Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spotlight on Luke @ 4 yrs. 2 mos.

Today (well, yesterday now, since I fell asleep before posting this yesterday...), Mommy is bleary-eyed from being up until 2 a.m. doing must-do family financial paperwork, only to have Luke wake me up by calling out for me at 3:30 a.m. with Nina following suit just as I was falling back to sleep at 4:45, and, then, Nina getting up for the day for good at 6:30 a.m... (Yaw-aw-aw-n...)! Thankfully, both Luke and Nina are being sympathetic – busy, imaginative, but peaceful for their ages today. I think they sense Mommy’s sheer exhaustion. Plus, they are growing up...

Indeed, Luke is four years and two months old today, February 8th. Where does the time go? From 5 lbs. 9 oz. and unable to nurse properly to over 36 lbs. and constantly being reminded to stop climbing up to fridge and cupboard in search of snacks.

What else is going on with out little man lately? Here’s a synopsis of Luke this past month or so:

Luke has been loving God despite telling us he cannot because “God is too much” and he only loves “dinosaurs, moose, unicorns and Puff.” And, although he still often alternates between being a busy body and an escape artist at Mass, he is getting better at sometimes participating or at least staying quiet, happily pouring over Bible story and Catholic Treasury picture books. In the car, he laughs and giggles, singing along with Steve Green's Hide 'Em in Your Heart when I have it on. His favorite song on the CD remains “God Loves a Cheerful Giver”, a song that’s message is beginning to sink into Luke as he willingly selected some books to give away to others when we were honoring St. Brigid recently, and how she was known for her charity. He also is fascinated by good and evil – angels. vs. devils, Wupsy vs. Pong (from the Catholic Children's Treasure Box series) and where King Herod may have gone (to the devil). Prayers don’t come as readily from Luke as they used to these days, but he still joins in on Grace  and can often be heard whispering “God, please bring back the dinosaurs and unicorns, but not moose, because they are already alive and not Puff because I don’t want to go to Honalee” as he lays in his bed at night. He says this prayer with such serious earnest hope. It is too cute.

Luke has been loving others by “taking out his God love and only keeping his boy and girl love, but not for guys who tickle me”, or so he told me when I asked him how he’s been loving others lately. I think what he means is that he has been enjoying playing with, sharing with and being kind with his sister, young cousins, friends and peers at the library and folks elsewhere more than he used to, but that he is also strangely afraid of his older boy cousins, who he claims tickle him until it hurts him. (Really???) In my assessment, Luke is becoming a little more compassionate, helping, teaching and loving Nina these days as often as he torments her the way only a big-brother can. He also has been thinking about others and how he might sometimes make them happy. He often draws things and says they are for certain people and he is starting to get into the idea of giving away some of his books (like "So Big" to the right) and toys to other children. And, though Luke has never been one to offer lots of hugs and kisses at “hello” and “goodbye” times, he sure gives Mommy a huge share of hugs and kisses every day, and the new baby, too. He likes to blow “Any” kisses and to talk to her in my belly. (“Any” is Luke’s name for the new baby until we learn if she is “Gemma” or he is “Jack”. Luke is vying for “Jack”.) Daddy gets a goodly portion of hugs and kisses, too, but not usually at night, when Luke declares, “I love Daddy in the day, but not in the night.” A “Lukism”, for certain.

And, boy does our little man love playing. He spends most of his time these days lost in creative imaginary play – singing, chanting and chattering away as narrator of tales and creatures within them alike... He often tries to get Nina, Daddy or Mommy to enter his imagined scenarios of unicorns, dinosaurs, etc., and especially loves playing dinos with Daddy.  Plus, as I type this, he is stepping on a Serendipty book asking how he might “get into it” as he wants to go run with Morgan the Unicorn. Truly, Luke loves taking his stuffed toys and figurines all about the house, constructing scenes and intricate worlds with them. He creatively uses kitchen implements, toy pieces, scarves, etc. to represent all manner of unicorns, dinosaurs, gingerbread men and other things. He likes to dress himself, Nina and Daddy up with unique pieces of costumes, too. And, he continues to spend hours building original creations with blocks and bricks, as well as models of different scenes and characters from books. Plus, several times a week, Luke asks Mommy to “do drama”, leading him and Nina in mini –creative-dramatics classes based on everything from polar bears to dinosaurs, unicorns to Bible stories, favorite picture books of the moment to holiday topics...

Luke has been loving learning lately mostly by doing and reading. As I just mentioned, he is big into imaginative play and construction, learning about concepts of balance, reason, engineering, etc. as he attends to this “work”. He also enjoys developing his own investigations – recently going through a period of “planting” seeds in water trying to make them grow.  Indeed, Luke is always coming up with his own experiments, sometimes much to my chagrin based on their timing and mess. And, one of his favorite sayings remains, ‘If --, what would happen?” A naturally inquisitive young man, we have – perhaps a future scientist or engineer! But, then again, perhaps liberal arts lover, too. For art and activities based on books are popular with Luke – especially things that involve drawing. And – whoo hoo – he is starting to read some of his first words. I had brought home some Bob Books for a tutoring student of mine; Luke wanted to read them with me. Sure enough, slowly he began making inroads to basic phonetic decoding. So exciting!!!

Luke does not love working unless the work is on his own terms. Unfortunately for Mommy, he isn’t the most agreeable when it comes to tidy times, often claiming to be “so tired”.  But, fortunately (even if it's not the best parenting habit), he jumps to with a little well-placed blackmail – “Pick up ten things and you can watch ‘Who built the ark’ on you-tube, ” or “No snack until we clean up” or, “Maybe Mommy should give these things to a child who wants to take care of them.”... On the other hand, when it comes to self-determined “work” Luke cannot get enough of it. He is forever absconding with tools and kitchen implements to do one project or another. He also enjoys helping with cooking projects when he is not immersed in imaginative play. And, he readily takes up the broom, dustpan, spray bottle and cloth during clean-up times when he is in the mood.  Granted, some of his "work" makes more work for Mommy, but I keep reminding myself it's all in the name of exploration and learning.

Luke’s has been loving beauty mostly through books lately. He simply adores being read to and pouring over picture books on his own. He devours volumes of words and pictures, making me realize more and more that I need to wean the “twaddle” from our diet of books, feeding him with quality writing and artwork whenever possible. Luke also enjoys a fair share of music, art projects and things he notices outside – the stars “following our car”, the colors of the sky, the colors and types of birds visiting our feeders, nature walks,  etc.

Besides that, some of Luke’s more challenging behaviors and habits continue – random outbreaks of hitting, disregarding safety at times, fussing at shopping carts go over bumps, having trouble with potty training, etc. These are realities we deal with and are trying to help Luke improve upon.  As such, Luke is now doing Occupational Therapy sessions twice a week for possible sensory processing disorder. We figure it cannot hurt and he seems to like going to “play” with the ladies that help him at his sessions. So, hopefully, we’ll all learn some strategies to help Luke get through his more challenging behaviors so he can shine with his positive ones!

And, shine Luke does.  He is “unique” in many ways – including many that make Mike and I smile with pride and laugh in amusement. He is always going, with his mind in action even when his busy - for mere moments - stills.  Whether is is on the "retack" playing dinosaurs or has his brow twisted in "recern" for a character in a book (Luke has a habit of adding 're' as the prefix for everything lately), he is always moving and thinking.  Yes, as our little man Luke is apt to say “I can’t sleep, because of my eyes... they come back open... Well, my brain makes them do it... I cannot shut if off at all.” Indeed, Luke, at four years and two months is alert with wonder, curiosity, investigations and constant explorations. With a mischievous smile and a sparkle in his eye, he remains a very special gift and charge for Mike and me.  Praise God (and give us guidance as we continue to train Luke up!)


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