Thane turns five

The last few minutes of a four year old

Last night I went into a darkened room, as I do pretty much every night I am home, and I kissed a pair of boys good night. I climbed under Grey’s bed to the inviting cubby where Thane has been sleeping since Tiberius took over Thane’s room as a sick-room. In that darkened corner was my four year old (for another five minutes), his hands clasped as though in prayer, lying with an already beloved birthday book next to him. I kissed his forehead. He still sounds like a baby when he sleeps.

Camera “hide and seek” with Thane during apple picking

But that’s all the baby there is left to Thane. As he comes into his fifth year, he comes into his own. Thane has a tremendous sense of purpose and drive, and a deep commitment to his beliefs and ideals. This was somewhat… trying… this year as his beliefs and ideals often included things like “Not going to school” or “Making sure you heard him about what he thinks he smelled in the middle of church” (hint: it’s never good). I have consoled myself through some of his more adamant moments by reminding myself that some traits that are very difficult to parent at four are pretty awesome in an astronaut or CEO or Nobel-winning-scientist-who-is-too-stubborn-to-give-up.

Thane’s favorite time is tickle and snuggle time.

Thane’s personality becomes increasingly clear. His greatest gift is this remarkable spatial/color reasoning. He still loves to do puzzles (he tops out around 100 pieces because he has no strategy) and create symmetrical creations with shapes on our kitchen wall. However, now that he can force his fingers to obey his will better (he’s been frustrated by their lack of obedience for years) he’s really stepped up his game with Legos. For his birthday, I got him a Lego set rated for 8 – 12. I kind of figured his brother would help him. Instead, Thane did the Entire. Thing. By. Himself. I helped him find like two pieces he lost, and put on a few of the stickers.

His smile cheers me up every time I see it.

Thane is very innovative in how he puts his Legos together. He tends to develop more three dimensional creations than his brother. He does love minifigs best, and will often assemble armies of 20 – 30. His preschooler hands undo his work nearly as often as they finish it, but he persists until he matches his mind’s creation. Just for the record, Thane’s drawings and artwork are pretty normal – he seems pretty uninterested in drawing/coloring in general.

Thane, with the Golden Ninja Lego set.

When not engaged in feats of spacial reasoning, Thane loves rough-and tumble play. His favorite thing in the whole world is “tickle and snuggle time in Mom and Dad’s bed”. He simply cannot get enough rough-housing, which would be more fun if his head couldn’t be categorized as a deadly weapon. He loves physical play. He’s been doing soccer for the last few weeks, and has done pretty well. With the advantage of a younger brother, he’s gotten to attend a few of his brother’s practices and last week actually did the entire practice with his fellow-four-year-old-younger-brother-friend.

The future’s so bright – he’s gotta wear SHADES!

Lately, Thane has been working very hard on learning to read. He has phonics down (except for period confusion between “b” and “d” – which come on, that’s hard.) His patience and diligence when he decides he’s going to read is astonishing. Just don’t let him corner you for “Hop on Pop” because that takes nearly an hour.

Thane as a Skylander for Halloween.

Thane loves Skylanders, even though he never plays – he watches his brother. He still loves Scooby Doo. He loves Digimon. He wants to be read stories about super heroes. He sings songs and makes up new words – and they’re often pretty good ones! He is constantly frenetic, and it is hard to get him to sit still for – say – dinner. But when he gets his focus on, he can sit quietly for an hour. He leads off practically every statement with “Guess what” and is desperate to get his points across. Sometimes he will insistently ask a question three times or four times, but fail to listen to all three answers. He can go across all the rings in the playground, hand over hand. He sleeps with his Puppy, worships his brother, and is 45.5 inches tall (91st percentile). Thane bounces when he walks.

Thane still holds my hold.

Happy fifth birthday, my beloved son.

You can see an album of our family adventures in October here, including a video of Thane reading.

If you want more Thane, here’s an album I’ve put together of some of his highlights this year!

Kindergarten

For months now I’ve been completely convinced that I’m fine, FINE with Grey going to Kindergarten. In fact, I believe he probably should’ve gone LAST fall! He’s academically fine! He’s socially developmentally appropriate! He’s tall! He’s maturing fast! He covered all over his body with markers yesterday and declared he was Battle Boy while jumping on his brother’s bed! I imagined myself trundling him down to South School, instead of the YMCA, cursing the parking situation there and going on about my day. Nooooo problem.

But then I got engaged in all the work of actually moving your child from one stage to another. I wrote a signed and dated letter to his preschool, telling them that his final day as a preschooler would be June 20th. Then he becomes a Summer Camper. I’ve gotten two letters from the school – official logo emblazoned on the top of a cheap photocopy – telling me when and where I need to report myself for training. Friday morning, I need to be at South School where they will tell me what’s what. A few weeks later, it’s Grey’s turn. (Note to school district: one week is very scant notice for telling me I need to be somewhere at 9 am. Also, the duration of the orientation would have been useful information. I get the feeling I had better get used to jumping when I’m told to jump.)

I’m glad, though, because I do wonder. Although Grey’s been going to “school” for two years now, of the “pre” variety, it’s a very forgiving environment. There’s no starting bell — you show up when you show up. You can take your kid out for a day or a week because Grandma’s in town, or you’re going on vacation, or you feel like it. How will our lives react to a whole additional set of immobile, nonnegotiable timelines? Will I still have to not pack peanuts in the lunches? (There was a like a blessed two weeks when no one in his class had a peanut allergy. Sigh.) Will he want to get the school lunches? How will he react to being the littlest kid in the school? Will he hate having to sit politely all day? Will his teacher see his reading as a problem or an opportunity? What if he hates it?

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is giving up on being everything to your child. I can’t, won’t know everything about what it is like for my son to go to Kindergarten. That will only become more true in second grade, fourth grade, seventh grade, eleventh grade. When he’s a man grown, I’ll be lucky if I read about his life in his blog posts. (Hi mom!) That is the right and good way for children to grow. But it’s hard to give up, to relinquish.

At nearly every stage of my sons’ lives (note the nearly, there. Exceptions exist), I have wished I could hold them as right where they are – perfect. I remember wishing that when Grey was 3 months old. But now, I would not have him be a 3 month old again for the world. I like him quite well as a five year old, thankyouverymuch. I can only guess, predict, that this will continue to be true as they grow up.

Then again, he was an awfully cute 3 month old
Then again, he was an awfully cute 3 month old

Grey is Five

Say, can you help me? I’m pretty sure I left a four year old around here somewhere. I know I saw him last night. I tucked him into bed and gazed at his sweet face. Maybe I even took a picture of him lying there, looking all four. But this morning, I can’t find him anywhere. I did find this neat five year old wandering around, but he can’t possibly be *mine*. I mean, do I look old enough to have a five year old? I think not.

Or maybe I am. It so turns out that the big five year old wandering around *is* my son Grey. And what a fine young five year old he is.

Last moments of a four year old
Last moments of a four year old

I did a big post not so long ago about Grey, and what he’s up to. In the incremental way of children who are no longer babies, he’s continued to build on those foundations. Emotionally, he’s more in control of himself. He is very empathetic and kind towards his brother and others (although he maintains a great dislike and disdain of ants). Physically, all his skills continue to come together towards a refinement of motion. I can see laid the foundations where he surpasses me, the vigor and sureness of youth overtaking the experience and practice of age. His balance is excellent. His fine motor skills are improving. He’s fast (although not QUITE fast enough to beat me in extremis… yet).

I’m very impressed by how Grey is doing at aikido. We had a period where we stepped back a bit from pushing it because, as Grey described it, there was “too much love”. He also explained that he was tired after school on Wednesdays. (Duh.) Now we have a rule that he should go once a week, but we never need to enforce it. we ask him if he wants to go, and he says yes. He goes with great cheer and no complaining. He listens on the mat. He sits still. He pays attention to the lessons. He runs hard. He laughs and has fun. He’s still a little goofier than martial arts call for, but I’m incredibly proud of the attitude he bring to it.

Grey's birthday party
Grey's birthday party

Reading is going from a task of great effort to a background processing activity. I admit that there are uncomfortable moments — he can totally bust us when we spell things out now. He totally knows what that sign says (Donut) and whether the flyer you just handed him is actually for him. (It’s not.) It’s a real joy to listen to him read. He’s playing a Bakugan DS game, and it has all these really hard quiz questions on the Bakugan. He’s asked me to read a few to him. I have no idea how he’s getting them, but they seem to make sense. His language acquisition isn’t totally perfect, of course. He still has challenges with the past tense. But he read all the birthday cards that were sent to him this year!

Grey can be super polite and considerate. It’s stopped being a constant nagging on our part, and begun to be a part of who he is and how he talks. Even when he doesn’t SAY please or thank you, his tone of voice is charming and pleasant (as he constantly begs for treats). And I LOVE his excitement. Tonight we went THE 99! He jumped up and down and clapped his hands and squeed and hugged my leg. He kissed me and said I was the BEST MAMA EVER. Honestly, I think I could win the lottery and be less effusive. But that’s to my detriment — I love his energy and enthusiasm and joy in life!

I think it might be a fool’s errand to try to encapsulate why I love him so much — the myriad ways he charms me. NPR today included a quote that says, “A beetle is a gazelle in his mother’s eye”. I think it is one of the blessings of humanity that mothers are so charmed by their children, and that children shine at least in the eyes of their parents. It’s one of the good things in life, this half-blind reciprocal joyful loving between parents and children (in between the patches where we drive each other crazy).

Every time I write a blog post about one of my sons I worry. I worry that the OTHER son will figure out that this son is my favorite. Of course, then when I go to write about the other, I have the exact same worry. In a mathematically and linguistically unlikely way, I’ve come to realize that BOTH my sons are my favorites. I just really like them.

Dinner tonight
Dinner tonight