It's been pretty clear there's a little boy in our midst lately. I've found rocks in my dryer, there's been chugging of milk right from the jug, earthworm collections, pet snails, thumbs smashed with hammers, exorbitant amounts of time spent in the bathroom and new notions of competition and speed.
He still has an answer for most things, like when he explained to me months ago why "there are no more fairies, none of any kind", it seems "they were from a long time ago and they got old and they died and that's it, there are no more and never will be." This even before the constant talk of death in our home...
If we give him a direct instruction, a global rule, such as, don't climb over the stair railing. He may or may not comply, but there will always be an entire explanation of precisely when that behavior might be necessary and acceptable. I know I'm in trouble when I hear, "Except when....there's a fire and I have to jump down to not get burned up and killed..."
He has a burgeoning sense of humor with the expected knock knock jokes that usually make no sense whatsoever. Though I did get a kick out of the first joke he told us last summer, where he learned it, I have no idea.
"Why did the chicken cross the playground?"
I surely didn't know.
"To get to the other slide!"
All hilarity breaks loose lately when he burps and I remind him, "What do you say after you burp?"
The bathroom humor can go as far as I'm concerned, but the smart humor, I'm convinced can take a person places. A couple of months ago, Jarrah spent the night and when I went in to shush them well after bedtime, Nathan informed me they would be "staying up all night long because we are nocturnal!"
Our little boy has also become quite the protector. He has offered to protect me more than once when I've expressed misgivings about doing something. We went to the holiday light extravaganza at the zoo and Nathan really wanted to try ice skating. Having never been on ice skates myself, I didn't feel competent enough to try it for the first time on my own with him and on some sort of pseudo plastic "ice" to boot. "Don't worry Mommy, I'll protect you, I'll help you." Oh, okay then! This actually gave me pause, why would he offer to protect me? Have I not made our roles clear and safe for him? Am I putting some weird emotional burden on my kid? I like to think not. I like to think he's sensitive and smart and wanted to go ice skating. Too bad for him, maybe next year.
Ah yes, sensitive Nathan. "Mommy, put Puff the Magic Dragon on the cd player. I will play this song for Grandma and Grandpa's dog. It is gentle, Chesty will like how it pets him."
And if you don't happen to have a beard, he may stroke your jaw or put his soft cheek against yours and tell you he loves your face, and guess what? He means it.
His speech is punctuated with more "guess whats?" and "except whens" than even the "Actuallys..." lately. His vocabulary is vast and he doesn't hesitate to stop all conversation or story telling to ask "What means that?" and if he doesn't understand your explanation, he will barrage you with questions until his understanding is complete. Most assuredly he will utilize that new word at the next opportunity to do so. Also, he spells the answers to the simplest questions lately. I'm ready for the novelty to wear off of this one sooner than later, though I'm pretty damn happy to get a response once in awhile.
It's no surprise that his teacher refers to him as a reader, nor that the first words he learned to write on his own after mastering his own name were I love you. His fine motor skills are getting where we want them to be for kindergarten next year and he is now enjoying writing, coloring and drawing way more than ever before. The occupational therapist Nathan saw for torticollis when he was a baby pointed out what now seems obvious, that babies or kids (all of us?) simply don't do what is difficult. There are some things that I thought weren't of much interest to Nathan, such as coloring or riding his tricycle, I'm learning those may have been some of the things that were simply difficult in terms of his unique development.
Nathan remains enthralled with all babies and requests me to have many more on a regular basis. With his recent study of birds, amphibians and reptiles he seems to have forgotten our Its Not The Stork book and discussions for the moment. A couple of days ago he told me he wanted me to lay another baby.
And the music, holy cow, it never ends. Now, with his current teacher he still sings constantly, but the songs are educational and fun. I've learned about the layers of the earth, the continents and so much more. Mostly the songs he comes home with are a peek into what goes on during his days at school, and that, I cherish.
As gentle and kind as he can be, I am pleased to see indications of boundaries put in place. He doesn't try to impress me by copying my tastes. In fact, if I say I don't care for something, he will tell me he doesn't like it either, actually, he loves it! Once I told him the cool way to wear a shirt and he promptly told me he didn't care about the "cool" way, he wanted to wear it the "Nathan" way.
Emotions are running rampant for him the beginning of this sixth year, and man oh man do they swing from one extreme to the other. The rumblings are pretty obvious before he blows, but the challenge remains how to negotiate that fine line between providing a safe place to let go and disciplining unacceptable behavior, and oh yeah, not losing it myself...there's that.
Slowly, I'm learning the peace in accepting the paradoxes in life and in parenting. Sometimes it feels entirely odd and perfect that my child should be so responsible for bringing many of my life's lessons out of the dark caverns of my head and into the reality of our days. I suppose the simple notion that with parenting comes deliberate action is bound to nudge lots of stuff into the light.
I'm reminded of the night after Nathan's birth. He was about sixteen hours old, it was the middle of the night and he lay in a roll away bassinet next to my hospital bed. Shaun was in the bed across the room. Our new baby cried. Shaun slept. The birth had not been easy on either of us. I was severely limited in my physical movements, so I reached out and put my whole hand firmly across his tiny body. In the same moment I felt a fool for thinking such a simple act would be of any comfort and knowing without question it would. It was that moment that I became a mother, and then, we slept.