A little bit of learning is a beautiful thing

IMG_3582It has been awhile since I’ve written.  This is partly due to Brainiac, which is taking up a lot of my writing energy each day, and partly due to the way that not doing something begets not doing it even more.

We have been well, though.  February has been a relatively healthy month for the boys and Caroline’s academic job search is progressing well, such that within a week or two we will know for sure where we’re moving this fall.  A couple weeks ago I took a short trip to Philadelphia, and as the plane took off from Detroit I had an unhappy thought: What if my previous post were to end up being the last words I ever got to write about our family?  I imagined Jay reading it when he is older, and after that I resolved to write less about beer and cursing in the future.

If there’s been a theme to my thinking over the last month it’s been intimacy—as in, how close Caroline and I feel to each other.  We’ve talked a lot about how it’s something that can slip away easily and unnoticed and how it takes deliberate effort to make sure we don’t lose touch with each other.  And while I don’t mean to yadayada over the best part, I’ll save saying more on this topic for later, because…

What I really want to write about are a couple of sterling developments that have made our lives much easier over the last six weeks or so.  They concern Jay who has taken a sudden but inexact interest in time, and who of late really likes to be the first one done with everything.  (And I offer these hopeful notes especially to my sister, who recently gave birth to her second son, and who will undoubtedly need these small graces in the years to come.)

Regarding time, a typical afternoon exchange between Jay and me goes like this:

Me: Today you have to do a 45 minute quiet time.
Jay: Actually, how about five minutes.
Me: Alright, maybe 33 minutes.
Jay: Maybe seven minutes would be better.
Me: Ok, seven minutes.

What’s beautiful about negotiating with Jay is that he can’t actually tell the difference between 45 minutes and seven minutes.  He knows one minute is a really short amount of time—when you tell him something will happen in one minute he’ll stay focused and wait you out—but above one minute he loses track and it ends up being all the same to him.  So, he goes agreeably into quiet time thinking he’s just won a good deal for himself, while I get to go back to work knowing I’ve got an hour, which is what I’d been gunning for all along.

And speaking of winning, the logistics of our days are working better than ever thanks to Jay’s newfound competitive streak.  He calls it beating, as in, “I want to beat,” and he wants to beat at everything: being the first one done with his breakfast, the first boy strapped into his carseat, the first boy brushed and pajama’d and ready for bed.  It’s actually incomprehensible to me that we would have stumbled upon such a perfect synergy between Jay’s desires and mine and Caroline’s and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The only looming complication I see is if Wally starts really wanting to win, too, in which case these fun evening races through the bathroom might get a little too hot.  But for now, Wally is content to shout, “beat, beat,” while counterproductively flailing his legs as Caroline attempts to strap on his nighttime diaper.

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