Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Fourth Birthday, Oliver!

Our little guy turned four today! I feel abnormally emotional about it. Oliver is such a good kid, and he amazes me every single day. Things were so difficult when he was a baby. He cried and screamed basically nonstop for his first year. It was an impossible time, and I still don't know how we made it through that period. Shortly after his third birthday, Oliver went through a violent streak. He shoved kids around. We were at a loss how to handle those situations and dealt with them as best we could.

Now, here he is. Four years old. He is so sweet, thoughtful, and sensitive. He is always concerned for others and talks a lot about what other people are up to. He tells me how Jo is feeling and what she needs. He tells me about what stages different kids are going through, like how Paisley is really little and how, soon, Grace will start needing him to break off small pieces of food so she can eat.

Oliver has a really incredible memory, and, sometimes, it's a little eerie. He seems to remember everything. He'll tell me about last Halloween, for example, or about the time he flew on the airplane with Grandma Colleen (last winter). Random things come up all the time, and I'm left thinking, "He can't possibly really remember that!"

He was a little slow to start talking, but now he talks all the time. Sometimes, the things he says are (accidentally?) profound. For example, I told him today how he's getting so much bigger. This is what he had to say to me:
Mom, I'm getting bigger now. I can do lots of things all by myself. You can't do everything for me anymore, but sometimes, I still need your help. You're my best helper.

He pays a lot of attention to how people are feeling, and he doesn't forget if someone got sick or hurt. I had eczema on a finger that lasted for three months, and he was constantly checking on it. Today, he noticed a nick on Colleen's finger, and he wouldn't let her go before he inspected it. If a random baby cries in the store, he tries to figure out what might be bothering him or her, like if the baby is tired or sad or mad. Which reminds me: Oliver loves babies! He enjoyed spending time with his baby cousin, Sawyer, and mixing up bottles. As Sawyer got older, he enjoyed handing him toddler puffs, one at a time. He is so gentle with little babies, and he walks around with his dolls all the time and kisses them. His stuffed animal, Monkey, is no longer just Monkey. Monkey is "Baby Monkey."

Oliver still enjoys cooking all the time. He wants to make something, always. At his birthday party last weekend, Grandma Colleen gave him an Easy Bake Oven. Oliver has used it twice now. He mixes the batter all by himself, pours it into the pan, pushes it into the oven (using the pusher and with his oven mitts on), sets the timer, and then pushes the pan into the cooling zone. He mixes up the frosting, frosts the cookie, and then shares it with everyone else. He grinds and brews coffee, makes smoothies, helps with dinner, and pours his own cereal & milk in the morning. When he's not cooking, he's usually helping around the house. He still loves doing dishes and laundry.

He also tries to be more of a parental figure to Jo. When he thinks I'm not looking, he'll find a treat in the kitchen and offer it to Jo. He'll tell her, "If you go pee-pee in the potty, you can have this cracker." When she goes potty, he insists on taking it to the bathroom and flushing it.

Sometimes, he tries to act like a parent to Andrew and me. If he sees me with scissors, he reminds me to be careful. He'll tell me not to use certain things (like scissors) around Jo. He's always reminding us to be careful or letting us know how we all need to dress for the weather. He won't let Andrew go to work without first packing him a lunch. "Wait, Dad! I have to pack you a lunch!"

He spends more time away from home now. He's not in preschool yet, but he does go to Chinese school, a preschooler cooking class, and a sports class once a week. He is always very happy to spend time with grandparents, away from Andrew and me. He wants to know that he can handle himself without us. In that way, he is very independent, just like his mama!

It would be so easy to see and treat Oliver as a much older child, but then he does something that reminds me he's just a little kid. Right now, his beloved stuffed animal is missing (more on that story another day soon), and he's devastated. He sometimes acts like a little kid around people he doesn't know very well, too. If someone he doesn't know tries to talk to him, he'll often turn to me and say, "I don't want her to talk to me!"

He's started to get into some things that are a little more typical of a boy his age. He loves trains and is a huge fan of Thomas & Friends. He also is playing on the iPad again. He used to play Angry Birds but eventually lost interest. Now, he's really into a couple of games by Disney: "Where's My Water?" and "Where's My Water 2?" He also plays, "Subway Surfer" with Andrew every night before bed. He still has never seen a full movie, but I'm thinking about taking him to the theater sometime soon.

Oliver is finally eating more and has gained a decent amount of weight this year. He's officially at 38 pounds! His tastes are expanding, and he'll eat veggies now. I no longer have to hide them in his food! I'd say his favorite foods are pasta, yogurt, chicken nuggets, macaroni & cheese, Parmesan cheese, fish sticks, and peanut butter & jelly. For whatever reason, he doesn't like pizza. Even when he doesn't like something, he's (almost) always willing to take a few bites.

When it comes down to it, Oliver is really just a good kid, and a kid who wants to be able to do everything for himself. He's very focused on self-improvement and caring for others, as well as learning how things work. I love him so much, and I am so proud of him.

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