There are plenty of things that I didn’t really care much about before he came along that I now love. Like fire engines. And Legos. And Muppets. The Who has taught me about all the names of the various Lego pieces, how they fit together, what kinds of structures can be made with which pieces, and has incited a real love of construction in me. His infectious excitement around sirens and emergencies has in turn made me excited about the same things. And I’ll tell you what: though I am a child of the late 70s and 80s, I care more about Kermit and Miss Piggy and that damn endearing Animal now than I ever did growing up. And lucky me, as The Who gets older, I am finding that many of the things I adore are things that he now loves, too. It’s a beautiful friendship we’ve got going on.
Broadway. We have Uncle G. to thank for this one. He took The Who (and me) to his first Broadway show (Annie) and The Who was smitten. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to be treated to two more shows (Aladdin and Cinderella) and in the pre-show studying we’ve done (soundtracks and stories) I’ve discovered that The Who loves instrumental music and is incredibly skilled at gleaning the emotion in it — better than I am even. This year, we watched the Tony Awards together (DVRed, the next morning) and celebrated the wins of some of our favorite and most memorable characters.
Writing. It’s no secret that The Who was an early talker and an early reader. He’s always got a story going on in his head and late last year, he took it another step further when he submitted an original story to Story Pirates and was one of three selected out of a pool of 300. Since then, it’s just been story after story after story. Sometimes he just tells them to me out loud during our long commutes to and from camp, but more and more lately he’s been writing them down and illustrating them. His use of inventive spelling charms me and every time, it makes my writer-heart swell with pride (to say nothing of my mama-heart.)
This is a book he wrote about his pal, Audrey, and their apparent impending nuptials. The first one says, “I’m Marrying You by The Who. Illustrated by The Who. Cover 1.” The next two are self-explanatory, I think. Hello and we’re finally married.
The other morning, I cam downstairs to him working on the laptop. He is rewriting the story of “The Gingerbread Man.”
And speaking of illustrating — Art. I consider myself to be a decently skilled artist, but it is clear to me that the trajectory of The Who’s artistic ability is already set to surpass mine. He has an eye for shapes and color that I have rarely seen in kids this little. I remember that my nephew showed similar ability when he was this age and I see what he is now drawing at age 13, which is amazing in detail and shading. Some of this can be taught, sure, but obviously most of it comes naturally. And because of The Who’s innate love of art and color, we are able to mutually enjoy art museums and public displays of art (like the Magic Gardens and the Mural Arts Program.)
Sketching in the galleries at the museum.
Appreciating a favorite artist (Roy Lichtenstein)
Helping my director paint the sets I designed for the show at camp.
Teaching and Learning. As I am a natural-born teacher, I am lucky that The Who is a natural-born learner. He asks questions and sucks up information like a sponge. Maybe it’s unusual for a 5-year-old to have a working knowledge of abortion rights, the Holocaust, The Beatles, and reproduction, but he asks and I answer. Yesterday, at the orchestra, I taught him about the first-chair violin, the different sizes and sounds of string instruments, and the ways in which the sound changes as the conductor varies his posture and baton movements. This morning, while watching a movie, he excitedly identified one of the instruments he learned about yesterday.
Philadelphia Orchestra plays music from Disney Pixar. Baby’s First Orchestra.
I read recently that ages 5.5-6.5 are especially difficult ones as kids adjust to full-time school, amp up the things they are learning and integrating, gaining more independence, and dealing with the transition from young childhood to middle childhood. The Who is no exception to this rule. We struggle constantly with his emerging sass-mouth, his demands, and his incessant chatting. But at the same time, this age has brought with it so much companionship for us — so many shared interests and activities that it makes it worth it.