Awhile back, a friend of mine wrote down her email address for me on this funny little monkey sticky note.
After seeing the note on the kitchen table, Jack called for paper,
crayons, and scissors. I obliged.
He created his own funny little monkey.
And then began creating an entire jungle.
He drew lions and tigers and bears. (I know. Oh my.)
And elephants and dolphins and bats.
And giraffes and red-faced blue-horned flower-toed, um, creatures.
And … um. Okay. I don't know what this is.
But, you know. WOW. Instantly, simply inspired. From a funny little monkey sticky note.
The lesson; there's something to inspire you. Right now. Right in front of your face. Right now. Look around.
I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years now. I kinda know the ropes. But raising a vegetarian? I'm only five years in. Essentially a newbie. Which makes Jack a newbie too.
Case in point. Kindergarten. I wasn't aware of this, but the day after Halloween, kindergarteners begin a month's worth of celebrating what, for many, has become the focal point of Thanksgiving. TURKEYS. The kindergarteners get into the spirit of Thanksgiving by crafting scores of the birds. Cut-and-color turkeys. Cotton-ball turkeys. Paper-plate turkeys. Coffee-filter turkeys. Handprint turkeys. Turkeys embellished with waddles, wings, and feathers that feature all types of mixed media. Some really fantastic turkeys have come home in Jack's backpack. Surprisingly artistic, given the subject.
What also came home in Jack's backpack was a note to parents, letting them know that kindergarteners would be treated to a Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch. With kindergarten lasting only 1/2 day here, it was a very special treat indeed–Jack had never eaten school lunch before! After receiving the note, Jack and I talked in the car about the upcoming Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch:
Me: "So, a Thanksgiving lunch sounds really fun! You get to eat at school like the big kids who stay at school all day."
Jack: "So, will they make me eat turkey at the lunch?"
"No, baby, they won't make you eat anything. You get to pick and choose what you want on your plate. If you don't want something, you just tell the lunch ladies and they'll skip it."
"Okay. But mom, what does turkey look like?"
Hmm. I was stunned into a short silence. Certainly the turkeys served on Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day were not going to look like the turkeys Jack had been crafting all month long. Jack has seen a real turkey here, but that turkey was alive and running around. What to do?
Ah, yes. I knew the subscription I bought from my niece for a school fundraiser last year would come in handy some day. It's Better Homes and Gardens to the rescue!
Me: "I have a magazine at home that's all about Thanksgiving dinner. I bet they'll have a picture of turkey in it somewhere. I'll show it to you when we get home. Then you'll know exactly what it will look like at school lunch."
We arrive home. I get out the magazine. I find a full-page color photo and point out to Jack what turkey looks like.
Jack: "Can I tear out this page and put it in my backpack? On the day we have the Thanksgiving school lunch. Just so I remember what it looks like."
Me: Sure, honey, we can do that."
Here is a photo of the photo, all ready for Jack's backpack on
Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day.
Jack enjoyed his Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch on Thursday. He ate mashed potatoes, peas, bread, and a pumpkin goody. Did he need to use the photo after all? Nope. He told his kind teacher that he was a vegetarian, and she helped him along.
I'm so glad she did. Because, after taking a closer look at the photo above, I noticed the caption on the page:
"Loin of Pork."
Geez. I really have been a vegetarian for a long time.
Whatever you choose to grace your table with on Thursday, here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Since this fiasco occurred in our home, Jack has matured. We recently started allowing him to use grown-up scissors for certain cutting tasks. But then, one day, I carelessly left them out in plain view. Jack quickly reverted back to his three-year-old ways.
In totally unrelated news, our little family has been talking about recycling a lot lately. To cut costs. To cut the environment some slack. To cut into our creativity and let it the heck out. Lotta cutting around here.
Me: "Geez, Jack. You've had that costume for so long, you've loved it so much. Now it's ruined. We might as well throw it in the garbage."
"Yeah, we might as well throw it away. You can't even find the legholes or armholes to put your legs and arms in anymore. It's just full of holes!"
"No, mom, no. Please don't, please don't throw it away."
"Well, what are you going to do with it?"
"Um, I dunno. But please don't throw it away."
[Jack pauses to make sure he's covered his bases. Then he remembers one more base.]
"And please don't recycle it. NO recycling."
Funny to hear and see how five-year olds take new information and apply it to their daily lives.
Okay, I admit it. We have a TV. And we use it. I monitor how much, but I'm not ashamed to admit we excitedly anticipate our favorite shows. For the adults? Dexter, Breaking Bad, and 30 Rock. For the boys? Mostly just Signing Time. Unless, of course, you count every superhero show on every cartoon-type network out there. So, that would be, um, Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, the Justice League, TMNT, and others, in every incarnation available. (I think Batman has like, six or seven different shows: Batman the Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Batman: The Brave and the Bold. On and on. Holy franchise, Batman.)
And for the whole family? American Idol. Every year. Every show.
Of course, I'm all about moderation. TV is fun, but so are lots of other things. So, we negotiate a little each day. And as Jack recently practiced writing his letters, I finally saw proof that we don't ONLY watch the superhero shows. We also watch our fair share of the glorified educational stuff.
Yep. Along with Ironman: Armored Adventures, we think Reading Rainbow rocks, too.
For those of you who have been following along for awhile, I need to tell you something incredible that happened this month. Jack turned five years old. FIVE. YEARS. OLD. I am officially the mama of a five year old. I'm feeling quite proud.
Jack, you have grown so much this past year. In shoe and shirt sizes, yes. But also in your mind and in your heart. You have transformed from a pant-leg hugging, bashful soul into a social butterfly who will walk right up to a new person, look them straight in the eye with a smile, and say, "Hi, I'm Jack!"
That's huge. Not even I can do that. And I'm 37.
You are gentle and thoughtful and helpful with Charlie, your little brother. You often introduce him to others by simply saying, "This is my baby." Yes. Just as much as ours, he is yours. And you his.
You have become intensely inquisitive, asking me questions I need to open a dictionary to answer. Being shrouded in the throes of mamahood and babyhood these past few years, I thank you for getting my mind back up on its feet. I've been in a fog. You are making me think again. It's a good thing.
One of my favorite changes in you during the past year? Your facial expressions. Coming from a family of many deaf people (hereditary, on my side), you have effortlessly learned the art of communication through animation. In your hands, in your feet, in your face. You are expressing yourself visually. And it's all quite convincing. You can convey emotions ranging from satisfied to terrified just with a tiny squint or widening of your big blue eyes.
(Oh, and let's not forget that this year Jack learned to cross his eyes. Always used to express excitement. Silly excited. Makes me think we should all cross our eyes when we're excited. Try it sometime. Really. It will take your excitement to a whole new level.)
This year I put together a special birthday party for you, with art as the theme:
There was quite a bit of party preparation on my part:
And then party day came.
I think some people wondered why I went to all the trouble. I mean, I worked on your party for a month. It was a two-hour long party. And I worked on it for a MONTH. Why? Why, mama, why?
I'll tell them why, Jacky. Because you turned FIVE. Because you are wonderful. Because I want you to always remember what it was like to be five. I hope you will always remember.