They’re gorgeous and sweet. I’m sure that has something to do with it. But Jonah will sometimes sit out on the sidewalk, across the street from their house, and wait for long periods of time, just to catch a glance of them on the driveway or to hear a shriek of play from their backyard. We’ll be indoors when he stops and goes statue—“Do you hear that? I think it’s the girls,” sometimes adding, “I think they want to play with me.” Walking down the street he’ll go up to a stranger, out of the blue, and proclaim, “The girls live across the street in a white house with a red door.” No other reference is necessary. They are the girls. They live in the white house. They exist on a plane unto themselves.
Jonah’s always liked his girls. It started with Liz, his first babysitter, who was also a fixture at church (an added boon for us, as he would sometimes spend a good bit of the liturgy snuggling her up). Jonah wore his first suit in Liz’s honor, as a ring bearer in her wedding.
Then came Tessa. Tessa was our first go-to. We taught her how to use the sling, how to rock-n-roll/ bounce/dance him to sleep, wearing him for the entirety of his nap. Then how to use a front pack. When he finally got too big for these contraptions, she learned how to gently but firmly keep him in bed, snuggling him to sleep and often sleeping alongside him (to keep him asleep). They took long long walks to the park. They hugged trees. She taught him the bumblebee song.
And let us not forget Martha (“Mar-fa” in Jonah speak, wearing the yellow). Martha was there when Jonah finally started talking. Both she and Tessa did simple signing before that. Martha snuggled to sleep and was a pro at extricating herself. They learned to do puzzles. They walked to Ann’s Teacher Store where Jonah would con the staff into giving him something from their stash—a squishy ball, a bouncy ball filled with water and tiny confetti, a rubber frog. Martha would report back, letting me know what sparked Jonah’s interest (anything that holds Jonah’s interest for more than a few moments has always been of great interest to us). They spent hours slinging a trackball to the apex of our roof, watching it roll back and chasing it across the yard.
And Cynthia (pronounced “Sin-fee-uh,” with little G on her lap). Cynthia was there when Jonah’s imagination finally started to roll. She has this doll named Jack Thomas that lives in her car. Jonah and Cynthia and Jack Thomas would climb trees and ride to the park. Once, Jack even got to spend the night (by accident, in the pouch underneath the buggy). Cynthia was great about bringing a bag full of craft supplies. Every once in a while, she managed to help J create something, though most days, he’d rather just throw her glitter to the four winds.
Back to those girls across the street. They have names of course—Maddy (Madeline), Hilary, Josie (Josephine). John and Jonah called over today to ask to play. The girls shortly appeared at our door, asking for Jonah. No matter what J’s doing, he’ll drop it for the girls. Boots and coat and out the door. Each took a hand and off they went. Like I said, they’re sweet; and they put up with a lot of J’s particularities about the way things “have” to be. They’re also resilient. They’ve been witness to a handful of pretty intense meltdowns. Doesn’t phase them a whit. Back at our door they appear. It’s a mystery, the way we favor certain humans—one part attraction, one part proximity. I’m 37 and just learning the wonders of the neighborhood.