Back when Jack was just two years old, we went to a birthday party for a little boy who was turning four. This other little boy was quiet and solemn, a huge contrast to the zany little bundle of energy that was my kid. I watched the other boy calmly unwrap his birthday gifts and eat a modest amount of cake and dreaded the prospect of Jack turning four. My cute, funny, entertaining little guy wouldn’t be so cute anymore.
This year has proven to me that I was wrong. That other kid was just weird. Jack’s fourth year has been fantastic.
Our family went through a lot of changes this year. I lost my job in January, which enabled us to spend a lot of time together, in the Mommy-Jack Academy. We went to dance classes and acted silly, we put on plays with his tigers, baked cookies, and had a great time. When I went back to work, he and I missed our time together, but it felt like things were a bit more back to normal… except that they weren’t, because all of a sudden, I had a job that required me to travel pretty frequently. And at around the same time, Steve also had to do more travel for his job. Jack has adapted really well. We keep a calendar in his room and mark when Mommy or Daddy is coming home. Sometimes he gets a present after one of us has been on a trip, but more often, we go out for a special breakfast to spend more time together.
Jack absolutely loves his preschool, especially the main teacher Miss Toya. Miss Toya has helped Jack improve his writing, so he will surprise me by pulling out a crayon and writing WASSER on a piece of paper. She teaches the kids to say “yes” instead of “yeah,” and it sounds so much nicer that Steve and I have adopted the same habit. The kids in Jack’s class put on a circus this spring at which Jack was an acrobat. She even showed up at one of his soccer games.
Jack has an incredible curiosity about words and language. When we go to the library, he loads up the bag with all kinds of reading material – picture books, non-fiction materials about animals, and now chapter books. His favorites are the Magic Treehouse series, about a boy named Jack who travels through time. Jack will sit and listen to me read for as long as I’m willing. He has also started noticing words everywhere and will ask, “What does ‘O-P-E-N’ spell?”
We have done some fun traveling together as a family this year. In June, we took a weekend trip to Chicago, Jack’s first big city. He was fascinated by the tall buildings, the pigeons, the noise of the El track, and the fact that he was allowed to go in a taxi without his car seat. Our big vacation was to the Wisconsin Dells and the Great Wolf Lodge. Jack had a blast playing in the many swimming pools and going down water slides.
The little guy has had a few dark moments. He got in the most trouble of his entire life when, mad at me, he used his scissors to cut a small hole in the back of one of our living room chairs. And when I tell him to apologize for things – “you don’t have to mean it, you just have to say it” – he steadfastly refuses.
At the same time, he’s sweet and affectionate. He was eager to help his three-year-old cousin play hide and seek with the big kids at Thanksgiving. Jack gives lots of love to Roary and his fleet of “stuffed guys,” telling them, “It’s okay, Sweetie,” if they are sad. And when I started to cry during the movie Up Jack reached over and held my hand.
He also loves to make people laugh. He will tell jokes over and over again, figuring that the knock-knock joke about the interrupting cow will only be funnier the 900th time you hear it. He is even a fan of physical comedy, pretending to walk into walls, then laughing like a loon.
Year Four has been wonderful. Jack does or says something every single day that makes me proud of him. When I look ahead to Jack’s fifth year, I have no fear. My little guy will still be my clever, funny, sunny little guy.
Happy birthday, Jack!