To Wesley Neil Swanson
From David Christopher Naylor Swanson
April 4, 2009
We took you to the doctor for an annual checkup a couple of days ago, Wesley, and you hadn’t been since last year. He couldn’t find anything wrong with you, and you now stand 37 inches tall and weigh 33 pounds, so you’ve fallen in both weight and height to more average for your age, whereas you started out big in both, and you’ve fallen more in weight because you’re slimming out, you’re finishing being a baby. You are, however, very interested in babies and sometimes like to pretend to be one or to take care of one.
You’d only seen this doctor once before, a year ago, but you were perfectly comfortable playing with him, at least with mommy and daddy there. But you’re also comfortable at school now. You go two mornings a week, Wes. I take you, and mommy picks you up. At first you hated it, and mommy had to go with you. Now you look forward to seeing your teachers and friends. Now you’re no longer afraid to play with new kids at playgrounds, and you’re starting to be interested in actually playing things together with friends.
The doctor asked, looking at his notes, if you were still almost always happy, and we said yes. Although we did say that you could get grumpy in the evening if you were tired and had refused to take a nap — which is more often than not now. You still sleep well at night, though, and sleep in a bed instead of a crib now. Several dozen stuffed animals, some pillows, a few other toys, a large collection of blankets, and some bottles of water are usually the minimum necessities you bring to bed with you. Last night Gum, your grandmother, my mother, put you to bed while mommy and I went out on a date. When we got home, Gum informed us that shortly after going to bed you’d moved yourself and all your friends and blankets — every item — onto the floor under your train table and were sleeping there. In the middle of the night we heard you make dozens of trips across your room, and in the morning you and everybody else were found sleeping in your bed. You like experimenting.
You also like talking, Wesley, and you know an amazing number of words, and stories, and songs. You love music, and mommy has been taking you to music class once a week. You have a guitar and you love to reenact music class at home. Usually Orville the orangutan and Bucky Badger, both of whom are much bigger than you, have to attend, along with Gussie the dog, blue puppy, Snowie the polar bear, the various Winnie the Poohs, the assorted Curious Georges, several other bears, a turtle, some frogs, and some babies. You love real animals as much as the pretend ones Wesley, but our cats are gone now.
In addition to talking and singing, you’re very big on running, climbing, jumping, kicking, swimming, and most other things that use a lot of energy. Even more so you like pretending, and hiding, surprising, laughing, joking, and being silly. But above all you love real things far more than toys, and you are obsessed with taking things apart, figuring out how they work, seeing what’s inside them, putting them together. When I mow the grass, you mow the grass beside me with a toy lawn mower, and you make yours work just like mine. When the doctor gave you some stickers you were more interested in how the box that the stickers were in opened and closed. You would rather figure out how the plumbing works than play with a rubber duck. You think tools are the best toys. You know how to use CD players, radios, tape recorders, and DVD players as well as I do. You haven’t yet watched TV or videos, except sometimes on Youtube, but you play music CDs on the television. You also know how to type letters on a computer and what most of the letters are. You’re still working on understanding numbers and time: tonight I said we’d have to go in and get a bath and you said “No” and I said in 10 minutes and you said “Three minutes!” and I said “You’ve got a deal!”
I don’t know whether you’ll be a scientist/engineer/mechanic when you grow up, but you give that impression. I don’t know whether you’ll be especially outgoing or shy. I don’t know whether your musical interests will become serious talents. But I am almost certain that you will be happy and fun-loving. I think you’re the best little boy we could possibly have hoped for, and I’m very happy that your mommy teaches you so much and plays with you so much when I can’t.
Today your mommy got up early with you. We take turns and it was my turn, but mommy did it. You get up at 7 a.m. or earlier every day. We don’t if we can help it. When I stumbled out of bed, you and Mommy were downstairs playing music class. You were the teacher of course. I got dressed and we drove to the mountains. You didn’t like being in the car, but you put up with it for 30 minutes and we were there. You loved the view down the mountains, but you loved other things more: throwing stones in a creek, climbing on trees and rocks, exploring the old log houses they have set up to show people mountain life of the 19th century. You love exploring small places, playing hide-and-seek, and above all figuring out how doors and gates open and close.
A couple of weeks ago we took you to stay in a railroad caboose for two nights, which you thought was about the coolest thing in the world, and we went to a train museum, an art museum, an animal safari park, underground caves, and out to eat, and you loved everything. Today mommy asked you what you liked best, and you replied “I like everything!” and it’s true. You do. Almost.
At one point you came running to surprise me where I was hiding behind a tree, and you tripped and cut your chin — not for the first time. You didn’t like that one bit, but you didn’t cry. What you really didn’t want was people cleaning the cut or putting a band aid on it. However, you tolerated the band aid for 20 minutes or so, which was about 19 minutes more than the last time. It helps, I think, that you’ve been playing doctor and sticking icepacks and band aids on your animals.
We drove down the mountain to a town that you hadn’t been to before and got ice cream and went to a park. You fed the ducks and geese, climbed over a bridge, and played on a giant playground that was crowded with a hundred other kids. Then I got your bicycle out of the car, and you pedaled it up and down a path picking up some good speed.
When it was time to go home, you said quite decidedly “I don’t want to go home,” but you fell asleep within 2 minutes of leaving the parking lot. Unfortunately, you were still very tired and sad when we got home and you woke up. Mommy played with you until you were happy and then headed off to have a nap of her own. So, you and I headed for the back yard and ate our dinner out there. You even did a little lawn mowing — although I refused to get out the big lawn mower until the height of the grass requires it.
We got you a bath and brushed your teeth before settling down in your room to read some stories. You asked for the Curious George story with the ducks in it, and apparently still had ducks on your mind. We read that one and some others, and you went off to sleep early without a peep, leaving the house a lot less exciting than it had been a moment before — at least until tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.