Thursday, November 12, 2015

the fifth year

So, I wrote this over a year ago. And I never felt it finished enough and never published it. And now here he is, S I X! Which will demonstrate for you exactly how far behind I am -- just one year and one week! At least we have a number on it! So here it is, unfinished and way overdue but that's how it is these days. 


For months, or close to a year really, I've been meaning to write a little snapshot of Bob at four.  Well now he's about to be FIVE, so I can put it off no longer!

This boy-- where to begin?  Grab yourself a coffee or tea because this is going to be a long one!

Well, for starters, Bob is a teeny tiny peanut-- off the charts small for his age.  He's used to and seemingly unfazed by the comments.  Every single time we go out we get several inquiries of, "Are they twins?"  Usually I reply something like, "Nope, they're four and two-- my older son is just a little small, that's all."  (Once in a while when I get sick of the routine I refuse to indulge the questioner's curiosity and just answer a curt "no.")  Bob likes to throw in occasionally, "I'm small but I am a WAY better and faster climber than Wooden."  It's true; although they're close in size, you can definitely see the age difference in speed and agility.  Bob's like a little spider monkey climbing and jumping.  "Although I can't climb trees I can climb furniture as well as a bug!"

Owen ("Wooden") is Pupper's best friend and almost constant companion.  They've got quite a wide repertoire of games they play these days -- one or both of them will be animals, or super heroes, or doctors occasionally.  They spend a lot of time playing with "guys" (like Star Wars action figures or ninja turtles).  We have several frequented building sets, and there's a good deal of reading books.  They do some drawing and some play dohing.  They pretend to camp out or go on hotel trips quite often, setting up a tent or cozy bed in a corner and snuggling their blankies.

Speaking of blankie, she's still Bob's number one.  She must be nearby at practically all times.  (Since a recent devastatingly unpleasant separation for washing, the "practically" has to be deleted.)  Mousey, their third amigo for a long time, has now been mostly forgotten, but blankie is still essential.  Bob has this very specific blankie snuggling technique, where he rubs "her" along and inside his ear, pulling blankie through his fingers as he does it so that it's always a new, cold part of the blanket touching him. Don't even joke about taking his blankie; he let Maisy snuggle it once -- an event which was shocking and unrepeated.  And then, a few weeks ago, Owen was hurt and Bob rubbed blankie on little brother's forehead; that there is the dearest affection he shows.

If we had to say what replaced Mousey in Bob's life, it would have to be Owen.  He almost always wants Owen near.  If we're being honest, it's a little ridiculous; Owen sits on a stool in the bathroom while Bob poops for goodness sake!  (Or, lately, he sits right outside the door "guarding" blankie; presumably so I don't swoop in and wash it.)  They share a full size bed these days, and that makes bedtime almost painless for everyone, almost every night.  (Although, I'd say about half of the time, one or both of them still make their way to our bed before morning!  Although, in the few weeks since this was first drafted, they've probably stayed in bed three quarters of the time.)  If we're being totally honest, it's not just Owen's company that Bobby craves but any company.  He just does not want to be alone.  Period.  Being in the car used to be no big deal whatsoever, but now we have major anxiety over being left in the car.

{Over the summer, I foolishly let Bob hear about how a child could possibly die in a vehicle in the heat.  Since then, he will not buckle up until at least one parent is securely buckled in to stay.  He'll ask me, "Do you have your purse?  The keys?  Your phone?  Sunglasses?  Do you have eeeeeverything you need?"  Being left buckled in the car while I run in to grab something I forgot is simply the worst.  Here comes a side note to a side note: Once this fall we were camping and getting everyone into the car to head over the hill to the house and Bob was saying "No, don't buckle me in yet!" but Ben and I were each buckling someone on either side of the car and didn't listen to him.  We shut the back doors and went to get into the front and-- somehow the doors were locked!  Bob's worst fear had come true.  When we didn't instantly enter the car he immediately knew what was up and started to panic.  "Are we locked in the car!?"  See, these five point harness car seat buckles are no joke and when they're pulled snug it would take a Houdini child to get out.  There are two buckles: the chest buckle which Bob can easily unbuckle on his own, and the red button on the crotch buckle which those tiny hands could never release.  Then there's also a button, down between the legs, that allows you to loosen the straps.  Long, knowing looks and deep breaths exchanged between me and Ben.  "All right, bud, yes, you are locked in the car.  This is not a drill.  But wait!  Listen.  You are NOT trapped in there.  If we have to, Dad and I will break one of the windows and get you guys out.  Do not worry, we CAN get you out.  But we really think YOU can get everyone out if you really try.  Okay?"  He was barely with me.  I told him first to undo the chest buckle, which he's done a hundred times.  He tried, but he was just too panicked and thought he couldn't do it, which got him more panicked, which made him even more unable to get that buckle unhooked.  He kept getting more upset, and then I'd try to help him calm down enough so he could hear me through the closed windows.  Owen and Maisy -- they were completely unfazed through all of this.  It became apparent that Bob was not going to be able to get the buckle undone in the state he was in; he needed a confidence booster.  Aha!  "Okay, Bobby, forget the buckle for now.  You're getting yourself too hot and I know just the thing.  Let's take off your shoes first.  Lift up one of your feet and take off your shoe."  But he wasn't having it; he was focused on the straps and freaking out and not understanding why I wanted his shoes off.  "Bob, I need you to trust me.  I know you can rescue everyone; you just need to calm down and focus.  I really need you to take off your shoes now so that after we loosen the straps you can slip out.  Your shoes will get stuck.  Please-- take a deep breath, and take off your shoes."  Finally, he listens.  Shoes are off.  "Yes!  Awesome, Pupper!  Now, your chest buckle, you've done this before.  Just calmly pinch the buttons, and pull it apart."  He gets it.  "Yes!  Great job."  Now he has to be talked through a ridiculous set of steps: Pull your arms out of the straps, lean forward and press the loosener button, lean forward more to loosen the straps, now reach down to the thigh straps and pull the slack to those, (he isn't getting it), okay put your arms back in the shoulder straps, now do you see the leg straps?, pull on those, get your arms back out, pull on the thigh straps again, okay now try to wiggle up and out, no don't freak out I really think you can do this!, push the loosening button and the straps again, you've almost got it!  And again and again, until finally, and I'm talking 20-30 minutes later, he worms his way out of the car seat and hops over to unlock the door.  A very long hug was in order after that.  And an assurance that we would not be buckling Bob in before we were literally on the move ever again.  But also: congratulations!  Because Pupper saved the day!  In the end he was able to calm his fears enough to rescue himself and his siblings and his parents' wallet, and I think he'll keep that little nugget tucked away for himself when he needs it.  Phew.  That was a long side note.}

Bob's character obsessions these days are ninja turtles and Star Wars.  (I'm sad to say I miss the Fireman Sam days.)  He loves Donatello and Mace Windu or Princess Leia.  Bob and O spend probably a quarter to a half of their play time practicing or fighting with their swords and sticks and lightsabers and guns.  We saw a sword fighting demonstration at Harvest Fest last month which worked out amazingly, because after that Bob was telling me and Owen and his cousins and everyone he played with, "I know that real sword fights are very slow like this," and then proceeding to demonstrate proper technique in suuuuuper slow motion.  I had to hide my face it made me laugh so hard, him telling Owen, "No, Woody, slower, like this!" or telling me, "Mom, I had to teach my cousins how to sword fight because they didn't even know the right way!"  Works for me!  (Last night he was explaining this to Uncle Matt.  "See, at the harvest festival one of the contests for the big kids was sword fighting and we were allowed to watch...")

Bobby got some money for his birthday and was allowed to pick out a toy.  He chose a 20 inch Chewbacca doll; he's been (unreliably) brushing Chewy's teeth, feeding him, dressing him, sleeping with him.  Ah, the humor of living with a five year old.  I should do a photo series of Chewy's everyday life.

I can't not mention Bob's LOVE for his baby sister.  I told him recently, "When you were born, we thought you were the most special baby in the whole world."  His reply: "No.  Maisy is WAY more special than I am."  Lots of baby hugging and kissing and snuggling and adoring goes on around here.  (Another side note, Bob's need to dress up as a princess seems to have waned a bit since Maisy's arrival, and surprisingly he's not jealous of all the pink in her wardrobe.)

Speaking of pink, he's still obsessed.  Owen knows the drill; they'll be coloring and O will say, "Don't worry, Pupper, I won't use ANY of the pinks or purples."  Owen is rather accommodating of his big brother's whims.  That, and Bob's just a touch persuasive.

Persuasive and verbose.  The boy can talk.  And talk.  His language just kills me -- his well-constructed paragraphs and sentences complete with parenthetical expressions and analogies.  And speaking of the phrase "speaking of," that's a new favorite of Bob's -- I or someone must have used it recently -- and yesterday (or like, weeks ago now) he whipped out a good one.  "Speaking of Friendly's-- I mean, speaking of restaurants," (we were speaking of neither) "I see a Friendly's right over there that we could go to."  A year ago Bob's mouth couldn't keep up with his brain.  His words would get stuck somewhere in between and he'd suck a breath through his teeth making a little slurping sound after every phrase and when he was too excited it would take a while to get his thought out.  I didn't want to make matters worse by making him anxious about it, so we largely just let it be, but once in a while when he was really stuck I'd say, "Okay, stop.  You have to stop talking, and think about what you want to say; get the words together and then say them."  And somewhere over the past year the issue has disappeared.  An important key to language development --maybe the most important-- is having an attentive listener.  Attentive listening means crouching down, making eye contact, nodding or otherwise showing interest, and repeating back what was said, or once in a while helping put words to a feeling or observation.  Just saying.  A post for another day, perhaps.

Speaking of ways that Bob is growing, his pencil/crayon work has come a long way in the past year as well.  Scribbling and tracing have transformed into actual drawing and writing.  It's fun to see what he comes up with.  He'll run off for paper and a marker to make signs.  Last week he hung a sign on his new fort all by himself: "NO LOU."  (Not because he didn't want Maisy around, but because it wasn't safe for her.)

Love this boy -- then and now. Hope to see you a bit sooner with year six :)

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