Ryan is my four-year-old son. As his mommy, I admit I’m biased, thinking my son is the most beautiful, most amazing, most charming little boy there is. Hopefully, my list of Ryan will remind you of your own “little person.”
A Affectionate. This does not mean Ryan showers me with hugs and kisses all the time. There are days I come home from work and Ryan runs into my arms. There are other days I come home, and Ryan tells me to leave. There are days I am given a spontaneous hug and other days when I am given a slap on the arm for no apparent reason. Ryan is big on touch, on closeness, on “show Mommy” – all signs of affection.
B Bright. My son (who does not yet attend pre-school) was starting to read before his fourth birthday. My son remembers lyrics to songs and dance moves involving spins and turns. He has learned street names and the location of Indonesia and Australia on the globe.
C Curious. Ryan wants to know “What’s that?” He wants to know where something was bought, why something looks the way it does, and what will happen next.
D Dramatic. A fall and a scrape on the knee will pre-occupy Ryan for days. A game that doesn’t go quite his way, will result in a sad face, a bit of a sulking, and Ryan flopping himself down face-first on our couch. (Of course, a minute passes, and he’s fine.)
E Entertaining. There is no movie or television program that compares with watching my son. I love to see what he’ll come up with next. Sometimes it’s re-enacting Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk, other times it’s pretending to be his My Gym teacher, and still other times he’s off in his own world, pretending to serve flavored juices and donuts (things Ryan doesn’t eat).
F Fearless. Ryan will stand on our king-size bed, and fall backwards with no fear of falling. He will try any activity his teachers at My Gym introduce. He doesn’t know failure. He knows some things are “trickier” than others, but, thankfully, that doesn’t stop him from trying something new.
G Growing. Every day it seems that my son is growing exponentially – height and weight of course. But also, Ryan’s cognitive abilities, his verbal skills, his behaviors. My son is becoming a “bigger little boy” – one who can do more and more things himself, one who wants to do more and more things himself.
H Happy. The sad truth is that not all children are happy. I see it with my students. When it comes to my son, I know he’s happy. I know it by his spontaneous laughter, the way he’ll start to move and groove to a “song in his head.”
I Impersonator. My son mimics Grandpa with his declarations of “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky.” Ryan changes his voice to sound like his friend Duck from Word World, he puts on a black hat I used to wear and tries to do a move like Michael Jackson.
J Joy. Ryan is the joy in my life. When my health is precarious, when my job is unsatisfying, when my relationships are challenging, there is Ryan. My joy. Nothing else I will do in my life will compare to being Ryan’s mother.
K Kissable. I know there will inevitably come a day when my son admonishes me not to kiss him in public. Or kiss him at all. But hopefully, that day is far into the future. For now, I can’t be near my son without showering him with kisses – the top of his head while we’re having dinner, his tummy when I’m helping him maneuver into his shirt, his tushie after a bath, his feet while we’re tickling on the carpet.
L Learning. My son has not yet started pre-school, but he is learning. He knows his letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. He’s reading. He’s spelling. Ryan is like a sponge, soaking everything up around him. Tell him once, and it’s enough. The information is stored in his memory bank.
M Musical. My son loves to sing and dance. Sings along to the Bangles and Neil Diamond, dances to Aphex Twin and Miles Davis. Ryan remembers song lyrics, and is always performing an interpretative dance to the music he hears.
N Natural. I love that my son is my son, without being concerned what other people think. He’ll start dancing in the middle of the book store and not worry who is watching. He’ll turn his head away from the bank teller, refuse to say ‘hello’, and not worry that someone might think he’s being rude. He’s just being Ryan. I hope no one ever tells him he shouldn’t dance in public, no one tells him to stop singing at the top of his lungs. I hope he always feels confident in his skin being himself, being Ryan.
O Observant. Ryan notices Mommy’s purple toenail polish, and later will comment when Mommy’s purple toenail polish is chipped. Ryan notices that we have moved a Van Gogh print to a different wall of the house. (Luckily, Ryan doesn’t notice when I go through his toys to discard those that haven’t been played with in quite some time.)
P Powerful. Ryan and I play “squish;” it’s a wrestling/tickling game. But he’s powerful. I’ve gotten hit and kicked, sometimes in the spirit of fun, sometimes because Ryan’s angry. And little children are surprisingly strong. It hurts. It bruises.
Q Questioning. Ryan doesn’t really ask “Why?” like other toddlers do. Instead, I am asked where things come from, what items we need to buy at the market. Ryan asks about the differences during each season. He asks about the musical instruments he hears playing during a song.
R Rhythmic. Ryan can hear the beat in a piece of music, and clap along. He can tap his foot or bob his head in time to the music. He tells me he wants to learn to play violin when he gets bigger (he also mentions guitar and piano). I don’t doubt his ability.
S Stubborn. Ryan comes from a family of stubborn individuals – his parents and his grandparents. He follows in our foot-steps. Sometimes, Ryan wants to do something himself, and it will take many attempts until he can close the flap on the raisin box just the way he wants to. Other times, it’s Ryan who wants to open our front door, but the weather has made it stick a bit, and he absolutely refuses to accept help. And then, of course, there are the moments when Ryan doesn’t want to put on shoes or socks, or change his shirt. Then it’s a battle of wills. (Mommy wins – some things are non-negotiable).
T Technological. It’s almost instinctual, and maybe it has something to do with the fact that Ryan’s daddy works for Apple. But Ryan is quite comfortable opening Safari and finding SesameStreet.org, looking at photos on the iPad, dancing to music on the iPhone, putting a DVD in the player and turning on the TV.
U Understanding. In my son’s four years of life, he’s known for two years that Mommy has boo-boos. He has to deal with a mommy who regularly visits the doctor, a mommy who needs to rest, a mommy who can’t do certain things, a mommy who has to take medicine throughout the day. If there’s a bright side to my medical condition, I like to hope that it’s helping Ryan become more empathetic and understanding.
V Velvety. Soft, strokable, creamy, dreamy. Those adjectives describe Ryan’s skin. I love to feel my son’s arms, his legs (that are growing hair like his Daddy), his tummy, under his chin. Everyone spoke of Ryan’s soft skin as a newborn, but I’m delighted to find he’s just as soft, just as dreamy as a pre-schooler.
W Wacky. Ryan likes to “squish” his Daddy’s feet. My husband sits with his legs extended, Ryan plops down, tummy-first, and buries his face in Paul’s feet. Ryan then proclaims Paul’s feet are stinky. We’re not sure where this wacky habit came from, but it’s Ryan’s. Endearing, cute, and weird.
X Extraordinary. I unabashedly admit that Ryan is the most extraordinary child I have ever known. I think he’s beautiful, funny, smart, and sweet. He is, in Grandma’s words, “an exceptional child.”
Y Young. Because Ryan is four, I can get away with telling him some things don’t work because they’re charging. He doesn’t yet know that things can still be used while they charge. I can fib and tell my son that the fossil museum is closed, when really we just can’t go on that particular day because we have other plans. I will get away with these tricks while I can because Ryan won’t stay this young, and this out-of-the-know, for much longer.
Z Zestful. Ryan seems like he functions from an endless supply of energy and vigor. I wish it was bottled to sell for parents, so I could keep up with him. I never seem to run as fast, or as long, as Ryan. My body tires from dancing much quicker than his does. On the flip side, it’s nice knowing that by the time I come home each afternoon, Ryan still has the energy (and the desire) to play with Mommy.