We celebrated JJ’s birthday last weekend, and I, of course, have been reflecting on the 4 years of life he’s shared with us. It helped that a few weekends earlier, John and Elia went camping, and I was able to spend 2 whole days just with JJ. It surprised me how I was able to connect with him in a way that is not usually possible when we are together as a family. I was able to see what he really wanted to do when the choice was all his. I was more appreciative of who he is; to fully realize his quirks and characteristics that exhibit themselves regularly but often get glossed over with the business of the day. With both Elia and JJ, we try to set aside time everyday as “special” time. It is normally about 20 minutes, so our 2-day weekend was intense! Now, as he turns 4 years old, I wanted to write down some observations about who he is and what he likes right now:
- He thinks the highest number is 169. Anytime the kids are playing, and they need a really big number, JJ says 169. For example, the other day Elia said, “What if there were so many flies in our house that we couldn’t even see? Like what if there were fifty million and five flies buzzing all around?” And JJ says, “No, what if there were **169** flies buzzing all around? Whoa. That would be SO, SO many!”
- He loves our guinea pig, Brownie. When it’s time for quiet time, he wants Brownie with him. I can leave JJ unsupervised in his room with Brownie, because I know he’ll hold, move, and pet her gently.
- He is authoritative and likes to delegate. In situations involving him, he knows what needs to happen and is assertive enough to let everyone know.
- He loves anything long and pointy such as guns, swords, long sticks, or other types of shooters. At the Renaissance faire the other weekend, he got to see bows and arrows and cross bows. He can’t get enough of that stuff.
- JJ said, out of the blue at dinner one night, as his new birthday toy sat beside him at the table and had not left his hands all day, “I’m really glad you got me this Buzz Lightyear, Elia.” Elia beamed!
- He is quite argumentative: he has a counter for all logic and reasoning a person might offer him.
- When he’s helping me cook, his favorite thing to do is stir things in a pan over the fire. He also likes helping me bake by adding ingredients to the bowl and mixing. But if there is just prep work to be done, he’ll pass. It surprises me that he would skip a chance to use a knife, but there is something about the act of creating the final product that he prefers.
- JJ said, on his way up the ladder to his loft bed, “I sure like sleeping way up high!”
- His life is full of frustrations right now. Most are physical (shoes, bike, helmet, toys games, and other small manipulatives) when there’s a disconnect between his mind and body. JJ’s body & physical development seems to be ahead of his capability for logical thinking. He can’t quite do all the things he wants because he can’t stop to think rationally about it. If his body isn’t instantly able to perform a task, he gets frustrated because he’s not able to assess what’s wrong, understand what he could do differently, or even think to ask for help.
- His favorite colors are red, orange, and green. In that order.
- He is gradually getting used to the sensation of water on his face. He doesn’t like it, which makes swimming and showers difficult. Yesterday he actually plugged his nose and squinched his eyes shut and put his face into the water! Then it took him at least a full minute to recover by wiping every last drop of water away from his nose and eyes.
- When asked what kind of sandwich I should make for Dad: “You could make a lettuce and hot sauce sandwich, because Dad likes lettuce and Dad likes hot sauce!”
- He loves superheroes. Any character with a cape gets his attention.
- He is very aware of winning and losing. If his video game ends, he says, “Did I lose?” If I try to diplomatically explain by saying something like, “Well, the guy got away,” or, “The time ran out,” he’ll come right back with, “So did I lose?” With real-time games like neighborhood dodge ball or red light green light, it’s very clear to him when he’s winning or not. If he doesn’t think he’s winning, he doesn’t want to play.
- At this point in his life, he can read all the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 1-10, two whole words (stop and Jeep), and any words that are just letters, like OK and JJ.
- He is antagonistic; he does or wants the opposite of almost everything anyone else does.
- JJ loves to be physical and needs a lot of movement daily. He enjoys bodily contact such as wrestling, carrying, punching games, piggy back rides, and hard high-fives to satisfy his kinesthetic tendencies. We are always trying to find more ways to meet his needs this way. One of his favorite things to do at the park is swing, the higher the better, while I stand in front of him and give his feet hard high fives as he comes forward.
- We were out for a family bike ride one night, and while JJ usually rides ahead of everyone, this time he circled back, rode right up alongside me, looked up and said, “I love you, Mom.” Then he zoomed back up to the front of the line.
- In many ways, he is newly independent and still very dependent. Riding a bike: independent, crashing the bike: dependent. Putting on clothes: independent, getting dressed: dependent. Interacting with friends (fun stuff): independent, interacting with friends (conflict resolution): dependent.
I am so excited to have this little guy in my life. He enriches it incredibly and makes me grow in many ways I never thought possible!
JJ, age 1: