Dear Charlie,

Last week, when I said something you did not like (I forget now what it was about), you screamed you didn’t like me and then eventually it escalated into, “I hate you, Mama!”  I was really shocked to hear it and didn’t know how to respond.

Yesterday, when I insisted that you wear your jacket, you sulked and told me you didn’t like me.  And then you proceeded to tell me how much you didn’t like me (all the way to the moon and back; to the end of the world; to Hawaii and Auntie Ollie’s house and Disneyland).  This time, I responded by saying, “But I love you more, twice, thrice, five hundred thirty two times more”.  We went back and forth, back and forth.  Eventually you started saying you love me and when I said, “Aha!  I knew you love me!” you said it was true you didn’t like me but only for a short while.  And just like that we made our peace.

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated because you wouldn’t wear your jacket despite the freezing cold.  Feeling myself get really annoyed, I took a deep breath and opted to turn away.  You followed me and asked, “Mama, when you’re mad at me, do you still love me?”

I had to immediately stop to tell you, “Of course I love you.  Always.  But I don’t love it when you don’t listen to me.”  You were quiet for a while.  And then you asked, “Am I being a good boy?”  I told you, “You’re a very good boy who sometimes does naughty things that make me frustrated.”  And you actually said, “Ok, ok…I’m sorry, Mama.”

This thing with wearing jackets, though.  Every day we fight about it.  You told me you don’t like wearing jackets because they’re fat.  Where do you get this “fat” concept?

What I’m really wowed by is the depth of your four year old vocabulary.  You know hate and love and fat.  And you know Dead.  Good and Evil.  Bored.  Exhausted.  Distracted.  Disappointed.  Glorious.

So many new words!  I hope you never get tired of asking the meaning of anything and everything you hear for the first time.

Dear Jack,

You’ve definitely gone beyond “uh-oh!”.

By far, “mama” is your favorite word.  You wake up in the morning and you wail, “mama!”  You fall or hurt yourself and you look around and call, “mama!”  You and your Kuya Charlie fight over a toy and you shriek, “mama!” while fat tears roll down your cheeks. You see me, anytime, anywhere, and you squeal, “mama!”

You’ve learned “papa”, too.  When he leaves in the morning, you look out the window and wave, “papa”.  When he comes back from work, you run to his leg and say, ‘papa”.

You’re also now starting to make animal noise:  cows say “moo”, duck says “quack, quack”, dog says “woof, woof”, and snake says “ssss, ssss”.

You say “hot” when you touch the hot water in the tub.  You say “ees” when you point to cheese, your favorite snack.  When you see cars you make the “broom broom” noise.  You even know to make the shooting noise when you imitate your Kuya shooting spider webs out of his wrists.

Honestly, though, beyond words, you have always been very articulate and communicative with your needs ever since you were really really young.  You knew to point at your own chest to signal you wanted to nurse.  You started to point to blankets to signal sleep time.  You pointed to your own diaper when you have peed or pooped.  (Your nanny told me you bring her the changing pad when you need a change, the same way you bring her the blanket when you’re ready for your nap.)

You sure know your own mind.  You like to be independent.  You don’t like to be spoon fed- you like to use your own spoon and bowl (and fingers, as well).  When you’re being changed, you like to have your own wipe so you can help wipe your penis.

And as far as expressing your likes and dislikes, you chuckle like an old man when I offer you something you like.  But when I offer you something you don’t like, your eyebrows knit and you shake not just your head but your whole body.  You arch your back with no regard to consequence.  You fling away the despicable thing that aggravates you.  Maybe love and hate are still too young for you to express but I have a feeling you won’t have a problem expressing them when the time comes.

Good thing that you are the way you are because you are going to need to stand up to your Kuya Charlie who likes to toss you around and wrestle you down!