The Birthday of Ten Thousand Pieces (or Thane Turns Six)

Thane as a gigantic, nearly grown person

At some point after Thane’s birthday, I did a mental count of the number of individual pieces he got. Two tubs of Perler Beads (one regular and one glow in the dark) – 12,000 pieces. 200 piece puzzle. Four Lego sets (~1000 pieces). Box of actual sand (gazillion pieces). In truth, it was probably the birthday of 20,000 pieces, but that’s far less poetic.

Scientist Thane investigates the shells.

It is, however, very much Thane. From the first, he would patiently try to force tiny fingers into minute actions far too finicky for toddlers. He would try persistently, over and over, until he got it to his satisfaction. He still does. He sat down and did two “6 – 12” Lego sets, back to back. He created completely symmetrical designs with his beads. He has this capacity for quiet, by himself play that still astonishes me.

He holds his own with the big brother contingent.

One of his favorite gifts from his birthday was a Science Kit. For quite a while he was going to be a Chef/Scientist/Judge. He’s sort of settled on Scientist now, so he was super excited for the Science Kit. As we walked to the Library on Monday, he told me about how his laboratory was going to be right next to the Library so he could get science books to do experiments. It was an awesome plan.

Even on a cold October day, I could not keep Thane out of the water.

I asked Thane the other day (in a fit of trying out various cameras) how Kindergarten was going. He said, “Well… it’s so-so.” He’s actually doing very well. His writing is emerging out of appalling and into almost legible. (That whole forcing your hands to do the small motor things you desperately want? He’s never really wanted to write legibly.) He writes his full name, which still looks strange to me. (He went through a phase of wanting to be called “Nathan” at home. Although I like the name Nathan very much, I was pleased that he wasn’t very adamant and I still get to call him my sweet Thane.) He does not like to color much, I think. His reading is coming well. The books he can read get longer and harder, although it still seems very tiring to him. He is making good friends at school, and has emerged with a new best friend (whom I haven’t even met yet!)

His creations are usually very innovative.

We’re currently between obsessions. He told me, disdainfully, that he doesn’t like Scooby Doo. DOESN’T LIKE SCOOBY?!?!?! He’s spent most of his life completely obsessed with Scooby. There isn’t a Scooby episode, toy, book, spinoff series or live action theater event in the last four years that we haven’t been in the throes of. No Scooby? He’s always had an area of massive interest: Scooby, puzzles, dinosaurs. Legos, of course, persist. I have to guess that he’ll discover a new passion soon. Perhaps Science?

He’s just about too big to swing.

Soccer this fall went much better than in the Spring. This year, he was a big kid who actually kind of knew what he was doing. (Attending each of his big brother’s practices was a completely unfair advantage overlooked in second sons.) He’s incredibly tough and shrugs off physical discomfort. He ran fast and strong, although he does not seem to like the sensation of physical exertion. He’s looking forward to it in the spring, which is indeed progress!

He loves games. He’s been working his way on reading all the cards in King of Tokyo.

He’s still a homebody. He’d far rather hang out in his room doing Legos than go on whatever crazy adventure you’re proposing now MOM. Once we cajole him into the adventure, though, he usually ends up enjoying it quite a bit. He’s still often very glad to return to his own bed and his own Puppy. For a long time we were putting he and Grey to bed at the same time. Now we’ve separated the boys’ bedtimes, he falls asleep much more quickly and easily. He doesn’t even protest the injustice as much as, well, I would’ve at his age.

Making the best of a beach closed due to thunder

Thane is still, to my joy, young and snuggly. He’s shy in the face of new people. He holds my hand with this fingers interlaced through mine. He never walks – he bounces, jumps, spins, hops, drags or dances whenever he moves. He likes to play the “line game” which involves jumping over lines and ignoring the fact you’re about to run into traffic. He giggles when you blow on his belly and tells wild tales about how he thinks reality should work (“I don’t think there should be other planets. It’s unfair!”). He sings to himself while he plays. He asks questions, repeatedly, to which he knows the answer without listening for your response. He thinks its hilarious to wear his underwear on his head, but is grown enough to only do that with clean underwear. He carries his heart in his smile, and my heart in his every small, unconscious act of joy.

We’re going to have a great year together, kid.

Thane and his two best preschool friends

PS – I have up pictures from the end of October! You can See them here!

Grey at 6

October is a busy month. Pretty much everyone has a birthday in October. So I’ve spent the last few weeks running around like a chicken with her head cut off. (Brawk!) In the brief gap between birthdays and Mocksgiving, I thought I might actually (gasp) give you an update.

As indicated, my sons are both now a year older! So I thought I would tell you about who Grey is at six years old.

Grey's kindergarten school picture
Grey's kindergarten school picture

First, the facts. Grey is in Kindergarten – the second oldest kid there – with Mrs. Carrozza. She is a delightfully experienced, take-no-prisoners model of a Kindergarten teacher. Grey is 46 inches tall (3’10”) and weighs 45 lbs. Perfectly balanced now, in not too long he’ll tip over into more pounds than inches for the first time. He has reddish hair, the only blue eyes in his class and a little red mark on his right cheek.

Grey’s favorite things right now are Collectible Card games (Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh – doesn’t really matter), DS games (he’s particularly enjoying Pokemon Soul Silver and Scooby Doo First Frights), and Kidz Bop music. He likes to read and reads everything around him, but prefers to stick to picture books. He’ll read a chapter book if you get him hooked, but he’ll rarely pick one up and tackle it himself. He’s spending a lot of time drawing detailed narrative pictures and labeling them appropriately. He adores Legos, and will build extensive Lego edifices. He never likes to break them up, so they linger in piles around his room.

Grey has also started telling intricate and often compelling stories. Last weekend we went hiking in Octobrish woods, exchanging spooky stories about what lurked in that pond, what was buried under that stone, and who we just saw vanish into a hole in the ground. Grey got really into it, telling terrifying stories with aplomb and timing. He’s at that delightful period of imagination after all sorts of possibilities have been introduced to the mind, but before you start living by the tropes and unwritten rules that so often govern grown imaginations.

He also has already put on his Gamemaster hat. I gave him his own set of dice for his birthday. Just like his father, he has a gaming notebook full of dungeon maps and notes. He’ll walk a party through the labrynth, usually with many explosions and all-powerful devices and incredibly rich rewards. It’s very fun, and a joy to watch. I imagine a day some day a few years in the future when Grey is running the “kids game” in the kitchen while we play the “grownups game” in the dining room.

Examples of Grey's work
Examples of Grey's work

Grey does aikido once or twice a week. He has a yellow belt, although sensei threatened him with its loss if he didn’t remember all the yellow belt techniques. Grey took the threat in the productive way, and spent all week working on tsuki kotegaesh with his father. Grey did swimming lessons all last winter and through the summer at summer camp. He can paddle around ok in the water, although I would not consider him a strong swimmer. I have no intention of doing swimming lessons again this winter. Getting them in conjunction with summer camp works out very well for me, thanks! He’s an excellent walker and hiker. We try to walk to school at least once a week, which is .7 of a mile. He’s gone on walks of nearly 5 miles in length in the past.

At Sunday School, Grey is really learning and paying attention to the teachers. He retold the whole story of Isaac and his sons the other day. He’s a bit rambunctious in combination with the other boys, alternating as a follower and a leader in their light mischief.

Grey dislikes being alone, except in his room during quiet time. Whenever possible he will be wherever other people are. He refuses to brush his teeth at night by himself, even if he has to sacrifice story time and even if I’m just a room or two away. He’s quite independent skills wise: he will set the table by himself, work on his homework, put away his clothes, feed the cats, brush his teeth, etc. But he will not do these alone.

Grey is particularly fond of cute things. He has a collection of stuffed animal friends who are not lovies, but who are treasured for their cuteness and relationships. They are, with hardly any exceptions, named AnimalName-y. So we have Puppy and Tigry and Liony etc. He also like cute people. One of his favorite people is the year old son of friends of ours, whom he dotes on as adorable. (Which, by the way, is totally true.)

So far, Grey seems to get along well with others. He has friends at home, at school, at church and at afterschool. He seems to make friends pretty easily. He doesn’t have one single best friend forever, but had plenty of people he wanted to invite to his birthday, and plenty of them came. He and his brother have started playing in more intentional ways, although Thane will still drive Grey nuts by taking whatever toy Grey’s playing with, or knocking down their shared block tower.

When I asked him how he would define himself, he said, “Grey is the person who loves.” Also, “Grey is the one who makes new friends, and visits his old friends.” Those are some pretty awesome things. (He would also like to tell you that one of his cats is stinky. It’s true!)

By the way, I recently posted a bunch of our pictures. You can find them here:
Late October 2011