You are two. Amazing. I think you might know what “two” is since you are forever holding up a pair of cheerios so I will count them: “One! Two!” This is one of your dozen little games, which is something I’ve been noticing a lot lately. You are so interested in interaction. On Sunday one of the dads at church was chasing you, and you ran around in tiny circles, laughing like crazy while he followed you. The other game that’s been cracking me up is how you say “Bah!” to Meredith, confident that it will make her burst into a fit of giggles. (You are right about that 95% of the time.) The funny thing about this game is that you seem to think “Bah!” will have the same effect on other people. (You are wrong about that 95% of the time.) Still, it’s adorable. Except in the middle of church or when we are struggling to make it to the end of a bedtime prayer without a full-on case of the sillies breaking out.
Yesterday was sunny if still ridiculously cold for the start of April. You and I played outside while Meredith took her late afternoon nap. We dug and dug in the empty dirt of the garden and I showed you lots of worms. I’d wiggle my finger toward you and say “Wiggle wiggle wiggle worm!” and you’d smile with satisfaction and then mimic it right back to me. I think you are going to be very occupied with worms this spring.
Speaking of things mimicked, I’m pretty sure the cutest thing you did all month was join me for a workout one morning. It was nothing fancy, just a short set of push-ups and jumping squats and shoulder presses and lunges and the like. Every new move I’d do, you’d mirror what you saw and it completely melted my heart. It’s been really fun watching you become aware of your body this month and so interested in all the things you can do with it.
You are also crazy about mimicking Daddy’s conducting and one Sunday during church you distracted the entire congregation from the choir’s anthem by standing in the pew and waving your hands above your head, wrists cricked, with your sweet, jerky, babyish rhythm. You were in utter seriousness and had no idea this was a big deal or a distraction. It was your worship, so I let you go and didn’t try to stop you.
I have been so blessed by the enthusiasm with which you approach church. I feel all the endless Sunday chaos beginning to pay off. We went to church often on Wednesdays during Lent, and several times during Holy Week, at a nearby church that we’re not as familiar with. You were so engaged and without any prompting from me you’d stand and sit with the congregation and sign “Amen” at the prayers. You even started to learn how to sign “Thank you God” when we’d all say “Thanks be to God” after Scripture was read. You love to put a couple small coins in the offering plate and have learned to patiently wait your turn for it to arrive.
Your vocabulary of songs is growing and you always jump the gun in the morning at the end of the Lord’s Prayer and start singing the Doxology before I’m ready in your little hum-sing voice. Last Sunday evening on the way home from church Lasst Uns Erfreuen (sorry for the nerd language, but I bet you know what I mean when you read this!) was playing on the CD and we were surprised to hear you sing along perfectly. It’s sweet how you’re learning to keep pace and sing along, not just race through all the notes.
The other thing you’ve been singing that cracks me up is your original little complaining song. I don’t know where it came from or what it means, I just know I hear it over and over every day, most often when you are frustrated or looking for help or trying to placate me somehow. It goes Mi-Fa-Sol, Fa-Mi-Re, in a quarter-quarter-half note pattern with the half note decidedly a downbeat. I so wish I knew what goes through your head to make you sing this!
I feel like I need to tell you that saying single words is actually easier than singing an entire song. The reason I say this is because I think it’s time for you to say the word “Star.” You love stars and you notice them everywhere in books or pictures, in the shape of your toys, or the bright twinkle lights in the sky. Every time one catches your eye you start humming “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and you hum it to its very end. Every time. We call that a star, silly boy. But you know that, obviously.
What’s even more hilarious is that this is also your way of identifying a giraffe, because Meredith has a little giraffe that plays the song when you squeeze it. Baby, giraffes don’t sing. Sorry to be the one to tell you this. And while we’re on the topic of giraffes, they also don’t squeak. I picked up a cheap “Sophie” for Meredith at a consignment sale this month and it basically performs like a puppy’s squeak toy. She likes to chew it, you like to play it. This has developed into a funny word you’ve coined for giraffe that sounds something like “WeeO” or sometimes “WeeOWee.” It makes me laugh because you have a whole litany of animal noises that you make: “Moo” for a cow, “Meow” for a cat complete with a scrunched up face to match the whiny pitch, the funniest little guttural grunt for a pig and then the squeaky little “WeeO” for a giraffe. Baby, giraffes don’t sing, and giraffes don’t squeak. However. You are adorable.
The other thing I think is adorable lately is your concept of my desk. You seem to think it’s the official toy hospital. When something is broken or a page is ripped I tell you to put it on my desk so I can take care of it. (Notice I carefully don’t say “fix it” usually, since sometimes my intention is to throw it away. More on that later.) The other day your little Baby Einstein tune thing (that looks alarmingly like an ipod) was sounding a little tired, like the batteries were ready to go to a better place, so I explained “I think your toy is too tired to work and it needs to have a rest. Why don’t you put it away for now?” So a couple hours later I’m walking past my desk and there it is, put to rest on my desk. Because OBVIOUSLY.
I’ve been merciless in hacking away at the stuff in our house the last couple days in preparation for the arrival of all the birthday loot that’s tucked into Daddy’s closet at the moment. You’ve also been merciless in ripping things, including the beloved Busy Town book that I found you asleep on top of the other night, pieces of pages strewn about your bed, to which I say on record: “GRRR!” But anyway, you have been wondering about paper. It doesn’t seem intentional yet when you rip something. You just find a piece that’s not quite attached and you start pulling, and then, well, you know. So yesterday you accidentally ripped the crumpled picture of a flag that we’d colored last fall. It’d been on (or off) your magnet board all winter. I started to suggest you go put it on my desk and then I had this vision of me with grey hair and a bunch of college age kids trying to dig myself out of a house full of broken toys and taped pictures and I shuddered and said “Actually, Jacob, let’s throw it in the trash, because it’s yukky now.” I could’ve done it myself to spare you the emotional pain of parting with it but I want you to be able to part with things. They are only things, after all. So I am not going to do all my de-cluttering on the sly.
I’d be painting a false picture if I wrote only the cute things you’ve done this month. Honestly, the biggest part of your life this month has been learning self control and I say it a million times: “Jacob, you need to have self control in your heart right now.” “You need to ask Jesus to give you his Holy Spirit so you can have self control.” I think you’re starting to assemble a definition in your mind of this thing I keep speaking about and you know it has to do with not saying “Noweeoweeoweeo!” when I give you an instruction, not yelling at your sister, not disrespectfully turning your face away from Daddy when he talks to you, and not screaming and wailing when things are hard or frustrating. It’s been a long haul but I am seeing glimmers of understanding that are making it easier for me to keep nagging you about it. And not just understanding, but growth. It’s true that you’ve begun to exhibit a fierce independence, complete with all kinds of disgust for the things we impose on you. But you are learning how to be a strong little man, master of your own heart, and those moments when I caution you “Make a wise choice, don’t be foolish” and you actually succeed, I am so, so, so proud of you.
Happy birthday, sweet, sweet boy. I love you to the twinkle twinkle little stars and back.