“Is dis funny?” he asks. “ Yes, it is sooo funny“, I reply, for the tenth time in the past hour. By the look of it, Hank, this precocious 3 year old, is keen on becoming a comedian.
He’s the first boy I baby sit for this summer (beginning of July) and is the youngest of three. He recently fell down some stairs and wears a band aid on his chin, but he pulls the look off with such grace!
He stamps my left arm with a red stamp marker, leaving a heart shape the size of a pinky nail. “Is dat funny?” he giggles. “Oh, very funny“, I confess…and as a result, my upper-arm gets covered in tiny red hearts, resembling an enamored chicken pox victim.
He takes out all the markers from the plastic pack, throws them on the carpet and then meticulously puts them back in, one by one…but only after I’ve drawn him a satisfactory amount of silly monsters. The silly monsters are on his pajama, so we started drawing those first and then improvised, making our own monsters: the triangle monster, the square monster, the dinosaur.
We fill them up with color together. I steer the marker while he clutches the rest of it with his hand. So technically, we’re co-authors.
We later go out on the porch to play ball. The sun warms the wooden floor and we’re playing barefoot. he kicks the ball hard and it rolls all the way down the stairs, onto the grass, down the hill, only stopping when it reaches the small cluster of trees.
“Was dat funny?” he asks as he watches me run through the grass to retrieve our blue ball.
“No, not really” I answer this time, making a fake sad face.
When he doesn’t throw down the ball, he’ll throw other objects off the porch…a golden plastic windmill, his scooter, two golden plastic windmills…
“Wet’s see da toes undah da couch swing!” This particular request means I must push the swing with my legs underneath it, so that every time it rocks back he can see my toes wiggling.
“Where are the toes?” I ask. “Dere dey aw!”
“Where are the toes?” “Dey disappeawed“.
I never knew that such a tiny body could contain such a big amount of giggles and amusement!
He never gets tired of it. I, however, with my adult incapacity to dedicate myself to the same activity for more hours in a row, try to find something new for us to do.
So we play hide and seek inside the house. It’s a version I had stopped playing a long time ago and had forgotten. In this version, it’s not the hiding that counts, oh no. The hiding spot can be out in the open, nothing to conceal the player. It can even be a place where I hid him. He doesn’t mind. All I have to do is go through the ritual of counting then pretending to look for him. Then he won’t even pretend he’s trying to stay hidden. He’ll jump out of his hiding place, laughing hysterically, screaming Boo! and ordering me to do it all over again.
He likes to be the seeker too, so he’ll go upstairs, count to ten (his own special way, in which the numbers don’t have to have the usual order). In the meantime, I’m trying to squeeze myself under a table or behind a couch, or am camouflaging myself under a blanket. He’ll run back down, calling my name in between fits of giggles. Mawa? hihihi. “Maaaawa? Whew aw you?” Then I have to do the jumping out part and he’s again the happiest boy in the world.
When it’s time to sleep Hank has to go in a crib (even though he’s a big boy now). His crib is big enough for the two of us, so instead of reading him his story from outside the prison-like bars of the bed, I crawl inside and with both of us on our backs looking up at the book, we begin the traditional rendering of “The bike lesson”. This is my third time reading it…and I’m already amazed by how he can listen to it so many times. His mom taught me the trick, though. All I have to do is flip more pages at once and he never notices:D
He demands a hug so he can sleep, I arrange all the toys he needs for his snuggle, his caterpillar (he talks to it for a while before falling to sleep, counting the spheres on it) and the books. He needs to have them there for some reason. He also needs his woobie ( blankie), all shabby and gray, with a lil mousy head, or perhaps he will take the brown one, belonging to one of his older brothers…
Hank and his woobie. Cause three is a magic number.
On my last visit we take photos of each other. He wants a photo of me and his woobie, so I pose as he tries to aim the camera at me. He also gets some pretty good shots of the ceiling during his attempts.
He visits me at the front desk before leaving the Ausable Club for good. His band aid is gone now, chin healed and revealed.
We saw each other at least 4 times during the beginning of my season at the club and I’ll miss him and his brothers (even though I didn’t have to sit for them as much).
The most rewarding thought is that he apparently annoyed a babysitter that took care of him one of the nights I couldn’t make it…he was calling her Mara no matter how hard she insisted that that was not her name.
I hope he keeps a vague memory of me somewhere in his childhood collection of happy thoughts. I know I won’t forget a thing.
a bonus, Hank’s Kung Fu demo: