James is my swashbuckling, treasure-finding, intrepid six year old. He is the first born son and he’s stereotypically male. His perfectly honed fight or flight reflexes are weighed heavily toward fight (and all that implies). He has a total fascination with boobs (unfortunately, my boobs – that’s what I get for nursing the kid until he was almost two and subsequently nursing two other younglings). He’s a serious and sensitive young man, though highly competitive. He has a very. very. hard time admitting defeat. He probably sounds like a lot of other boys that you know.
James is an actor. He is Indiana Jones. He is a Jedi Knight. He is a pirate. He writes his own scripts and likes to act them out. For quiet time he writes his own books or builds his own lego fortresses and plays imaginatively in them. Also, he’s a Nintendo prodigy.
He’s also extremely nurturing – you can practically see his little heart bursting with love as he dotes on his little sisters, passing down all of his wisdom and bowel movement jokes. He takes his responsibilities seriously.
He produces enough energy to run a small country. The kid just runs and runs and runs.
I remember when he was around 18 months old, my mom and I watched him run around in circles through my kitchen and into my living room, around…and around… for around a half hour. It was one hundred and eight laps, I believe. Just because he could. That energy has been channeled into sports, and he now completely outstrips kids while playing soccer during the summer.
When he was younger, his senses weren’t always “in synch”. He was easily overstimulated. His emotions were like tsunamis – incredible highs and incredible lows. He had a hard time communicating. Communication, like a lot of other things, just didn’t come to him naturally like it does many kids.
He is on, what we call, the “bland” diet or the “beige” diet. It’s been a struggle (more like WWIII) to get him to eat vegetables and meat. Even now, veggies will only be eaten raw and if they aren’t mixed with anything, and he’s very particular about the sort of meat he eats. Lordy help if I serve a casserole or other mixed food – he’d rather starve.
I don’t really believe in reincarnation, but if I did I would think that this was his first life. It was like he was doing everything for the first time. Everything was shock and awe with James when he was younger, and still today to a lesser degree. When I had Julia, she was the complete opposite. Almost everything came so easily. Like she’d done it a hundred times before. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually taught Julia anything. While with James, it was practice, practice, practice and practice some more. I was a drill sergeant.
I found, to teach him anything, I would have to break things down into the most ridiculously tiny steps. Once the light went on, it was on for life… but up until that point, he was a frustrated dude and before I started to understand him better, I was an extremely frustrated (and concerned) mommy.
He also had (still has sometimes) issues with hypoglycemia, which I’m pretty sure were the cause of the craziest tantrums a person ever did see. We called them “episodes”.
When James was 2 or 3, we were at church and he had one of his episodes. I remember our Pastor (who also happens to be our brother-in-law) elbow me in the rib and with a wink, cocked his head toward my son and said, “Ya know, I’ve done exorcisms before.” (I think he was kidding???) James was, in all seriousness, having a Linda Blair moment. And the worst part was there was nothing that you could do about it. Once an episode started, it was like an avalanche. There was no going back. You basically had to wait it out, until he passed out.
I think all parents say this, but the kid is incredibly lucky he is so beautiful. I was a fairly young, first-time mom, with zero experience with kids and not a whole lot more world experience. I had no idea what I was doing – I just took it one day at a time and I was lucky to have some really amazing mommy role models. I’m not a crier, and there were times I would fight to hold back tears, thinking that somehow all the problems James was having were a result of something I was or wasn’t doing. Or worse, that he was genetically “flawed” (ridiculous, I know) and there was nothing I could do to help him. Or worse yet, that those couple nights of binge drinking before I found out I was pregnant had permanently scarred him.
Thankfully (praise God!), he grew out of it. Gradually and not without a lot of effort on our part, his feet found the earth and his violent mood swings became farther between until eventually they stopped completely.
Even despite it all, I desperately loved him. I loved (and still love) my little boy to the point of infatuation. My cup overflows. There’s something so special about him, knowing how things can be so difficult for him to understand and though he sometimes whines about how life is treating him, he bears it and has made it brilliantly through every battle that life has thrown his way. And, like I said, he’s gorgeous. According to a friend’s daughter, he’s even more gorgeous than Justin Beiber. Which helps. Let’s face it, life is just easier for the beautiful.