It’s been an entire year since I wrote a post solely about Tommy. I wanted to sneak one in the midst of my first year Olivia updates before we hit his fourth birthday this summer.
I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I didn’t write a post about life with three-year-old Tommy earlier is because it’s been challenging. Year two wasn’t especially challenging. Obviously, there have been a lot of challenges this past year. We also had the build-up to and then the arrival of his baby sister. It’s impossible to know how life would have looked without these factors. I think it still would have had its share of challenges.
Mostly it’s been typical three-year-old stuff. Tommy has had a really hard time listening, and he challenges authority a lot. The cliche about how it feels like you’re dealing with a tiny teenager is very true. The drama level is high, and there are a lot of tears, often over very little. He also goes back and forth between wanting to be a teenager and a little kid. One minute he’s screaming and ready to drive my car away from me forever, and the next minute he’s crying because we’re leaving the house without his favorite stuffed kitty.
I don’t like to complain about my kids. I wanted to wait until I was in a better place to write this post (than I was back in December/January, closer to his half birthday). Thankfully, the past couple of months, I feel like we’ve finally turned a bit of a corner. Having Olivia here at last and being settled at home again has helped a lot. While feeding a newborn takes up a lot of my time, it also helps keep us on a better schedule, which is helpful for Tommy. The weather is getting nicer again, and we’re finally visiting a few parks regularly for the first time in over a year, both of which have also made a huge difference.
The two activities we’ve stuck with this past year have been Kindermusik and swimming. If you read any of my family update posts in the first half of last year, you know that virtual Kindermusik was key for our sanity. We did a class almost every weekday from March through June. We started going back in person in July. I cannot say enough good things about Kindermusik. I love the range of sensory experiences the curriculum provides as well as how many different instruments the kids get to play.
Swimming started up again in the summer. With the exception of the month we were traveling and then quarantining for Olivia’s adoption, Tommy has been going regularly again the past nine months. I’m blown away by how far he’s come these past couple of years. I never expected that he’d be so close to swimming on his own before he turned four. More importantly, he’s excited to swim every week and is so comfortable being in the water.
Tommy absolutely loves playing in the water at home as well. He frequently asks to take a bath and to play in the sink. We have a bunch of different boats, cups, and squirty toys. During a lot of our slower weeks this past year, it was often a treat for Tommy to get to take a bath with bubbles in our big master bathtub. Yes, it makes a big mess, but he loves it.
Tommy is into all things vehicle related and plays with his cars, trucks, and trains constantly. He owns so many toy cars and plays with them all the time – lining them up, racing them, parking them, pretending to put them through the car wash, etc. He almost always wants to take a couple of cars with him wherever we’re going. Currently, his favorite cars are all Hot Wheels.
Tommy has been a knight for Halloween two years in a row now and is still going strong with the imaginary knight play. He doesn’t leave the house in his knight costume quite as much these days, but that was a thing for a while. When Tommy’s not being a knight, he’s usually being a pirate or Spiderman. Tommy also talks a lot about wanting to be a policeman when he grows up, and because he’s three, sometimes a police dog instead.
Tommy has taken a real interest in theology and asks a ton of questions about religion. He genuinely wants to know how everything works. Tommy has a particular affinity for St. Michael and has had the whole St. Michael prayer nearly memorized since not long after he turned three. He loves St. Michael imagery and takes a lot of comfort in the fact that St. Michael is protecting him. More recently, Jake found a coloring book of saints who were martyred. Tommy has really taken to it, including all of the gory details.
Tommy remains as athletic as ever. During the early months of quarantine, we got him a scooter and then a little later, a balance bike. He’s got the balance part of bicycling down completely. He has a bigger balance bike with pedals now and is still a ways from being able to pedal independently. Tommy’s ball throwing and kicking skills remain advanced. I’m curious to see how he’ll progress when he starts organized sports.
One of my absolute favorite things to watch the past six months is how much Tommy has grown to love singing. He sings all the time on his own and asks me and Jake to sing with him every day. He loves singing along to recordings of his favorite songs, too. Just a few of his current favorites include Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, ABCs, Jingle Bells, Baby Shark, and If You’re Happy and You Know It. My brother and his wife gave us a couple of Mr. Dave CDs a while back, and we listen to them in the car regularly these days. We’ve also jumped on the sea shanties trend and listen to The Wellerman, Santiana, and Leave Her, Johnny all the time.
It’s also been amazing to watch Tommy’s speech grow leaps and bounds. At two years old, he was just putting together a few words at a time. Now he’s making up whole stories in complete sentences (usually about princesses and dragons) and carrying on full conversations with other kids and adults. When Tommy does interact with other people these days, they’re always impressed with his speech skills. We take some of the credit, as Jake and I have never dumbed down our speech for him as a kid and both consider ourselves to have pretty good vocabularies. Some of it is definitely all him as well. Being so social, Tommy has always had a good knack for general conversational skills and picks up on a lot of nuances without being taught them explicitly.
The only early speech thing that I’m sad to see Tommy finally starting to grow out of it saying arr-rar for water. He’s always said it this way, and I didn’t think he’d drop it until he started school, it’s hung on that long. But just over the past few weeks, he’s starting saying water correctly. For years now, he’s said things like arr-rarfall for waterfall or arr-rar fountain for water fountain, and it absolutely kills me. I will miss it.
Tommy’s favorite TV shows right now include P. J. Masks, Wolfoo, Morphle, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Blaze and the Monster Machines, and most recently, Pokemon. Over the past year, we’ve watched a ton of Blippi and Ryan’s World videos. Tommy watched The Mandalorian in its entirety with Jake and has gone back and watched pieces of quite a few episodes. Tommy has watched all of the Cars movies. Lately, he also loves Jackson Storm after Jake picked up a Jackson Storm car for him on a whim. He talks all the time about who is faster, Jackson Storm or Lightning McQueen.
Tommy remains a very picky eater. It’s also often a struggle to get him to stop playing, running around, riding his bike, etc. and sit down for a few minutes to eat something. He’s a perpetual snacker and would rather skip the meal and have some pretzels or popcorn a couple of hours later. I do my best not to fight about food and never force him to eat something he doesn’t want to eat. I keep encouraging him to try eating new foods, offering him bites of whatever we’re eating, and making sure that we have a selection of healthy foods on hand that he does like. Foods that he does like currently include yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, oatmeal, blueberries, apples, carrots, cheese, summer sausage, peanuts, and rice crackers. As previously mentioned, Tommy loves pretzels and popcorn and has one or both for a nightly snack almost every day. Tommy also loves Eggos and frozen mini corn dogs, so we keep them on hand and work them into his regular meal rotation.
We started potty training right when things shut down last spring and haven’t looked back since. Having 12 weeks where we barely left our neighborhood that fell during an ideal time for potty training was definitely a silver lining. We weren’t in any rush to have him potty trained by a set date, and I wasn’t worried about Tommy wetting his pants anywhere. By the time things opened up a little more in the summer, he was ready to go out with underwear.
Sometime in the fall, Tommy decided he was done wearing pull-ups for naps and at night. I was dubious, especially with underwear at night, but for the most part, he’s done great. I don’t think Tommy has ever wet the bed for a nap. He has wet the bed at night, but it’s pretty infrequent. I never imagined that by the time we’d be traveling for Olivia’s adoption, he wouldn’t need diapers. I’m so proud of Tommy for making the transition before that point pretty much all on his own.
At some point during the early months of quarantining, Tommy stopped wearing clothes around the house. This is one reason I haven’t shared more pictures of Tommy the past year. Anyone who has video chatted with us or stopped by at some point during the past year has likely seen Tommy wearing very little clothing. It worked well that he didn’t want to wear pants a large portion of the time that he was potty training. He runs hot anyway, and I know that he really does get warm, especially because he is so active. It’s made it a bit of a challenge going anywhere, as he often doesn’t want to put on clothes. Like a lot of things, this transition has improved significantly over the last couple of months.
At three and a half, Tommy still takes at least an hour nap most afternoons. It’s late, usually around four p.m. He can go without it, but he gets crabby and then is often completely melting down before bedtime. So most days, we’re home at that time of day. If possible, I put Olivia down for a bit, too, so I can get a few things done and start dinner.
Tommy loves getting his hair cut. I seem to have one of the only children on the planet that enjoys getting a haircut. I took him for his first cut around 14 months. With the exception of last spring and summer, he’s been going every two and a half months ever since. Tommy has always seen the same lady, and she does an amazing job.
Tommy remains as social as ever. He’s extremely good with names and loves spending time with people. It breaks my heart that we didn’t do school and/or more classes this year. It just didn’t make sense to do in-person school this year when we didn’t have to do it. And I haven’t found any other classes that felt as safe as music or swimming. We are planning to start him in a school program just a couple of mornings a week this summer. We may look at doing an outside sport like soccer or baseball this summer as well. Hopefully, by the fall, things will be looking good enough that we can add something else. But I’m playing that by ear at this point.
Tommy won’t go back to the doctor until this summer. So I have no idea where his percentiles are right now. He likes to weigh himself at home. Tommy hasn’t gained more than a few pounds since this past summer. But he definitely keeps getting taller. This spring I’m finally transitioning most of his 2T clothes out of his wardrobe and making sure he has everything he needs in 3T or 4T for summer and fall. He’s still exclusively in 3T pants but can wear 3T or 4T shirts and pajamas. Tommy is currently wearing size 8 shoes.
I know that I didn’t talk about Tommy and Olivia much in this post, especially what that transition has been like for Tommy. Olivia wasn’t born until right before Tommy’s half-birthday mark. I’m also still working on a new baby FAQ like the one I wrote for Tommy that will cover this topic in depth. So stay tuned for that post, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.
Even with all of its challenges, especially with everything that’s happened the past year, I still love this age. It’s awesome to watch Tommy coming into his own and having his own interests and passions and being able to communicate them through speech. We look forward to what’s in store for him over the next year and beyond.
As always, you can find all of my past Tommy updates, Olivia updates, and general family updates in the family section of the blog if you want to catch up on or revisit old posts.