Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Birthday to My #2 Grandson

   My lil' homie, my middle grandson, Darius, turned two years old yesterday! Yes, he was a New Year's Eve baby. Actually, he was due before Christmas of 2009. After a week of being overdue, my daughter headed to the hospital with contractions. Fifty-six hours after my daughter arrived at the hospital, Mr. Darius finally made his appearance, at about 3:30 in the morning on New Year's Eve 2009 (just couldn't make things convenient, could you?). Seems like he came out with his head up and eyes wide open and he hasn't missed a trick since!

   Two years later, Mr. Darius is a bundle of energy, a perpetual motion machine, yet one who will during the course of all that movement will some how manage to simultaneously observe and study what is around him while buzzing and bouncing about. He will slow down long enough at times to inspect, poke, pull apart, push buttons on (or study his mother or me doing so), or otherwise investigate various items in the house (who needs toys?) until he figures out how to operate them as well as (or occasionally better than) we can. Mr. Darius is also very particular (and animated) about his likes and (especially) his dislikes. And most of all, Mr. Darius is thoroughly convinced that he runs stuff  up in this camp...and that I am his right-hand man...

   All of this means that when my daughter and Mr. Darius come through the door, there is an immediate one-boy, laughing, screeching stampede to wherever I happen to be (here comes trouble!).
He'll come charging at me full speed ahead, crashing into one of my arthritic knees and wrapping them in an embrace, accompanied by a high-pitched, drawn out "HI!", then just as quickly, he sprouts an extra pair of arms and legs and heads off into what seems like every direction at once as we begin our battle/dance of him turning on / playing with every object in the room that he can get his hands on, while I chase around fussing and smacking his hands (which turns out not to be a particularly effective deterrent for him)and turning the stuff off. If he's in my bedroom, he will invariably pull up a chair to my music keyboard, and sit there awhile playing the keys, and scrolling through the different sounds. I generally allow him to play with the keyboard without interruption (although we frequently battle over control of the volume), mainly to encourage his love of music and wanting to play the instrument, and also out of fascination (jealousy?) that he can navigate his way through all the buttons to find favorite sounds and beats better than I can, and more importantly that he, without any hands on teaching from me, has some pretty good form in his hand position, and even in trying to do stuff like glissandos and arpeggios. How does he know how to do this? Did it come naturally? Did he learn it from watching me? I don't know, but it endlessly fascinates me, and he can't even play a song yet.

   At some point, Mr. Darius will tire of the surroundings of whatever room we're in, and decides he wants to move on to another room. And when Mr. Darius wants to go, that means I'm going too...he really thinks he is running the show; and since I inevitably end up stopping whatever I've been doing (or trying to do) to be led by the hand to the next destination, I guess maybe he is, sort of...A few weeks ago, an interesting thing happened: after grabbing my hand to lead me out of my bedroom to go downstairs, Mr. Darius first led me to everything in the room that was turned on or pulled out and proceeded to either turn it off or put it away. Then he dragged towards the door, stopped at the light switch, and pointed up to it for me to turn off. Ever since then, he's been very insistent on being energy conscious and cleaning up whatever havoc he had brought into a room (a lesson I wish his mother would learn). So it's gratifying to know he's paying attention to what I do...

   Finally, after a few hours of playing musical rooms with Mr. Darius, he (and I) will inevitably start to tire. The countdown to bed time can go one of three ways: 1) he will go into "obnoxious sleepy" mode (you parents of young children know just what I'm talking about), where nothing will console him, and he just has to cry and fight that sleep monster until it takes him out; 2) he will get so tired, he won't either bother with a fight, but just grab a stuffed doll and/or play radio and head straight for his bedroom without resistance; or 3) won't fight sleep, but require entertainment of some sort before dozing off (like reading a book to him).

   When he got sleepy on his birthday night, Mr. Darius led me by the hand into the living room, turned on the TV, then led me over to the switch for the ceiling fan. When I turned it on, he protested until only the fan was running and the light was out. When he was satisfied with that, he pulled me over to the sofa, and after we sat down, he grabbed a pillow and put it against my side, then yanked the afghan off of the back of the sofa and wrapped himself in it as he laid his head on the pillow and snuggled up against me. And while I watched TV, he stared up at the rotating ceiling fan with a sense of calm and fascination...
   Mr. Darius didn't quite make it to midnight to ring the new year in before he drifted off to sleep. After I watched the big ball drop to bring in 2012, I stared up at the fan for a moment, and tried to see what it was that my grandson sees up there that capture his undivided attention and help put him peacefully to sleep. And although I didn't come up with an answer, I set aside for a moment the sometime aggravation of being led about by a toddler all over the house, and forgot for a moment about the two wine glasses he had broken, or about the mess he had made when he climbed onto my bed with a half-eaten frosted cherry Pop Tart in his hand, and instead celebrated the joy and energy Mr. Darius has brought into my life, and said a little prayer that he never loses that sense of fascination and wonder as he grows up in life taking apart his world piece by piece and mastering how it all works. Happy Birthday, Mr. Darius!

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