Whew, all of a sudden it’s been an entire week and I haven’t posted! We went to our local pumpkin patch on Saturday and it was CRAZY packed with people. Jack pretty much longingly watched the train the entire time (see photo above), but quickly realized that it was much more fun to watch than to actually ride. Just like last year, I tried to convince him the tractor hay ride is where it’s at, but this boy has his heart set on those darn train wheels.
I actually planned an awesome train-themed party (invitations designed, menu planned, guest list done), but after much contemplation I decided not to go through with a birthday party for Jack this year. I don’t know if I’m regretting it or not. His birthday is in less than two weeks and though I love a good excuse to throw a party, I’m just not feeling festive this season. I’ve had a hard time getting into the Halloween/fall spirit this year, and birthday parties are no exception.
Jack is talking so much these days, and our family is just flooding with happiness because of it. This past week he started saying, “I yuh you, Mom.” (I love you, Mom), and it makes me cry every time! He still has so far to go to catch up with his peers, but seeing how far he has already come reminds me of how blessed we are. His nursery leaders (he goes every Sunday for two hours) both commented on how much he is talking and how they’ve started to understand him more. I’m so happy with the progress we’ve made, and feel so grateful we started him in speech six months ago. It was one of my most difficult decisions as a parent (I had A LOT of negative reactions and advice telling me he didn’t need it) but I am so glad I listened to my instincts and went through with it.
I remember just six months ago we had a chart on the wall called “Jack’s Speech Train”. I bought him train stickers and drew tracks on a piece of paper, and every time he repeated a new word we would add another train car. We were so excited to hear basic words like “ball” and “door” and “wa-wa” (water). He added about two to five basic words to his vocabulary each week, and that was HUGE progress.
Now he is constantly learning (not just repeating) new words on his own, and forming small sentences. I still get filled with such raw, joyful emotion when he tells me, “Mom, Jack go Woo-see (Lucy) house. Pay (play)?” and “I see Anson(‘s) baby! Baby happy!” But amid these small victories, it’s still so exhausting being the mother of a child who tests behind his peers. You’re constantly wracked with guilt and an overwhelming desire to see your child succeed, to even see your child catch up. Sometimes you get so absorbed in their speech problems that you forget their other good qualities.
Jack is patient and kind. He really wouldn’t harm a fly. He’s one of those kids that still cries when a peer snatches a toy from his hands, but won’t do anything about it because he’s too nice. (Though I’m trying really hard to teach him to be feisty and grab it right back! – is that bad parenting? haha) He loves babies, and never gives up the opportunity to get right in their face and say hello to one. He asks for permission before doing anything he’s not sure about. He is naturally obedient in a way every parent wishes their kid was. He trusts me, and I trust him. He respects me, and I respect him.
He loves apples, and talks about them daily. Apple phones (he’s sad the apple logo on mine is “hiding” and reminds me about it often), apple juice (a rare treat), apple sauce, and the plain fruit (but not in slices, please, just hand him a whole apple). He asks for “rice and beans” at almost every meal. He loves any kind of beans – both the protein and the string green vegetable. He loves almost every food I put in front of him: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, hummus, peanut-butter & jam sandwiches, Annie’s bunny crackers, pasta, eggrolls, stir-fry, tofu, chili, veggie burgers, veggie soups, french fries, strawberries, oatmeal, cheerios, pancakes/waffles, burritos, rice, bread … the list could go on for days. Off the top of my head, I can’t name a food other than salad that he won’t eat. (And for the official record, he has eaten salad on occasion).
Jack talks about “Grandpa’s trailer” ALL THE TIME. (He used to scream out “BUSSSSS!!” in the car – and he still does – but more frequently he is on the lookout for boats and trailers.) He also frequently talks about “baby whales” and “breakfast” (his way of telling me he’s hungry) and this month specifically, I’ve been hearing a lot about the “pum-kin patch”. He certainly doesn’t have the speech skills that some kids his age do, but he has found plenty of ways to get his point across. I can tell he works so hard to learn and remember new words. He has really focused lately on getting the sounds correct so that we (and others) can better understand him.
If asked, Jack’s best friends are Anson, Lucy, Grandpa Dale, and Molly (his speech therapist – he absolutely adores her.) His favorite books are Where’s Waldo (he’s shockingly good at it too, and won’t give up until he has found Odlaw, Wenda, the Wizard, Woof, the scroll, etc.), The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, and Freight Train. His favorite songs are “Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam” (he yells this one with much vigor when he sings it), “Apple, Apple, Ah-Ah-Ah”, “Octopus” (my sister’s kids even caught on to this one so here’s the link to the lyrics, Kenzie!), “The Wheels on the Bus”, and any current song on the radio with the word, “hey!” in it (specifically Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks” and The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey”). Actually, he really knows the words to most of the songs I listen to.
His favorite TV show this past year was “Super Why”, but these past few months he has also grown extremely fond of “The Magic School Bus”(yes, I know it’s for 8-year olds but he is completely enamored with it), “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”, and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”. His favorite activities/toys are playing with trains, airplanes, cars, blocks, his kitchen (but this kid isn’t fooled by plastic food and is more interested in cooking for real in my own kitchen with me), and the water table. He also really loves to push his baby in his mini shopping cart around the house, and ride his red Radio Flyer bumper car.
Jack is seriously the greatest delight. I know all parents say that about their kids, but some days I think I could easily have a dozen little Jacks running around our house. He is helpful and kind and patient beyond his years. He is fun-loving and rambunctious like any little kid, but also knows there is a time and place to act that way. We aren’t completely without our moments of frustration, but that’s also what makes me realize just how wonderful his little spirit is 95% of the time.
We are so lucky to have you in our home, Jack. I know things haven’t been easy these past two years losing your sister, but I am so glad you chose to come to our family first and help us through it all. You are wise beyond your years, honeyman, and I love you more and more everyday for it.