Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Watching them grow up

Today each boy hit memorable milestones. Not that doctor check-list stuff, but ones that stand out to a parent. Not even the walking-talking-lose a tooth kind of milestones, but the stand out, memorable ones that make you a bit more amazed at your children that you will not forget for quite sometime.

Today was the book fair at Elliott’s school. After browsing and buying books for the holidays, I picked him up and went to the book fair again. We shopped for 30 minutes, with the goal of buying one book. Elliott observed other children being told they could also only buy one book and others buying a basket full. He asked why and accepted the answer. He pointed out gawdy pencils, little toys and various odds and ends meant to make a few extra bucks for the school and told me that we were not buying those today. And after browsing and comparing book after book, I asked what he was most interested in. I pointed out what books he had spent the most time with and then tried to step back while he decided. He surprised me by selecting a book on the Titanic (Titanic by Philip Wilkinson), stating that he was very interested in it and he needed to get it to learn the facts. To see him accept the limitations (despite of the tantrum we saw over more books, or maybe because of the tantrum!) and make a thoughtful choice in such a courteous manner made this mama proud.

And, on the 30 minute ride home… Elliott was engrossed in the pictures in the book. He was telling me about what he saw in the real pictures and the fake real pictures (realistic illustrations), asking questions, and really taking in the information that I knew and could provide (ah, that front seat parenting again). He then said (and I paraphrase here), “When I am an adult, I am going to make a movie about the Titanic. It won’t be for little kids, like one year olds. It will be for big kids, like teenagers. It will be sad. Some people will be on the ship when it sinks.” He added a few more details about his movie and then said, “I will ask a lot of dollars for it.” Why? I asked. “Because it will take a long time.” A long time to make the movie? “Yeah. And when I get home, I am going to make my Lego boat into the Titanic.” (I opted not to mention the numerous attempts to capture the story of the Titanic in video and documentaries. Why crush those dreams?)

And what did we read at bedtime, after Lego Titanic was in the initial construction? The new Titanic book, of course. Sneaky, the way history can be so inviting and interesting, working its way into the day to day.

So that could have been enough to make the day great. But Oliver found his own way to make me excited for his own growth.

Oliver is a boy of few words. Lately he has been adding to his vocabulary, but rarely does he choose to use words we feel he knows quite well. Tonight, I pretended to drop to sleep on his bed. He hoisted the big bin of Fisher Price people and all their household and farm items up next to me, with a big grin. These are the little vintage sets, not the newer, bubblier, bigger ones. I mention this because there are a lot of pieces in this box, ranging from vehicles to playground equipment to people to furniture. So I tuned in, to see what kind of play he had in mind. Typical Oliver play is to select two cars to carry around or dump the bin out, just because. Different than any other day, he wanted me to name objects, one after another, like he could not wait to hear the words. As he held up each object and heard the name for it, he often would look to his growing pile of previously named objects to classify it with others. When I said little girl, he heaped a pile of them together. When I said wagon, he searched for the other wagon. When I named animals, he followed it up with the noise they made and tried to find a match in his pile. If it took too long, he just grabbed another object, so eager to hear all the names. You could see the ‘gears’ working as he took in the language, categorized it and then tried to make the matches with similar but not identical items. This happened with Elliott one magical day too about this same age while we lived in Muncie. Elliott he ran pointing to objects in the kitchen and dining room, eager to know every object by name. And now, the same feeling as it happens with Oliver. Magical. No camera to document this milestone, no sudden change, but something inside is changing for Oliver. And I got to be there for it.


  1. What a great job you've done illustrating these milestones!

    I don't think Elliott has to worry--there is something so gripping about the Titanic story, there will always be an audience for new movies about it. (Did you know there's a Broadway musical? Jesse & I really like the music for it--it is on grooveshark.com )

    Along the lines of not throwing a tantrum while shopping--I managed to get all four girls through Build-a-Bear Workshop this weekend without any drama. I showed them which bears they could choose from, they each picked one out, waited patiently for it to be done, accepted that we weren't going to buy any outfits, and we made it in & out in 30 minutes. I was one thankful mommy!

  2. Pats on the back for you. I might have a tantrum over the stress I would feel in Build-A-Bear with children :) Awesome!

    And I had no idea there was a musical too. Have to check it out, well, atleast the music, for now. :)