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my children right now

Harvey has always been a sweet sweet child, but these days he has moments of being so endearingly sweet with the baby that I suddenly feel the wind knocked out of me. It's like a surprise jump attack at my heart.

Yesterday morning Harvey came into my bed and snuggled up close to Elijah. Elijah was sleeping, and Harvey was content to hold his little hand and lie with his face milimeters away from the baby's fat cheeks, staring into his sleeping eyes. Twenty minutes later I got up to make some coffee and I asked Harvey if he wanted to come downstairs. He said he wanted to stay in bed with Elijah. "I'm very tired," he said.

A child who knows what his body needs, plus loves to quietly snuggle a baby? I could not tell you how to make that happen on purpose.

Later at bedtime I put Elijah down on Harvey's bed so I could use the bathroom. "I wish I could cuddle with the baby," Harvey said to Dan.
"He's very delicate," Dan answered. "You have to be careful not to squish him."
"You just put him up here by my head," Harvey said. "And I'll lie with him close to me."

So while I made the bed and folded diapers in the next room, Elijah fell asleep next to Harvey listening to TinTin. Compounding the sweetness of my almost-five-year-old, it seems we finally have a baby who goes to sleep when you put him on his back. Again, I could not tell you how to make that happen on purpose.

Harvey has always been a socially sensitive child, which is both good and bad. It's like he's on the exact opposite end of the spectrum from autistic. He is so aware of what a social situation demands that it sometimes overwhelms him, especially if he thinks people are demanding certain behavior from him. But once he feels he's mastered the demanded behavior, he is ALL ABOUT IT. Whereas kid's church used to be a fearful emotional nightmare, now Harvey comes home and tells how HE KNEW the right thing to do, but OTHER KIDS wouldn't sit in the circle. Similarly, he shows such exuberance for dressing for an occasion, not just church but painting, bike-riding, running and swimming, that I feel it is my special gift to help him pick clothes in the morning. I like to think he gets it from me, his love of socially appropriate attire, but Dan has a keen eye for fashion himself and will complain right along side me that women have lost all sense of what to wear to a wedding. Seriously, how hard is it to find something, anything, that's not black or white? And for the love of God, tits or ass but not BOTH. Oh Harvey, my love, I guess we're all going to have to work on our judgement issues together.

Beyond these details of social training, Harvey has a deep kindness that is beautiful to watch. Sometimes I worry about his level of influence on this brothers, especially when he's whining and Zion immediately picks it up. But really I know that everything will be fine, that his brothers will be happy and cared for, because Harvey loves them in a very real way that is beyond anything I can discipline or manufacture.

Harvey and Zion holding hands while running away from me

Zion is a different person from Harvey. He never wants to change his clothes unless they are soaking wet, and even then it's under protest. He loves his Mama, idolizes his big brother, and harbors some combination of those two feelings for his father, depending on how funny Dan is being at that moment and who else is hanging around. What I appreciate most about Zion's personality is his keen sense of humor. That kid is funny. At barely three he has more of a sense of timing and an innate understanding of what makes a joke than most grownups. Whereas Harvey skates by on repeating things he's heard (prefaced by emotionally screaming "LISTEN TO MY JOKE! LISTEN TO MY JOKE!") Zion notices opportunities for humor and tries things out that are original and hilarious. I mentioned a while ago one of the bath-time gems when he was just two: "I'm cleaning my penis - hey, CLEANIS!" He's always looking for an opportunity to slip in a laugh line, and he's mastered our favorite family running-gag "What's blank to you?" (As in: The snew lay on the ground - What's snew? Nothing, what's snew with you?) So if he's hands me pretend food he'll say, "It's bubba."
"What's bubba?" I ask.
Then Zion's eyes get very wide as he says triumphantly, "What's bubba TO YOU????"

Zion is also rather straight-forward with his emotions, which is good and bad. While Harvey's sensitivity seems to leave him open for wounding, Zion will just get mad and hit me. A lot. He really hits me a lot. He'll also break things and shake Elijah's seat, so he needs a good bit of monitoring when he's upset. But then again he's over it quickly, especially if you make him laugh. Having two children makes me appreciate the contrast.

can't catch me!

I have a third boy now and I am so curious about who he'll turn out to be. Right now he is a baby like any other, though I think back to Harvey and Zion's babyhood and I can trace essential elements of their personalities to the way they slept or resisted sleeping. Elijah seems to sleep well unattended, which makes me wonder if he's going to be a quiet observer, looking out at the world and taking everything in for a later date. A philosopher child would go good with the set, but thankfully it's not up to me. All my children surprise me, thrill me, and tax me. If it weren't so then the surprises thrills and taxations wouldn't be as vibrant.

Meanwhile, Elijah just started vocalizing last weekend. Now after nursing he'll look into my eyes and say "Agleh" while his face morphs into a huge heart-shaped smile.

worth all the work

In these moments I think, that just like the older two, this child is made out of goodness. My children, they're all 100% LOVE.

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