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Theo

Theo

4 and looking fine

We’re almost at the end of birthday season but first, it’s all about this baby bear turning 4!

Let me say straight up that this boy is one of my most favouritest people in the world. He’s got that enthusiastic, endearing all in all the time kind of boyish charm that’s so hard to resist.

He’s super fun to be with too, I mean, this is a kid who knows how to show you a good time.

Theo is the kind of boy who wears his heart on his sleeve. He doesn’t play it cool or dial down his emotions because there’s no need for that sort of thing. If he’s happy, it’s all over his face. Joy will radiate from his eyes and he will break out into the widest grin I have ever seen. Ain’t no one else looks happy like Theo looks happy is what I’m saying.

There’s the full on happy face…

And the I can’t help it my face can’t contain this much joy happy face.

It works the same way when he’s sad. There will be great big tears welling up in his eyes and that sad baby face that goes along with it? This momma can’t handle.

I don’t suppose he’ll do too well at being a super spy or in casinos for that matter seeing that his poker face game is basically zero. But if you’re not planning on a career in espionage or gambling, it’s not a bad way to approach life, not having to ever have to hide how you feel.

He still loves green and all of the slimy animals that are of that color family. I was hoping that would be a phase that he outgrows but if anything, he’s surer than ever of his love for green and gross animals. Every time we go to the library, he heads straight to the non-fiction section to pick out books on frogs and salamanders and newts. And I read them to him over and over because love makes you do crazy things so now I know that frogs lay about 4,000 eggs at a go and also how to identify a golden dart frog (FYI when you see one, you RUN!!).

Okay, the testosterone is strong in this one. He’s a classic boisterous boy whose favourite game is called “DESTROY ENEMIES” wherein the game mechanics work exactly like you’d imagine. In involves identifying enemies and systematically eliminating them with a variety of methods including super turbo nuclear blasters and elemental electro energy forcefield.

He’s the only kid who seems to be actively considering the things I try to teach him. Like 20 minutes after I have a word with him about snatching his sister’s stuff, he comes over to me and says “I’m so sorry mom for grabbing Hayley’s toy earlier. I’m really sorry. I won’t do it next time.” It’s not the kind of flippant apology that you deliver reluctantly because you have to, but one that’s heartfelt and thoughtful and what kind of 4-year-old does this?

And then he’ll go and kiss his baby on the head or hand her another toy just to love on her a little. It’s not to say that there are no more squabbles or fights over toys because it takes time to learn these things but I feel like he’s trying to internalise them.

Theo was always a kid who couldn’t wait to grow up. He was already off running with the big kids trying to fit in once he was stable on his feet, and he talks like he’s several years older than he actually is. He may be #4 in the pecking order around here but it doesn’t stop him from making the most of his big brother status, always being protective of his baby and fussing over her. Whenever we pick him up from school, he’ll start waving at Hayley once he spots her and he’ll tell everyone around him who will listen that Hayley is his baby. Last week, his teacher was amused when she heard it, like “this is your baby??” and he nodded with so much pride. “Yes, Hayley is MY baby,” he said.

Although there’s still the baby side of him that I get glimpses of once from time to time and I live for these moments. He still makes his way to our bed in the middle of the night. I’ll find his baby feet jabbing into my liver at 5 in the morning and he’ll whisper, “I miss you mom, I just want to snuggle with you pleeeease…” and I’ll mumble something like “ok just for a bit” and there it’ll be, that look of absolute delight all over his sleepy baby face.

What he doesn’t know is that I enjoy his morning snuggles as much as he does and I want it to last for as long as possible, which I know from experience isn’t much longer.

Happy birthday, Theo!! I’m so happy I get to be your mom. :)

Theo

In which Theo goes to school: the reboot

Six months ago, Theo went to school for the first time in his life. He was not thrilled about it and every day that he had to spend apart from me filled him with great sadness.

He called himself my homeboy (“I’m a boy who likes to stay at home with you, mom!!” he used to say) and even after two months of school, he wasn’t a fan. School was what it was and he was determined to reluctantly tolerate it, not enjoy it.

“HIIIIII Theo!! How was your day today? Did you have lots of fun in school?” I’d ask every afternoon.

“No. I missed you so much, mom. I was so very sad.”

Then at the end of last year, a miracle happened. We shifted to Punggol only to discover that all the preschools in the area were full. I got him on the waiting list for 5 schools and they all told me the same thing: the list is long and his chances were slim at best.

“You mean I don’t have to go to school anymore???? YEAHHHHH!!” Was there ever a boy more delighted than this? I think not.

We got to spend 3 whole months together and it was such a treat for us both. Morning walks! Late morning snuggles in bed! Cosying up with books! Library outings!! It was lovely and I know this because as with all things that are lovely, those days ended way too quickly.

Two weeks ago, Theo started school for the second time. This short break seemed to have worked wonders. While he’s still sad about being away from me, school suddenly doesn’t seem so scary after all.

“Bye mom!! See you after school!” he yells as he holds Finn’s hand and walks off together. (If there was ever a case to be made for having siblings, this is it. Forget companionship or learning about conflict resolution, it’s all about sharing in the misery of early childhood education.)

Just look at this boy all grown up. He’s taken this feather and stuck it to his cap like a champ.

Hayley, Theo

Bedtime shenanigans

Theo and Hayley have the most adorable relationship.

With all the other kids, Theo is generally gruff and sort of overly robust for a 3-year-old but baby Hayley seems to bring out a completely different side of him. He’s like a different person when he’s around his baby sister, all gentle and affectionate and sweet to her. It’s very obvious that he’s got a soft spot for this one.

During bedtime some nights ago, these two were up to their usual madness, climbing everywhere and somersaulting all over the place. I had given up asking them to lie down and go to sleep because I knew how futile that was. Instead, I was curled up in my corner pretending to be asleep while trying not to actually fall asleep.

Eventually, Theo was exhausted enough to go to bed but baby Hayley was still all up in his business like “Hey, let’s play some more, kor kor!!” She sat on his head and stuck her fingers up his nostrils trying to make him wake up.

No no, baby Hayley! Kor kor is tired I need to sleep now,” Theo told her firmly, turning away to the side to make his intentions clear.

Did this baby listen? Of course not. She proceeded to yank his head back towards her with more force than babies are supposed to have and Theo was like “MOMMMM take this baby away she’s annoying me!!” That was my cue to intervene so I got up and carried the baby away to the other side of the bed, using my body to separate them.

After like 20 seconds of silence, Theo flipped back over and sighed dramatically in resignation. “Okay fine fine fine baby Hayley can sit on my tummy if she wants,” he said.

This is how these two babies eventually fell asleep.

Theo

And off to school he goes

Theo finally started school last week!

Alas, do not be fooled by this look of joyous delight because poor baby was not pleased about it at all. I suppose it’s to be expected considering that he spent his entire life not being apart from his favourite person in the world (uh huh, me). It’s a big change for him, having to spend half a day with strange new people at a strange new place.

I tried preparing him weeks in advance.

Me: Theo, you’ll be going to school soon! It’ll be super fun, you can play with toys, go to the playground, do crafts, eat snacks! Maybe there will be cake!!

Theo: No need, I’m full of cake already. I just want to stay with you. 

1. I should have known, this boy is sharp and he will not be bamboozled by my feeble distraction techniques. I’m going to have to do a lot better at selling this whole going to school nonsense and 2. This was unprecedented. Theo has never refused cake in his life and while I’m secretly pleased that my presence is clearly more important than cake, I knew this transition was going to be a rough one.

I had another go at it.

Me: You’re a big boy now right? And big boys go to school. Kor kor Finn goes to school and kor kor Truett goes to school…

Theo: But I’m still a baby. Remember, you said I will be your baby forever? 

Me: Well, yeah, but I didn’t mean that literally. You’ll always be a baby in my heart like kor kor is my baby, but you’re 3 now!! 

Theo: 3 years old means small tiny tiny baby. And babies means must stay with mommy. 

This wasn’t working either.

***

Me: Hey baby, school is not scary. I know it’s new and it seems scary but the teachers are very nice and you’re going to be ok. You’ll have so much fun there, just ask kor kor Finn. 

Theo: I cannot have fun because I’ll be so very sad. 

Me: The teachers will cheer you up ok? And there will be so many friends to play with!

Theo: Only you can cheer me up, mom. If I stay with you then I’ll be super happy. If I don’t have you, I’ll just be sad and sad and sad. 

😭😭😭

It’s been a whole week of school and also a whole week of big, sad tears. Just getting him into his uniform is an ordeal. He’ll be like “but my favourite colour is not yellow and blue. My favourite colour is green and this uniform got no green so I cannot go to school right?

Oh, but do you know what colour you get when you mix yellow and blue? GREEN!! Seriously, it’s like this school is made for you, except it’s in a secret code, isn’t that cool?” I try telling him.

No.

Mmmkay, so he didn’t buy that either.

All my boys had separation anxiety when they started school, and you’d think that I have some experience with this by now but it still breaks my heart when my baby is all “please mommy please please please can I follow you? I just want to go wherever you go…” with so much tears in his eyes while he tries to be brave and hold it all in.

To make up for all the extra sadness around here, we’re trying a new routine of leaving the house before the sun is up together with Tru and Kirsten. After dropping the big kids off, we get to have a leisurely morning breakfast picnic at the park for an hour before the boys head to school

Then when it’s time to go…

Please just 5 more minutes??

Okay fine. But we really have to go after that.

YAYYYY you’re the best, mom!!!

Okay boys, time’s really up, let’s go!!

Behold the face of tremendous sadness.

Theo

You’re 3, Theo!!

We’re still in the middle of moving madness (so exhausting!) but baby Theo turned 3 a few weeks back so today’s post is all about my littlest boy.

//

Hey Theo,

You’re 3!! Look at you, all grown up like a big boy!

I know I’m supposed to love all my babies regardless but I need to tell you that you’re such a delight to have around. I like hanging out with you so much. Which possibly explains why you’re still not in school. All your older siblings were in preschool from 2 years old but you spent the last year hanging out with me at home, running errands, making sandwiches, going to the library, working on our very poorly done art pieces that nobody should ever be made to see. I’d pretend to call it homeschooling but the truth is that I liked having you all to myself so much, I just wanted a little more time with you before you started doing all that rapid growing up.

You are super advanced for your age. It’s very disconcerting looking at your tiny 3-year-old body when you’re telling me things because 3-year-olds don’t talk like this. You have a remarkable understanding of things and you’ve also got an explanation for everything.

In explaining to grandma why you had to go home yesterday, you said “I need to go home now to be with my family. I’ll come back next time ok?” FYI, grandma is your family, but I know, mommy is your entire world right now and I’ll have it that way for as long as I can.

Last week, I told you that I couldn’t bring you along to KK Hospital when Hayley was ill and you were like “but then I’ll miss you and you’ll miss me, so you should just bring me with you.

You’re also actively working on overcoming your fears, which is incredible for anyone of any age. Like you used to hate the feel of sand on your skin; just a few grains of sand would drive you completely nuts. We’d try to bring you to the beach, but you would stay in the middle of the beach mat where it was safe. But after seeing how much fun your siblings were having playing with sand, you decided to give it a go. At first, you were like “eww eww eww why am I doing this?” but you powered through and now you even let your siblings bury your entire body in the sand. Achievement unlocked.

Look at this face. This is the face of someone who knows he took on his irrational fear and won.

Your favourite colour is green, and by extension, you like green frogs, green turtles, green lizards. I try my best to be a supportive parent, but really, who likes green things? You don’t see adorable green baby seals or green puppies or green unicorns; in fact, even the word green can go full on alliteration with gross, so that should tell you something.

But a boy likes what a boy likes so we got you a collection of favourite green friends, which you adore. On this note, I will cuddle your stuffed green frog but the line is drawn at an actual slimy, jumpy, very much alive green frog. You will not, under any circumstances, bring a real frog home, understand?? Your poor mother cannot deal with that. This momma loves her green-loving boy but if those green things are reptiles or amphibians, that’s where the line is.

You love hanging out with your older siblings but I know you have a soft spot for your baby sister. You’re really good with her too, always remembering to check in on her or running back to kiss her gently when you’re off having fun.

You will save some of your snacks for her, and even though some of the pieces were so tiny, I know how much it means to you and I suppose the thought (and tiny crumb) does count.

Last time I checked (this morning), you’re still a foodie and I still enjoy watching you enjoy your food. The highlight of your birthday was the chocolate cake that you chose on your own. We went to several cake shops to take a look before you decided on the nicest one. “This one looks delicious, let’s get this mom!” You looked so thrilled watching the lady write “Happy birthday, Theo!!” in squiggly white frosting (they didn’t have green frosting). Excellent choice, by the way, the cake was indeed delicious.

Being a 4th kid can feel like you’re lost in the crowd sometimes but mommy will always have time for you. Always. :)

Theo

Babies are more fun than toys

These two have been instructing me to do a post on all the stuff baby Theo says.

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Why? Baby Theo is ridiculously advanced for a two-year-old. He’s like a super juiced-up interactive toy and the big kids love making him say things and then laughing at all his responses.

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I’m like “I have very deep, very important things to write here” but they didn’t believe me. Also, they’re all “It’s so cute, you need to write this down so you can remember it.

Nice move, kids. This one’s for you guys.

This is what it comes to when your kids are reading your blog – you have to take instruction from a 7 and 8 year old.

***

Theo: Kor kor Truett, can you help me pick up my blanket?

Tru: You should just do it yourself, it’s right next to you on the floor.

Theo: *grunts and pretends to reach for it, but zero effort* Ooooff, I cannot.

Tru: What?? It’s like you’re not even trying.

Theo: It’s too difficult, can you help me please?

Tru: Argh, ok fine.

Theo: Aww, you are my best friend.

Tru: If kor kor don’t pick up for you, am I still your best friend?

Theo: Ummmmm NOPE!

Tru: Oei, so terrible, this baby.

***

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Theo: Baby Hayley, don’t cry cry, don’t be sad.

Hayley: Waaaaaaaa…bwahhhhhhh

Theo: *holds her cheeks* Stop, stop, stop!!! Shhhh shhhhhhhhhhh… PLEASE STOP!

Hayley: *hyperventilating scream*

Theo: MOM YOU NEED TO TALK TO BABY HAYLEY I CANNOT!!!

Kirsten: This is not how babies work. You can’t squash her face and shout at her, you need to be sweet and gentle to the baby.

Theo: *in a falsetto* It’s ok baby Hayley, don’t cry cry.

***

Me: Hey Theo, can mommy have some of that pandan cake?

Theo: No thank you, I’m good.

Me: What you’re good? I’m not good, I need some cake too. Just a small piece?

Theo: It’s ok, no need, thanks.

Me: What’s going on here? Is this some high level negotiation technique?

Tru + Kirsten: Hahahahahahahha

***

Theo: *crying* I need my elephant blanket, please mom, please please.

Me: Sorry baby, mommy needs to wash it because it’s all gross now, you were dragging it around in the toilet.

Theo: *still crying* But I need it…baby Theo got no blanket I will cry.

Me: I can see that, but we’ll have to use this other soft soft blanket tonight ok. You’ll get it back tomorrow.

Theo: Bwahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Me: It’s ok baby.

Theo: BWAHHHHH…JUST HUG ME!!

Me: Wait, did you say hug me or don’t hug me, I wasn’t sure.

Theo: YES JUST HUG ME, I NEED A HUG!!!

Me: Why yes of course I’ll hug you!! Mommy will hug you to sleep ok?

Theo: *nods and sobs dramatically into my arms*

Theo

Please, can I have some more?

Remember when Theo was born, I really wanted me a fat baby who would enjoy eating everything I prepared for him? So that happened and it was awesome.

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Right up to that point, all my other kids had been moderately picky eaters who were all like “I don’t like this food it’s so gross” or “I’m really full, my stomach hurts when I look at broccoli.” It was nice to have a baby who ate everything from rolled oats to raw carrots. Raw carrots. That’s just hardcore.

Almost all of baby Theo’s happy thoughts are about food and our conversations all day are variations of this:

Theo: Mommy can I have bread? Big big bread.

Me: You just ate an entire sandwich, 5 strawberries, some yoghurt and a glass of milo. We need to take a break.

Theo: How about small small bread?

Me: We can’t have small small bread either. No bread.

Theo: How about cereal? With fresh milk?

Me: Not right now. We can have cereal with milk as a snack later ok?

Theo: Um, 3 grapes? Can I have 3 grapes please?

It’s so hard to refuse a polite baby asking for 3 grapes so I cave. After he’s done, which is like 3 seconds later…

Theo: Can I have 3 more grapes please?

Me: I’m sorry baby, we’re done eating for now. There will be more food later.

Tears start to well up in his eyes and his voice quavers.

Theo: How about pancakes? Can you make pancakes for him??

Me: For me, not for him.  Nobody else wants pancakes. And no, we can’t have pancakes.

Theo: Marshmallows? Only 1 blue marshmallow. Just one and all done.

Me: Hey! How about let’s fix a puzzle. Look, it’s a farm puzzle!!

Theo: *starts to wail like he hasn’t eaten for a week* NO, STOP STOP STOP!! HE DON’T WANT PUZZLES HE JUST WANT TO EAT FOOD!!!

At first, I thought maybe he’s just hungry and I should give him more food until he’s full but he didn’t seem to ever have enough. He could eat more food than Truett, Kirsten and Finn combined for breakfast and still ask for more, which is insane.

And have you ever done the food test? I do this with all my kids. I’ll ask them to share the last piece of cookie/goldfish cracker/gummy that they’re clutching in their tiny fists, not because I actually want to eat it (it’s usually sweaty and soggy and germy by the time it reaches my mouth) but because it is proof of their undying love for me.

Most of the time, they’ll shove it quickly into their mouths to destroy all evidence of ever possessing such deliciousness but on several occasions, I’ve had all 3 of the big kids offer me their last morsels of snacks. True love, am I right?

But not baby Theo. One time, when I asked Theo for the last bite of his double chocolate chip cookie, he looked at me with such indignation it was like I had just asked him for a kidney. Then he promptly shook his head, making it clear that such a request was not to be entertained.

Please…pretty please? Can mommy have it?

NO. CANNOT. Baby Theo eat.

So I did what any self-respecting mom would do, I pretended to try to eat it from his hand as he was clutching it. I didn’t succeed because of his lightning fast reflexes but he immediately acted like I had taken away both his kidneys and his firstborn child. There much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He only finally stopped after I double pinky promised that I wouldn’t take away his food and offered another whole cookie as restitution.

Nobody comes between this baby and his food, is what I’m saying.

I love that this boy loves food and he’s such a joy to feed (I’ve never had a baby clap in glee when I made a grilled cheese sandwich) but I think maybe it’s time to introduce a diet program. This will not be fun. :(