Sunday, January 31, 2010

James The Multi-Instrumentalist

Soon James will be able to take his father's spot in Pleistocene.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Diggers are cool and it's nice to look pretty

James is obsessed, as are innumerable boys of all ages, with heavy machinery (or "diggers" as he calls them). Excavators, backhoes, steam rollers, garbage trucks, busses, airplanes, helicopters, and trains capture his attention immediately and linger in his thoughts for some time afterwords. Of course, since he loves these so much, we have encouraged this fascination with several books, toys, and an excited finger pointing to any digger we happen to pass in our travels. Yet we did nothing to encourage the inception of this interest: I am largely indifferent to heavy equipment (with the exception of trains) and, though we haven't discussed it, I've observed no special interest on Becky's behalf to such equipment. Many of our friends have commented that this is such a "boy" interest which, indeed, it is. Just today we met with our friends and their daughter, about James's age, and the difference was quite clear: James immediately noticed the enormous forklift operating near us while their daughter paid no attention. This of course leads the question of gender roles and expectations: is James already primed to be a truck-lovin' dirt-haulin' (and the corollary, beer-drinkin') kind of man? Probably to some extent this is what the world has told him, but more likely I think it's the fact that diggers are pretty cool. They operate on super-human scales, reshape the very land under them, and move with a grace that is otherwise unparalleled in the mechanical world. Becky & I have just unappreciated them all these years.

At the same time that James displays such boyish inclinations, he also loves to wear necklaces. One of his favorite treasures is the small box of Becky's jewelry: mostly sparkly and multi-colored bracelets and necklaces. He finds one he likes and tries sticking it to his neck until one of us helps him to properly put it on. He'll wear a shiny necklace for a whole day -- yesterday it was a thin silver thread with a turtle (of course) pendant. He's proud of his appearance with the necklace, showing it off and waiting for the, "Ohhh! So pretty!" comments from us. Then he grabs his nearest toy helicopter and walks around the house making machine noises for half an hour, donned in his prettiest jewelry. It is a beautiful thing to see this boy yet uninhibited by what the world tells him he should be, free to pursue whatever fancies he pleases.

For some of Jamie's machine sounds:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adventures with Daddy!

Today James and I took some morning adventures, which is not at all unusual. I had to pick up a donation from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, where I have enjoyed many nice hikes. It was a chilly morning -- only around 20F when we woke up -- so we bundled up headed out, with the promise of having a nice walk and then going to see some trains (the latter promise James' primary motivation, of course). After loading up the car with the donations, we took a nice walk around the frozen pond. We saw a sizable herd of deer -- about 12 total -- to start our hike. I pointed them out to James and he immediately started doing the tongue-clucking sound he makes in response to the question, "What does a horse say?" He was in high spirits and very observant for our short walk, which makes me realize that we can still embark on such adventures even despite the January cold. At one point, a magpie leisurely cruises from one tree to another, as only magpies in the nonchalance can do. I said, "A magpie!" and James repeated something that attempted at "magpie," if not in consonant sounds at least in cadence and enthusiasm. Yesterday he did the same with "thank you" when he was handed a toy that he wanted and this morning with "peek-a-boo" as we read one of his many lift-the-flap books. Our next step will be to learn the Latin names of the birds -- Pica hudsoni is probably just as easy to say as magpie.

After our nature walk, we stopped by the railroad tracks as promised, near a series of parked box cars. Shortly after arriving, we saw the headlights of a train approaching -- this was very exciting! The conductors waved as they passed and James was so thrilled he was silent. We watched the coal train lurch past while discussing the finer points of rail transportation and fossil-fuel dependent energy systems. As the last car passed, an engine in reverse, I said to James, "Say bye-bye to the train." Instead, he blew a kiss. Then waved and said, in his oddly southern drawl, "Byeeee!" The short ride home was torturous -- James repeatedly incessantly "Ommy [his word for "help" or "I want that"] oooch [his word for train]! Ommy ommy ooch ooch! Ommy ooch!" I tried explaining the fact that this was a single track, the nuances of train schedules, and the fact that we needed to get home for lunch. He was undeterred.

Becky recorded some of Jamie's animal sounds last week:
[Note: When responding the the question, "What does a gorilla say?" James beats his little chest.]

And January photos are posted here: