When we get together with cousins, it is often difficult for Calvin. Katie is the oldest in her family, and sometimes gravitates towards playing with Ryan (18 months older than her and two grades up) rather than Calvin (6 months younger than her and in the same grade), and since Sophie and Jane are thick as thieves and the boys fall in with Hannah in the "baby" category, Calvin is left to be the 3rd wheel often. When we are with the Barringer cousins, he sometimes fits in with Evie as a playmate, but often it gets divided up as girls playing girly things and boys doing boy things, and then he's the third wheel with Luke and Ryan.
I think it really does make him sad, and I think feeling left out has contributed to his reputation of being the glass-half-empty/Eyore personality over the years. But I am glad to say that in this past year or so, Calvin is working his way past that! He really does have to work hard at it, and I am so proud of him for it! It takes some extra care and attention to talk him through his feelings and what to do about them, but he comes out on the other side with great ideas, a great imagination, and a lot of compassion and observation skills that my other kids don't really have, at least not to that degree. It just seems to make him a deeper little soul, somehow, and I wouldn't trade that for the world!
Calvin's best little buddy is Joey, a little friend from our church, and who was also in Calvin's kindergarten class last year. They love to play games that involve killing pretend ghosts. I am on the fence about how I feel about that game, but they have so much fun doing it, and they are definitely using their imaginations, so I usually don't stop it. But I prefer when they are out in the yard climbing trees and playing camping and stuff like that :)
Calvin likes to play cars with Ryan, but during those kinds of games, Ryan is in charge. But Calvin really LOVES playing pretend games outside with Sophie or with Ryan and Sophie, as long as Ryan isn't being bossy. They pull out camp chairs and make forts, play soccer tag, have races around the yard, all kinds of great kid games. Calvin loves to look for birds and bugs and butterflies and always tries to catch them and make friends with them. He loves to catch the grasshoppers and frogs that he sometimes finds in our yard or our cousins' yard. He is a lover of animals and nature in general, and he is usually very gentle.
He still ADORES Chippy, his hamster. She has turned out to be such a great little hamster for him. She is very friendly and lets him hold her and play with her. We had her out on the floor the other day and she wriggled behind the dresser. I thought we would have to move it and get her out, but instead Calvin sat down nearby and put out his hand and she just came right back out and climbed on him.
Calvin is a very good artist. I love seeing the things he comes up with. In fact, he won 4th place in the coloring contest at the Anoka County Fair this summer (same one that Ryan got 3rd place in 4 years ago), and he was SO excited. The lady called to tell me, and I asked her if she would mind talking to Calvin about it himself, and she obliged. I wish I had it on camera, he was so delighted! It was just the cutest thing ever. I periodically save Calvin's doodles so I can do something with them at some point. In fact, just last month I had one made into a shirt for Michael, and he LOVES it!
Calvin is a very loving and sweet boy. Sometimes it can be hard to motivate him, but usually only if he feels like other people aren't working, so he shouldn't have to, either (cough, cough, Sophie). Once that moment has passed, he is a good and eager worker. He is very compassionate and loving when he notices that someone is sad, and he continues to be the best in our family at sharing. He will share anything with anyone if he senses that it will help them feel better about something. He really is so sweet.
I took Calvin with me on a run the other day at 6:30 AM. We ran 2 miles, with a few walking stretches thrown in when he needed them. He did so great, and I was really impressed. It was just so fun to be with just him, doing something that made him feel so good about himself. He just beamed, and held my hand, and was just the sweetest ever. My heart was just bursting.
Of course, it's not all rainbow and butterflies with Calvin, either. When he senses that he is being dealt with unfairly, he lets out a huge, energetic, "UG-UH!" It's become a verb around here, as whenever he says it, I retort with, "Oh no, don't you ug-uh me!" It often has to do with screen time, and is usually easily remedied by talking through it. And giving him a few minutes to cool down, plus a little extra love and attention. Then he is good to go, once again.
Calvin is our earliest riser. On normal days, it's between 6 and 6:30. If we are on vacation or if we have a guest staying at our house, he is just too excited, and it is more like 5. Calvin occasionally takes naps, but only when we're going to be up very late that night or when he really just can't function happily anymore. That doesn't happen often, but I'm glad that naps are still an option for him when it does happen! He goes to bed well, usually around 8, and lives for his song and back scratch right before bed. He always tells me how nice it feels, and it's just the sweetest.
Calvin is starting first grade next week! It will be a big change for him. He'll be gone all day, eat lunch at school, have actual homework, and his new first grade teacher just arrived from Spain and doesn't speak much English, so I am sure his Spanish will come a long way this year! He is getting pretty good at reading, and can finish beginner kids books by himself now, and we are very proud of him! Early reading is not something we have really worked on with our kids. We encourage them gently and help them when they would like help, but I've just assumed that they will get to it when they are good and ready, and it seems to have worked well so far! I'm glad he is making progress. He is a smart little guy!
I am so proud of the sweet boy our Calvin is. He is such a good brother and friend, and I am so happy to be his momma!
Here are some pictures of the 1st Grade photo shoot I did with Mister Calvin:
This is pretty accurate.
Love this little buddy:
Calvin and Katie. Calvin is such a goof:
Making do with one lens:
Helping Michael with a sawing project earlier this year:
Being a sweet big brother to Hannah:
One of Calvin's pieces of artwork:
Brothers and buddies:
He's always doing faces like this when I ask him to smile:
These he did for Grandma. They say "I heart you".
One evening everyone else went to bed early and Calvin and I drank lemonade in the shade all by ourselves in the back yard. The orange slices on the cups were his idea:
Playing in the sand with Hannah:
Calvin said this was a "Charicature of Christy!" I dig the spirograph necklace.
Calvin's winning picture and check for $4! I love that he turned the dog into a dalmation. I thought that was very creative!
His friend Emily asked him to give him lessons on how to draw sea turtles. It was really cute.
A frog he found in the yard:
Entertaining Hannah with my phone:
Taking a walk with Katie:
The shirt I made for Michael out of Calvin's squirrel drawing: