When Jack got out of the car for his first solo day at Grandma’s house, he held a stuffed bear and sported a big grin. Jack doesn’t have one particular stuffed friend like Jet and Owen, but he likes to follow the family tradition and carry one just in case he needs it. “Where’s your blanket?” I asked.
“He can use yours,” my daughter said. “He doesn’t need a special one.” That’s Jack in a nutshell: adjustable. When he was really little and one of his siblings snatched his toy — he’d just calmly find another. These days he doesn’t put up with quite that level of sharing, but he’s still less possessive than most kids.
Jack got the lay of the land and made use of the potty right after breakfast. Never was a child more delighted by an M&M! Like his brother he also chose the Mickey Mouse training pants and did an admirable job of keeping them dry, getting two candies for keeping the floor unsoiled right from the start. When he learned that he could earn THREE candies for keeping his pants not just dry but clean, he wholeheartedly embraced the idea with astonishing success. “I don’t think you need the little potty chair anymore,” I told him.
“Why?” He looked uncertain.
“Because you did such an amazing job knowing when you need to use the toilet!” You can get to the big potty in time, so you don’t need this little one here.” Jack nodded.
During his initial solo days his brother Owen demanded constant personal attention from his grandparents. In contrast, Jack gloried in the chance to play with toys in uninterrupted solitude; to implement his personal visions for the zoo animals or cars; to build things that only he would take apart.
Jack wasn’t particularly interested in learning new words or improving his diction, but we worked on that a little bit anyway. When I forgot that “Nanna” translates as “blanket” and offered him a yellow fruit, he quickly learned to accommodate my language disability and switched to a very clear “blanket.” When he forgot, all it took was a slightly puzzled look to produce the correct word.
Jack loves stories, unless they signify that bedtime is approaching. “Do you want a story?” I asked.
He frowned. “Not nap time!”
“No, not nap time…but you can still have a story if you want one.”
He did. He most assuredly did. We read his favorite, Silly Dilly Duck, the story of a duckling that lost a feather. Jack loves the part where we make a fist then raise and open our hand and shout “PUFF!” when the feather blows into the air. I love that he loves it. I could watch him shout “puff” all day.
To my delight, Jack is a huge fan of my repertoire of children’s songs and rhymes. We played “this little piggy” with each other’s toes. We sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat,” and “Zum, Gali, Gali.” Jack made all the hand motions right along with me. Happy grins decorated both our faces.
In the afternoon, Jack climbed up and sat next to me on the couch, his legs straight out in front of him. “Gamma, gocha onna beerwal.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you said. Can you say it again?”
He patted his legs and tried again. “Wanna goonna beer wal.”
“You want to go on a bear hunt?”
“Okay. Here we go then.” I slap my legs to make the sound of walking feet. “And, we’re walking, we’re walking. Do you see a bear?”
“No, I don see beer.”
“Keep walking. Here we go through the grass.” We rub our hands together. “Do you see a bear?”
We run, climb a tree and say “whew!”
“Again!” shouts Jack.
“Okay, here we go!”
“Who loves you, Jack?”
“You are so right!”