The boys and I had a great day in the woods yesterday. Gabriel kept pointing and chanting, “Trees, trees, trees…”—when he wasn’t yelling, “Dowm! “Waw!” [translation: Down! Walk!] Jonah never tired of informing me, “Mom see? I told you I should have worn my rain boots!” There was mud aplenty, but also icy ponds and plenty of sticks for gigging (digging) and sword fighting. Trying to navigate an especially mucky mud hole, I ran G into some brambly bushes, occasioning an inch-long scratch across his right cheek.
Jonah was engaged and fully present as we hiked. We talked. He was settled and content. He balanced on fallen tree trunks, ran ahead, fell behind, and found ways around the muddy marshes. The woods are one of his natural environments. He seems to have no need to repeat phrases from cartoons, and his silly voice (which we’ve named Dr. Goofenshmirtz—a riff on his beloved Dr. Doofenshmirtz of Phineas and Ferb fame) is non-existent. How I wish there was a school of the woods! Of course, there are models that approximate this (if only we could move to Germany), but the Waldorf school we tried in our vicinity didn’t know what to do or make of J’s penchant for not joining in or immediately following the herd, not to mention his rocking/spinning/rolling about. They just weren’t equipped (and there’s the tuition to consider).
This morning as we prodded J through his morning get-ready-for-school routine, the disconnect so absent yesterday was in full, and hilarious, force. Shoes on and dressed, I sent him to fetch his fleece from the rack on the back porch. A few minutes later (after prompting him again when he got sidetracked by the climber in the front room), I heard Jonah say, “I can’t find my school shoes Anywhere!” John’s response: “They’re on your feet.” Jonah: “O, I am So Silly!” In the time it took for him to receive the instruction from me and walk to the back porch, he had forgotten what he was looking for and redirected himself to shoes. When all else fails, shoes!
Usually the breakdown isn’t quite that bad, but I feel for the kid. J struggles with this pretty much all of the time. Usually we’re just giving him verbal prompts (sometimes 3, sometimes 5, sometimes what feels like 20 times) to complete a task. But those times when he simply does it, especially when he’s doing a “job” for me, he’s so proud of himself. “I did it mom!” he’ll shout to all corners of the house.
I came across this quote from Salman Rushdie, and while he’s speaking more in terms of human relationship than task completion, I like the way it applies to J (especially the use of the word “bounce”):
Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart.
Maybe I’ll tattoo that on my wrist so that I can slowly learn to take J’s perpetual bouncing (metaphorically and physically speaking) in stride. Most of it just doesn’t matter. That is to say, getting sidetracked can be a whole lot of fun. I’m just so terribly task-oriented (which has its upside). See a task and do it. It rubs me wrong when people don’t finish what they start. Immediately. My problem, obviously, not his.