Oh, my sweet Ryder. You would think the more children you have, the less of an exciting experience it would be. That, as you get to your fourth or fifth child, it would just be another day. Another walk in the same old park. But, it’s not. With each child looms the possibility of there not being another baby. Ever. For some, this may be a joyful idea. For mamas in large families who enjoy continuing to carry (maybe not this part so much), and eventually hold new, tiny babies (YAS) this is sad. Ryder was the first child I felt that. He was the first time after pregnancy Herman said, “You better love that baby, ’cause we’re not having anymore.” (LOL, LOL, LOL) So I held him tighter. I held him longer; even though I knew, Herman probably didn’t mean what he said. I let him be a baby even at times when, with the others, I probably wouldn’t have. After Ryder, I got pregnant again. I went into labor at about 20 weeks, but they weren’t able to stop it. I think losing Benjamin put into perspective how joyful experiencing every single moment of the first years really are.
Ryder and I still have a special “thing.” I don’t really know what to call it. Saying “bond” sounds extra cheesy with a side of parm. I expected a certain level of independence out of the other kids by the age of three that I just don’t from Ryder. I still see him as a toddler. Which he is. (We’ve come full circle to that whole live, and learn parenting thing I talked about in Introducing Us Part Three) Babies just don’t keep, and it’s more noticeable with each child.
Meet Ryder. He’s a ball of energy dipped in sugar; the sugar makes the energy sweet. He loves his momma (and I love him more). He’s a smart boy who loves to work with his hands, bake cookies, and crack eggs at breakfast… lunch… and dinner. The kitchen is his favorite place to be, with outside in the dirt a close second. He takes two to three showers a day, and Y’all, they’re needed before he’s allowed to crawl in my bed at night. Yeah, that’s right. MY bed, and when he’s not there I MISS HIM! What kind of sorcery is this? I love him more than my heart can handle.
Ryder is wild. There’s no denying it, and if you know my family, personally you probably were thinking it. One of the first times Daddy ever spanked him, he looked him directly in the eyes and said, “that not hurt.” Yup. Trouble with a capital “T.” You know those kids in public places that you say, “Goodness. That mom needs to control that child.” THAT IS RYDER! THAT’S HIM! Sorry for yelling. Seriously, I feel their pain now, and I’m so sorry for my Judgy McJudgerson glances.
We’re learning more every day about our sweet boy. How he ticks, what he’s about to do next (mostly so we can stop it), and what works for him so we can give him the best learning experience possible. People always use the phrase “terrible twos” to describe two-year-olds. My theory is that those people have never had the opportunity, or forgot what it’s like to parent a three-year-old. For real, yall. At two, they’re just curious. They want to know more about everything, and it’s an innocent kind of curiosity that can be confused with misbehavior…. a lot. At two there’s no real understanding of right or wrong. But, three? Oh, boy. This is the “I’m gonna see just how far I can take this before you step in” age. It doesn’t last. They turn four, a switch flips and (for a while) you get your baby back. He’s almost there, and I’m ready. His adventurous spirit is enough to make a conquistador question where we’re going.
While there’s not much to say on schooling for Ryder, we do have certain expectations for him. These are the things that are part of being in our family, as well as the list of what we expect out of each age. (I talk more about this in Introducing Us Part Three).
Here’s a sample of what we look for in a child Ryders age:
- Knowledge of basic colors (so not colors like turquoise or beige)
- Ability to count to ten
- Sort shapes, colors, and animal groups. Farm animals, water animals, etc..
- Ability to follow simple directions
- Simple household chores like emptying bathroom trash, sorting or folding laundry, washing cabinets, cleaning and putting away clutter, and other small tasks
- Easy kitchen tasks like cutting fruits and vegetables, setting the table and cracking eggs
A lot of what is learned for his age repeats with some variety and increasing difficulty for the next few years. Life skills are the majority of what we focus on. The constant need to “keep up” hits me often, but I resist. Ryder’s favorite book is right now is “Love You Forever.” While I think it’s kinda creepy, (don’t lie, you know you do too.. That lady gets a ladder and crawls in his second story window at night!) it’s just another nightly reminder that babies don’t keep. “That little boy grew. He grew, and he grew, and he grew.”