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life’s a hoot

Munchkin turned three-and-a-half over the weekend, which means he is almost but not quite on the cusp of reaching self-sufficiency. At lunch the other day, he gave S a rundown of all the things he can do by himself. Unfortunately, getting dressed, feeding himself, and putting himself to bed are milestones that remain miles away. He’s made some progress on independent play, but only when we’re around – as soon as S heads upstairs to nurse Junebug, for example, Munchkin breaks down.

Uninterrupted sleep also remains elusive. Munchkin dropped his midday nap, but that has yet to translate into a full night’s sleep, except on the rarest of occasions. Last week, he either would get up in the middle of the night and attempt to find a space for himself between us and Junebug in our bed or, more frequently, arise right before dawn and demand that D play Hoot Owl Hoot! with him. The objective of this game – ironically enough – is to get half a dozen owlets to sleep in their nest before the sun rises.

Lost sleep notwithstanding, Munchkin is quite a hoot. He has developed an interest in learning to spell, asking incessantly how words are written and sometimes trying to sound the first letter out for himself. He knows how to spell his own name, but is hit or miss with everything else…“Da-da-da-dog…D! Ga-ga-ga-goose…G! Ze-ze-ze-zebra…D!” In other words, still a work in progress. And while he rarely makes mistakes with new words these days, a few of our favorite verbal creations have remained in his vocabulary, doolbozer for bulldozer and chocolick for chocolate being our favorites.

He is also now firmly in the Why? phase of childhood development. Even when we read his favorite bedtime stories – tales he’s heard often enough to know by heart – he finds dozens of questions to ask. “Why didn’t the little pigs use a cement mixer when they made their houses?” “Why did the little lambs let the big bad wolf in to eat them?” Yes, why, indeed!

Now that S’s mom has gone back to Bangor, D has begun his reclamation project of re-carving out a foothold for Russian in Munchkin’s vocabulary. It was touch-and-go for a few weeks, as Munchkin flat-out insisted that he did not understand when D spoke to him. Now that he’s been back from the States for almost a month, Munchkin has relented somewhat. D still sometimes has to repeat himself in both English and Russian to get his meaning across, but not too often. And Munchkin recently started inserting Russian words into his replies again.

D would like to spend more one-on-one time with Munchkin to get Russian back up to snuff. And S also sometimes feels like she is neglecting him because Junebug takes so much of her bandwidth. Unfortunately, with S returning back to the office last week, D in the midst of a brutal stretch at work, and two young kids who seem to think their purpose in life is to deprive us of as much sleep as possible, at this stage we’re just struggling to keep our heads above water. The rest will have to wait until we’re out of the newborn Twilight Zone.

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