His vocabulary has really grown and his ability to communicate and express himself has increased exponentially in the last few months. I think starting preschool this fall has contributed to that quite a bit. It's fun to hear him have conversations with Philip and I like listening to him tell me about the kids in his class or what he did at school. Lately when he is playing alone with his cars he makes them talk to each other and it's neat hearing what dialogue he comes up with.
He's just learning how to differentiate between people who's name he can't remember but he does it by referring to that person as "the second guy" or "the second girl." Similarly, Philip referred to people he didn't know by the color they were wearing, i.e., "that blue girl."
He seems more mature and interested in bigger boy things than Philip was at age three but that's just par for the course when you have an older sibling, I'm sure. He always wants to do what Philip is doing and works to be included in the games the big boys are playing. He does his best to hang with them physically when it comes to games outside but it does pain me to see him excluded when Philip's best buddy is around and when it become more obvious that Andrew is the little guy. I need to work harder on finding Andrew friends his own age who are just his own. I have been too lax in letting him just play with Philip and his friends instead of helping him to develop friendships of his own.
I am hoping too that preschool is playing a role in developing Andrew's ability to form friendships and to socialize and get along with children his own age. And, speaking of school, he likes school, but he's still having a hard time with drop off. Most mornings he tells me he doesn't want to go before he's even had breakfast and he likes to ask me at nighttime if he has school the next day. I am surprised by this because by the end of the year last year he was so desperate to stay in Philip's classroom he would sometimes tell me to go home. LOL. But I am chalking it up to him being young right now. Philip was the same way his first year, he just wasn't as vocal about it. And of course now, in his third year, he does great each morning. I had hoped Andrew wouldn't have the same separation anxiety Philip suffered with but I guess it shouldn't be too shocking seeing as they are from the same gene pool. At least I can be more confident he will overcome it as time goes on this time around. And, regardless of the bumpy start to the morning, he always tells me had fun at school when I pick him up and that he likes school. Because he has such a hard time when I leave though, I haven't spent as much time in his classroom as I would like to. I am hopeful that will change as the year goes on.
I think the fact that I often leave with his little sister in tow and not him makes it harder on him, too. Andrew loves Lydia and is a great big brother (albeit I have to watch him around her quite a bit as he can sometimes get too rough with her) but the effects of his transition to the middle child have only recently started to make themselves known. He has taken a penchant for talking like a baby recently. I think he is mimicking his younger cousin more than Lydia as Lydia doesn't talk yet and on a few occasions he has out of the blue demanded his crib back which he has been out of for months. I think this can all be traced back to him no longer being the baby of the house.
Being the middle child has to be tough. He's caught in between wanting to be older like Philip and then wanting to be the baby like Lydia. I know he's not sure where it leaves him and honestly I feel like I need help figuring it out too. I know he thrives off of individual attention and time spent just with mom and dad without either sibling around is almost always the recipe for better behavior. But as soon as one of the siblings comes back into the picture, the mentality returns to any kind of attention is good attention, even if it's for doing something bad. I am still struggling to figure out how to deal with this and it weighs on my mind every day as I find myself feeling like I am falling short as a parent in this department. Parenting three children who are each in their own very separate stage of development yet who each need you just as much but in different ways is hard. Instead of getting easier as time goes on, in that respect, being a mom of three is harder than it was nine months ago.
Andrew has a special place in our family as our middle child and I am working on ways to honor that place and to help him realize his place as the second child is just as precious and valuable as the place of either of his siblings. But while I know Philip faces his own struggles as the oldest (being an oldest child myself) and that Lydia will face her own challenges as the youngest, I think Andrew's role as the "middle" will prove the trickiest for me to respond to and the one I have the most to learn about.
In the meantime, I am reminding myself to focus on the ways in which Andrew is an individual and special in his own way, and try not to compare him to how Philip was at his age or worry too much about the ways in which Andrew challenges me. He is sweet and a good friend. He's a good student and a helper in his class. He loves to be cuddled and he loves to play with mom and dad. He loves playing outside and anything that involves physical activity: running, jumping, playing "hike" with Phil. He likes proving himself in that way. He likes to express himself in free form way through art. He likes watching movies and playing the Wii (maybe a little too much although we do curb the video games quite a bit). He also loves being read to and "reading" his books on his own. He's always helpful when I ask him to get me a diaper for the baby or to throw something away and he likes feeling important and necessary in that way. Patience and sharing are not his favorite things but I think most three year olds (and probably adults) feel the same way.
Our irreplaceable little "Duder" is growing and changing so much and I am grateful for the ways I am being challenged to grow as a parent right along with him. He is my living proof in God's unceasing faith in me as a mother.