We almost missed Turkey Day fun with 4-year-old Henry and his big sister Sophie and brother Sam. The stomach bug snagged him out of circulation as we approached their house. “He is sick,” his mom warned us
“We'll come later.”
While we waited we found and bought a used child's train set, just right for Henry, who announced a week before Turkey Day, “I'm glad I am not a turkey. Aliens eat turkeys.”
No one knows where that fact of life originated. Henry just knows things. Like the day he told his mother, “That's my bear.”
She asked, “Did you get it today?”
“No, tomorrow, when I was a baby.”
He may not have been born tomorrow but today he already embraces his mother's penchant for the modern music she frequently listens to in the car with Henry as they run errands and pick up siblings. Sophie prefers Disney Radio and recently asked her mom, “Would you turn off the rock and roll station and switch to Disney.?”
From his car seat in the back, Henry protested, “I want rock 'n' roll!” He even prefers it for his bedtime lullaby, according to his mom's Facebook post.
His culinary tastes, however, remain locked in typical kid preferences. Recently, his mom made oriental food. She loved it. Sam devoured two bowls. Henry tried it and put his fork down. Sophie took one taste, went to the cupboard and made mac and cheese to share with Henry.
She knows what he likes just as I know he likes floor puzzles. So with an hour before church I said, “I have a puzzle. Do you want to do it?”
He nodded and danced eagerly around me as I found it and laid it on the floor. Grandpa found a low seat and began sorting, “Look for these with the straight sides,” he told Henry.
For half an hour the two studied the pieces and twisted them around to find the perfect fit.
While they laid out puzzle, Sophie pulled out her hand sewing. She took a yard of fabric and chopped out a square to make a doll pillow. She stabbed the needle along the edges with galloping stitches, turned it inside out, stuffed it and closed it with a puckered seam. She smiled at her finished product and chopped out a larger piece of fabric to make a doll mattress - just like her grandma at that age.
Puzzle finished, Henry found a plastic sword and swished it at Sam asking, “You wanna fight?” as he feinted left and right.
Naturally, within minutes, Henry whacked Sam hard and the sword transferred into Momma's hand. It will happen again. If it had been warm outside, both would have found sticks to drag around and use as swords until one or the other got hurt.
It was definitely time for an inside toy. I pulled out the battery operated toy train with its heap of plastic tracks. Henry and Sam eagerly plopped down with Grandpa and began building a complex layout of a circle inside an oval with hand switches at the junctions. Henry set the train on the track and turned it on.
Sam moved the track switch as the train approached.
“No, Sam! Not that way.” Henry protested. Sam moved the switch again.
Grandpa established a “take turns” rule.
We had to leave the next day, the train didn't. His mom sent a picture of him with the track, “He is happy you left this here.”
And happy, I'm sure, to be 4 and alone with the track while Sam goes to school.
Joan Hershberger is a retired journalist who lives in Parkers Chapel just south of El Dorado.