Monday, March 21, 2016

Dear Flynn, . . . .


Dear Flynn, 

I’ve been waiting for the right story to tell about you.  An anecdote that would capture something about your personality.  Some narrative that would epitomize your character.  But nothing.  Nada.  No clear story, no obvious story to tell, has come to me.  So, instead of a single story, I offer you the following tidbits, snippets and brief notes which I hope create a picture of you as a two-and-a-half-year-old little boy.

In the morning you like to shave with Daddy or, rather, while Daddy shaves you like to smear shaving cream all over your body.

You have two favorite foods: waffles and apple juice.  They’re more like addictions, actually.  You want waffles for breakfast every day and you want apple juice morning, noon and night and at all times in between.  I try not to open the fridge when you’re around since it will only remind you that there’s apple juice in the house and that you most certainly want some. 

You love to watch Nina and Star on the Sprout channel at night.  When I poll you and your sisters after dinner about what you all want to watch on TV before bed, you plead for “NinaStar! NinaStar!”

Your favorite pajamas are purple Doc McStuffins PJs.  They were Margot's, I'm sure, but you took them as your own so long ago I don't remember them belonging to anyone else.  You paw through your stacks of PJs to find them and then pull them out, so happy, grinning and holding them up high as if they were a prize of some sort.

Your favorite bedtime book is “My first words.”  You like it when Papa or Daddy ask you to find something on the page and you get to point to it. 

Favorite Things
Coco's Frozen tiara
Margot's black shoes
Flynn's "My first words" book

You love to brush your teeth before bed.  Or, more accurately, you love to suck the toothpaste off your toothbrush and then play with your toothbrush and your drinking cup in the water running out of the faucet.  Very little brushing actually happens.

You love to jump on and off everything.  Ev.ry.thing.  You jump on beds and on couches and off steps and off stools.  You build things so that you can jump off them.  You like to carry your step-stool from the bathroom to the TV room, put the stool on the coffee table, climb up on the stool on top of the coffee table and then jump from the stool on top of the coffee table to the couch.  I’m constantly saying, “Flynn, no jumping.”  At first in a stern voice.  Then, because you don’t stop, I say, “Flynn, stop jumping,” in a sterner and louder voice.  Then, finally, because you still don’t stop, with a raised voice I say, “Flynn, do you hear me?!  Do you want to sit on the steps?!”

Believe it or not, at one point I thought you might have a hearing problem.  I really thought we might have to have your hearing checked.  When I would tell you to do something (or, more often, tell you to stop doing something) you wouldn’t respond.  Coco and Margot, on the other hand, were always responsive.  But, you?  It was like you couldn’t hear me.  Then I realized that you didn't have a problem hearing me when I said, “Flynn, do you want to sit on the steps?”  You can hear just fine.  You’re just stubborn.

Last Christmas I bought you a matching game; a box of cards with matching bears.  On Christmas Day I laid out a handful of the bear cards on a table, showed you how they matched and then showed you how to match them.  I gave you a bear card and asked you to find the match.  You pointed to a random bear.  I tried it again.  Same result.  Again I tried.  Same result.  Arrghh!!  So I went to the kitchen and got a little bag of fruit-flavored gummi treats.  I sat back down with you at the table and explained to you that if you matched the bear I would give you a gummi treat.  Ta da!  You managed to start producing perfect matches. 

You love to be picked up and carried.  And, if your request to be picked up and carried is refused, you completely fall out.  A complete meltdown.  You throw yourself down, lay flat on your back, and wail and wail and wail.  You’ve started to grow out of it mostly, after Papa started insisting on some tough love.  When you had these "pick-me-up!" meltdowns we just walked away.  We walked away from you countless times at home, a couple of times on the sidewalk, once in a mall, and once in an airport.   Just so you know, this nearly killed me.  Particularly the time at the mall when, watching you from some distance have your meltdown in the middle of the mall, I had to signal to concerned strangers that you were my child, had not been abandoned and were not somehow being abused.  Each time, you eventually dragged yourself up on to your feet and came running from behind, still wailing but at least you were upright and walking.

You spend some time each day in time-outs on the steps.  In the beginning you would often sit on the steps calmly, as if you were just on a bit of a break and waiting for someone to bring you a cup of coffee.  Now, however, you really don’t like it and make that quite well known to the rest of us.  This too you are growing out of. 
Flynn checking email over coffee with Daddy.
The great conundrum right now, Flynn, is your refusal to eat dinner. 

You stopped eating dinner several months ago.  You’re just not that into it.  You’re happy to sit at the dinner table with us and you’re happy to drink your milk, but you have no interest whatsoever in the meal in front of you.  And it doesn’t matter what the meal is; you’re just as uninterested in pizza as you are in broccoli.  I thought for a while it was because Mari might be giving you snacks late in the afternoon so you had no appetite at dinner.  But that’s not it because we know that even when you don’t get snacks in the afternoon you still don’t eat dinner. 

So, every night we have the same ritual.

     A few minutes after we sit down for dinner, you turn to me, tilt your head, look at me with your big brown eyes, smile and say, “Treat?”
     “Only if you eat some of your dinner,” I reply.  I am not even asking you to eat all your dinner.  I’d be happy if you ate even one bite of your dinner at this point.  God knows, as a man with a sweet-tooth, I want you to have a treat.  A few weeks ago, in the middle of our no-treat ritual, I said to you, “Flynn, you’re breaking my heart here.”  So now sometimes Coco likes to tell you when you don't eat your dinner that you're breaking her heart.
     “Treat?” you try again.
     “No, you have to eat some of your dinner.”
     Then you say, “Margot, no treat?”  This, as you know, upsets your sister across the table who eats her dinner every night and always gets a treat.  So, Margot panics.  “Yes, treat!” she insists.
     “Margot, no treat,” you say again.
     “Yes, Margot, you get a treat.  Flynn, stop saying that.”
     “Margot, no treat.”
     Margot then has to confirm that everyone will get a treat except you.  Pointing to everyone at the table, one by one, she goes through the roster:  “Margot, treat.  Coco, treat.  Daddy, treat.  Papa, treat.  Flynn, no treat.”
     After dinner, when Coco and Margot get their treats, you never seem surprised or upset that you don’t get one as well.  Sitting with me on the couch with your cup of apple juice watching Nina and Star is enough for you.