May 24, 2004

And What About Those Two Boys Of Yours?

[ADD PHOTO OF CHARLIE AND BOYS HERE]

Sue wrote me back the other day and said, “Yes, but I really want to hear about the boys, how are they?”

How are they? They are fantastic and amazing and lovely and growing and running and kicking and hugging and a handful and trying so hard to grow up, all at the same time.

Nathaniel will be five in August, and he’s been asking about his birthday party for the last six months (we will be on the Cape then, visiting my mother and my Aunt Cayo). Time has little meaning still, I’m guessing he understands about as long as a week either side of today. He’s pretty good on yesterday and tomorrow and the day before yesterday and in two days, but then it gets a bit murky.

He’s going to a new school, a private school, as the state schools with any space near here were not really places we wanted to send him (unlike the state school he was at in Cornwall, which we realize now was a complete gem). He tries so hard. He’s in Reception, which is the equivalent of Kindergarten in the States, and he’s already reading. Much too soon we think, and we wish there were a Waldorf school around (or Steiner schools as they call them here). His play and imagination levels have decreased since leaving the Waldorf school in California, and there are times, especially when I watch him put his head in his hands and say “I can’t do it” in that little voice of his, that I cringe and wonder if we’re doing the the right thing by having him in school at this age at all.

But the goodness of him so outweighs the badness we may be thrusting upon him. He still loves to draw and paint, and when his granny Deborah comes over to paint with him he blossoms like you wouldn’t believe. He doesn’t ask for much, someone to push him around the garden on the tricycle, someone to throw the ball with, a ride on the back of Dad’s bike. His eyes are still blue, and he still takes his doggy to bed, and he still likes to be held.

There is quite a rivalry between Nathaniel and Sebastian. I’m sure there are times when Nathaniel would prefer to be an only child, and when he’s pushed Sebastian over for the n-th time I try not to yell at him and Rachel asks whether he’d like to go into his room and do some drawing with the door closed and have some quiet time. Thank gawd I’m married to Rachel because she has so much more patience than I do, though I’m trying to be better, and running more regularly has been helping a lot.

Sebastian has dark eyes and hair, and round cheeks, and I think he’s going to look like Rachel (whereas Nathaniel with blue eyes and blond-ish brown-ish hair looks very much like I did at that age). He is walking well, and even trying to run, not quite sure what to do with his arms. When Nathaniel started to run he would run with his arms behind him like an airplane – it will be interesting to see if Sebastian does the same thing. Sebastian has learned how to climb up and down stairs, and is quite good at turning around in order to get down what are quite steep stairs here in the house in Leatherhead. I guess he has no real depth perception yet because even a half-inch transition, say from the walkway to grass, will cause him to turn around and “climb down” onto the grass. It is absolutely adorable to watch, and I need to get it on tape before he stops doing it.

Where Nathaniel is going to be an artist, Sebastian is going to be a rugby player. He already kicks the soccer ball with both feet, and loves nothing better than to throw a tennis or rubber ball with you. We stopped at Ros’s house on the way to Hil’s birthday party this afternoon, and there was an orange frisbee that he wouldn’t stop playing with. We’d throw it from me to Rachel to Kristyna (the new au pair who arrived this morning at 6AM after an 18 hour bus ride from Prague) and he’d run happily between us, picking it up and running to the next person and doing his best to throw it.

There are lots of older cousins here for the boys to be around. There’s Charlie, Ros and Chris’ 16 year old son, who is Nathaniel’s idol. Charlie will spend hours with both boys, but especially Nathaniel, helping him on the scooter, playing with him in his Indian teepee, or in the fort, or looking for things in the woods. And today at Hil’s birthday party her three youngest children were there, Sarah, 18, Alexander 17, and Lilly 14, and they were lovely with both boys. Up and down the grassy knoll, kicking the football, rolling and tumbling and laughing with them.

Sebastian is quite attached to his binky, going “unh unh unh” until we get one into his mouth. When it’s not in his mouth he’s quite chatty, and there are times when the cadence of his chatter sounds like a sentence. He’s been saying “da da” for many months, and much to Rachel’s chagrin is quite good about pointing at me when you say “where’s Daddy?", or at Rosie (the dog) when you say “where’s Rosie?", but doesn’t point at Rachel when you say “where’s Mama?” He loves it when you ask where his nose is, and then points at your nose, or sometimes his or your toes. He seems to understand nose and toes and ears and mouth and eyes and hair, and it’s amazing to see the word comprehension growing almost daily.

It wasn’t until recently that he would hug either of us, or hold our hand. Whenever you’d pick him up he would push away from you (right in the throat, ouch) and point at something else, the dog, the light, anything but one of us. And if you tried to hold his hand while he was walking he’d push it away. For awhile we were worried that he would never hug us, that maybe he had Asperger’s or something (can you have Asperger’s at that age?), and it tore Rachel up, and I would just squeeze him tight and tell him that I loved him. But just in the last two months he has changed significantly, becoming much more cuddly. He wants to be picked up a lot, and stay in your arms rather than be put down right away. Whew, what a relief. He has a wicked sense of humor too, and he laughs with his eyes as well as his mouth.

Being home has its advantages and disadvantages. I can drop Nathaniel off at school in the mornings, and pick him up in the afternoon. I’m home all day now, working on the photo album product, and it’s hard to create boundaries between work and home. What do you say when he says “Can you push me around the back yard?” or “Can we go for a ride on your bike?” Too often I say “sorry not now", but I’m trying to be better and realize they’re only little once.

So how are the boys? I love them both very very much. I can’t imagine life without them. But every once in awhile I wish we could put them on hold – press a Pause button on the channel changer of life – and go sailing in the Greek Islands for a couple of weeks, just Rachel and me. And when we’d come home we’d press the Play button, all renewed, ready to have life pick up again right where we’d left it.

Posted by: Frank @ 12:49 am — Filed under:

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