I’m totally kidding – I’m not really that guy! I just found it funny that I was about to type out a blog and realized it was the 17th which is technically Charlee’s 43 month birthday, so I thought to myself it’s about time I write a little ode to my sweet pea, my bubbaloo, my Charlee Bear.
When we were having Ever we weren’t really sure how Charlee would react. You definitely read about first born kids whose spotlight dims and they turn resentful and act out. But then again, you hear about those kids who instantly form a bond and grow up as the best of friends, but how much of this outcome depended on us?!
Well, I’ve got to say, so far things are leaning towards best buds – Charlee is the most phenomenal big sister. She’s caring, attentive, and for months has been the only one of us who can make Ever crack up laughing on a whim.
Of course, sisterhood is the most recent evolution of Charlee – there is so much more to her and I wanted to really take a second and capture some of that.
Some of you may know of my youtube channel. I think I was probably predating the whole instagram video thing and at the same time half-assing a proper vlog and true youtuber attempt. Nonetheless, I have a handful of videos that I took throughout the first year and change of having Charlee. The intent was to film a monthly 3-4 minute shtick and feature Charlee and her latest achievements. Every so often Becca and I will pop over to the channel to check out the videos, especially now to see how different Charlee and Ever are at the same stage in life.
The other day we rewatched this one – Charlee at 18 months: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBu7JLcCghc
It feels like it’s been forever, but I really remember those days and am still so blown away at how brilliant she is and was, especially at such a young age.
These days, my 3.5 year old daughter has begun reading and writing, two traits that we are so proud of her for. Her memory has always been beyond incredible, so her aptitude for memorizing the sound and shape of words and letters just seemed to make sense. She’s reading books to herself, her sister, her dolls, and of course, us. She’s always had a knack for memorizing logos of companies, and after a while 2 and 2 came together and she could read the words based on her memory of the symbols.
Leveraging her memorization skills, I’ve got her into cars. She can name all the car manufacturers from looking at their logos and I mean even some real random ones like Koenigsegg and Alfa Romeo. She knows all the Formula 1 teams and drivers (and many of their numbers) and we watch every qualifying and every race together. Becca’s got some old fabric swab books from college and Charlee has memorized the entire binder, cover to cover, off of a combination of the feel, texture, colour, look and spelling of the words representing the fabric – it’s incredible!
Charlee is a clever and witty individual and she is constantly making us laugh. She gets subtle nuances and puns like an adult and even makes up a few of her own.
She can be very polite and has very good manners, ironically with strangers more so than us! When we’re with her, she’ll introduce herself to the cashier at the grocery store or to another kid at the park, with a “Hi, my name is Charlee – C H A R L E E, and I’m three and half years old!” She is articulate and talkative and has a very good range of vocabulary, especially for someone her age.
Charlee does tend to be somewhat apprehensive about starting new things and often likes to be in her comfort zone. This is true for many things including sleep, which she really depends on us for. We still need to hop in bed with her and fake sleep to make sure she goes down. And even then she’ll wake up several times throughout the night, so we usually just end up dividing and conquering with Becca staying in our room with Ever, and Charlee and I crashing together. Eventually it’ll have to change, but for now, it’s the path of least resistance.
I’ll tell you one thing I’ve grown to realize with a toddler – their general lack of self-awareness. There are a ton of books out there, many of which we’ve bought, that help kids identify the emotions and feelings they’re going through in hopes that they’ll connect the feeling, with an emotion, and subsequently with a fix for it. The two biggies in my view are hunger and sleep.
If your kid is hungry you’ve got a small window to identify it, address it, and keep the peace. If you miss it, sometimes you can’t go back and things will just spiral downward into complete and utter meltdown. Becca’s way more on top of this than I am, but if you keep an eye on the intervals between meals and snacks, you can keep them fuelled and prevent any catastrophes. Remember though, they’ll rarely tell you themselves.
Same is true for sleep. A well rested child is a pleasure. When they start having sleep issues, you’ll feel it in multiples.
Lately Charlee’s had two of the worst meltdowns of her life – to the point where strangers look and judge – my favourite. In hindsight, we know we could have prevented these with food – both times. She had been exerting a lot of energy walking or running for a long distance and time, and we were debating on where to have lunch but by that point it was already too late.
We’ve read a ton of books on how to connect with your child emotionally during these moments and lead them out of the meltdown. All fine and dandy, but these two in particular were way passed the point and she needed to be removed from the situation pretty quickly.
With all said and done, I still love this stage of Charlee but really can’t wait for kindergarten later this year. I want to see her in a structured system where she can be taught by professionals and really start to excel even more. I can’t wait for her to learn new things from the school system and I just hope to hell this new government won’t completely shit the bed.
I often talk about looking forward to the day when I get to visit my kids at their work and take them out for lunch. When I look back at what 3.5 years has been, I can’t imagine what’s in store for another 20, and where that place of work might be. Charlee now talks about becoming a scientist or an engineer. I don’t doubt that she will achieve anything and everything she puts her mind to. And what a mind it is!