Yesterday, I introduced you to my youngest, The Supplanter. I’ll dedicate today’s post to my oldest, The King.
As I mentioned yesterday, we named him after our grandfathers. A few weeks before we discovered I was pregnant, we were celebrating our final Christmas with my grandmother. She was in kidney failure, so she spent much of the afternoon in bed while the family took turns entertaining her. As we gathered to say our goodbyes, she asked me when I was due. I was trying to figure out what she meant, when she announced to my mother and cousins that I was pregnant. This was news to me and Hubby, but it turned out she was right, since it was shortly after the New Year that I got a positive result on a home pregnancy test. It felt like this was her gift to us, and I knew we had to name the baby after her or Pa, depending on whether we were having a boy or a girl, with the middle names coming from the grandparents on Hubby’s side. The King arrived in mid-September, and helped make that first Christmas without Grandma a little less painful.
It wasn’t long before he earned himself the nickname of Shark Child, based on the notion that sharks never stop moving. The day he learned to roll was one of the happiest days of his life, since it meant he didn’t need to depend on us to explore things just out of reach. I still think he didn’t learn to walk – he learned to run. He ran almost everywhere, and explored almost everything. While he’s not as social as The Supplanter, he was often one of the leaders of the packs of children that would form at the playground, simply because he was one of the most physically daring. Kids followed him because he was the one climbing up the outside of the play structures, or jumping from the top of a platform, or doing some other crazy stunt; he was doing his own thing, and if kids wanted to join in, that was great.
As he’s grown older and bigger, his reserved side is showing more. The fearlessness that he had early on is being replaced by caution after some pretty spectacular accidents, and I’ve noticed him more on the fringes of groups of kids rather than at the center as he used to be. I think it’s been a pretty big adjustment for him, as kids caught up to his physical abilities and some have surpassed him. He was used to being the center of attention because of the things he could do, and it took him a while to learn how to get appropriate attention when he’s not running and jumping and doing stunts. He doesn’t always tell me details, but I think he’s lost a few friends over inappropriate things he’s done, and I think he’s working hard at slowly building up his good reputation again. It’s fascinating to watch how his interests evolve in relation to the people he wants to be friends with, and sometimes it’s a challenge to bite my tongue and let him make his own decisions.
I think it’s probably because he’s always on the move that I feel like it’s a gift when The King curls up with me and tells me about his day. He reads a lot of non-fiction, so he’s full of interesting facts that I never would have guessed he knew. I love talking with The Supplanter, too, but conversations with The King can be surprisingly deep for someone his age; he loves science, and asks thoughtful, detailed questions. Of course, he’s also 8, and takes great joy in anything gross or inappropriate. He has the best giggle, and sometimes Hubby and I go along with The King’s silliness just to get him laughing.
He’s a multi-faceted, complicated child and he’s not always easy to parent, particularly because I think he gets jealous of the attention The Supplanter gets with his much bigger personality. On the flip side, though, the qualities that make The King complicated also make him a really interesting person. He’s hard work, but getting to watch this smart and funny person emerge is just reward.