Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spotlight on Aidan

Bimg_8395_2 Photos by Shawna Houllis

Is there anything more stereotypical than a mother who considers her child completely unique, with special gifts for which the world might not be ready?

I try to remind myself often that I am still learning who Aidan is, that he is still learning the same thing, still becoming himself, and will be, probably for as long as I will know him.

But I see myself and so much of my family in him, that I often forget all that.

So when Aidan came home from school yesterday, having lost his first tooth---literally lost it, despite his teacher giving him a tooth-shaped box on a necklace in which to keep it when it came out at lunch...well, I just understood. I spent many years with my "head in the clouds", contently indifferent to reality, and forgetting to pack my lunch. I don't think I was ever as artistic or as confident as Aidan, but my favorite childhood story involves my scribbling on a tiny piece of paper when I was 4 years old, and then reading from it to my father, turning it over and over numerous times as I told him the epic tale I'd just written.

Earlier this week, Aidan put on an impromptu puppet show for Sean and me. He pulled out the doorway theater Gramare gave him, but chose to use stuffed animals over puppets. It was a long saga between Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, but the best part was when an ominous snake appeared and greeted Winnie Pooh and his cousin Blue Bear with the line, "Hello, lunch!"

It took me a while to recognize it from a recent Frog & Toad story. But knowing the lines good enough to steal is a beginning, right?


Aidan is the kid who, while all the other preschoolers were marching up the aisle for their little diplomas, took a wrong turn and went in the opposite direction. Some parents looked over at me, smiling kindly, but with visible relief that he's not their kid. I got similar looks this summer when Aidan was happy to pick dandelions as his teammates ran past him with the soccer ball.

Then there are friends like Mary Alice who took me aside a year or two ago to say, "He told me a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Seriously. He had plot!"

Aidan just sent her a ghost story he wrote at Halloween...because she expressed interest in developing it :-)

My favorite thing about Aidan is his kindness. It comes naturally to him. When I volunteer at his school, it is the thing that every adult---from the playground attendant to the computer teacher--comes up to share with me. He isn't a leader, but he isn't a follower either. There are two boys who follow his every step, but Aidan doesn't even seem to notice---he's too interested in wherever his imagination is taking him, and they seem to enjoy where it leads too.

Last Wednesday his teacher had the students complete little books in which every line began with "I play with my..." and they were to fill in the blank and illustrate it. It's amazing and a bit disheartening to see how early the need to fit in begins. The desire to "do it right" outweighs the desire to do your own thing. I asked a sweet girl named Alex, who had just written "I play with my cat," the name of her cat, only to hear that she didn't really have one, but she saw the girl sitting next to her write that. And then I saw five kids at one table where they had all written "ball" ---maybe because they knew how to spell it.

Then I peek over Aidan's shoulder, where I see him intently copying a word from a book his teacher had read them earlier that week  (Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins), to create this:Img_2922

Of course the page I loved most was this one:Img_2924

I'm stealing an idea from Heather Melzer and setting up an online art gallery for Aidan. For the grandparents' viewing pleasure, for Aidan to get a kick out of, and for relief of some guilt because I recycle piles of his work each week.

These days Aidan wants to be a scientist  when he grows up, "who does all kinds of experiments, especially mixing things and experiments that make sour juice." But right now, he just woke up and wants to snuggle. My second favorite thing about my first born.

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