"It makes my tongue want to dance." - Austin, age 3 years 8 months and commenting on his first cup of tea. I've been turning to tea as my afternoon sweet indulgence now that I don't snack on cookies or chocolate and he's been watching me. "Do kids drink tea?" he asks. "Sure" I've said. "Want some?"
Then yesterday he wanted some. We had tea time. Each had our own cup, sat at the table, and talked for 20 minutes or so. It was nice. A respite from the whining we've had due to sickness and ear infections and exhaustion. We talked about sugar, and how it dissolves. We got out the salt and did a fun experiment. We got out the cornstarch and compared how the two dissolve. We laughed.
This morning he asked for a tea time, and again this afternoon. I don't think I'll ever say no. To get to know him like this is my favorite part of parenting.
His love for tea has happened just like any other thing he likes. On his timeline, his terms. He will sit and study, refuse to participate until he understands the rules, and then try it out. Sometimes with nobody looking (or thinking they are looking). He studies, observes, and thinks all the time. He asks for "snuggles" maybe 5 times a day where he just wants me to sit on the couch and let him rest on my lap thinking. Sometimes I will ask, "what are you thinking about?" and sometimes he will tell me. Last week it was, "Well, do you remember when we played with water balloons? When all my friends were over and we threw them when they were hiding in the back of our car?" That day was almost exactly a year ago, but he was thinking about it and was "thinking it would be fun to try that again." Ok kiddo, you got it.
I compare him and Oliver not in a competitive way, but in a fun, this is crazy they come from the same parents kind of way.
Oliver who will climb in our lap and try just about anything. Will grab whatever you are eating and take it as his own. He who speaks in full sentences and asks things that I didn't even know he thinks about. He can sing full songs, make jokes, and hide until you really don't think you'll find him because he'll just lie there. Silently.
On May 10th, Oliver will be exactly the age Austin was when Ollie was born. At that time Austin was starting his speech therapy. He could sit and do puzzles for a long time, build boxes, find any animal in our games, string beads together, play games where people take turns and was surviving off of pretzels and peanut butter. The only thing I have seen Oliver have that kind of attention span for is for playing with play-doh, and truthfully, after a couple minutes he is either eating it, feeding it to the dogs, or smashing it into something he shouldn't.
Parenting Oliver is exhausting and hilarious. He has us laughing most minutes, even when it is the kind of laughter that is an I can't believe this is happening kind of giggle. He knows how to drive our cars, put the key in the ignition and push the button to make his CD's pop out. He then yells at the CD player the line of the song he wants to hear (Favorite right now: Baby, You Can Drive My Car: Beatles, Line: Beep Beep YEAH!). He will throw anything into the bathtub and turn the water on. The other day he was standing on my (closed) laptop and yelled for me, "Mama! Look!" He can be running full blast and stop so fast he falls over because he found a bug to follow. He likes to sleep with a tractor and will eat holding a screw driver that he then uses to stir his milk and poke holes in food. He declares everything is "his." If you call him a goof ball (or a funny kid or a poop machine...thanks Austin) his reply is, "No, I'm Ollie." And he is.
Parenting these two is nothing short of fun. I enjoy most every moment, and when I don't I shut myself in a room and call a friend. I think being parented by me is mostly fun for them too. When it's not, they tell me to go away (well, Oliver will anyway) and they play with a friend (each other). Our tea times had me thinking about the day when I will actually have a conversation with Oliver that goes beyond the basic question/answer communication we have now. I have a feeling his way of thinking will be completely different than Austin's and it will be interesting to get to know him like that. I thought about developing tea time into something special, kind of like a right of passage. When they get old enough to have a conversation, they can sit down to tea. Then Oliver woke from his nap and Austin went running up the stairs. Before Ollie was even out of his crib I heard:
Austin: Ollie! I had tea with Mommy! Do you want some? It's orange!
Austin: Mommy! Oliver wants orange tea with us!
Ollie: No. Blue. Mommy, where is my blue tea? I want blue.
And on it went until I went downstairs and made him his orange tea arguing that we really truly do not have blue tea and he and Austin sat the table with their tea cups while I cleaned the kitchen and as I was about to sit with them Oliver dumped his tea on the table smiling proudly, "I dump!" and Austin has dissolved into giggles and I'm cleaning the mess and Oliver is onto something else, "Where my screw driver?"
I'm pretty sure I just saw how tea times will go with our little Ollie monster and maybe I should plan on having conversations with him doing something more his style, like skydiving while wearing roller skates and singing karaoke.