Babies do so much in their first year, it’s hard not to be constantly amazed by them. They start out all blobby and tiny. Then they roll over. They hold their heads up. They sit up. They babble. They walk. They use spoons. They drink through straws. They jump off things. It feels like it takes forever, but it’s a year! One year is not very long, in the grand scheme of a lifetime, to go from mewling blob to upright monkey.
Then, the second year. Oh how I love the second year. It is all wonder and excitement and the children are easily distracted by a sheet of bubble wrap and they eat everything and you don’t care what or how much and they wear diapers and it doesn’t matter to you yet. They are halfway between baby and child and if I could hold a child in that place, well, I wouldn’t because it would be cruel but I would, sort of. Chubby cheeks AND “miiiik peeeez.” Some great.
The third year is pretty good too; more personality emerges and there is talking and very strange, often amusing behavior. From my kids anyway.
In the fourth and fifth year, though, I have lost track of the achievements and the wonderment somewhat because I am engaged all day in power struggles. I know. Don’t engage in the power struggles. Listen, when I have had a) enough sleep b) enough coffee c) enough exercise, I am good. I don’t engage. But sometimes, I do. I am human.
Trombone’s development of late has been social. He has gone from a shy, retiring sort, quick to tears, to a brash, confident, know it all, who refuses to zip his jacket and when I say “Are you all right,” says “I’m FINE,” in the acid tenor of a person 10 years his senior. As such, though I am thrilled to see him out of his shell with his peers, my own relationship with him is mostly:
- please don’t tease your brother
- please go to the bathroom for the love of god
- eat some couscous
- EAT SOME COUS–
- I don’t care. Eat what you like.
- I love you, goodnight.
It has not seemed, in other words, that there has been much to celebrate, revel in, be wonder-struck by. Understand, yes, in the grand scheme of things, I am still filled with wonder. My children are amazing. I adore them. But on a minute-by-minute basis, more pain, less gain. Lately.
Until one day recently, Trombone started drawing. A couple of weeks ago he drew himself. Then himself as a superhero. Then himself battling the bad guys. It is no coincidence that we have about fifteen comic books out from the library right now.
I have no idea if he is “at his level” or beyond it or below it for drawing. He can make an evil guy look evil and a good guy look good. He can draw telescopes and capes and his brother and planets and he will not stop. I asked him to make a birthday card for SA yesterday and he made five. FIVE.
And everything he draws is a-mazing. If you are a Facebook friend of mine, you have already seen how insanely proud I am of these drawings. I am that parent who can’t stop marveling. Not because I believe him to be the next Warhol, but because it is this piece of his brain that I haven’t seen before. A door has opened and incredible stuff is pouring out. It has re-ignited my wonder and amazement, because look what my kid can do.
I remember clearly from my Wonder Weeks book that whenever a brain opens a door to pour out incredible stuff, it also opens a door on the opposite side that makes incredibly tedious, boundary-pushing stuff pour out. In other words, great leaps in development are directly related to how long it takes us to get our shoes on and leave the house in the morning. (And by ‘us’ I mean ‘them.’) So it is a payoff, of sorts, a little ‘good stuff is happening, keep the faith’ message from my kid’s brain. Thanks, brain. Thanks, kid.
(This is Trombone with his arm around Fresco, as they both battle the [Fresco created] bad guy named Tissue Tissue Box. Trombone added the speech bubble. Within the speech bubble, he is saying his brother’s name, which I anonymized using The Gimp.)