Thane at 8

Halloween eight years ago marked one of my better costumes. Adam had spent all day in the basement putting together a robot costume for our then three year old eldest son. It had light up LEDs on the chestplate and wiggly arms. Grey wept bitter tears because he couldn’t put his arms down. (Oops.) He wore the prior year’s costume.

Not a happy kid
Not a happy kid

But my costume at that Halloween party with friends was an accessory. Specifically, a pumpkin I was carrying in my arms. The day Adam had been making Grey’s costume, I came home from the hospital with my wee Thane. He was a sweet child from the very start. He was little – just over six pounds. He had dark hair and dark eyes. And extremely large feet. He pretty much immediately stopped being little (he’s lurked between 70th – 90th percentiles for height), and dropped his dark brown hair for blond curls.

Look! Brown hair!
Look! Brown hair!

He still has gigantic feet. 8 years old – size four.

Thane has been a joy to parent. He’s joyful, loving, sweet and cuddly. My favorite part of the day is when I get to snuggle him to wake him up the morning. I’m really enjoying this year with him, because while he’s independent and capable he still has some of the sweet innocence of childhood to him (if you ignore the poop jokes).

My youngest has a personality that has two settings: calm focus and exuberant bouncing. He’s a kid who can’t walk because he’s skipping, jumping, hopping or dragging his feet because he’s soooooo tired. But when he sits to focus, he has an incredible ability to zero in on one thing and focus for hours – usually singing to himself while he plays. He also has a long history of being obsessed with one thing: puzzles, dinosaurs, Scooby-Doo (that one lasted literally years). His hyper focus is more spread out now. Current favorite things include Pokemon (he’s my Pokemon Go buddy) and a return to Legos.

One of my favorite pictures of a young Thane
One of my favorite pictures of a young Thane

This year was a breakout year for Thane with math. He showed early promise with his ability to do spacial reasoning problems (like puzzles). But first grade gave him enough of a math vocabulary to start tackling bigger problems. His mental arithmetic is about as fast as mine for the addition, subtraction and multiplication. (OK, he’s actually faster than me on some multiplication.) Division he can do, but has to think about it harder. He went to the Winchester branch of the Russian School of Math for the end of the year and a summer program, and in his first set of homework worked out the Fibonacci sequence (which I’m not sure I was *ever* actually taught). After the summer program he didn’t want to do it anymore because it wasn’t fun. I was disappointed but sympathetic. Forcing him to do it doesn’t seem like the right way to encourage him to love the subject, but I’m hoping that he finds his way back to pushing his knowledge of the subject.

Sunday, he wrapped up his fall soccer season. I’ve just started realizing that both boys have been playing for years – even if neither one has ever fallen in love with the sport. Thane was a major contributor on his team – especially as a defender who will challenge for and take away the ball. He has improved massively on the “randomly falling down” metric. He doesn’t love activity and exercising, but he’s done well by it.

Thane and the Puppy Family
Thane and the Puppy Family

Thane is a cheerful, resilient kid. He seems to not even feel pain. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that his joyfulness covers a very thoughtful mind and kind heart. He’s not a quiet kid by any stretch, but he’s undemanding in many ways. But don’t underestimate his strength, wisdom or insight.

I love this kid with all my heart.

He designed and implemented this pattern of perler beads himself
He designed and implemented this pattern of perler beads himself

Thane turns 7

My almost 6 year old
My almost 7 year old
How I still think of my Thane
How I still think of my Thane

I find my youngest son an absolute delight. Thane is an extremely sweet child. (It’s funny how that can simultaneously be true with a phase that finds the word “poop” HILARIOUS.) He is incredibly affectionate and snuggly. I accused him the other morning of stealing my snuggle pills in order to become more snuggly. Showing that he’s internalized our attempts to instill a growth mindset, he replied, “I haven’t been taking snuggle pills, mom. I’ve just been practicing.” And so he has. I’m treasuring every moment that he leans that cheek on my shoulder.

Thane loves his medallion
Thane loves his medallion

It has been interesting to watch his early inclinations and gifts flower into more grown versions. For example, he can still put together a puzzle like a boss. But that intense focus and physical understanding have been turned to more abstract things. He’s approached Pokemon with a scientific mind to put Linneaus to shame. He’ll lay out his stacks of cards sorted by type, carefully reading each, and memorizing the (extensive) evolution paths. He can spend hours with them, quietly singing or talking to himself, and laying out his cards. I’ve been thinking how nice it would be if there were, say, Geography cards that made learning something useful as easy and engaging as it is to learn something that will be less helpful when he’s 30. But his learning skills are growing, regardless of subject.

Thane loves math. He’s probably better at mental addition and subtraction than I am. He doesn’t have multiplication tables memorized yet, but has good strategies for getting to the answer. He can do some division. He is in first grade. I have sought out some mathematical problem books that are age appropriate, but not things he’ll be spending the next three years learning. So far, he’s learned how to be gracious and appropriately attentive in a class where he’s already mastered the key material, and his teachers have done a good job of supporting his interests.

Possibly my favorite moment
Possibly my favorite moment

He also loves to read. This spring, he turned the page on his reading ability and started picking up chapter books. He then methodically worked his way through all 53 books in the Magic Treehouse series. Interestingly, it was REALLY IMPORTANT to him that they be read IN ORDER. Through his hard work and attention, he made sure that happened. Since he wrapped that up, he hasn’t really started another series. But I’ve discovered he will read more or less any book I leave next to his book at bedtime. Muahahah!

One thing I’m struggling with is that Thane, well, doesn’t prefer the name Thane. I intentionally gave both my boys names that were proper and normal. The names on their birth certificates are great names, but I love their nicknames. It’s hard to even call it a nickname when many people who know my sons don’t know their proper names (although I do trot them out when they’re in trouble…). But at school, Thane has opted to go by Nathan instead. Now, I love the name Nathan. It’s one of my favorites. And so far he hasn’t asked that I change what I call him. But I find myself sadder than I would have anticipated to think of NOT calling my sweet boy Thane, even while I remember that this is exactly what I thought about when I first laid a name on my child.

Thane at Soccer
Thane at Soccer

This year, Thane has played soccer. He’s pretty decent for his age group. He’s played goalie pretty well a few times. I’ve been impressed by his attention to his task, and his physical durability. The primary things he’s working on are a) not falling down all the time b) being aggressive on offense. He is still tall for his age – at the 91st percentile for 7 year old boys. He doesn’t seem to notice pain very much. The other day he took a playground swing to the face (leading to a doozy of a black eye!) and didn’t even cry.

I mean, I'd cry...
I mean, I’d cry…

Thane loves Pokemon, board games, books and his brother. (The two of them are thick as thieves.) He is self-contained, but so loving. He can be shy (which surprises me every time), and incredibly goofy. There are few things in this world I find sweeter and more precious than this beloved child of mine.

Gaming with his daddy
Gaming with his daddy

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!

Thane at Four

Thane-goggles
Thane-goggles

I find it very difficult to believe that Thane turned four today. Not because it’s impossible that my little guy is so grown up! No, but because it seems implausible that he hasn’t been four for quite some time. Thane is so big, so capable, and so unbabyish that you could say he was turning five and not bat an eyelash. Fortunately for me, four it is.

Thane’s life has been marked by series of obsessions. I wrote about this when he turned three:

One of the key attributes of Thane is his sequential obsessions. They started, I think, with cars. Following cars were stickers. Then we went to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were replaced by puzzles (my favorite – he spent long periods quiet and was a puzzle-savant doing 60 piece puzzles at two and a half years old). Puzzles promptly fell out of favor, to be replaced by Scooby Doo. I sense Scooby Doo is waning, but have no idea what will replace it – awkward timing what with the birthday and Christmas buying spree forthcoming.

This year's Halloween Costume
This year’s Halloween Costume

I was wrong, by the way. Scooby Doo is still one of the great joys of his life. But it has been added to by, oh joy! LEGOS! The sun rises on Legos and sets on Legos. Thane patiently coaxes his fingers into practicing the fine-motor gestures required, rebuilding over and over again what his chubby digits break. He clutches the instruction manuals to his chest in his sleep, surrounding his bed with crinkled booklets like votive offerings. He stares at the instructions, willing himself to learn to read so he can master them. (Seriously, Grey is a wizard, but I have to work HARD to put together the kits!) But you have never seen a kid, on the day of his fourth birthday, spend as many happy hours with tiny plastic blocks as Thane did today. (If you gave him something else at his birthday, have no fear! He also had a blast with a bunch of the other things! I think I’m jealous of some of that great loot!)

Legos and Mythbusters
Legos and Mythbusters

Of course, this mono-maniacal intensity comes with a downside. I wanted him to, you know, play with his friends at his birthday instead of demanding to know whether they’d brought little Legos. (Ah birthday boy etiquette! So hard to teach! So important!) And getting him to do things like brush his teeth often get barricaded behind a never-ending litany of “Just let me fix this first”. (Hint: it will NEVER be fixed to satisfaction. That’s the fun.)

I love listening to him while he plays. He tells these lovely little stories. Sometimes he sings – sweetly – to himself. The worlds he builds in his mind are vast and beautiful.

Best brothers
Best brothers

Lest you start to wonder if he’s an autistic savant, I’m here to reassure you that in his non-Lego-obsessed moments (granted, a minority this month), he continues to be a very fun and engaging kid. He has some great friends at school, about whom we often hear. He and Grey have been bound tightly by their shared interest. The difference between the kid brother who breaks your Legos and a brother who looks at you with hero-worship in his eyes while he asks you to assemble his birthday Legos for him is the difference between a rocky relationship and a very solid one. I find them often, heads together, in shared conquest. (Not that they’re never fighting and tattling on each other… just less often.)

Last night as a three year old
Last night as a three year old

Thane likes granola cereal, yogurt (he still eats his first-ever solid food, whole yogurt mixed with unsweetened applesauce, nearly every day), bananas, cheese sticks, and macaroni and cheese. This would be his entire dietary intake if it were left up to him. He likes to lead off our dinner prayers, often starting us on the Doxology. He is determined to capture your attention, and will often persevere gallantly to get it, but isn’t so good about doing anything useful with your attention once he’s gotten it.

Thane is also a goof-ball, in case you were curious
Thane is also a goof-ball, in case you were curious

Thane is now 42.5 inches tall, which is about three and a half feet. He’s a solid (but unknown) weight. He’s extremely physically durable. When he falls down, he picks himself up again and moves on – sometimes even when he probably should get a bandage or something. He dresses himself, takes care of his own toileting (alleluia!), carries his dirty dishes to the counter, and feeds himself unending supplies of bananas when he’s hungry.

Thankfully, he learned a reasonable caution around water this summer. Kind of.
Thankfully, he learned a reasonable caution around water this summer. Kind of.

Thane is completely fearless. He is not afraid of the dark. He is not afraid of the high swings. Rarely does he cling or shy away. It’s almost a bad thing, how bold and confident he is. His balance, for example, is well behind his belief that he can safely walk on a wall like his brother does. He’s also very emotionally durable. He rarely “breaks down” and holds himself on a relatively even emotional swing. This is not to say that he takes thwarting well, but rather that he is steadfast in his desires and emotions.

Preparing for his journey to Uranus
Preparing for his journey to Uranus

There are still some small traces of my baby left there. He has not foresworn cuddling, and is possible cuddlier than he was this time last year. He gives me sweet kisses and hugs. He still sleeps with his best friend Puppy close at hand, and sucks his thumb. He will sit still in my lap for hours if I am reading to him (although we argue about the books: he wants Scooby Doo and super heroes, I want anything OTHER than Scooby Doo or super heroes). Tonight, he laid his tired, curly blond head on my lap while we watched a movie together, and laced his fingers in between mine. He grows up so quickly, and so well, that I treasure these times we share.

My sweet Thane
My sweet Thane

De-nial is a river in Egypt

Thane building ships
Thane building ships

Hey, so did I mention that Thane is scheduled for surgery tomorrow?

Yeah, not so much. I was in complete denial until about, oh, yesterday at 7:30 pm. (No particular reason why then, but I finally admitted that why yes! My little baby boy was headed under the knife on Thursday.) You know the reason why, a hydrocele. It’s a pretty standardish operation, but has the usual nerves associated with general anesthesia. Also, that’s the area of the body that has a lot of blood vessels, as well as some things he may find important when he grows up.

I have no idea what to expect for a recovery. Dr. Internet varies in his estimate between 2 – 3 weeks for light activity to almost immediate. I suspect Mr. Roughhousing Is My Hobby Thane will probably be hard to keep quiet past a day or two. Tomorrow morning, at some time to be determined, I will pack Thane into the car without offering him breakfast. (He will be confused. I am adamant about breakfast.) We will take him to the hospital (how lucky we are to live close to a pediatric surgical powerhouse of excellence! In this case, Children’s Hospital). We will dress him in scrubs. I have done this before, but I’m not sure it gets easier with practice. This time, he’ll understand more.

Grey is already worried. Combined with a refresher on mortality thanks to Magic, he’s worried about his brother. He would like you to know that he is a caring person, who takes care of people who need it: even strangers. He moped through class yesterday because of this, and I got a note home from the teacher. (I WAS going to tell her the day of the surgery, since I figured he’d need support then, but I didn’t plan on sending a note today.)

I know the odds, and therefore try not to worry. But I can’t help thinking about surgical mishaps, general anesthesia, infection rates and hospital-reared super-bugs. And when I lay those aside, I worry about “preschooler without breakfast waiting in a hospital waiting room for heaven-knows-how-long” and how one takes care of said preschooler after surgery, and what exactly this is going to do to our already-rather-unsuccessful potty training progress.

Ah well. There it all is. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Thane at Three

Thane's school pictures - last year and this year
Thane's school pictures - last year and this year

Having told you about the person Grey is at six, I thought I’d enlighten you on Thane at three. First, the physical. Thane is 39 1/2 inches tall (3 feet and 3.5 inches) and 35 pounds. By my admittedly unprofessional analysis, that makes him 95th percentile for height and about 75th percentile for weight. He has glorious golden curls, which are currently way too long and have gotten California-surfer-boy unkempt. The angelic aspect of his curls and features is much moderated by the fact his face is never, ever clean. It takes about 20 seconds between washing his face and having it somehow, miraculously get dirty. Thane is a sturdy child. Currently one of Thane and Grey’s favorite games involves Grey wearing a blanket and making ominous “boo” noises while chasing Thane around the house. Oh! The thumping and squealing! Thane is actually a bit stronger than you really want in a just-turned-three-year-old

Thane subsists on a diet of entirely protein. He loves, cheese, meat, bacon, butter and yogurt. He disdains not only vegetables, but most carbohydrates too, making me wonder if he really is my son. He magnanimously makes exceptions for processed sugar, of course. In fairness, he also like applesauce and bananas. You probably don’t care about how food emerges from the other end, but I’m happy to report that Thane is 80% potty trained. He goes whole days dry (including naps!). He’s finally crossed the wonderous #2 bridge. If my memory serves, he’s way ahead of where his brother was. I think it is plausible that I will never buy another diaper for my children. (Nighttime pullups being an entirely different category, of course.)

Thane making a frog
Thane making a frog

You intellectually know, before you have children, that they are different from each other. This is very different from actually having children who are different from each other. I think this makes it harder for me to notice, or believe, some things that are true about Thane. One of the key attributes of Thane is his sequential obsessions. They started, I think, with cars. Following cars were stickers. Then we went to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were replaced by puzzles (my favorite – he spent long periods quiet and was a puzzle-savant doing 60 piece puzzles at two and a half years old). Puzzles promptly fell out of favor, to be replaced by Scooby Doo. I sense Scooby Doo is waning, but have no idea what will replace it – awkward timing what with the birthday and Christmas buying spree forthcoming. It’s also awkward because other people pay attention to what he likes (oh, he loves puzzles!) and get them for him. Of course, he’s moved on. I have no idea what to recommend for Christmas.

One of the things everyone comments on about Thane is his verbal ability. Thane speaks clearly, with complicated sentences and wide vocabulary. What people do not understand about this is that Thane is so verbal because he practices. All. The. Time. And he doesn’t practice listening, he practices talking. In fact, his listening is so questionable, that I even had his hearing checked. (It was fine.) It is really fun to listen to him talk, or tell a story.

Thane loves books. One of his favorites is Anansi the Spider. He also adores these awful Scooby Doo books which he checks out of the library every single Library & Pizza night and insist that that’s what I must read to him. Since my rule is that I read whatever Thane wants on library pizza night, I’ve had ample opportunity to work on my Shaggy voice.

My littlest boy likes to sing, and talks a lot about music. He has a pretty nice voice for a preschooler. He also likes “playing piano”. He often demands songs he knows doesn’t exist, “Sing the Anansi song!” But at night he always asks for “Star of the County Down”. He has a good memory, and knows all the words to lots of songs. He also remembers all the words to prayers. Listening to his rendition of the Lord’s Prayer is very sweet.

There are so many things that make a Thane. He still loves his Puppy (who is a bunny rabbit). He loves his pink Dora sunglasses. He tries to shape reality with his words, “I AM seven years old!” or “It IS Monday!” He snuggles with us every morning at exactly 6:45. He wants to do whatever his brother is doing. He contains multitudes of words. He is a joy and a delight.

My boy
My boy

Thane is Two

One of my coworkers had a Diwali invitation up on his screen today, and I was reminded. It was Diwali the night Thane was born. One of the attending nursing students at the birth was from Kerala, and between contractions I wished him a happy Diwali. I thought it a good omen that my son was born during the festival of lights.

My sweet Thane is a light. He is a wonderful and joyful child. Knowing this post was coming, I’ve been thinking about what I want to tell you — tell him — about who he is at two.

My little man

The first thing you notice is the language. Thane is a talker. And talker. And talker. He has a remarkable vocabulary and command of language for a two year old. He is constantly commenting on the world around him. In the car, he’ll comment on the cars he passes, “Bu van! White truck! Red Essyoovee!” He clearly expresses what he wants, “I need the blue marker! I need the blue marker!” He will always repeat himself until he is satisfied or you have made it clear you have heard him. When he wants to know the name of something, he will often ask “What does this mean?” If he locates something he likes, he’ll proudly announce, “I found it!” He will learn the names of things often after hearing it only once — he remembers when you tell him what it is. He knows all these incredibly random words too — every weird animal in his stupid Young Einstein’s ABC book, the sounds every animal makes. I can understand pretty much everything he says, and he understands most everything I say. This whole verbosity can actually be kind of tiring. He has a second child’s persistence in being LISTENED TO and will repeat himself until you take the time to truly pay attention to what he’s telling you. “Yes, Thane, that is a blue car.” But there’s nothing like having him walk up to you, thumping at every step, wearing your shoes, then have him crack a grin and tell you, “Dese Thane’s shoes!”

Thane is a young man of great passion. He loves cars with an unflinching adoration. He will wander through the house, with as many Matchbox cars as possible pressed to his chest. (Note: He usually organizes his collections of cars around colors — so he’ll carry all red cars or all green cars.) He loves his books of cars, unlike his parents who loathe and despise his books of cars and attempt to hide them where he will not notice them. While cars are his primary passion, he also really likes books. One of his birthday presents was an ABC book of construction vehicles. After I’d read it to him, he took it with great authority and said, “Thane read dis book now.” He likes construction equipment and putting things into things. He enjoys throwing balls in the backyard and running around and giving me heart attacks by trying to run and jump and slide like his big brother.
Smiley guy!
There are so many things that are important about him. Perhaps I should move to bullet format:

  • He has the cutest, most amazing golden curls ever
  • He is obsessed with his Scooby-doo lunch box
  • He eats huge breaksfasts — usually shovelling the cereal in with his hands
  • He loves water to a degree that scares my husband and me. Even when he submerges his head for a considerable time, he is completely unafraid. He will stay in the bathtub until he is a prune.
  • He loves talking on the phone with “gamma”
  • He’s a singer. He will sing “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” for hours, with multiple animal noises. He hates new songs, though, and will firmly tell you “No, thank you!” if you attempt to expand his repertoire
  • (

    From October2010

    )

  • He will insist he is right, past your willingness to argue, “No, dat a bu car!” (No, it really isn’t. It’s a black car!)
  • He firmly believes that car is HIS
  • He still goes to sleep like a dream. I know better than to think that is anything but sheer luck.
  • He has two friends, Puppy (who is a bunny) and Grover. They are his comfort and stay as he sleeps.
  • He sucks his thumb to fall asleep. No other time.
  • He’s incredibly tough. He falls down and gets right back up.
  • He hero-worships his big brother, whom he ALWAYS calls “Brother Grey” (never just Grey)
  • If he sees you getting your coat on, he’ll put his coat on too. Half the time, even when we’re not going to school, he insists on carrying his Scooby Doo lunchbox.
  • He’s my snuggle bug. I’m the only person he usually snuggles, but I’ll take it.
  • He is my persistent, singing, playing, happy son, and I love him with my whole heart.

    Happy birthday, Thane!

    Super hero brothers
    Super hero brothers