Jack Jack is rarely called that these days. He's more of a Buster. He's a sweet boy and he just asked me, "Is far away I'm going to have my dentist appointment?" and today, when rubbing two hands together to spread the sanitizer after shopping: "I'm getting it in the between parts like Dr. Tani does." Mind you, his last doctor visit with Dr. Nagatani was over a year ago, and that is how he does it. On the way to the Clarks' the other night, while air drumming in the backseat, he asked, "Mama, what are bones made of?" His coloring is careful, and he frequently writes his name with the letters out of order, though when asked he will proudly exclaim, "J-A-C-K!" He draws irregular polygons with ink pens on scratch paper and after he's made a shape that surprises even himself, he announces decidedly what it is. If he's not the center of attention, like right now as I type these words, he throws an assertive fit and climbs in between me and the keyboard, clicking an ink pen annoyingly until you just can't ignore him anymore. He's very sure of himself and what is rightfully his, namely Mama's everything. He's inherited H's penchant for drama and waves of emotion that overcome rationality. But he's handsome, and he spontaneously declares, "I love you" as frequently as he derides whatever I've just asked of him. Even in a mad fit, a parent's sideways glance is enough to crack him up and break the tension. If there's a word to sum up his current phase, it's "disagreeable"-- there's definitely a little separation going on right now. I've started to resort to a lot of reverse psychology since, if I want him to do X, he will no doubt think Y is a better idea. Jack is telling me, "I is for ice cube and I is for idobe." He makes up a lot of words. 'Sorkin' is another one. He is weaseling his arm underneath mine right now and claiming that was his spot all along. See what I mean? Disagreeable. But last night, at 3:30 in the morning when E and I heard him cry out in his sleep, he came into our bed after his bad dream and wanted to "hold a ninny." His warm body felt so small. His hugs are still like his baby cuddles, on the collarbone just-so, so that your cheek can lean over on his ear and you feel like one being. Jack comes home from school wired from being so good and quiet all day. On those evenings, he spins around and talks too loudly, and rocks out to music, and runs through the house. There's nothing that beats his greeting when he sees I am there to take him home from school. His "Mama!", his run with outstretched arms, his reassured smile.
Harper is the kindergartener who cares. She cares, deeply, about her school work, her friends, her brother, learning piano, her outfits, her teachers... She's entered a mellower stage at the same time that Buster has begun to be more difficult, and we are thankful that the two haven't yet coordinated their tougher periods. She too-easily gives in to Jack when he's obstinate about something the rest of us can see is inconsequential or just-to-be-difficult. Most of the time, when he wants what she has, she gives in to appease his mood. All the while, she describes Jack as "a good boy, a perfect brother." Harper reads Discover Magazine and tells me that "Black holes spin and suck. There is one black hole that is bigger than Mars. Nothing is stronger than the suck of a black hole." She enjoys quiet nap skips, reading, dressing and redressing her Polly Pockets, or doing her Singapore math pages, which she tears through like she's being chased. She has her first admirer at school, Philip Papanikolas, who is quite handsome and poised like the Greek of his name. Apparently it was the day of the preschool Halloween play that Philip's adoration began-- she was striking in her bat costume. And she really beamed onstage. They wrote a book together, Sunny Days, about the unrequited nature of their affection. In the middle was a picture Philip drew, outlining what he hoped of Harper: where the boy's dialogue bubble read, "I love you," the girl's read, "I love you back." It ended with "they missed and missed and misssssssssed." Harper Darper does not know that her parents are lobbying for her education right now, in talks with teachers and principals and assistant superintendents, looking for short-term and long-term solutions. She does not know that she is the inspiration for a whole new thing-- a school for her and for kids kinda like her. Harper has mastered pumping herself on the swings in the last month or so, and she loves describing what her feet are reaching (Mama's head, the roofline) as she glides back and forth. Once, when I arrived to pick her up from school one afternoon, I found her swinging with Philip holding court beside her at the leg of the swingset. The teacher told me that earlier in the recess, she'd been teaching him the ballet positions and he had attempted each. She's a captivating and compelling girl, that Harper.