One month till the boy turns five. Thirty-one days.
We have to remember to round his age up when people ask how old his is, now. And heâ€™s measuring actions according to his age. He will sometimes politely refuse to try a new food. â€œNo, Mama,â€ heâ€™ll say, â€œthatâ€™s food for a five-year-old. Iâ€™m only four. But when Iâ€™m five Iâ€™ll like it.â€ Heâ€™ll do the same thing with toys or activities; heâ€™s saving some of them for when he turns five. Mind you, the reverse is also operative: some things he tells me are okay for four-year-olds, but when heâ€™s five heâ€™ll stop.
One of the funniest things about this past month was his discovery of baked potatoes. That sounds odd, but itâ€™s so much fun to see him get excited when I tell him that weâ€™re having baked potatoes with dinner. He saw an illustration of one in a picture book and asked what it was. HRH explained it to him, and he said they sounded delicious. So I baked potatoes the next night to go with dinner, sliced it open, put a curl of butter on top, and he was thrilled. He asks for them all the time, now. It’s like he’s discovered the most exciting food ever. Baked potatoes. Really. I mean, there are other cool things associated with dinner, such as how he clears the table and puts the dishes in the dishwasher and such, and usually asks to be excused (every time he got up from the picnic at Tristan’s naming ceremony, for example, he asked to be excused, which amused me; he must be the only little boy in existence who asks to be excused from a picnic blanket, not once, but three times), but the baked potato thing is just so wacky.
He is fearless and so very confident in his inability to get hurt. He throws himself from a standing position off the top of the slide, and swings from the top bar of the swingset. He doesnâ€™t watch where heâ€™s going when he runs, hurls himself enthusiastically around corners, slips, bounces off walls. We are mostly sanguine about this now. We are less sanguine about his ability to selectively hear warnings and instructions, and listening actively is something weâ€™re working on. So is following instruction immediately instead of saying â€œIâ€™m just going to do this one thing first.â€
His preschool is working on a play. He came home with a little script, very excited. Theyâ€™re basing it on Leslie McGuireâ€™s picture book This Farm is a Mess. The kids are all the different animals, and the educators are the narrator, the farmer, and the mama chicken (the baby chicks are being played by the three babies of the daycare). The boy has been cast as the goat, and said he needed a costume. So I, with my years of experience creating costumes out of nothing, pulled out a pair of black socks with holes in them, and cut off the toes. â€œWhat are you doing?â€ he asked. I slid them over his forearms and said, â€œThese are your hooves and legs,â€ and I thought he was going to pop from excitement. I then pulled out an old grey t-shirt and cut out a tail and two floppy ears, tipping each with black marker. I sewed the ears to a black headband, put a big safety pin through the tail, gave him one of his grey shirts to wear, and voila, we had one little black and grey kid goat. He has been practising his â€œmeh-eh-eh-ehâ€ sound, and we sit down every day or so and go over his lines. The day he brought home the script he arranged HRH and I, and said, â€œWe will do my play. Dada, you can be the farmer, and Mama, you can be the narrator; that means the person who tells the story,â€ he explained, patting my hand. I just about exploded with that indescribable feeling of pride mixed with joy and triumph. My son knows what a narrator is. I, of course, desperately want to be there to see this play be performed, but parents are almost certainly going to distract them (the average age here is two or three years, after all), so I think theyâ€™re planning on doing it in front of a video camera to make a movie instead, which we will all get on DVD. If they do this, I am praying that they do credits, because that will absolutely blow the boyâ€™s mind.
Perhaps most poignant of all this month, however, was the morning that he asked for us to practise our cellos together before he went to school, and he played lovely open double stops while I played Twinkle over them. And we discovered that his own little cello, which is in truth a full-size viola, is now too small for him; he has undeniably outgrown it. If he’s going to play (and we mean seriously, not messing around with it as he’s been doing) then he’s going to need an actual 1/8 or 1/4 size cello, rented from the luthier. My teacher has a new student who is three years old, the younger sister of a seven or eight-year-old student, and so if he decides that this is something he really does want to pursue, then he has a classmate. We’ll talk about it seriously over the summer. I’ve already proposed the Suzuki week-long junior music daycamp for six-year-olds and under to him, and he’s responded enthusiastically to the idea, so we shall see. The last time he asked for music lessons I told him that if he really wanted to he could start once he was established in kindergarten, and that’s rapidly drawing nigh. The icon image is of a photo taken when he was two months shy of two years old. He is, to say the least, much larger than that now…