We crossed over a huge milestone in my book. My baby boy learned to write.
Now, I know many preschoolers have been etching letters for a while now – he is nearly 5. But I’ve purposefully taken a more hands-off approach when it comes to most things academic. We do lots of reading and talking about things like numbers and letters and colors, but nary a worksheet comes in the door, mostly because I figure we have years and years of those ahead.
But my boy’s got tunnel vision when it comes to letters. We practiced our H’s and M’s so we can begin to recognize our names and we even practiced drawing some of those letters here and there. But all of a sudden, he wants to put all the letters together to make words – specifically, names.
Out of the blue he asked how to write Baby M’s name and I told him (with 3 letters we had an easy win). But he came home from school today with a pile of papers with his name on it. I asked him (several times) if his teacher had helped him and he said no. He had remembered all the letters to his name, even in the correct order, for the most part.
So he sat at the kitchen table during lunch today and practiced and practiced. He tried doing it without looking at his name on something else, memorizing the order, without even realizing he was memorizing. Then he asked to spell his sisters’ names.
He’s filling pages with letters and names and knowing exactly which letter when I tell him what is next. I’ve had to reverse a J, but that’s it. He’s making all these brain connections and working intently at getting his hands to do what his eyes want them to do.
This is not the same boy who I once held with one arm or nursed in the middle of the night, right? Tell me that my current baby boy won’t take such large leaps into personhood as quickly as this one did. All the growing up and the becoming his own self. I can’t take it.
JJ and I have a motto for this crazy period of our life with so many littles… “life will look different in 5 years.” It’s more true than I care to think about. Today’s steps took us that much closer to “life in 5 years” when I don’t have all the diapers and strollers and naps. I’ll be trading these in for new challenges: spelling tests, homework folders and gym shoes. In the flash of an eye my littlest won’t be nursing and I’ll retire all the little white circles that litter my bedroom floor. My laundry will be filled with stinky socks and soccer uniforms instead.
This period of my life when I keep my kids close, when I am their primary and sometimes only guide through the day, will end. They will all learn letters and words. They’ll write stories and books and make me cry. They’ll get on a bus and they’ll experience the world and develop into these tiny little people.
It’s slipping, people. Slipping right through my fingers. That elusive thing of time, precious moments, falling right out of my hands if I’m not careful to pay attention. One day, I’ll look at scribbles hanging on my fridge and remember this day, the day it smacked me in the face that I get to do this thing called life one time and I’d better be fully present for it all. Those scribbles won’t be squiggly forever… they’ll round out and his hands will grow steady.