Jonah was born the Saturday after Thanksgiving, exactly a week past his due date. So this year, the year that he turns six, was the first year since that his birthday has fallen on a Saturday. For some reason that felt meaningful to me this year, though I can’t say why exactly. Every year I feel completely unprepared for our children to suddenly become a year older than they were. I know; it isn’t sudden, it’s a one-day-at-a-time sort of thing. But it always feels abrupt.
A big part of the reason that I started this blog was because I was afraid of forgetting things. There are so many tiny details, so many moments that slip by, and as they grow they change so much. Science says that every time we access a memory we corrupt it; we alter it somehow because something about our current context shifts the framework or the perspective and everything is just a tiny bit different than it truly was. I have to wonder if I wrote Jonah’s birth story now how different it might be.
On his first birthday he wasn’t interested in cake, he wanted shredded cheese. I guess it’s a bit like his second birthday, when everyone began to sing “Happy Birthday” and he started to wail, “ABCD! ABCD!” so I politely asked everyone to stop singing, and to switch to the alphabet, and he was happy. He’s always been a boy with strong opinions.
He seemed excited to turn six. He never seems to mind that his birthday can be overshadowed by the official start of the Christmas season. We went to get our tree on Friday, the day before his birthday, even though he’d hoped that we could get it on his birthday. He was excited to take the tractor and wagon out to the field and to cut our tree for the first time this year.
We also got tiny trees for the kids’ rooms this year, and they loved setting them up.
Jonah’s actual birthday wasn’t terribly eventful. The kids had gymnastics in the morning and by the time we got home I wasn’t feeling well and ended up spending much of the day in bed, but he didn’t seem to mind at all. Gigi made cupcakes and brought them over along with Papa Doc, he opened gifts from them and from us (a Lego advent calendar and the illustrated Harry Potter set, which we’ve loved reading together over the last 24 hours or so). And today, Sunday, we decorated the tree and had a pretty quiet day since I was still recovering from being under the weather.
At six, what stands out most about Jonah is his interest in building creations out of his own imagination. He loves Legos, and while he’s a whiz at following the instructions for a complicated set all on his own, what he loves most is to design his own creations. He’s less interested in the bricks than in the wheels and gears and hinges and other things that move. He loves Rube Goldberg machines, and at times we’ll talk through the way his creations could lead from one action to another. His Aunt Megan got him two different magnet science sets for his birthday, and he’s been playing with them all weekend.
I also love to watch him try to solve problems with his siblings, something he especially loves when it involves tools or contraptions of some sort. Like when someone drops a toy into a hard-to-reach place, or his sister wants a rope to swing on and he goes outside to figure out how to rig one up for her. He likes playing with them, which is a gift I’m so thankful for.
He’s doing incredibly well in kindergarten; better than I ever could have imagined. I knew that he was smart enough, but I wasn’t sure how he’d adjust to the change in routine. I now think that the structure is actually a good thing for him. He’s already reading at a first-grade level (and continues to amaze us when he reads books aloud that he’s never seen before), and he’s still curious enough and interested enough in learning that he’ll randomly ask us questions about things like odd numbers and even numbers or teach us what he’s learning about syllables. He seems to get along with his classmates, even if he hasn’t made any new stand-out friends, and that’s deeply important to me.
I’ve also seen his willingness to try new things grow quite a bit over the last year. For two years of preschool he routinely refused to participate in music. This year though, he’ll come home from school and teach me how to floss (they have “dance breaks” throughout the school day, presumably to get the wiggles out). He’s also been in gymnastics for two sessions this fall and I love watching him try challenging things during class and not give up. He seems far less likely to be taken down by frustration than he used to be, although it’s still something we keep our eye on.
I worry a lot about him growing up, wondering when he’ll start to prefer spending time with his friends over his family, or when he won’t hold my hand any longer, or want to sit on my lap while I read to him. All of those things are still mine, for now. He still comes to get me halfway through the night and snuggles his feet between my knees when I lay down in bed next to him, the twin bed feeling smaller and smaller for us both as he grows. Today, the day after his birthday, he was telling me that at his next birthday he’ll be seven, and then eight. I reminded him not to grow up too quickly. “I know,” he said with a smile.