Avery is 4

I am so proud of this kid. She’s the kid that other parents use as an example (“Avery’s eating with her fork, why can’t you?”) and she’s always the responsible one in the group. When we’re at the beach with her cousins and her cousins start running toward the water, Avery will shout out, “Stop! We’re not allowed to go in the water without a grown-up!” I don’t know how that rule abiding personality will pan out in her social group when she’s a teenager, but for now, I’m so thankful. I know she’s cautious and observant and I have to worry so much less than the parents of the kid who likes to bolt in the busy mall parking lot or the kid who likes to try shoving their fingers in outlets.

She’s cautious and observant, but she also knows how to throw caution to the wind. She’s willing to try new things. She’s brave. She’s getting more and more socially bold every day. At the cottage this summer she experienced so many firsts, all on her own accord without any pushing from us. She started swimming under water, and now dives in and out like a dolphin. She went on her first water tubing ride without flinching. She learned to stand-up-paddle-board. All of these activities were observed first, and then she took the reins and just DID IT like she was an old pro.

She can ride a bike like a maniac. She has a bike that we took the pedals off of to function as a strider/balance bike, and she lifts her feet up and zooms down hills with the wind in her hair, then skids to a stop like a stunt driver, kicking up dust and gravel.

She has had to deal with death and loss at a young age. Her cat, whom she loved more than anything in existence, died from sudden kidney failure in January of this year. She brought him to the vet with us and reassured him, and was upset that he would be scared when we had to leave him there overnight. When there was nothing the vets could do to save him, we had to explain that he died, and what it meant that he was dead. That has brought up a lot of followup conversations around death and dying, but she approaches it all with what I think is a healthy balance of sadness and curiosity. She cherishes the paw print we had made from her departed cat, and she tells people about him and how he died. She says she never wants to forget him. It’s heartbreaking, but also beautiful. The other night, while we cuddled at bedtime, she said this to me,

“When you and mo and grandma and everybody dies, I’m going to be all alone. But then I’ll have lots of babies and name them all your names and I’ll re-grow you.” We’re definitely entering an interesting age of existential thought…..

She’s so kind. She has been kind since the first specks of her personality were formed. She loves her family, she loves animals, she shows empathy for others, and she loves herself. She still kisses her own ouchies. She loves making cards for others, and she also makes them for herself, with little messages of love and only the most beautiful stickers 😉

She is really, really into gardening. This year she touched nearly every seed that went into our garden. She nurtured every plant, watering and weeding and identifying the beneficial insects from the pests. Every time we had to squish a bad caterpillar she’d say she was very, very sad for the butterfly mommy because we had to kill her baby 😳 but she knows we do what it takes to get our cauliflower and kale and that some insects are too much for natural competition and need to be controlled. She comes home from the babysitter’s and sometimes even before giving me a hug, heads out to the garden to do some picking before dinner. She admires the flowers and picks us a bouquet for the table every day. She prefers raw, fresh from the garden vegetables eaten IN the garden to anything I put on her plate.

She’s so smart. She is very close to reading, and wants that skill intensely. She’s a dedicated learner, and doesn’t get frustrated easily when the learning gets tough. She seems to like to challenge herself. She’s excited for kindergarten, despite the ridiculously stressful context of the global pandemic.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to be her mother.

A few of my favourite Avery-isms right now

The way she exclaims, “woooow!” at things that impress her. Example, our new neighbours put up a fence dividing our back yards over a weekend we were away, and when Avery walked into the back yard to see it for the first time, she said, “wooow!” with such a sense of awe and wonder. Seeing me cleaned up and dressed up also gets a “wooow”, which says something about how I usually look…

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How she kisses my “ouchies” so lovingly. Since we started “kissing it better,” she finds any little red mark on our skin, says “ouchie,” and kisses it better. This started in earnest with hand-foot-and-mouth disease when we all had a lot of ouchies 😣

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Just started saying “love you” in response to us saying “I love you.” But she’s also in a repeat-after-me phase where she repeats pretty much everything we say, so she might not know the meaning of it yet.

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Although she knows the word “outside,” she still usually asks to go outside by saying “boot, mit, hat?” Even though we’re in sandal (and definitely not mitten) season right now… She does the gestures of putting on boots and mits and a hat, too. It’s cute.

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She tickles us. She wiggles her fingers all over our bellies and laughs and laughs at the hilarity. I hate being tickled – I freak out and instinctively will punch or kick someone who is tickling me. But when Avery does it, somehow it’s cute.

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Naming her toys. I’ve been waiting for the day when Avery would be into playing with animal figurines. That was always my fave as a kid. Not only is she super into her animal figurines now, but she named one of them, ALL BY HERSELF! She has been really into horses lately (her grandma has horses), so I surprised her at daycare pickup one day with a plastic horse figurine (Tractor Supply Store has great ones), and as she accepted it she said “wow, horsie! Umm, Apple!” Apple is the name of one of the horse’s at her grandma’s place. The toy didn’t really look like the real Apple, but she decided that her toy horse needed the name. When you ask what her horse’s name is, she says Apple.

So smart

This post is not meant to make other parents feel concerned if their kid of the same age is not doing the things Avery’s doing. I don’t even know if Avery is ahead of average, or if I’m seeing her through a parent’s rose coloured glasses. And it doesn’t really matter, either. Like all kids, Avery excels at some things and she struggles with others. She didn’t walk until 15 months. But there are some things she’s doing and saying right now that I’m wildly impressed and amazed by, and I’m going to share them here.

1. She knows all the main colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, black, brown. She can identify them with 100% accuracy, and she can say them with 50% precision (e.g., “reh,” “owan,” “eh-ow,” “reen,” “bue,” etc.)

2. She knows all the animals. Her daycare provider told me how shocked she was that she even knew less common animals like alligator and giraffe. She can say a lot of them with the same precision as the colours (e.g., “raffe”) and others, like alligator, she just points to when you ask where it is. I think she’s at about 50 animals now that she solidly knows.

3. She can count to three. Like, she points to all the ladybugs in a book and counts “one, two, ree!” When there are more than 3 of something, everything after three is two again. “One, two, ree, two, two, two, two!”

4. She can write the letter A (it’s messy but it’s legible), and she can half spell her name verbally. When we write her name down, she points at the letters and says “A, E, Y!” Just missing two letters….

5. She’s starting to use adjectives to describe a noun; e.g., wet sock; mommy boots (to get me to take her outside); three yellow ducks (“ree eh-ow duck); etc.

6. She’s really into the moon. It rises around 4pm here these days, so on our afternoon walks she always finds it and tries to walk toward it. She points it out in any book, whether it’s a full, quarter, or crescent moon, and shouts “moon!” with glee. At the Aquarium we visited recently, a giant model Earth rotated above our heads and she saw it before anyone else did and exclaimed, “moon!” Now, it’s not the right colour, but how did she know that the moon is also a rotating sphere? Blows my mind.

This kid blows my mind every day. Every month older she gets becomes my new favourite age to witness as a parent. This is all so worth the hardest months of my life when she was a new baby.

Dirty

Avery’s new word of the week is “dirty.” Her rainboots recieve the most critcism about being dirty, and although I try to explain to her that dirty rainboots is a good thing – a sign that she had fun splashing in puddles – she freaks out over the dirt and wants them washed.

There’s also a lot of dirt on our floors right now because I’ve been too sick and tired to vacuum. If Avery’s barefoot, every so often she’ll sit down and hold her foot, inspecting it just inches from her face, whining “dirty!”

I hope she’s just exploring ways to use her new word, and she won’t actually continue to be so averse to dirt. For a kid who dislikes dirt so much, she sure is a magnet for it!

Toddler Talk

Avery’s not forming sentences yet at 19 months old (well she is, but they’re in baby-gibberish), but she’s beginning to say some pretty cute things. Here are my top 5 favourite cute things she’s saying these days:

1. “Ay-ah, teet!” (Which means Anna, treat!). She loves giving the cats treats, but one hides upstairs while the other tries taking them out of her hand. So she runs to the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs holding one reserved treat above her head away from the greedy cat, and yells for Anna to come down and get her treat.

2. “No”. It’s not the fact that she’s saying it that’s cute – it’s how. The upward and then downward inflection makes her sound desperate to be listened to. Also cute, we heard her talking in her sleep over the baby monitor the other night: “nOo. nOo. nOo.” I think she was probably having an innocent dream that we were making her put her shoes on or something.

3. She says whale like, “way-oo.”

4. She says mommy like “muh-yee.”

5. And a truly classic in toddler talk, she says please like “pwease.”