Our pediatrician had calmly warned us that in the first preschool year, kids will contract around 9 viral infections. It's been three weeks and we've ticked off two, with M unsurprisingly contracting all the communicable diseases that L brings home. Their immune systems have been unwittingly enrolled in an intensive course.
L is enjoying his preschool (if intermittently, interrupted by viral woes) but he seems to be much more socially developed than other kids his age and prefers the grade above him. I think this is due to the fact that he was in full time care with my friend’s son since he was 9 months old. Both the boys are quite colorful conversationalists and strikingly precocious (says the mother). Some children in his grade however, have been home with their mother and without older siblings and have not had the ability to build the same rapport with their peers. They do not yet know how to play with other kids and this was confirmed by the Director of the preschool, who notified us that kids L’s age engaged in “parallel play” and didn’t form friendships. Not all of them!
L and W have a solid friendship and go to different preschools. My son informed me that he missed W and that he wanted to see him. We met up with W, his big sis (and my son’s Venere) and their mum, one of my best friends, at the park the other day. They hugged each other, screaming each other’s name out with glee and then started to run around holding hands, before they attacked the playground with a shrewd strategy which ensured that they had ample time at each contraption whilst we were there.
Before I had kids, I didn’t have much of an interaction with toddlers and stand surprised by the breadth of their knowledge. L has a voracious appetite to learn. He can read a few words now (car, bus, dog, cat, cow, pig, bee, sun, home) and wants to learn more. He asked me to spell “rocket” and “robot” the other day and concentrated on remembering them, albeit I had wanted a progression from three letter words to four (if you are wondering why I didn’t start with two, I wouldn’t have an answer, “dog” for some reason seemed the most natural word to start with, possibly because it was one of L’s first words). Last week we started learning about the solar system and began modeling it with available balls at home (albeit my husband was concerned that the proportions were far from correct). Utilizing music to jolt memory, we started scouring for solar system songs and after dismissing some confusingly tragic tones, we found an upbeat animation which made L burst into laughter. “The sun has eyes and a mouth!” “Earth has hands!” L thought the anthropomorphism of the celestial bodies was a real hoot. L quickly remembered the position of the planets and some of their properties. The hottest planet is not the nearest, the coldest is not the farthest and the biggest mountain in the solar system is not on the biggest planet - just to make it all the more fun. Now that he learnt about planets, we started to connect it all together.
L now knows he was born in New York, lives in San Francisco, that this city is located in California across the country from New York but within the same country, America, which is part of the North American continent, on the Pacific Ocean, that his grandfather lives across the ocean in a city called Sydney in a country called Australia, and that all of us live on a planet called Earth, which has one moon and revolves around the sun, our closest star, just like the other planets in our solar system. He remembers it all, but how much of that does he truly understood, I wonder?
Teaching L about dinosaurs, the world and the planets is exciting and also nostalgic. Countries that existed when I was his age no longer exist and borders have been redefined across the world (including the country I was born in), dinosaurs that existed are no longer recognized and the solar system either nixes poor Pluto or includes a bunch of dwarf planets and asteroid belts that are frankly hard to rhyme (if you’re ever having an insufferable day, just bear a thought for poor old Bronte or Pluto and their existential tumult).
M has started to speak! We weren’t surprised that his first word, other than family members, was a directive, an earnest aid in achieving his goal - the grand adapter, “this” - oh, yes, this. L had used it to his advantage too in his early vocal steps. M's ability to communicate has been greatly enhanced. M is quite dexterous in the versatility of his gesticulations, which he amplifies with animated expressions to propel his will upon his parental servants. He has been signing “no” , in which he flagellates the air before him with both arms with an admirable vigor, for months. The past month, he started to point at the objects of his desire and has now escalated his mission in service of his interests by pointing, gesticulating “no" and screaming “this!” - a fascinating display if you were not the subject of its command, earnestly trying to effect his wishes as quickly as possible to avoid the ire of his imperium.
M may be small, but he is fierce. The other day he stood up to three six year olds in the playground and has a persistence, perseverance and intrepidity that is as admirable as fearful. The world will not be enough for this little dude and hell hath fury for anyone who should stand in his way. Fortunately, his disposition is usually cordial and he enjoys charming a crowd. It’s only if his defense mechanism should be triggered, such as when three six year old boys decided to drown him in a deluge of their decibels, that the cyclone cascades its chaos.
L is of a much more sensitive demeanor and while the disparity may be genetic, it is most likely due to the contingency of their birth order and environment - M after all was in a nanny share with his brother and another boy his age and had to consequently be bellicose in order to protect his environs from their rampage. L, conversely, never had to worry about his defenses, is a cuddler, a creator and a clown. He loves to make jokes. The other day we asked what he wanted for dinner and he laughed and said “boogers!” We laughed too. “Booger pizza!” “Booger sandwich!” - not satisfied, he pinched his lips together and furrowed his brow as if on the cusp of a thought and raucously yelled “booger burger!” - and there you go, his first attempt to punch out a pun. I was delighted.