I meant to blog about our son turning four on his birthday, which was three weeks ago now.
Time marched on at the typically busy Hobbit household, with a newborn and countless commitments, I never did get around to it.
So I’ll take a stab at giving you a glimpse into life with our third born, charismatic, charming and exhausting child Adam West.
We knew he was a firecracker from the moment he was born. The things I remember most from the moment he arrived were his big, full beautiful lips, and the feeling that I had to make room for another big personality, not unlike my own. He still has those amazing lips, and his personality is indeed larger than life.
Isn’t it amazing how we all have a marked personality of one kind or another from the moment we arrive? I find this stuff endlessly fascinating, if not a little confounding. Where does it come from? With four fantastic little people sharing our home and our hearts, it is abundantly clear that they’re all very unique. Despite having the same raw materials (myself and Grumpy), they are distinctive in personality and profile. I get a grin that hurts a little it is so large as I write that, and my eyeballs are starting to sweat a bit as well. But I’m not crying! Honest.
If you know us, you’ll know that the older children were causing us grief a few years ago, so we sent them off for some psych testing. They both came through the tests as… Ah, stuff it, I’ll just bloody write it, despite the fact I know there will be a bunch of people reading this and gagging or rolling their eyes at this profession. Gifted. We are raising gifted kids. Guess what. It is a thing, it is real, and parents of gifted kids have challenges and concerns that can be tough to deal with. Calling it what it is without shame and speaking openly and candidly with them and other parents about this stuff is the key to what little sanity I am able to securely cling to. So please hang up your judgey pants, because I am not trying to impress or offend anyone.
Okay, apparently I have some issues where this gifted thing is concerned. Dee-fensive or what right! I’ll do a whole blog just on this one day.
For now, back to the story:
I remember a few weeks after Adam was born, and we were still calling him Jaxson or Jonathan (before we realized his name was actually Adam). We took him and his Thames Nana and Poppa to Vanuatu on a tropical babymoon while his siblings were in Canada with my parents.
I remember stating loudly to Nana Margie over breakfast one morning as I mooned over our new baby: “You know what? I think this one might just be totally normal! Wouldn’t that be nice?”
In New Zealand, people can have a pretty rough time if they stand out. So if you are eccentric or extraordinary, and people notice, you may fall prey to the tall poppy syndrome and have people trying to “knock you down a peg or two”. New Zealand is a culture where being different or exceptional can be a burden. So the idea of this third child being “normal” was a comfort as I imagine there’s a sweet spot, where the most idyllic Kiwi childhoods are experienced. I envisage happy, active, fresh-faced children who don’t cause waves and don’t stick out too much. This is probably BS. Every single kid, neigh, every person, has their own set of trials and triumphs, IQ means very little indeed when running the gauntlet of childhood and life. However, I still strangely clung to the idea he was a bit more “normal” and might have a slightly easier ride than his quirky siblings.
Adam is many things, but normal or agreeably average he certainly is not. When he was only little, he came perilously close to being kicked out of his very reputable daycare. Yes, that’s right. He ran a very real risk of being shown the door at the tender age of two. He had a big temper and kept biting other kids. So, the child psychologist was called in to observe our little angel, and decide whether he was a lost cause and must be shipped out for the safety of the other children.
Not a huge highlight in our parenting portfolio.
We got the report and it was suggested that he was bright. Really bright, and perhaps, as a result, he may be frustrated. Sadly, it did not endear him to some teachers who had decided he was a lost cause. Despite being well trained and professional, it was abundantly clear that some of them simply did not like our little bundle of emotion, intelligence and energy. And that made me sad. Luckily, when he moved up to the next level, he found a tough but funny and fair teacher, who had a soft spot for him. We miss her. She was so great to and for him.
Years later it breaks my heart that he still has real trouble relating to kids his own age. I’ve often come to collect him, and found him playing on his own, which leaves me wondering how useful it was to send him to childcare before he turned two. We did this to help his social skills and give us some time during the week to pursue our own child-free interests and obligations.
As a furiously engaged four year old, Adam has already staked his claim as a geek, just like everyone else in this family. We all have our obsessions and interests and pursue them beyond the realms of normal people. He’s no different. Our son is obsessed with Volcanoes. He has chewed through countless gigabytes of YouTube footage on this subject matter. He’s known how to spell the words magma and lava for months now.
This fantastic four year old, despite a jaw dropping vocabulary and grasp of complicated concepts is still just that, a four year old. He has trouble pronouncing his r’s (often sounded out as a b sound) and y’s (often sounded out as an l sound) yet he asks us complicated existential questions about life, death and mortality. He asks about pyroclastic eruptions (fi-lo plastic ebubtions) and how much warning we might get if one of these mega explosions were to occur in Auckland.
He also adores all things Batman. This is entirely our fault as we have encouraged this affinity from the time we started calling him Adam West.
I don’t know what kind of a job we are doing raising this small but mighty fellow. And we all have a soft spot for him as he’s squished in the middle of a strange and lively group of siblings.
I do know that we Love him with all our hearts. He has a temper, he can be absolutely impossible to reason with and control, especially after he’s had a decent dose of sugar. He is also cheerful, and charming, and kind, and empathetic and amazing. I worry about him more than I ever did about the other children. He is impulsive and has very big emotions. Still, I am confident that with his huge heart, vivid imagination, and stacks of charm, he will be just fine.
We Love you so much little man. And one day, we would very much like to take you to Lellostone National Park to see the geysers and tell us all about seismic activity there and around the world.
Happy Birthday Adam West.