Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jabber!

When he was nearly three, Jabber patted my gigantic belly and said he would share his toys, he would share his bedroom, but he absolutely would NOT share his birthday with his little brother. So how did that work out for him?  Well, I have to admit that he only readily shares the toys he doesn't much care for.  And the two brothers only peacefully share their bedroom for about sixty seconds a day.  But when Monkey was born the day before Jabber's birthday--an act merely the beginning of a long series of "ME FIRST" moments--Jabber handled the situation with a graceful sort of resignation.  He is...to the best of his abilities, a kind and patient and generous big brother. 

One thing Jabber savors is stories.  Over the last couple of nights, we've been telling stories of the kids as babies, and Jabber hangs on every word.  He loves to listen to a book read out loud, especially books about heroes just a teensy bit more adventurous than he.  He feels deeply, right along the characters, his whole body twisting with anxiety when the action gets tense.  For a while he hated reading--cried and freaked out every time he was asked to do it. He could read.  He could sound out the words.  But it was so much effort--how can you enjoy a story when you have to sound it out letter by letter?  I fought him to get the homework done, and I simply hated the fact that our favorite activity, story time, was turning into a stressful battle. 

Finally I managed to get to the bottom of this issue and I talked with him about how, once you get a lot of practice at reading, you can identify whole words or phrases in one glance.  We used the word automaticity, and he giggled as he said it.  We started reading each page in a book in unison, twice, and then he would read it on his own in his "automatic reading voice."  Which meant fast.  Instantly, all our fights about reading disappeared.  Jabber wanted to practice reading so that he could get automatic: he just wanted to move beyond the letter-by-letter decoding stage and back into the enjoying stories stage.

I can't believe how far he has come in the last year, between age six and age seven.  I look at him sometimes, or overhear some tidbit of wisdom he is either mumbling aloud or trying out on me, and I can't even believe he's for real.  He's such a thinker.

This morning we were, as we often are, running late for work.  It was his birthday, and I was trying to go easy on him, to let him enjoy the feeling of waking up with the whole day belonging to him. But the clock keeps ticking, and the van needs scraping, and the younger brother--tired out from his own ME FIRST birthday--is grumpy, and...well.

"Jabber," I said, as he stood in the bathroom with his toothbrush in his hand, in exactly the same position I'd left him five minutes earlier.  "Why aren't you doing anything? Come ON."

"But I was doing something," he said, slowly lifting his toothbrush up to his mouth.

"You were not doing anything," I argued.  "You were just standing there, holding your brush."

"I was thinking," he said.  And of course he was.

(It's a Pikachu cake)
Happy Birthday, my Daydreamer!


loveable_homebody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
loveable_homebody said...

Kids are so wise. I think we can learn a lot from them and often don't consider the complexities of their minds. This is a beautiful post, like something out of a novel. I hope he marvels at it when he's older. A great birthday present!

Kristan said...

"Jabber patted my gigantic belly and said he would share his toys, he would share his bedroom, but he absolutely would NOT share his birthday with his little brother. "

AWW that is too precious! Happy birthday to the thinker. :)

Kate said...

Aww what great kids - say Happy Birthday to them both from me :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I remember when Jabber was born.. I was subbing in your classroom :-) It has been wonderful watching him come to staff meetings as a baby, and now seeing him as a first grader. What a wonderful little boy.

Lisa H.