Tomorrow is such a special day because you will be turning FIVE years old! It seems like just yesterday that your tiny body was placed on my chest for the first time and I got my initial glimpse of the boy who made me a mom. That moment is one of my most treasured memories, but now that we have five YEARS of memories to add to it, I have to say that being your mom just keeps getting better.
While each of your birthdays has felt significant, the transition to FIVE feels like the biggest yet. You are no longer a baby or a toddler or a preschooler, but an official big kid! And I have to admit that you definitely seem like a big kid to me, with all traces of early boyhood slowly slipping away. You are independent, helpful, and resourceful, and you’re able to entertain yourself and help out around the house or with the babies. I have been amazed by the maturity I’ve seen in you over the past year: you weaned from milkies (one year ago today!), you dropped your daily nap, you’re sleeping in your own bed at night, and you can (mostly) buckle into your own car seat by yourself. You are also able to get yourself dressed and take care of your own toileting and grooming needs, and you’re capable of understanding/helping to manage your own behavior and consequences.
That’s not to say that you are completely grown up (thank goodness!). You still need help falling asleep at night and wake up a couple times per night. You’ve become a pretty good eater, but need LOTS of reminders to stay in your seat during meals and just keep eating (it’s not uncommon for you to take up to two hours to finish a plate of food). We’ve definitely had to buckle down on our discipline, as you like to push boundaries, and we are currently working hard on helping you learn to listen the first time.
One of my favorite parts of having a “big kid” is seeing your mind grow. You notice EVERYTHING and ask the most insightful questions about God and how the world works. You love reading together and are great at mental math and word games. Pen-and-paper work is more challenging for you; we spend a little time each day doing traditional school work, and you don’t enjoy it. However, you’re getting close to being able to identify all of your letters and their sounds, and last week you wrote your name all by yourself for the first time! We haven’t decided what we are doing for school in the fall (whether we will homeschool full time or have you attend a part-time school two days a week), and you are excited about the idea of Kindergarten, but not necessarily the work that it entails
It has been an honor to walk alongside you in your personal faith journey. God is so real to you and you talk about God, Jesus, and Heaven all the time. You don’t like to pray out loud, but you tell me how you talk to God on your own, and you know that Jesus lives in your heart and that He loves you no matter what. We read Bible stories together every day, and you enjoy discussing the stories we read and those you hear at church. I sometimes worry that I’m not doing enough to nurture your faith, but I trust that God is working in your heart, and we are seeing the fruit show up in your life.
Your personality has changed in some interesting ways this past year. You are still fun-loving and pretty outgoing, but you’ve gotten more cautious and talk about being shy around your friends or worrying what other people will say or think (though you freely speak your mind at home!). While you are still fairly confident and occasionally stubborn, you are definitely becoming more self-aware and sometimes worry about doing things the wrong way. You crave affirmation and encouragement (as well as lots of physical contact!).
You have a good imagination and it’s fun to watch you engage in creative play with your toys. You are also pretty obsessed with the idea that you are a super hero (we have no idea where that came from) and frequently talk about your super powers, which are very real to you.
Like any boy your age, you love to play, especially in loud, physical ways. Your current favorite activities are hanging out on your new playground and playing airplane tag around the house with Daddy. You also love your scooter, bike, and the Go Kart you got for Christmas. Your favorite independent activity is building “cities” (your term) around the playroom with your trains, cars, Legos, blocks, and stuffed animals. You also enjoy drawing, doing crafts, looking at picture books (especially Look and Find books), and playing games like I Spy and tic-tac-toe. We limit your screen time to the weekends, and while you really enjoy catching up on your favorite shows or watching YouTube videos on the ipad on Saturday mornings, you’d definitely rather be playing outside.
It’s been quite a year for our family, and watching you become a big brother has been one of the greatest joys of my mothering experience. You were so cute throughout my pregnancy, talking to the babies in my tummy and asking questions about when they would come and what they would be like. Over the past three months, you have fully lived up to your self-proclaimed title of Best Big Brother! Every morning, you rush into my room to snuggle with the twins and me, and you are constantly asking to “touch the babies” (which involves lots of petting, kisses, and hugs). You help calm them down when they are upset, bring them toys, and try to sing to them to calm them down. I love hearing you talk to them, mimicking the tones and type of speech that I use when I’m interacting with them. You mirror my parenting in some insightful ways, helping me become a better mom to both them AND you.
You NEVER complain about the twins taking so much of my time and attention, or about their screaming in their car seats on either side of you in the back of the car, or how we often have to leave activities early because they are both fussy. You tell me that our family is so lucky because we have TWO babies, and that you just wish we had more! Kali and Sully are so incredibly blessed to be growing up with you by their side. You talk all the time about the things you will get to do with them when they get older, and I truly can’t wait to see you all playing together. For now, I savor the moments when you cuddle up next to me while I nurse them: all three of my kiddos by my side, what could be better?!
A few days ago, while you were eating lunch (scrambled green eggs and ham—your choice), I pulled out my computer to record an interview. Your responses were just precious, and they say so much more about who you are today than any amount of observations on my part.
What is your full name? Charleston Charlie Jernejcic.
If you could change your name to anything, what would it be? Something funny, like at least a name that’s kind of a little bit funny, like “Banana of the Great Charleston.“
How old are you? Four-and-a-half.
What is your favorite color? Orange and green.
What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut and a doctor.
Why do you want to be those jobs? Doctors are fun I think, and I want to explore new stuff at outer space, and outer space is fun too!
What’s your favorite book? I’ve got more than one favorite but I am going to tell you just one. It’s my LEGO book. And the guessing one where you have to guess what he should do, the Danny one.
What is your favorite food? What I’m eating right now, I think. Green eggs and ham!
What is your favorite thing to do or play? I like to make cities and then play with them.
If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Little Land and Urban Air!
What is your favorite movie or show? Are you asking me just one because I have more than one. One of them is Incredibles 2, the movie, and Rescue Riders, that’s the show.
What do you like about them? I don’t know about what makes them my favorite movie and show. They’re just so good! I just like them.
What is something you really don’t like? I DON’T like, hmm. If someone breaked all of my toys.
Tell me about a time when you got really angry. Well I was not really angry but just a little, like this angry. (Holds finger and thumb close together.) Like the times I ask for a little bit of fruit snacks and you say no.
Tell me about a time when you were sad. I was a little sad at the day we were at the library and I didn’t have time to play when you were picking books since the babies were crying and we had to go home.
What is something that scares you? Maybe a giant. Frozen 2, that scared me a little bit.
What are you proud of? Me! And YOU ‘cause you do good stuff for me. (Leans in to give me a big hug. I melted!)
What is something that you are really good at? Hopping on one foot. I don’t know what other stuff I’m good at. I am good at being a super hero?
What makes you a good super hero? I save the day! At least I save myself. Whoever is trying to fight at me, I save myself with my powers.
What do you know about God or Jesus? I know that he can do anything and that no matter what we do, he won’t stop loving us!
What is love? Love is when you like people. And your heart is where we think is where you keep your love. Write those things down, please. What’s the next question?
What is the funniest thing you have ever done? (Laughing) I think we should skip that one since I don’t know, k?
What’s it like being a big brother? Awesome.
What makes it awesome? I love touching the babies and I love taking care of them if they’re crying.
What do you like to do with Kali and Sully? Snuggle up close.
What’s the hardest or worst part of being a big brother? The hardest part, well, the hardest part is that I’m not a grown up and I can’t help the babies for the stuff they need. And the worst part is a question I already answered. That’s the library one when they started crying and it was really hard to let go of playing.
What are you most excited about? Well, I am excited about when we’re going to Urban Air! That’s why it’s a place that I would go if I was going anywhere I wanted to.
How do you feel about starting school soon? I might be a little nervous at the first day just like Bonnie in Toy Story 4. That movie’s so funny, how she thought she finished school and it was just her first day!
Alright, I think that’s all my questions for you. Is there anything you would like to ask me? Yes. Do you have a snack cup? (Me: yes, I do, in the pantry. Anything else?) What’s your favorite food? (Me: Ice cream) Ooh, good one! Okay, last question, what’s the difference about being a mom and being a big brother? What’s it feel like? (And that was a VERY long answer that I don’t need to document here!)
Charleston, being your mom is such an amazing gift. Thank you for all that you teach me every day, for loving me so much even when I mess up, for being my favorite little companion, and for simply being YOU! It has been such an honor to watch you grow this past year, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for you on your journey to six!
Love Always and Forever,
Sleeping Schedule: In bed by 8:00/8:30 and up at 7:30.
Clothing Size: 3T pants, 4T tops, Size 8.5 shoes
Weight: 33.5 pounds
Height: 34 inches