Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Early Years

Thought I'd write down some memories of my kids' toddler and preschool years as I remember them. I'm sure I've forgotten many of them already, as it is.

Chad was my silly kid--always entertaining us. Here are a few things that come to mind, off the top of my head:

  • At 2, Chad could speak in complete sentences. For his 2nd birthday, my mother got him an assortment of Barney videos plus some more practical items like clothing. She was worried the clothes might not be a very big hit. As he opened one of her presents, he gasped and exclaimed in the most enthusiastic voice, "WOW, jeans! Thanks, guys!" And then... a few weeks later, he, my mother & I were going somewhere in our new Taurus. She corrected something he did, and frustrated, he said: "Get out of my new car, Nana!" Turns out there are pros and cons to having your kid speak clearly at such a young age.
  • At nearly 3, he was still not potty-trained. He was, however, preoccupied with firefighters and decided he simply could not become potty-trained until he had "firefighter underwear." Of course there were none to be found! My mother, bless her heart, was able to find some firetruck fabric, and appliqued firetrucks onto new, white toddler briefs. The first day he wore them to daycare, Chad greeted each incoming parent by promptly bending over, dropping his pants to his ankles, and proudly showing them his "new firefighter underwear!" And, oh, by the way--24 hours later and he was completely trained. Apparently he really was holding out for the specially-made undies.
  • At about 3.5 years old he became preoccupied with death--mine in particular. We'd been visiting my brother at a hospital, and staying in a hotel with my mother (76 years old at the time). Chad & I were in one bed, and my mom, the other. He kept quizzing me with different scenarios--seemingly to postpone going to sleep: "So if an alligator ate you, would you die, Mama?" "What if we crashed in an airplane? Would you die then?" "When exactly do you think you're going to die???" Exasperated and absolutely desperate for sleep, I finally said, "Chad, look at how old I am, and my mom is still alive!" Without saying a word, he turned his head towards my mother, studied her quite intently, looked up towards the ceiling, let out a big sigh, and said, "Yeah, but Nana looks like she's gonna die any minute now!"
  • One day at about 4 years old, Chad was hunting all over the house for his toy binoculars, but to no avail. He finally came to me and asked, "Mama, does God really answer our prayers?" Touched that he seemed to be grasping the concept of prayer, while beaming with pride, I said, "Why, of course he does, sweetheart! Are you going to ask for God's help in finding your binoculars?" He looked at me like he'd never heard anything so ridiculous in his life. "No!" he answered. "I'm going to ask for Him to just THROW SOME DOWN!"
  • On the more poignant side: In 1998, Chad's daycare teacher, Lisa, lost her father. A few months later, Mother's Day was fast approaching, which they were all discussing in class. Out of the blue, Chad (3.5) asked Lisa if he could get her a special gift. "Sure!" she replied. He then surprised her by saying, "I wondered if I could get your dad back for you." Taken aback, yet touched, she asked, "Do you have connections or something?" "No," he replied. "I was thinking maybe I could just drill a hole in the clouds..."
  • He was quite taken with his step-dad, Joe, from the moment he met him, and was always trying to imitate everything he did. One day, Joe was outside trimming a tree, so Chad (3) put on his own plastic hard hat, a plaid flannel shirt, and a plastic tool belt adorned with plastic tools to head outside. He pretended to "work" by his side for five or ten minutes, and then suddenly declared, "Sheesh! I need a BEER!" (Even though, might I make this clear, Joe was not drinking a thing.) He threw down his fake tools, ran inside, flung open the fridge, and guzzled down a small kids' container of Sunny D.
I can't help but smile and think of him every time I hear these lyrics: "We like fixin' things and holdin' mama's hand... yeah, we're just alike, hey ain't we, Dad? I want to do everything you do, 'cause I've been watching you."