"Daddy is not answering his phone.", I said to my super six year old, as we sat snuggled together in the restaurant booth, waiting for our dinners to arrive. "Keep calling, Mommy. You must persevere!" Persevere? My super six year knows the word "persevere"? After grilling him for the definition, it turns out, he does.
Learning that my oldest son has a vocabulary even larger than I thought was not the only thing I learned yesterday. Apparently my young man knows this word because it is one of the awards given out monthly in Chapel in his school. I just found out about these awards last week and am still a little sketchy on them. I hear there is an award for "Honesty", and now one for "Perseverance". What I do know is that my guy has not been awarded one of these yet, and he really, really, really wants one. At his age, and knowing his temperament, I doubt he wants one for the meaning behind it as much as for the idea of "winning". My super six year old loves to win. But what a great thing to win at, right? I learned about this at 7:00pm last night, after spending the entire day playing at COSI.
The morning started with a trip to the pediatrician for my son's six year old well check up. There I learned something I had been suspecting for quite a while. My young son can act calmly in that doctor's office. I was beginning to wonder. He questioned the nurse, "Am I going to get any shots today?" She wasn't sure. He questioned the doctor, who confirmed that, no, he would not be getting any shots. He had been questioning me for two days. He immediately stopped wiggling and grabbing for items in the drawers under the exam table. He let his strong body melt into the table, stretched out long, and began to play his DS while he sang to himself. (Smashmouth!) I could actually talk to the doctor! I could think about my answers! I could stop being that frazzled mother who has to keep one eye, and both hands, on her child at all times! Yesterday morning I learned that when my son has the information he needs he can be a calm little guy. And yes, I already knew this, but it was a great reminder.
I learned that my super six year is maturing in ways that make me proud. While we waited for nearly two hours to get into COSI - ALWAYS BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE DURING SPRING BREAK PEOPLE!- I allowed my boy to wander off to the nearby hands on exhibits. I could always see him, and he came back to me every time I called his name. "Such a patient boy you have there!", exclaimed a grandmother waiting in line behind me. "Not usually", I thought. But maybe, just maybe, he is learning this. Patient and a good listener. Who knew.
I watched my son share the small rubber balls in one of the Space exhibits with a little girl. He had watched her be denied a ball by the boy on the other side of the exhibit and when she showed up at his side he didn't need me to remind him to be a gentleman. He willingly gave her a ball. And when the little boy on the other side tried to take it back, my young man grabbed it first, saying, "This ball is hers", and handed it to the girl. He shared, and more importantly, he stood up for what he knew to be right. He did not let that little boy do what stands for bullying in the kindergarten set. And I learned that my super six year old is on his way to becoming a man.
I learned that my guy knows A LOT about space. He had his facts right and was able to hold a conversation with a much older boy about planets while waiting in line to see the space capsule. He taught a younger girl about how the earth moves around the sun, using his hands and a ball to further explain. He is an educator, this boy.
I watched my super six year old take command of a group of children, both older and younger than he, to run the mini land rover and cranes. He gave direction to everyone, making sure every child knew their instructions before starting the mission. He is a leader, this boy.
We played together in the Ocean exhibit, my son showing me how to place the water stream just right so that it would intersect with his. His little engineering mind figured out where to place all of the water streams so that all five of them intersected. It was late in the day and we had the exhibit all to ourselves, so he had the time to really figure this out. I learned how single minded my son can be. He wasn't leaving the exhibit until he had those streams of water precisely where he wanted them.
I watched my boy play a game of checkers in the outside play area, with checker pieces bigger than his head. He bounced around the giant sized playing board, pondering his choices and making his moves. I had warned the older girl he was playing with that he may not know how to play; turns out I didn't need to do that. Sometime between the last time I played with him and yesterday he learned the rules of the game. I learned that my son frequently plays checkers with his friends at his after school program. Once again I was reminded that my super six year old has a whole life I know very little about. Again I was reminded of the importance of cementing this relationship early on in life so he will be sure to include me in his life as he grows. Just imagining what parts of his life I may not know about when he is a teenager makes me shudder!
I learned that my son is outgoing. Which, of course, I already knew. But this boy is confident. I watched as he realized he didn't have a partner for a game he wanted to play and with just a tiny nudge from me he asked the girl next to him if she would like to be his partner. There was no fear that this older girl would deny him his request. He was confident that he would not be shot down. I also learned where his head is about his birth country. He is currently in a phase where he is very proud to be Chinese. The girl he asked to play this game was also Chinese. While the girl won the game, the two of them had a very high score- higher than the other kids who had gone before them. When I pointed this out to my son he exclaimed, loudly, that it was because both he and his partner were Chinese. The girl's Chinese father hid a smile when this was pronounced. OK, still doing good with the birth country thing.
I learned that my super six year old is still not ready to discuss his birth mother. He was very interested in the display of fetus', looking at each month of pregnancy with great care. He was amazed when he realized how very small he started out. I was cautious to use the correct terms and to make sure he understood that when he was a fetus he was in his birth mother's tummy, not mine. We spent a lot of time in this exhibit but it wasn't his time to ask these questions, not yet.
I learned that my boy is all boy. He spent quite some time playing the "bodily function" organ, where each key he pressed gave us a loud sneeze, hungry rumblings, or a cough. The "vomit" key was his favorite. So much, in fact, that he continued to make the disgusting sound long after we left the exhibit.
As we finally left the museum, eight hours after arriving, we walked slowly to the car. We had parked in the farthest lot from the door, and on the way in my boy had bounced along and run ahead numerous times. Now, on the way out, he was lagging behind, his little legs tired. Despite my equally tired legs I picked up my 45 pound six year old and carried him to the car. He rested his head on my shoulder and ran his fingers up and down my back, enjoying the feel of the fabric of my coat. "I think my legs are broken.", he mumbled in my ear. I hugged him as we slowly made our way to the car. I learned that my big six year old, the one who acted as a leader, a teacher, a protector, was still also a little boy. My little boy.
I don't often have the chance to spend an entire day, uninterrupted, with just one of my boys. We went to the museum because my son asked to go, and because it is such a great educational opportunity for him. But all those hours, alone with my oldest son, were educational for me as well. A reminder to sometimes pause and take a moment. A moment to appreciate the growth. A moment to ponder the amazing creature before you. A moment to play like a child, with your child. And a moment to carry your child in your arms again.