Friday, April 11, 2008


So. The boy. How to describe a being so foreign to me in all his boy-ness, and yet such a part of me that I could literally wear this child all day and not really notice......I guess to put it simply, I am in love with my son. In a good way.

Jack is our firstborn, emerging a full minute before his sisters. He weighed in at a hefty 4 lbs. 1 oz., taking the title of "biggest baby". I remember him being so bright red in the NICU I thought that certainly something was wrong with him. After a few days he started looking less like a beet, and more like a skeptical old man.....his little wrinkled brow constantly perplexed by what was going on and not at all sure that this was a good idea. Out of the three he was the one that gave us the most scares in the NICU; at one point he started losing weight, and his breathing seemed very intense and labored - I could see his little chest practically convulsing with each breath - and the doctor explained that he had a hole in his aorta, which would hopefully clear up with medicine but if it did not they would have to do surgery. Heart surgery. ON MY SON. There are certain words that should never be spoken together to parents without first giving them a strong drink or at least a little anesthesia. Hole - aorta - heart - surgery. Words like that. I thought I might die. I hoped I WOULD die, if only to be able to give my heart, with its non-holey aorta, to my son. Of course, the good news is that the medicine worked, he was fine within a day (seriously? Seriously. Welcome to the roller coaster ride that is the NICU). We brought him home a few weeks later and never looked back.

Jack was a wonderful baby. He cried, and fiercely at times, but was amazingly easy to soothe. Usually some milk or a cuddle was all he needed to feel better again. I loved to watch him in that moment right after he had stopped nursing, right before he descended into his milk coma - he was so gurgly and content, you could almost hear him say "Ahhhhhhh". And then he was asleep. As he got more mobile we started seeing the engineer in him emerge - he would study things, trying to figure out how they worked. He would become interested in a certain toy and would play with it for literally hours, turning it this way and that, moving this part here and that thing there, until he figured out whatever it was that was puzzling him, and then he would go on to the next challenge. By the time he was 1 he had mastered the controls on the TV, and by 1 1/2 he had the remote down. By 2 he could work the buttons on the DVD player and by 2 1/2 he could put in a movie and start it playing. At first we tried to keep him away from all the "grown up" electronics, but realized we were facing a losing battle. We switched tactics and actively taught him how to use them properly; he was an eager student and now can work pretty much every electronic device we have, generally with more skill than me.
On to the present: He is still an engineer at heart - our friend Shannon bought the kids a giant barrel of tinker toys for Christmas and I thought Jack was going to burst, he was so happy! (An aside: when he is really excited he makes a flapping movement with his hands, sort of like a little bird. My cousin Harrison calls it "Jack's Happy Hands") Between the tinker toys and the blocks he can make just about anything his heart desires (except milk); we are encouraging him in the hopes that when the day finally comes he will be able to put the much-needed addition on to our house. Go Jack!

In other areas he is much the same cuddly boy; he loves to sit in my lap and read books, is always up for a kiss or a hug, and generally shows affection much more readily than either of his sisters. There are times when I just want to eat him with a spoon he is so sweet! One of my favorite things these days is the way he notices things I do, like making breakfast or folding the laundry, and says "You fold laundray mama? Oh thank you!" Can you imagine if he continues to do this in to adulthood? His wife is going to be one lucky woman.....

Other times....well.....he is still our fiercest crier, able to go from perfectly content to NOT HAPPY AT ALL in 6.5 seconds. Basically, Jack has 2 speeds: happy and not happy. There is really no in between for him. Fortunately for us, he is happy most of the time, and when he is not the fix is usually pretty simple (milk, blanket, snuggle). Also, there is no slow burn or lingering ill will. Once something is over it is OVER, and he is on to the next thing.

At the moment he is all about Thomas the Train, Lightening McQueen and Buzz Lightyear; he loves to play dress up with his sisters (I don't think Jack will ever have trouble being in touch with his feminine side) and is still totally wedded to his blue blanket. He is a speed demon on his trike and scooter, but be careful not to push him too high on the swings, even if he asks you to: Jack's version of "high" is pretty tame compared to his sisters. He loves to play games, and actually has the attention span for it. In January Brian's parents came for a visit and at one point Jack played two games of CandyLand with grandma. In a row. !!!!!! Cate lasted for about 2 minutes, Ava hung in until about 1/2 through the first game, but Jack sat there for a good 45 minutes, happy as a lark. He is also a big fan of puzzles (I take total credit for that one), and is able to do fairly advanced ones - it is truly amazing to watch him with a new puzzle. The first few times he puts it together he mainly uses color clues, sometimes relying on shape as well. But after a while it seems as if he starts to memorize the physical location of the individual piece within the puzzle itself. He lays down pieces in what seems like a random way, but then the gaps start filling in and before you know it the puzzle is complete. Granted, he isn't working on 1,000 piece puzzles; the most complex one he has is about 40-50 pieces. But still! I doubt if I could do that. If I had to describe Jack in one word I would have go with "lovable", but "focused" would be a close second.

My challenge with Jack is to....ummmm......not love him too much? I'm sure I do have a challenge with Jack, but to be honest I can't think of what it is at the moment. If I wanted to curse myself I would say "he is my easy child", but I don't want to do that so instead I will say that my challenge is to keep him on the track he is already on, getting in as many snuggles as I possibly can on the way.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

The swing comment made me remember back to my pre-Mommy and pre-baby-signing-time days when I was pushing Jack on a swing and he started twisting his hands side to side and I thought, "Wow! He is so happy! He LOVES this!" so I pushed him some more, and the hand twisting became more intense and was accompanied by some screeching and I was thinking "Wow, he's REALLY into this!" and then the screeching turned into crying...and I realized that he'd been signing "all done" for about three minutes. Whoops.