Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Best Big Brother

When people ask me how things are going, now that we have two kids, I usually respond that they've been great. Then I go on to tell the highlight of the past couple months: seeing James in the role of the big brother. He's been exceptionally sweet and accepting of little Anna, in ways that continue to surprise me. For example, this afternoon Anna was taking a nap on our bed while James and I played racecars in the living room. Over the monitor, we heard that Anna was upset -- I got up and told Jamie to keep driving his racecars and that I'd be right back. Before I could finish, he dashed past me, down the hallway, and climbed onto the bed to pat Anna's head and say, in his very hi-pitched "baby" voice, "It's OK baby sister."

Later this afternoon, he had a splinter in his thumb that was causing some pain. He was very upset and in this moment only wanted baby sister to kiss it to make it feel better. She, of course, obliged.

James loves to snuggle his baby sister:

He loves to play with her:

And occasionally use her as a runway:

He is one cool dude!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Compassion for Snakes

Lately we've had to dissuade James from stomping on bugs. I'm not sure where he learned this, but he's been intentionally trying to step on roly-polies and other little critters around the yard. Becky said that yesterday he intentionally tromped on a moth then, after she asked him not to, did it again. He also shows a great curiosity toward these critters, picking them up and examining them. He spent the better part of the morning playing with a little zoophoba worm (that we feed the turtles) in the magnifying-cup that his Aunt Lissy brought him. While I'm glad that James is not afraid of these bugs, it has been a bit of a struggle to see him show so little understanding for the damage to their lives he can cause with a single footfall. Any doubts I may have had about his compassion for animals was quickly put to rest this afternoon.

Yesterday, I brought a garter snake home from one of my research sites, with the intention of attaching a radiotransmitter and returning him home the next day. This morning, James was my trusty assistant as I weighed, measured, and attached the transmitter to the snake. He even held the snake, all by himself, for a while -- and did so perfectly:
11.05.22 -- James with Snake

The final step in processesing the snake involves clipping a couple of his belly scales in order to identify the snake if he's caught again and to collect a small bit of tissue for DNA analysis. While this does hurt a bit, it heals quickly and does not cause the snake any long-term injury. James watched me make the first clip and became very upset, saying repeatedly, "No, Daddy. Leave him alone!" I tried to explain to him that it was OK, but the sight of me hurting the snake was just too much -- he repeated again and again, "Leave him alone!" His compassion for this creature left me incredulous -- he was adamantly and forcefully protecting the snake from harm. Of course, I stopped my work and let us all take a break. As he was defending the snake so ardently, I looked at my boy in the eyes and felt what was not only pride but admiration. And here I thought I would be the one teaching him about snakes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fantasy is Better than Reality

Yesterday Home Depot had their NASCAR race car here at the local store. Seeing how much James loves the movie Cars and pretending to be a race car, I thought going to see it would be a fun adventure for us to have.

It was a rainy day but the car was safely tucked under an overhang so we could see it without getting wet. He was very excited (mostly about getting his own small model) and wandered around the car looking, touching, pointing out parts he liked, and asking questions.

When it was time for them to leave they opened up the back of trailer they hauled the car in. This led to more excitement because it was "just like Mac" in the movie Cars. We then received a warning that they were going to start the car and it would be loud - Antoinette was with us and they didn't want to damage her ears. We moved inside the building to what I thought was a safe distance and they started the car. They weren't kidding - it was loud.

James was lingering somewhere between me and the car because he was very curious to see them load it up. Then they stepped on the gas the car let out an intense roar that I really didn't know was possible from a car. Jamie's eyes got wide and he started to bawl(Anna hardly flinched - maybe I should worry about her hearing or maybe she's just used to living with a loud toddler). I picked him up and comforted him and eventually we were able to return outside to see the car and truck drive away.

Although I think he will remember seeing the race car with I imagine he will mostly remember that it was "really loud" and that his model car is, as he says, "not loud".

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What Toddlers Notice

James has always been a keen observer of the world. Any jet plane passing overhead or train whistle in the distance immediately draws his attention, usually with a "Look look! A plane!" At times, however, he simply does not notice things right in front of him which he is looking for. On Easter, we hid plastic eggs filled with candy around the living room and invited James to find them. He loved the game and enthusiastically searched for the eggs. And when I say we "hid" them, I mean that we set them on the table, couch, and floor in places where, were we to forget the game mid-action, we would either sit or step on them the following day. James found some, but often needed some direction in finding those that were right in front of him. Fortunately, his excitement in locating each egg was diminished in no way by these hints. What a joyous way to be.

The culminating example of this contrast between astute senses and obliviousness came earlier today when, while pushing him on a swing, he looked at me and said, as if it were a revelation, "Hey! You have a beard!"