Thursday, November 26, 2009

Israel in words and moving pictures


This month there has been much to record in the lives of my children. It's becoming harder and harder to capture them in pictures. And as for Israel, the rule that observing things changes them certainly applies; if you are seeing him, he has most likely changed into someone else. He is easily overwhelmed by people. So I thought I would share the little boy I spend my days with with you.

Israel is in many ways still the infant I knew over two years ago. He's still very determined and easily made "mad" over things not going exactly according to his plan. He does not do things half-way. He likes things to be just so. But he is also very loving and tender and spontaneous in his own way. He speaks pretty well for himself these days, so here are a few stories from his life this month to let you in on what a great kid he is to have around.
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After he had been misbehaving (being mean in word and deed toward our very patient dog), I was talking to him about what I expect of him:
"I want you to be a kind and gentle person," I said.
"No, I not," Israel said.
"Israel, I want you to be a kind and gentle person."
"No. I not a person."
"Yes, you are a person. All people are persons."
"No, I not person."
"Israel, all people are persons. If you are a people, you are a person. You're a people; you're a person. I'm a person, Daddy's a person...all people are persons." I was baffled because Israel correctly uses the word "people" all the time. Did he think I was calling him a name? What in the world was so bad about being called a person?
He got loud and emphatic: "No, I not!" He pointed at my purse hanging on the back of a chair. "I not a purse-on!"
I can't argue with that.
"I want you to be kind and gentle."
"I not a purse-on."
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He is learning the colors red and green while we drive around town these days. I was recently stopped at a light, waiting to turn left. The arrow turned green. I pushed the gas and could almost anticipate what came next.
Israel started, "You ha' tuh 'top."
"It was green, Israel. I know you might not have seen it."
"We ha' tuh 'top."
"I know. The big light was red, but the little arrow was green, so it's okay. Green means go."
"We ha' tuh 'top, Mommy. We ha' tuh 'top."
I was glad when we saw the next red light. "This one is red, so we can stop now, Israel."
Everything as it should be.
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Israel is deliberate. He does not leave things up to chance. While this can be frustrating or funny, it makes the way he loves that much more meaningful.

As I said, observing Israel most often changes him a lot. He clams up and tells me he "don't ha' tuh say, 'hi,'" to you or just leaves his response at, "No!" upon seeing you. It's a shame and I haven't quite figured out what to do yet. Sometimes I think he's afraid; sometimes it seems he's just being contrary for no good reason; sometimes I think he's just painfully shy. There have been only a handful of people Israel has taken to right away and he met one of those precious few this month: Ange. (He was too little to remember the last time he saw her.) She was the rare exception and it made my heart happy to see. Many of you likely remember Ange from our wedding at least, as she was my maid of honor. She's across the ocean these days, but I tell my kids to call her "aunt" so they'll know they're close to her, even if they hardly see her. She is not overwhelming in any respect, apparently. Israel was himself and played with her right away. Here's Israel's first piano duet with Aunt Ange.

video
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Israel and I often play the "guess what" game these days. It's always playful. I started it by asking "Guess what?" before I said, "I love you." That evolved to Israel asking "Guess what, Mom. Guess what," and being entirely confused when I would answer, "What?" Now, he just anticipates my first answer for the most part and says either, "Mommy love Izzo," or "I love Mommy." But then he suddenly made it his own. I said, "Israel, guess who I like." He smiled.
"Israel, guess who I like."
"I like zou." (Zou = you)
"You like me? ...I like you!"
" I like zou, Mommy. I like zou," and he reached out to hug my face. He put his hands on my cheeks and played with my hair like I often do to him. "I like zou."
I almost cried. "I like you, too, Israel."
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And tonight he came to me after I changed his sheets and made his bed and said, "Thank you...for make-ih my bed, Mommy. It...it...it make me happy you make my bed."
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He loves his books. He chooses the story of David and Goliath and reminds himself, "I no need be 'cared (scared)." He reads to his animals. He asked me to take this picture of him with his animals. These are his "special" ones: lion and bear. And his blanket. These are the things he loves. Before I took this picture, he had been reading to Lion and Bear. He takes care of Bear and often asks to clean his ears out for him or insists that, though he himself does not need to be sung to, I need to sing to Bear and kiss Bear goodnight. It's tender.
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I thought I would let him read a book to you. I quickly realized we couldn't read the whole book in the 60 seconds allotted by the camera, but you get the idea. He's memorized nearly the whole thing!

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Israel has also become quite the chef these days. Here he is, hard at work in his pajamas, making a splendid side dish to accompany the turkey that was in the "big" oven.
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