I started reading the book "Raising Your Children With No Regrets" on a friend's recommendation, and I'm only halfway finished but one piece of advice has stuck with me over the past few weeks. The author said to "Become a student of your child"-- to study them and learn their mannerisms, their moods, their reactions and personality traits-- because parents teach their children about themselves. Parents help children begin to understand themselves and we may misguide our children if we only see what we want to see in our children, or if we only see their shortcomings and the things they do that drive us crazy. Our perception of them affects their perception of themselves, so we want to understand them well!
I've reminded myself off and on throughout the days of this advice and tried to really observe Jake, rather than coexist with him and make it through another day. I watched him last night before bed as he flipped through his Bible, moving his head left and right to study the pictures on each page before flipping to another page and I thought, "He is thorough". I've realized that he is very cautious outside because he motions for my hand as he steps over roots or down uneven ground. He can do his own thing for a while, playing with toys or books in the living room, but he always comes back to me and gets involved in what I'm doing. If I'm in the middle of cooking I do my best to get on his level for a minute and give him a hug, but a hug usually isn't enough so up he comes onto the counter to watch what I'm doing. Jake loves to help me unload the dishwasher or put clothes into the dryer, and he brings me things from all over the house which I have to take from him (and keep, there's no fooling him). He either talks or he doesn't, and it takes some coaxing to talk if he's feeling quiet. I'd guess he'll be an introvert because he rarely talks to other people until he's spent some time with them. Last night we were at church and I watched Jake wander through the room for quite a while, but he resisted every person's attempt to pick him up and I saw a little of myself in him: I like to be around people, but I don't always need to interact with them. Based on how many times throughout the day he sits in my lap while we read books, I think one of his love languages may be quality time.
You're our favorite kid in the entire world, J. We love you too much!