ander is not much of a talker.
sometimes i think it's a gender thing, you know, where females, in general, are more talky than males. i think he'll grow up to be a strong-but-not-so-silent type of man. he can often be found humming or singing or recalling stories or reciting poetry. but he's not a big communicator in the way lots of kids his age are.
sometimes i think it has to do with the fact that he spends a great deal of time in a household with a very talky older sister and equally very talky mother. maybe he doesn't say much, at least in comparison to us, because he really can't find the time or space to get a word or two in edgewise.
or perhaps he's just a much better listener than diana or me or lots of other kids his age. he watches and waits and looks and listens and observes and absorbs everything, it seems. i tend to forget that when i am engaged in conversation with diana or another child or another adult. he's there and he is present, even during the times when i think he is not.
over the past couple of days he has astonished me. maybe he's been doing these things all along and i only just now slowed and quieted down enough to really see.
or maybe it's just a matter of timing, and the time was right, right then.
he was playing with some duplo trains/tracks we borrowed from the woodland toy library. he was very pleased with the little station he built and the train he put together. he had connected an engine to four cars of various kinds and stuck a second engine on the back end. he proudly counted the six cars, one by one. then he disconnected the train equally in half and proclaimed, "six minus three is three." but of course it is! then he took one of the trains and moved it around the tracks, saying "three minus three equals...ZERO!" absolutely! train math, the very best kind of math there is right now.
he asked to listen to tmbg's here comes science cd. during meet the elements, he asked if we had any elements. i went to the garage to find the large laminated periodic table and also pulled out, just for grins, the laminated placemat with the uppercase alphabet on one side and the lowercase alphabet on the reverse side. when he saw that, his eyes widened and he asked for blue sticky stuff and stuck it up on the wall. he asked for a dry erase marker, and by golly, he traced all the letters. then he turned it over and did all the others. and was happy about it! the last time i saw him do any voluntary writing was tracing the letters into shaving cream on the bathtub wall, and that was many, many months ago.
and then there was the reading. we'd checked out sally sutton's demolition a few weeks back and he adored it, all of the sounds it described and the illustrations of big machines and the descriptions of such common, everyday, household terms as rotational hydraulic shears.
i checked online to see if the author had written similar books. she had. only one, but one was enough to show me just how much he connected with the author's style.
ander's eyes lit up when he saw i had found roadwork at the library. we snuggled on the couch to read, and, as i usually do, i waited at the first page to give him time to decide and let me know if he wanted to read it aloud or have me do it. he started in, and immediately he recognized and applied the marvelously-written cadence of the words and phrases just like i had done for him in the previous book. he pointed out words he recognized from the other book, reveled in being able to quickly identify the rhymes, and dramatically read the onomatopoetic sounds the machines made. he hesitated only a couple of times on words like hoist and squelch but confidently tried them out and then repeated them correctly when i gently offered my version of how it could sound.
when we were at the park the next day, playing with a friend while diana was in her weaving class, he pulled the book out of the bag and started to read aloud. linus wandered over to see what ander was doing, then listened and watched intently as ander read with enthusiasm and vigor, pausing now and then to check in with me on proper pronunciation. linus must have been sufficiently impressed with the clarity of ander's reading, as he reached over and pulled out gail gibbons' trains book and asked ander, "would you read this book to me?"