Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Other Belated Birthday Boy

We had one other birthday boy during February-- Bantam8! (Poor guys, their birthdays fell right in the midst of Cinderella, and I was too busy to mention it, virtually. In real life, their birthdays were duly celebrated!)

Those who know Bantam8 will agree--he is an unusual boy, and not just because he hardly wears any clothes! It seems he has always been wise beyond his years. Part of it must be a birth order thing; he's right in the middle of the two biggest (nearly 4-year) gaps in our family. He spent his first four years trying to keep up with the big kids, and his second four years being one of them. He crawled at 4.5 months, talked earlier than any of my other boys, and just before age two--without any introduction of the concept of potty training from me--he told me, "I go in the big potty now." No little chair, no going back to diapers, even when we tried, on a road trip. ("Bantam2, please go pee in your diaper. It's okay!" "NOOO, I need a big potty!")

He was similarly insistent, at age 5.5, that he was ready to learn to read. I knew he was thinking about it when I overheard him ask his next oldest brother, "Is it fun to read?" It is, that brother said. "Is it better than looking at pictures?" he asked next. (He still loves picture books.)

We started Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, the book I've used with all my kids, but since I was pregnant with Bitty Bantam, and tired all the time, we weren't exactly blazing through it. Occasionally, though, his next older brother would offer to do a lesson with him (and he is a natural-born teacher). So after BB was born and then was hospitalized for two weeks (with RSV and severe pneumonia at five weeks of age), Bantam9 took over Bantam6's reading lessons. When Bitty Bantam and I got home from the hospital, Bantam6 was reading all the Easy Readers in the house!

Now he's just turned 8, and he's been reading chapter books for a year and a half, though he prefers them with pictures. However, he's not a bookish type. He'd rather play--anything, with anybody. He'll make motor noises playing cars with Bantam2, enter any of Chicklet's little play schemes, play Legos or Airsoft with the big boys or Playmobil with the girl his age from the other family we homeschool with. He'll sit still for computer games and picture books, but he prefers movement, such as running and somersaulting through the house, or tumbling over the backs of couches (when Mom is not looking). When I read aloud, he can't remain upright for very long, usually trying out variations on a head stand, on the couch or on the floor, unless he has something to manipulate like Legos or Magnetix.

Bantam8 is a laid-back personality, relatively unopinionated on many topics (with the exception of Lego ownership issues). But sometimes he'll throw out a shrewd observation or ask a great question, causing his father and I to exchange impressed eyebrow raises. He rarely seeks to be the center of attention, but when opportunity knocks, he answers with a dramatic and humorous flair. In fact, he's got a natural stage presence and lack of self-consciousness that our older kids are still working hard to achieve. At his first audition--one minute of singing, smiling and footwork in front of a churchful of families--you couldn't even tell he was nervous until he forgot a little part of his routine. Then, just for a second you remembered that not only was it his first audition, but he was the youngest one trying out. He quickly recovered and by the end of the minute, you'd forgotten his stumble. (Everyone was so impressed.)

One other thing about Bantam8 stands out. With all these wonderful qualities, he doesn't take himself seriously. He is a delightful goof ball most of the time. (In fact, that was his nickname for quite awhile, prompting his next oldest brother once to say, "You be Goof Ball, and I'll be Golf Ball!")

Thank you, Lord, for this delightfully quirky son!


5KidMom said...

I love your descriptions and insights about your "delightfully quirky son". Having a "goof ball" around can definitely add some levitiy to the everyday drudgery of life. Just hearing about him brings a smile to my face.

Kathryn said...

Happy (belated) Birthdays to your two lovely boys - and glad to hear that Bantam2 was fine.

Pete & Mary said...

What a great picture of the birthday boys! What a wonderful tribute to him. B8 has always been a bright spot for me! Thanks for sharing.

Bss said...

Great post! Happy birthday, Bantam8!