Today is the last day he’s six. He gets more complex and mysterious by the year. So mysterious that I can’t even write about it.
This post is inspired by Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that educates, connects and empowers the championing of vaccines as one of the most cost effective ways to save the lives of children in the world’s hardest to reach places.
My son is smack-dab in the middle of his sixth year, entering what child development folks call “middle childhood.” A number of physical, cognitive, and social milestones mark this time: by this point, kids can dress themselves, catch balls, follow a beat, begin to show independence from family. They start the swing from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” and grow to be able to describe their thoughts and feelings in greater depth.
We’re extremely fortunate that so far, our boy has been more healthy than not, thanks to the vaccinations and medical care we’ve been able to provide him. When he has become sick, we’ve seen him through to well again. So our milestones are sweet, interesting, fun ones, and he seems to be arriving at them more or less on time.
I’m guessing on that, of course, because we tend to make sense of our kids using yardsticks of our own fashioning, derived from our read of our kids (“Do they seem happy?” “Do they seem at ease in their worlds?”). If we’re worried, we becalm ourselves with the rhetorical exercise practiced by so many parents before us. “Do we really think they will be engaging in ____ [insert worrisome behavior] by the time they’re ______ [insert age comfortingly far enough in the distance]?” So far, so totally okay.
This time I convinced him to get outside the vehicle as I washed it (last time: he stayed inside and listened to a Sondheim musical). He had that huge spray nozzle thingie in his hands for a mere moment, and he instantly understood why Baba has so dadgum much fun washing the vehicles. And he was danged good at it, too.
I tried to convince him that going on a dump run was about as much fun, maybe more. “Huge piles of garbage, taller than that building there!” I said. “Ginormous tractors just pushing the garbage in a huge pile! So much flying dust they have to spray a mist of water down on the pile every so often! Can you think of anything more fun than that?”
As it happens, he could. Spraying the nozzle thingie with soap and water all over the side of the truck. I’m going to keep working on him about the dump run.