…my Grandma Betty said this to me yesterday, her sweet blue eyes misting up after I told her and my mom my latest Will story. She said she always used to be so good at writing down all the cute and hilarious and somehow forgettable things her five kids did and said, but then she wouldn’t be able to find the writings later. Thank the Lord for the evolution of mommy blogs!!
Jason and I took the boys to our neighborhood playground the other day for a little break when he worked from home. We had Henry in the single Bob and let Will run ahead of us a few yards. He is such a little dear and so conscientiously obedient to our calls to slow down or stop and wait at the intersection.
Jason said, “I kept thinking that when we had this new baby it would make me see Henry differently, make him grow up all of a sudden… but so far, its Will that I keep noticing seeming so huge and old!”
I watched the skinny, bouncy little boy ahead of us who seems to be all skin and bones, arms and legs these days, and I agreed.
He loves to wake up earlier than Henry so he can slip downstairs and hang out with his Daddy who is showering while I am still buried in the blankets. He told Jason once, “I was very quiet and Henry is still asleep, so my plan is working!”
On Saturdays, their ritual has become turning on a Nature documentary while Jason drinks his coffee. (that was what was happening above when I came groggily out of the bedroom last weekend, and got it on camera). Will has watched so many “docu-meh-ries” that I have started noticing in his independent playtime that he narrates it himself in a David Attenborough-like voice. “Then the little creature was stuck!…” etc etc.
He is very adverse to change and would rather watch the same things over and over about his favorite animals (whales), though if we ignore his loud protests and put something else on he falls for it despite himself. This isn’t just with the documentaries, but with any book we read, any show he watches during mine and Henry’s nap time, his friends, his school. They had to replace his class’s beloved assistant teacher Miss Margot due to one of the other class’s teachers dropping out and needing to shuffle the more experienced teachers… Will was skeptical and upset at first; but a few days later when I asked him about his new teacher Miss Sarah, Will said, “Yes, I’m starting to like her!”
Speaking of his teachers… I had a parent teacher conference with Miss Jennifer a week ago. Miss Jennifer is Asian (I think Philippino), and she is quiet and tiny and soft-spoken and rules that class with an iron hand. Will and “the friends” have learned to follow her rules with attention and respect. Will told me, “Miss Jennifer says, when we get a job we don’t want, ‘We get what we get and we don’t get upset!'” I have really appreciated her discipline because they clearly are still having a lot of fun, but I know it has seriously prepared Will for the highest standards of behavior in kindergarten.
When I met with Miss Jennifer for this parent teacher conference, and my friend Kathleen watched the kids on the playground, I loved how she described Will’s readiness for Kindergarten because she also clearly understood that Will responds very well to any command if you can explain to him why it is necessary. Without that time and explanation, he is stubborn and impossible. But Ms Jennifer’s way has clearly been such a perfect fit for Will’s way. And I have realized, my favorite part of sending my kid to school is getting to watch other adults appreciate them. I know that won’t always happen so easily; people are different and can easily get into bad patterns of misunderstanding each other, even children. But so far preschool – and even the childcare at the Y for Henry – has just been this wonderful and gratifying experience of seeing other grownups fall in love with my kids.
Miss Jennifer said that in her 15 years of teaching preschool, there are always a few kids here and there that you just never forget. She said she will see them now and remember a sweet and adorable little quirk they had, and know without a doubt that they still have it in some shape or form as a young adult. She said Will is one of those kids for her, and for one unique trait in particular. She said she goes home and tells her family, “I have a future politician in my class!” It cracks her up when she asks Will a question, because he won’t commit to an answer until he has really weighed it and thought about it. She’ll say, “Why is this picture different from these other pictures?” and Will’s typical response is: “Well, let me think about that Miss Jennifer. I think…” She said he is always responding this way. He won’t go on the record til he’s absolutely sure its a good answer.
His enjoyment of school and his evident love for his teachers have not in any way interfered with my son’s attachment and love for being with his family. I spied this picture on the wall display of the latest school project:
I sent it to Jason and we both cracked up over how Will it was.
He used to say he did not want to grow up. He would get very upset about this, so I would always say “That’s ok, you do not have to.” Then we were driving home from school and he said, suddenly, “You know, I decided I am going to grow up after all. But I won’t leave home. I will just stay with you and Daddy and help you with all the babies.” (Will says we need to have ten babies). He wasn’t interested in the idea of getting married and having his own babies. He just wants to help me with mine.
He also informed Jason and I this past weekend that soon he’s going to be big and he’ll need to sleep with Mommy in her bed. But he said his Daddy can sleep in there too. One of those awkward “my kid is in love with me” moments that you know is totally natural and normal but still super awkward. I mean, remember wanting to marry your Daddy? yeah, its a little weird being on the receiving end of that devotion ;).
As far as his relationship with his brother goes… Will is generally a very kind older sibling. He has been going through this stage of being all of a sudden competitive, and he gets really angry when anyone beats him at anything. He started yelling at his friends and Henry, “You are bad!! Bad Henry!” to which Henry yells back, “I not bad!!!” We are working on appropriate expressions of frustration that do not involve telling others that they are bad.
I decided to take Will with me to the Stations of the Cross this past Friday evening. We were going to the Fish Fry anyway, and although it was out of the question to try it with Henry, I wanted to stay at least by myself, and when I gave Will the option of going home with Henry and Daddy or coming with me to the grownup Stations, he said he “hoped” he was ready for the stations, and he would try them. (I guess thats a great example of the quirk Miss Jennifer loves).
Thankfully, our pastor uses a very simple and shorter stations, so the whole thing was maybe 45 minutes. I have loved the Stations my whole life. Being in the church at night is haunting and memorable in itself; then you have these beautiful scriptures and the whole uniting yourself to Christ in His hardest and most painful moments.
Will was eager to prove himself. I whispered a summary of each station to him in greater detail. He genuflected when we all did; he held his little book at the right page; he knelt on the pew when I knelt on the kneeler so he could lean forward and press his little chin against my shoulder and quietly repeat snatches of the responses after me. And then when we sang the verse of the Stabat Mater at the end of each station, I noticed him humming loudly. I had to tell him to do it a little quieter here and there. But he was a total angel.
When we walked out to the car afterward, I squeezed his little hand and told him how proud I was of him, and how glad I was that he did that with me. He said:
“Yes! And I hummed when you sang because you know humming is a hummingbirds way of talking!”
I realized he was trying to explain to me that even his humming was his wholehearted attempt at true participation, and my heart just melted.
Like Jason, I am eager (albeit emotional in the process) to see him blossom even more with the arrival of our Easter baby. (6 weeks tomorrow, exactly!) I am watching him grow up into this kind, thoughtful, intelligent boy, and I am so glad he is my oldest.
Oh and this moment that his Uncle Mo caught – this past Sunday when all our family was visiting, and Jason had just built a warm fire… Will dragged his rocking chair (from another room) in front of the fire all of his own accord.
How I love my little old man.