21 December, 2010

Lead me to the Gate

We're happy around here. Vacation for the kids has begun. Descartes is taking some time off. We'll see family, and snow, and the beach, and most of our Great State as we traipse up and down in our all-wheel-drive van. If you ever buy a Toyota Sienna... pay extra for the AWD. It is so awesome to drive right up and through those chain control check points.

We had Thanksgiving at our house this year. My Tahoe family came down and Descartes' parents came across the bridge, and we had a lovely, lovely day. My sister made most of the food, or maybe she didn't, but since she brought food from Tahoe, beautiful home-made food, and then she helped me here, I think she did most of the work. Descartes' parents were precious with the kids, of course, and they had fun decorating the Turkey Lurkey cake.  This was not a tradition I had growing up, but it is a great way to entertain the kids, especially right before dinner is served when every one is antsy. In our family you frost a chocolate sheet cake (okay Descartes' mother does all of this...) and you let the children coat the entire thing in candy, with the goal that the cake look something like the Turkey it was cut out to be. It's really gross, and awesome, and sickeningly sweet. The tradition we have added with this generation is that I let the kids eat a piece of that cake for breakfast the next day. I love being that kind of bad mom.

There's lots of new lately. Mostly things look the same, and certainly to the untrained eye, to an outsider who doesn't notice the nuances of our life, nothing looks different, but there are some great things happening.

Late afternoon on Thanksgiving day, when it came time for us to say goodbye to Cookie and Papa, Jake was very upset as we shut the kitchen door, and watched them walk away. The little kids wanted to walk the grandparents to the gate, and as I said yes, it occurred to me that Jake probably wanted to go too. So I asked him, and he said, "Uh ye....ah!" So Jake went to the gate. The little guys peeled off to play before they even made it down the back steps, but Jake went to the gate and stood there until he saw his grandparent's car drive away. And as the car passed by the gate he raised his hand, a sort of mix between a salute and a wave. And when they had driven off he turned around and walked down the breezeway and back into the house.

Relationship. Social awareness. Understanding family dynamics.

We're also seeing something else that seems like no big deal to most families... Jake is beginning to lead people to where  he wants to go. He took Descartes' hand and pulled him, gently, towards the door in Tahoe because he so desperately wanted to go outside. He took Squid's daughter Iz's hand and walked her around the entire bounce house party. He took Uncle Jaster's hand and led him to the door (once again.. that boy really likes playing outside!) He took my hand just today and led me to the breakfast counter for a snack.

Communication. Intent. Calm insistence. Proprioceptive awareness.

And he's been snuggling. Really snuggling, on the couch, in the bed, and nuzzling in when we give him a hug. This month we've spent at least two rainy days snuggled on the couches in the living room, watching his favorite show MythBusters, or a movie. It might make us a lazy family, but we are trying to let Jake lead. I watched almost all of The Princess and the Frog with Jake at one end of he couch, and me at the other, or feet snuggling and twisting under the blanket. And just this weekend he took a rest with his head on a pillow between Descartes' and mine, for almost 40 minutes. He had one arm around his dad's arm and his other around my shoulders. We were closer to him, for a longer than we had been in years- years.

Affection. Preference. Increased attention span.

We have seen so many little things that amount to such big long term changes. He has been happy and healthy and present, and it has been wonderful. In this season of thanksgiving, I could not be more grateful.

We head out tomorrow to Southern California. The rain should be plentiful, and the food delicious, and seeing family will be wonderful in spite of the obstacles of changing our routine and leaving all of our comfort zones. If nothing else, our family loves a good road trip. Although there is one other thing Jake has been doing lately...bugging his little sister. Very normal brother-sister teasing: sneaking a single cookie out of her bowl when she walks away, taking her doll in the car, and laughing when she throws a fit, or tapping her arm until she gives in and shares her snack on a road trip!
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