Our grandson Henry is now entering the second half of his second year, and his personality is developing in purely delightful ways. We’ve been fortunate to babysit two days a week during the school year, and each morning brings us so many gifts. Henry is a dancer, an exuberant, playful child whose facial and vocal expressions are often given to joyful surprise. Keeping up with him as he dashes about the house can be a chore, but Teresa and I are happy to do it. Besides keeping a watchful eye on him as he goes up and down stairs, we just don’t want to miss out on his discoveries. He now knows how to turn light switches off and on, how to plug in lamps, how to turn on the electric piano. And, of course, he’ll do all of those things four or fives times in succession, never tiring of the experience.
The kid is also an organizer. He loves to put things in order, such as putting his toys away when he’s finished playing with them (well, most of the time), or figuring out how things fit together. Even at his tender age, he is an analyst, and because he is a keen observer of what others around him do, he practices a lot around the house. For instance, the other day, he found Teresa’s comb, and even though his hair is coming in nicely, he still doesn’t have much to work with on top. Still, last week he looked up at me as he ran the pick above his locks. He doesn’t have the hang of the practice yet, but he knows that’s what the rest of us do. The same applies to taking walks or visiting the park. When he wants to go, he’ll come over to me with his jacket in hand and a pair of his shoes. After I put them on for him, he’ll go pick up my shoes and bring them back to me. There’s no mistaking what’s on his mind, even if he can’t yet express it verbally.
What tickles me most, however, is Henry’s generosity. When he was younger and just learning to eat for himself, his folks and Teresa and I would make sure that he had small bites of food to grab and place in his mouth. Cheerios, blueberries, buttered toast cut into small squares. As he got better and better at picking up the pieces and feeding himself, I loved to watch his eyes twinkle while he chewed, and often he would pick up a bit, hold it out for us to see, and then pop it into his mouth with a huge smile. But every once in a while, he would extend that piece to me so that I could share. Of course, sometimes he held out an offering after it had already been in his mouth, but what’s a little saliva between friends?
Henry’s new sharing is with his family’s cats. Two of them, Homer and Scout, are the beneficiaries of the lad’s sense of fairness. Three or four times a day, he will open the low cabinet that holds cat food and pull out a package of Temptations. Though he can’t yet open the pouch himself, he’ll bring it to me so that I can pour out three or four treats. He’ll then take his bounty over to one cat and hold one out till it nips it from his fingers. That always brings a giggle. Then the next one goes in or is placed just in front of the kitty. The other day he started with Scout, but he didn’t give her the other two treats. Those he took over to Homer so that he could have his own snack. As you might imagine, we repeat that process three or four times a day, but the equity is always in place.
I read once that our personalities are pretty well-established by the time we reach the age of three. Henry is over halfway to that mark, and already I can see the wonderful boy, teenager, and man he will someday be. And the best part? He’s going to make so many other lives better just by being who he is.
We know that he’s already touched our lives forever.