Henry. My boy.
Would you just look at that sweet little guy. He’s so great in so many ways that I find myself at a loss for words about him sometimes. But I’ll try to come up with at least a few.
He’s very imaginative. He and his sisters are almost always pretending to be someone else. And they are always telling us who we are in their little make-believe-land. Once I was driving the kids and my sister back into town and we were stuck in traffic. Georgia and I were chatting and Henry said from the backseat, “Mom! You’re being Bullseye. I’m Woody and Olivia is Jessie.” I said, “Okay.” And he said, “No! Bullseye doesn’t talk! So you can’t talk!” Throughout the entire drive home, whenever I would talk to my sister he would pipe up and tell me that Bullseye doesn’t talk. And when he is pretending with his sisters they give each other stage directions and feed each other lines. So there’s a lot of repeating.
He also told me the other day, “Mom, my name’s Tuesday because Tuesday is the dad and I’m being the dad.” Me: “Okay. Hi Tuesday.” Henry: “No you can’t talk because you’re dead. Because you’re being the grandma and the grandma is dead.” // And the other day he said to Olivia, “Let’s play Home.” and she said no, so he said, “No, pretend you said yes.” And she did. So then they started playing Home. If only it were so easy for them to pretend to do the things I ask them to do…
He also like to pretend he is having a baby. He sticks a stuffed animal up his shirt and when I ask when his baby is going to be born he says, “Not yet!”, because, poor kid, he might think that is the only actual response to that question. He has been asking when our baby will come out for so, so long.
He can’t wait to be a big brother. We have been telling him that first it was going to be Olivia’s birthday, then his birthday, and then the baby could come out. So when I said, “Henry! It’s your birthday, today!” He asked, very excitedly, “And now the baby can come out?” To which he again got his, “Not yet” reply. Though it doesn’t keep him from coming up with plans for the baby like how he is going to feed him and bring him toys and blankets and throw balls with him. When his socks or shirts are getting too small he tells me, “This is too small for me. Let’s give it to the baby.” He also has lots of ideas about what the baby will say. So I’m wondering how disappointed he will be that the baby will be born a helpless infant and not a talking, walking playmate.
He has named the baby “Dark Vader”. And when we finally broke it to him that the baby’s name probably won’t be that, he said, “Well, can we name something Dark Vader?”
He’s got the fake smile down. Which is somewhat heartbreaking because his real smile is one of the best things in my life. But it is hard to capture on camera these days.
He’s very observant of the world. He has always been fascinated with language and talking. It seemed to take him forever to speak, but when he finally did, it was apparent that he didn’t want to talk until he kind of knew what was going on. He’s not one who likes to learn by trial and error, but more by watching and watching and then attempting. This has continued as his language has grown and expanded over this past year. He had very few things that he said incorrectly, but when he did, I was careful to not correct him too quickly or it would vanish. Because I love the cute ways he would speak incorrectly. Things like “Look Mama! I a bird! I flying!” And once when Steve was changing him, Henry was wiggling all over the place and Steve said, “Oh you are such a child sometimes!” He replied, “I not a child. I just me!” When he is presented with new words or ideas, he has to think them out. Another time Steve was helping him out of his sandy swim shorts and said, “Henry, you’re all sandy.” Henry looked down as the sand spilled out and said, “I not sandy. The house is sandy!”
And his observations of the world continue:
“I feeled the marshmallows. They were warm. And fuzzy.”
“When you have some rocks, you water them. Wsssshhhhhh! Feel better, rocks?”
“Daddy licks his hands, so I want to do that. When I stick my tongue out, that’s how I lick.” He has lots of these explanations of the world. When he says something he thinks is funny he’ll give us an instant replay of it.
And sometimes he gets in funny moods where when you ask him to do something he says that he hates doing that. Mostly naptime and sitting at the table and regular kid stuff. But sometimes it’ll be things like, “I HATE laughing!” Or if you ask him to smile for a picture, “I HATE smiling!”
He loves to help in the kitchen. He got an apron for Christmas and likes to help with the stirring and the taste-testing, of course.
He’s a snuggle bug and he won’t go to sleep without someone singing to him. Whether it’s mom or dad or Auntie Mal. And he loves our weekly coffee dates with Aunt Georgia.
He loves his train tracks and cars and dump truck and Dinotrux. But not D-strux, because he is mean. He also loves rain boots, his Captain America shirt and hats. Also his “carmonica” (harmonica) and “Queen Car” (Lightning McQueen) and his favorite stuffies are Woggie and Sir Ostrich (and I’m not sure if the ostrich has been knighted or is being confused with siracha sauce).
He looks up to his dad. While Steve is building the fence, Henry is also busy hitting the posts with his plastic shovel and refusing to play with his sisters because he is building. He also likes it when he and daddy wear bow ties together. And I like it, too.
He’s a sweet kid. So sweet, in fact, that I worry his little brother has a pretty big ideal to live up to. But at least the little baby will have a great example of how to be super nice and cute.
(On a side note, can I just say that I don’t like the whole potty-training thing? And not because of the actual process. It has gone pretty well for us, the usual hiccups and extra laundry have been anticipated and it’s fine. What I don’t like is that it seems to me to mark the loss of innocence. When they potty train, they are suddenly responsible and in control and in charge of something all on their own and I’ve always observed a very marked change in my children when this comes along. They are no longer a baby, and they know it. With Henry, it was hard to let go of that babyhood. He’s been a pretty cooperative little person, and all of a sudden he realized he could say no and refuse to do something. Not that he’s never said no before, but there’s this look in his eyes that says, “I’m not a baby anymore. You can’t make me.” It starts with him pointing at a framed picture in his room and saying, “These letters says no moms allowed in here.” And before I know it, he’ll be telling me he doesn’t need tucked into bed or stories read.
Motherhood is partially about loss – first of your expectations, then of the things your child does that you have come to love. With every new and wonderful thing your child learns and experiences, they lose their dependence on you. I don’t mean that it is just continually sad, because believe me, freedom from diapers is like so. awesome. No regrets there. But I’ve been observing a lot of the changes in my children and how they are growing and it catches me by surprise. And sometimes I haven’t mentally adjusted to their new needs – their needs for some independence and space of their own. They are becoming more and more their own people. It is beautiful and wonderful and I love it. But there is a part of me that is struggling to let go. To let them go confidently into the future I am trying every day to prepare them for. )
Back to Henry Bear… we love him a whole lot and we’re so glad he’s a part of our family. We wouldn’t have it any other way.