Jem may be a twin, but he is also most decidedly his own little person. He is the youngest of three (by less than a minute), but when he is at Grandma’s house, Jem enjoys the opportunity to be an only child and the center of my attention. Sometimes his visits come due to illness, but this time he is here thanks to an eye appointment, so he is happy, healthy and ready for the day.
His tears following his mother’s departure last less than a minute. As soon as I say the word “breakfast,” his mood is instantly improved and he happy to sit in the highchair. He eats banana and oatmeal with gusto until I make the mistake of scooping a fallen bit of oatmeal from his bib into the spoon. Jem’s eyes seem to sparkle as he tilts his head and holds out the spoon.
“Are you wondering if you can persuade me to shovel this oatmeal into your mouth for you?” Jet smiles enigmatically and stretches the arm with the spoon further in my direction. “Hmmm… it is pretty hard to get it into your mouth, isn’t it? Okay, I guess I can give you a couple of bites!” I know I’m a softie, and Jem knows it too.
After breakfast Jem gets to work at the very serious business of play. His attention span is doubled when he is away from his siblings. He remembers the big blue Rubbermaid box and heads for it first. “Ba!” He says as he pulls at the lid.
“Yes, BLOCKS! There are BLOCKS inside! Can you open it?”
He can. I have provided two bowls for filling and dumping, and Jem knows just what to do with them, too. He fills one bowl and dumps it into the other then he dumps that bowl back into the box. He builds a tower and knocks it over. “Uh-OH!” he chortles.
Suddenly, he notices the board books I have stacked nearby and remembers that Grandma never says no to reading. With a grin he selects one from the pile, a former favorite of his sister, and I give him my best dramatic reading of the plight of Dilly Duck and her lost feather. Then he goes back to play with the tow truck and school bus until it is time for his first walk with Grandma.
“We are going to take a walk outside. Let’s put on your shoes. Okay, now, when we go outside, we have rule: you must hold Grandma’s hand. If you don’t hold my hand we have to go home. It’s a rule. A VERY important rule.” Jem takes my hand and I open the door and help him down the step. He trots down the driveway eagerly, pulling a little as we stop to look for cars before we cross the road. This will be a short walk, because I don’t think I can carry him very far if should he become tired. Jem concentrates on the sidewalk and my hand. He doesn’t know where we are going, but he is prepared to enjoy the trip.
At the end of the block I turn him around and we head back. At the halfway point, Jem stops and raises his other hand in the air, “UH.” I understand this to mean “up.”
“I’m afraid not, buddy. You need to walk the rest of the way. Look, we are almost done!” Without a peep, Jem soldiers ahead.
The weather is hot and steamy so Jem and I enjoy a cool drink in the air-conditioned house. He places a cylindrical block in one of the bowls and watches it move as he shakes the bowl. I think his parents will be pleased with his interest in physics.
Jem puts one of the bowls on his head and offers the other to me so we can both wear white plastic “hats.” This is SO funny that Jem nearly forgets to breathe. We take them off and on again and again. Then we trade bowls so that mine is too little and Jem’s hangs down over his eyes, prompting a new round of laughter.
At his eye appointment, Jem sits quietly on Papa’s lap while the doctor shines a bright light in his eye and we get the good news that his deviation has improved 8% in one eye and 5% in the other. Maybe he can avoid surgery!
Back at Grandma’s house for a delayed lunch, Jem’s busy day is starting to wear on him and he is more than ready for his nap. He doesn’t make it through a reprise of Dilly Duck before he begins to squirm to get down. “It’s time for your nap, now!” My bright tone doesn’t fool Jem. The minute his toes touch the mattress he begins to wail. In the past, Jem has performed admirably at naptime, going down with almost no fuss. I give him 5 minutes and return to reassure him that he has not been abandoned. After another 5 minutes, I pick him up and rock him in my arms until his body relaxes then rub his back in the crib until his fresh cries abate.
He has a nice nap, but wakes up in a less chipper mood. He lets his snack fall out of his mouth to the floor where the dog scarfs it quickly and looks up hopefully for more. Jem has not been fond of dogs, but Marcy’s obvious interest has sparked an idea. He asks for another goldfish cracker that he immediately tosses to the floor. “Mo!” he demands and this time he allows Marcy to take it from his fingers. He grins. We’ll make a dog-lover of Jem yet!