Very Normal Henry (with a side of Assisi)

Dear Henry,

Instead of rambling about your vocabulary (immense) and your size (also immense), let me tell you a story about a recent trip that sums up the essence di Henry, if you will.

On a sunny, long weekend in June, we did an overnight trip to Spoleto, Cortona, the Perugina chocolate factory, and Assisi.  There were plenty of quintessential Henry moments throughout, but I’d like to talk about our time in Assisi.

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Halfway to 3

Dear Henry,

Not too long ago, some Facebook peeps commented that 2.5 was their absolute favorite age.  I was like, say what?  But now we have reached 2.5, and I totally get it.  You are still wild and you have your meltdowns, but you are so sweet and fun.  You say the craziest things sometimes.  I’m always impressed by how much we can talk about how many things.  I need to up my explanation game.  I feel the “why” questions coming soon.


You have a mind like an elephant.  I’m shocked at the things you remember, even after a few months!  You knew where things were at the zoo A FEW MONTHS AFTER YOUR VISIT.  We went to a certain market ONE TIME and we bought bread.  When we returned a few months later, you asked “where’s my bread?”  After you saw a Spiderman outside a museum ONE TIME you ask about Spiderman every time we walk by.  I actually opened your shades the other day and you immediately asked “where are the pinwheels?”  Our neighbors had pinwheels in their planters AT CHRISTMAS.

You are getting more manipulative.  Mommy is your favorite unless Mommy is there and you are stalling for bed and then you need Daddy.  You also need more water, more blankets, a kiss from the parent who is not there, and anything else you can think of to extend your time of awakeness.  It’s usually not very bad, but having you put up any fight is a change for us.  Once you are in bed, you are usually a top notch sleeper.  Unless you’ve lost your chupito (pacifier).  I’ve started to talk up the fact that pacifiers leave at 3.  We’ll see how that goes.  I think you have high sleep needs.  You usually nap at least two hours each afternoon, often much longer.  You are particularly wiped out after a morning at school.

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That’s right.  You are a bona fide bambino, attending 4-6 hours of day care each week.  You started in February.  It has mostly gone well.  At first, getting you out the door in the morning was the absolute worst.  Now it is no walk in the park, but you look forward to school.  (I need to brush up on my car make and models; this is your favorite thing to discuss on the walk to school.)  Sometimes you ask about going when we’re at home.  Valentina is your primary teacher.  Your bestie is Isabella.  I’m not entirely sure what you do at school because you refuse to provide details, and I am suspicious of the tales you relate.  It feels strange to me that you have your own things you do and your own secrets after we spent all of our time together, but I’m happy that you are happy.  And I know you will have many many more of your own things as you get older, and I need to get used to it.  Baby steps for both of us.

You still terrorize your brother, but you can be very sweet with him as well.  I am trying to persuade you to stop taking his toys.  He gets turns too.  Sometimes you offer him a trade so you can steal the toy you want.  I eye all of these things suspiciously.  It makes me remember when I convinced my younger sister to pay me for doing stupid things.  I’m on to you, kid.

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But particularly lately, you have had some awesome moments with Mac.  You really want to play with him.  Even though you are still about 150% too rough, you are starting to take his desires and needs into your play.  Sometimes you bring him toys, just because.  He fell over while you were playing, and you grabbed his hands and helped him back up.  I melted a little.  You ask frequently “What is Mac doing?” and “What is Mac talking about?”  This is all very good because that kid worships you.  I’m really excited to watch the epic Henry-Mac friendship unfold.  Let’s just try to keep the broken bone count to a minimum.

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How could I not love this age?  You just unpromptedly came up and said “I love you so much.”  After a timeout where you threw something at me, you came over and said you were sorry.  We have inside jokes, such as me pretending to not know that you want to take your pants off at nap time.  You dance with abandon.  You have a zeal for life.  Sometimes I wish your head wasn’t so hard and you would save your wrestling for Daddy, but I love that you love me and want to spend your time with me.

You are still a pretty good little eater.  You make it easy for me to have a take it or leave it policy.  If I were worried that you weren’t getting enough, I’m not sure I could take such a hard stance.  You still like zucchini.  Strawberry season has started here, and you are singlehandedly putting a dent in Rome’s strawberry supply.  You are definitely taking advantage of the Italian goodies; pasta, pizza, salumi, and cheese are all your jam.  Not to mention the gelato.  First you liked all pink gelati, but now you are branching out into pistachio, biscotto, and many others.

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With all of your eating, I shouldn’t be surprised that you are growing.  And how.  I haven’t measured you lately, but I can tell.  You can reach more elevator buttons.  When we first got here, I cuffed your pants up twice.  Now I don’t roll them at all.  We just moved you up to your size 7 shoes.  I need to doublecheck and see if you actually have anything that fits for this summer.

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We still read a lot.  Which I love.  Your just went through an obsession with the Lego catalog.  Not the free Lego magazine which you also enjoy, but the straight up catalog.  You called it your “Ninja book.”  You also like all things vehicular and all things Richard Scarry.  Mac is still more into destroying the books than reading them, but I’m hoping we can have even more story time with the three of us soon.

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I had no idea you would be capable of so much at age two.  What is next year?  Defending your thesis on best molding practices for play doh?  I’ll be excited to see.  Just try not to lose your cheeks just yet!

Love, Mom

P.S.  Henry at two and two and a quarter.

The answer is always Henry

Why is there a deflated balloon in the refrigerator?

Why is there a metal spoon in the couch cushions?

Why is the veggie steamer on my nightstand?

Henry.  The answer is always Henry.

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Oh, Henry.  It feels not long ago that you turned two and now you are two and a quarter.  You are a force of life.  You are always on the go.  “Mas running” is still one of your favorite games.  Lately, you want to climb everything in sight.  I do the best I can to spot you while wearing a baby.  Thankfully no damage too serious yet, but we do call you Head-Injury-Henry for a reason.


You still love balls.  Kicking is your jam and you always get comments on your skillz, but you have picked up your throwing and catching game as well.  You love trains and motos and planes.  Especially planes.  You pore over your Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, each page exclaiming “Airplane!  Airplane!  Look at that airplane!”  We read a lot too, which I love because reading is awesome and it is one of the only times you let me cuddle.

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I can’t believe how much you talk.  You can tell me what colors the airplanes are and that they are landing in the water or zooming in the sky.  We really do have somewhat legitimate conversations.  Very recently you started putting your “please” sentences together and can say things like “can I have my sticker book please?”  Color me impressed.

You are very social.  You have a circle of friends here that you seem delighted to see.  Sometimes it takes you a little bit to warm up, but I’m always amazed how eager you are to seek out new playmates.  You fearlessly stalked some kids at the market in Munich, and after I translated for you, you and your new buds ran around terrorizing the patrons at the gluhbier stand.  (More on gluhbier later; shocking to no one, hot beer is NOT as delicious as hot wine.)  You’ve been approaching Italian kids at the playgrounds too.  We are working on getting you into daycare for a morning or two each week.  This is less about giving me a break and more about giving you some more peeps to run around with.  (Particularly until you turn three and we have to decide if we want to go the pricey private preschool route.)

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I’d say you are generally mild-mannered, for a toddler, but you do have your share of meltdowns.  I’m always blown away by how food-motivated you are.  I can flash one M&M and you will happily climb obediently into your stroller.  I don’t love bribing you and try to avoid it, but sometimes one M&M or cracker is a pretty reasonable price to pay for compliance.

I think you’ve been growing.  I haven’t measured you lately, but you can reach more elevator buttons than when we got here.  You certainly feel a bit heavier.  And you have so much hair!  I love that you have enough hair that it can get messed up.  We’ll do a haircut someday.  But not yet.

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Things are never boring with you around.  I have honed negotiation skills that I never dreamed I would need.  (Seriously, I think “getting toddlers to do things” should be a legitimate resume bullet.)  For example, in between when I started writing this and now, you had an EPIC meltdown that was solved when I eventually got you to eat and sang a spur-of-the-moment-creation “I’m a pizza monster.”  (To be released next year.  See you at the Grammies, suckas!  That’s the awards one for music again, right?)  You kept cracking up and your giggles were so sweet that it almost made up for the previous half hour of screaming and hating everything.  (Haha, not even close.  But it was a welcome, joyful sound.)

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Life with you can be tiring, but it is very fun.  It is certainly never dull.

Love, Mom