In the past, at milestone ages for K, I have taken a snapshot in time. What does he like, what does he say, what can he do, what does he know, etc. The inherent nature of that is “what have we taught him?”. I could do that again – he’s a sharp kid, and I enjoy having things like that to look back on and help me remember the details at each stage.
But I think the more important thing to take note of right now…the better way to talk about K as a 3 year old…is to tell you what he has taught me this year.
He has taught me patience. In the typical sense, he has of course taught us patience by testing it frequently. Three has been a tough year at times. But I’ve learned MORE about patience by observing and appreciating his. I am painfully aware of how often I say “in a second” when I mean “in an hour”. Or when I say “maybe later” and mean “probably not”. He waits a lot. And I am trying very hard to deliver more often.
He is an even better kid when I am a better parent. This has been a heck of a year. The emotional, mental, and financial stress comes and goes in waves. But there is always an undercurrent. And I know when I am letting things bother me, because I can see it in him. He has spent weeks with family. Our boys had 6 different hospital stays the past 12 months, each of which pulled me away. We moved states, homes, schools, churches, social groups. He is surprisingly resilient amidst change. But the one thing that he needs to be consistent and reliable in order to thrive in otherwise changing environments – is me. If I am consistent, he can handle the rest. I’m working on that too.
He has taught me about love. He loves his brothers. Not because he is supposed to, or because he loves me, or because they remind him of a loved one who has gone through something similar. (Those are all great reasons mind you, and are why many of you are here). K’s love for his brothers is pure, unplanned, and genuine. Typical brothers would be sharing toys by now. Chasing each other around the house. Building, destroying, throwing, jumping. Loving loudly. But this love is a whisper. I asked K what his favorite thing about his brothers is. And he said their hugs and kisses. In reality, they hardly do either of those things. But they receive both in abundance from him, and in K’s mind it is reciprocated each time.
He has taught me to never underestimate him. Even at this age, kids are very smart. They pick up on emotional and social cues more than we tend to give them credit for. I used to worry about what he could handle. How all of this would impact him. How the growing needs of the boys might make it harder to give him a good childhood. Instead, K has grown right along with all of us. Just as I am learning new medical terms, treatments, and ways to handle issues, K is learning too. He knows not to push their chairs anymore because of their G-tube cords. He knows how to tuck a rattle in to their fists. He knows singing to them makes them happy, and he’s gently sang to them during more than one seizure while we try to keep things calm. He knows to tell me if Nolan’s eyes “jump”. He knows Candy Land is a game we can all play, and he spins for them. He looks forward to getting home from school each day so he can see which pajamas they are wearing, and put on his matching set.
Every now and then he sneaks in a “someday”, and says the sort of thing that really tugs at my heart strings. Some day he and his brothers “might be real superheroes”. Some day he and his brothers “will be big and strong like daddy”. Some day he and his brothers “will run so fast”. But not often. And the reason that’s significant to me is not because it might mean he understands and has given up. (Although we are very honest with him.) It’s because he doesn’t waste much time wondering what the future might hold, or wishing for things that have yet to happen. He just lives today. And loves Landon and Nolan exactly as they are.
He will be 4 tomorrow. I once again look forward to watching him learn and grow for another year. But now, I also know I can look forward to learning from him.