My elder son, Drake, turned six last week. And no, I can’t say the time feels like its flown. Six years is a chunk of time, and he and I have both come a long way since his challenging birth and babyhood.
During his first year, Drake learned to crawl at six months, and to walk at ten months. He was eager to move on his own. Like most babies, he enjoyed his bouncy seat and being read to, with particular emphasis on the Boynton oeuvre. We lived in a one-bedroom condominium in downtown Minneapolis.
Just after Drake’s first birthday, we moved to a more family-friendly neighborhood in Minneapolis. He and I often went to the coffee shop and the park. We took him to the Convention Grill with our friends the Blogenheimers for his first burger, fries and banana sundae. He’s been a fan of all three ever since. He slept through the night as soon as he got his own room, and in a few months began napping for hours. Slow to talk, Drake called cats “beows” but eventually had a language explosion and learned all the makes of cars in addition to his letters and numbers. By the end of this year, he was making up songs like “Hyundai, Hyundai, Hyundai, the H is falling down!” and “Honda, Honda, Honda, the H is falling up!”
By Drake’s 2nd birthday, we’d found friends and other kids in the neighborhood and through Moms Club and Minnesota’s excellent Early Childhood Family Ed program. He loved trains, cars and his stuffed animal friends. Much to my dismay, Drake stopped napping. At 2 and a half, he became a big brother when Guppy was born. He took this mostly in stride, and discovered that adults were pleased when he patted Guppy’s head gently.
Just after Drake turned three, he started preschool at a nearby park. He loved playing with the remote control for our stereo at home, and listening to different music. Some of his favorite CDs were DJ Shadow and Fat Boy Slim. When Guppy learned to crawl, Drake suddenly realized things were going to change and became very territorial. This was a year of much screaming; they were like grenades that set each other off. Drake still liked to pat Guppy though, and there’s a very cute picture of Guppy with sugar on his head after Drake had mini donuts at the State Fair that year. Our family started to go to Punch pizza and Big Brain Comics every Wednesday, a ritual that Drake loved.
After Drake turned four, he started a different preschool, which he liked a great deal. He learned about planets and dinosaurs, and to write his name. Midway through the year, after I’d suspected it for a while, I knew he’d learned to read. We were at Barnes and Noble Har Mar when he suddenly said, “Cash for Books, Mom!” I looked around, then up at the ceiling. Sure enough, there was the sign he’d just read. Drake’s favorite things were calculators and watches with timers. He rarely left the house without one of these. His favorite toys were marble paths. He loved watching videos on Youtube, particularly of something called “parcour” or free running. He became very good and very fast at riding his tricycle.
When Drake turned five, he discovered the rides at the State Fair, and loved the ones that were fast and high. He tried his first cotton candy, and had his annual Pronto Pup. He started circus school and soccer classes and had fun at both of them. We opted for another year of preschool instead of kindergarten, and were glad we did. A group from the Minneapolis Public Schools evaluated him at preschool and found he was on the autism spectrum. I told him this meant that his brain worked differently from other people’s–for example, he was good with numbers and reading, but not always so good with words. He worked with several different teachers over the months and made a lot of new friends and learned a lot of new things. Drake’s favorite day was Friday, when he could make a mix CD. He’s getting much better at some of the basics, but still tends to like long songs and multiple songs by one band, like Rush. Drake started riding his green bike, but wasn’t ready to take the training wheels off. He loved building series of Hot Wheels stunts and setting the cars in motion. In the spring, our family traveled to Florida, where Drake got dunked a few times in his excitement to be in a pool. During the summer he took swim lessons. Even though he had trouble putting his head under water, he made a lot of progress, and tried very hard for his teachers. He also did summer camp at a local park, and had a great time. After years of picky eating, Drake finally began trying new foods, like salad and tacos and spaghetti. He’s still finicky, but has made a lot of progress and discovered that he loves edamame.
Now at six we’re preparing for this year’s trip to the State Fair, and Drake starts full-day kindergarten next week. He’ll continue with circus, soccer, and making mix CDs. He loves the shows Animalia and Fetch with Ruff Ruffman on PBS, and reading comics to himself. He doesn’t like to walk places, and complains when I make him, but loves to ride the bus. What will the rest of this year bring, I wonder? I look forward to finding out.