14 March 2013

Updating ~ What's up with these kids of ours: Jonathan

No, we don't yet claim a hedgehog as a child.

Our kids might like that, though!

They're all, Jonathan included, keeping an eye on the hedgehog obstetric triage that has moved into the storage room off the carport, though... and trying to keep the cats out so the newborns have at least a fighting chance!

Hedgehogs are one of those "favorite things about living in Niger" for our kids. How can you not fall in love with something so adorable, right? 

That's very much the way I feel about our Jonathan.

He's enthusiastically all boy: 

He loves to:  
  • run and play, 
  • ride bikes, 
  • dig in the sand, 
  • throw mudballs at walls he when and where he shouldn't be, 

  • catch critters, 
  • play computer games, 
  • monopolize both games of strategy and chance, 
  • build tree houses out of banana leaves, 
  • chase the goats, 
  • harass the cats, 
  • wrestle with his big bro and any of big bro's friends who will humor him, 
  • swim,
  • dive,

  • throw a softball around,
  • hang out with his friends, 
  • go to parties at his friends' houses,
  • play and build with legos,
  • love on his younger-than-him friends,
  • watch Star Wars animations Brendan downloads from the Internet,
  • invite company over for dinner... or doughnuts... or on a good day - only a movie - without warning his mama first,
  • watch Tom and Jerry and giggle at the antics until all of the rest of us have sore tummies from laughing so hard at his unabashed giggling, 
  • chase everyone else out of bed in the morning - especially on Saturday,
  • read,
  • and read his Bible.

He's a good student - although he hasn't yet developed the habit of completing his work with painstaking precision. He grasps concepts and ideas quickly, memorizes effortlessly and he wants to finish his work tout de suite so that so he can get back to the really important business of doing what he wants. That surprises me because he can be quite obsessively compulsive about other things... like always wearing socks with his tennis shoes, making sure his waistband ALWAYS covers his bellybutton, slamming and locking the bathroom door loud enough to wake me up at the other end of the house at least once during the night every night, and never being caught without his shirt on unless we're at the pool (that's for you, Gammie!).

He's a rotten dishwasher - but a great salsa maker (under the supervision of Mama), cake batter stirrer, bathroom picker-upper and he has the makings to be a pretty good laundry guy as well. I haven't let him try ironing... yet.

He usually gets dressed for school the night before after he takes his shower. That will have to change next year since I don't think the uniforms he'll be wearing will look as neat as they should if he persists with said habit. 

He likes to wear orange and red together... or go totally monochrome... and that drives me crazy. He thinks the dark blue fuzzy socks Air Maroc hands out on the airplane are super stylish. Help!!! 

He usually remembers to brush his teeth - except for those times he totally forgets for like... a week at at time...

He adores his big bro (with good reason) and we think he really does like his big sisters most of the time even though he tells us he only puts up with them. He, Victoria and Anna actually get some pretty great imagination games going on when they are outside directing the two little girls and coercing the goats, cats and dogs to participate.

He doesn't complain a lot. He can be running a sky high temp and feel really lousy and I won't have a clue until I give him a hug before bed or something. He's too busy being busy to let feeling bad slow him down. That scares me about him, sometimes. 

He does complain about little things, like when he's hungry or if I fix something to eat that he doesn't really enjoy. But he knows he has to take as many bites as he is old without complaining or I'll make him eat the entire plate... or bowl... or whatever. He doesn't like strawberries or raspberries - unless they are in jelly. Crazy, I know!  That fact alone makes me wonder if he truly got any of my genes. He thinks peanut butter on baguette is the only, truly genuine breakfast food - unless Daddy is willing to make pancakes. And then he puts peanut butter on his pancakes and drowns them in syrup (maple... except I recently ran out of maple flavoring so now he's stuck with brown sugar and vanilla)!

He is a genuine extrovert. He loves people and rarely meets a stranger or someone he isn't willing to like. He wants to see that everybody is included in games... most of the time... even his sisters. He thinks his daddy is the coolest guy in the whole wide world. Gentle, compassionate and loving, he helps take care of those younger than him. When he disappears, often we find him "babysitting" one of his little buddies at the playground or entertaining them in the kiddie pool.

He can be stubborn - once he gets an idea in his head, he perseverates (is that really a word?) on that idea until he drives others crazy. He is so competitive with board games that sometimes he tries to cheat and win. First he gets mad then hurt and finally sheepish when he's confronted about it. He has a gentle, mischievousness that endears him, unless it makes you want to strangle him, but that usually only lasts for a few seconds. Like I said, usually. He cries easily when he's overtired.

I expect him to miss Niger next year, especially two of his just about from birth friends that are on home assignment right now (it has been nearly a year since he last saw them already) and who we will not see again until who knows when. We leave for the States before they return to Niger. He talks about them... asks about them... often. He'll miss his new buddies from this year as well - especially a California guy, also in second grade who lives just down the hill. They hang out and play, almost every day.

He's an excellent student, a voracious reader and likes to get the best grade he can. I don't have to remind him to do his homework. He's totally on top of that all by himself. His biggest struggles in school next year will have to do with listening well (he has a tendency to hear only what he wants to hear or already expects to hear), completing his work carefully instead of as quickly as possible, and hopefully his classmates will be gracious with him as he continues to work on his speech and language issues. Improvement has taken place this year, but since I don't really know what to do to help him, I feel like we are only muddling through. I'm more convinced that this improvement comes from increasing maturity and not because of anything I've done other than remind him to try to say things properly and to practice a new sound once we figure it out.

Some specific prayer requests for Jonathan?
  1. We hope to see his speech will continue to improve and we will be able to resume speech and language services through the public school once we return to Midland and school starts back up.
  2. We are praying that he finds new friends, soon, and that he keeps his joyful attitude in almost all things.
  3. We expect him a hard adjustment as Brendan leaves for college and he becomes the only boy sibling  at home. I'm praying that he and Brendan find a way to maintain their big bro-lil' bro closeness, even from a distance.
  4. He has not had the opportunity to participate in organized sports the way most kids growing up in Midland have. Thus, his skills in those areas are behind where many of his peers are. Hopefully he will find a niche in something active that he loves.
  5. Not having the freedom to run and play all over will seem restricting to him. Pray that he adjusts graciously.
  6. Good health physically, emotionally and spiritually! With his tender heart, he can become sad. And he'll be going on 9, starting 3rd grade. At least in our experience, kids that age get sick a lot anyways and changing countries, continents and climates only exasperates that experience.

I JUST LOVE being this boy's mama!!!
What a gift...


  1. Replies
    1. he is and i wouldn't have it any other way!

  2. no wonder they are such good friends! for most of this post we could have slipped out jon-boy's name and put in my tom-boy! just as an encouragement, i was very concerned about tom's year this year, especially about friends. who would play pretend animals? who would be gentle enough not to break his heart or give him calluses on his gentle heart? but God answered over and above what i could have imagined. the hardest part now will be having to say good bye to the dear friends he has made this year. so thankful that God cares about our kiddos and their gentle, animal loving, think i'm an amazing athlete, but don't have many real skills, selves. these posts are making me teary, don't know if i'll be able to even read nadia's. how can they-we! say goodbye from afar? and who will eat nims and rice with us? boo hoo hoo!

    1. love you, girl! you just made me cry. in many ways, they are two peas in a pod, aren't they? nadia's is still a few days away... sigh.

      have i told you recently that i miss you... and that we all agree nems and rice just don't taste nearly as good without the ian rideouts to share 'em???



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