he wrote the letter himself. He asked Santa for one thing: the perfect putting mat.

The mess from homemade holiday cookies always stresses me out. The flour everywhere and the way the dough starts to split and crack and fall apart. Ugh. Anyway, Trevor had so much fun decorating the cookies with red, green, and white frosting and sprinkles. He came up with a technique where he’d swirl together all three colors. 

Tru also had the idea to leave Santa hot chocolate with his cookies, instead of milk. He thought Santa might be cold from driving a sleigh outside all through the night. I helped him write a little note to Santa, explaining, “the hot chocolate is to warm you up.” I thought that was really thoughtful and sweet.

We had a fun afternoon decorating the tree. And recalling the different things we’d done and places we’d been when collecting all of the various ornaments. Tru made some beautiful handprint painted frames for Chris and my parents. He helped me with the wrapping. And we did our annual Christmas Eve tradition of breakfast-for-dinner and then watching a movie. This year the menu was Caesar salad, fruit salad with sugar and fresh lime, avocado BLT, hash browns, and cinnamon buns. Tru got a video call from Santa and then hopped right into bed. Christmas Eve is the one day of the year where Tru voluntarily rushes through the bedtime routine – shower, teeth brushing, pajamas – everything finished quickly, everything on his own! And then he hopped happily into bed and went straight to sleep. I guess that’s the gift of Christmas for parents!

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