This post is about my grandson at Christmas 2007, when he was three, and his Mommy Karin while she was still alive and well. We lost her the following Christmas.
KEVIN’S CHRISTMAS 2007
And his amazing idiosyncrasies
While Grampy and I waited at baggage claim for our cases, no one was appearing to greet us, yet we had already spoken on the phone, so we knew that they were in the airport. I called them again. They were waiting at a different baggage claim. In a few minutes, we saw them enter our area on the other side of a line of chairs separating us and scouring the crowd to find us. Once they pointed us out to Kevin, he started racing to the end of the line of seats, rounded the corner and continued running at top speed into my arms to the amusement of everyone around. He expended all of my strength as he leaped into my arms with great force, and I swung him around in a big hug.
On the way home, we stopped at a fast food type of restaurant. We noted there was a sink beside the ordering counter which seemed a bit weird until we remembered they do serve ribs. After ordering and finding our table, Kevin went to the sink to wash his hands. There was a straw paper wrapper on the floor. After dying his hands with a paper towel, he used the towel to pick up the wrapper and threw both away in the trash. Mr. Neato.
Christmas CDs were playing in the car on our way home. We discovered that Kevin knows all the basic carols word for word. Not only that, but he knows what carol is coming next on the CD. He does an excellent job of carrying a tune for a three year old! The last time I was with them in early November, we went to a Saturday morning Boz party at a local Christian bookstore where they were introducing the new Boz Christmas DVD. After some preliminary crafts and a story, the movie began with the Boz theme song. There were about 40 children and parents present. No one sang along with the theme song except Kevin who sang every word loud and clear. Other children turned and looked at him while parents smiled, and Karin and I were bursting with pride and cracking up until tears rolled down our cheeks.
Kevin has an amazing attention span which has probably developed from being read to before every nap and bedtime. When shopping for Christmas books for him before meeting up at Walt Disney World at Thanksgiving time, I saw a picture book of The Nutcracker. I thought – this boy has a good enough attention span to listen to this long story. I was right; he loves the book. So Karin wondered if he might be ready to see the ballet. She started playing the Nutcracker music for him and bought tickets. He loved it, and asked to go again! While eating a meal accompanied by the Nutcracker music, when he heard a whip crack, he said that that was when the Nutcracker was broken. Also, he demonstrated to us how the performers had danced on their toes.
The usual reading routine now is one story before nap and three at night. I took over doing the reading and putting him to bed while we were there. When he was younger, I literally dropped him into bed while singing Rock-a-bye Baby, but he is too heavy to do that game. Also, in those days, he was zipped into bed under a cat tent. Now, with the freedom of a toddler bed, he resisted even lying down before I left the room. I tried to repeat the tradition we had with our children of singing the second verse of Away in a Manger as a bedtime prayer, but he was too wound up for that. Fortunately, the visual monitor does keep him in bed as he is yelled at if he leaves his bed.
Kevin has a book of carols. Together we sang through the entire book at bedtime early in our visit. Once when he and I were alone in the house, we brought the carol book downstairs to his keyboard. We rigged up a way to set it on the widowsill, wedged in place with the blinds pulled to rest on top of the book. We sat on separate little stools and sang through the entire book again while I played the tunes on his keyboard. He loved that! He asked several times to do it again.
The cats like chewing on things which make them sick – like Christmas trees. Karin tried to keep stuffed animals lined up under the tree before Christmas Day to try to prevent the cats from having easy reach to the branches. As Kevin and I watched James wiggle his way behind the tree, he told Mommy, “James is behind the tree!”
She replied, “What should we do?”
“Shoot him!” Where did he pick that up?!
Christmas Eve we attended the service at their church which included a children’s sermon. When the kids were sent back to their seats, Kevin stayed at the front. Daddy had to go to the front and bring him back. That was a flashback to when his Mommy was 3 years old and her class stood on the steps at the base of the platform to sing a special song during a Christmas program. At the end, all the kids hopped down off the steps, but Karin stood there while her teachers beckoned to her and the congregation giggled. I knew exactly what was wrong: she would not go down steps without holding someone’s hand or using a handrail. She would stand there until someone extended a hand to her no matter what. Eventually, a teacher went up to her to encourage her down, stretching a hand to her; then all was fine, and she happily joined her class in the pew. Kevin was not on steps; he had no reason to stay behind except that he does like being the center of attention and probably reveled in making the congregation giggle because his Daddy had to come for him.
At 6:30 AM Christmas morning, I heard Kevin’s door open, splashing the light from his room into my eyes, followed by, “Bockba Nina!” Up I jumped, and within seconds everyone was standing in his doorway exclaiming that Christmas had come!
The Faulkner tree has a large, beautiful angel as a tree topper. Since Karin plays the harp, and the tree is full of harps and angels, it is most appropriate. But Kevin wanted a star at the top. Karin arranged with Santa to bring a star for the top of the tree. Christmas morning, Kevin entered the room exclaiming about the beauty of the tree with presents, casually mentioning, ‘Oh, there’s a star!” A couple of hours later, he asked, “Daddy, how did you get the star up there? Did you climb on a chair? How did you get it up there without messing up the ornaments?” He made no assumptions that Santa had brought it.
His bicycle and shopping cart were unwrapped. He made no comments on the obvious gifts, but went to the stockings which were in the shopping cart and began unloading his stocking. It was like he intuitively knew that the family tradition is to open the stockings first. Unhurriedly, he went through each item in his stocking until it was empty. During this time, he noted that Santa had eaten his cookie and drunk the milk. He said, “Oh, no! Santa ate his cookies,” picked up the empty dishes and took them to the kitchen. When he was finished with his stocking, he distributed the rest of the stockings to the appropriate persons.
Since he did such a great job of passing out the stockings, he was elected to be Santa. He dutifully carried each gift to an adult to find out who it was for, then delivered the gift. After the first one was opened, without prompting, he wadded up the wrapping paper, and Grampy was ready with a trash bag. From then on, after every gift was opened, he threw away the paper before choosing another gift to open. He assisted most of us opening our gifts. What a great helper in every way! As he opened a gift for himself, he would sometimes ask again as he opened it who it was from. It was very important to him to know who had given him each gift. Finally, he did take note of his bicycle, put his hand on it, and commented, “Thank you, Mommy and Daddy, for the bike. It’s what I really wanted!” Later he said, “I really like it! It takes me where I want to go.” He was excited about everything, but very much in control of himself. Near the end of the four hours of gift opening (with many breaks in between to enjoy each gift and to have some munchies for breakfast), he began spinning in circles which meant that he was going into overload mode. Mommy and Daddy did some techniques to prevent a total breakdown.
As the designated person began praying each mealtime, Kevin interjected with several sentences – thanking God for our food and various other things, always including “His Son Jesus” and closing the prayer with “Amen.” He prays more easily and with more sincerity than many adults!
Every morning we were there, he would awaken around 7 AM, turn on his light, open the door, and call to us from around the corner. Since I was there, Mommy and Daddy could sleep in as long as they were able while Kevin and I did his morning routine through dressing. We usually played in his room until others were up. One morning, I noted that one of his puzzle shelves contained empty puzzle bases and the second shelf was full of all the pieces to a dozen puzzles. I am sure that Mommy was not happy about all the puzzles begin dumped together and stacked them on the shelves to deal with later. I thought this would make a great grandma/grandson activity, and it did! He helped me sort each piece to the right base, then we proceeded to put all of them together. I noted, even though he used the face of each piece to sort to the right puzzle, he concentrates on the shape for putting the puzzle together. His large floor puzzles (with no base board) are in the family room. We did a Christmas one which does not have four square sides, but is shaped by the picture. He continues to be a puzzler with abilities beyond a three year old.
We said our goodbyes to everyone at bedtime Christmas night telling Kevin that the next time we see him will be when we go to get the babies to be adopted from Vietnam. Our final morning, Grampy and I awakened at 5:15 AM to be ready for our taxi at 6:30 AM. We hoped to leave the house without disturbing anyone. The cab did not show. In our attempted silence, we heard Kevin’s door open, saw the flood of light in the hall, and heard a wee voice calling which aroused Mommy and Daddy. After a few calls with a dispatcher who barely spoke English, Karin and Steve offered to drive us to the airport. Kevin wasn’t happy about going in his PJs, but did as he was asked. After our second cheerless goodbyes, we were off.