When TGG and J were very young, I had read Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle to them so frequently that I could recite it without hesitation. For one who doesn’t easily grasp abstract concepts, J seems to have taken to heart Yertle’s dictum of being the ruler of all that he sees. With very little hesitation and absolutely no qualms, he happily marches towards home every single afternoon and, after starting his snack, changing his clothes, putting away his school things, and gathering his movies and iPad, removes himself to his inner sanctum.
Gone are the doubts about whether J will like his ginormous bean bag or not. Gone are the hesitation and worry about whether he will feel isolated in the Bear Cave (as TGG fondly refers to this room.) Gone is the concern about J being bored. If anything, J is all too comfortable and all too happy in his extra room, and he allows us in for brief periods of time, but it’s very clear (and not to be forgotten) that it is his kingdom.
Oh, he loves us. We know this. He positively BEAMS when we walk in, but we’ve yet to determine if this is pure, unadulterated love or simply “ah! A minion arrives!!!!” We’ve yet to encounter the contempt of The Caterpillar when Alice approaches, even though J definitely looks as at-home on his bean bag as The Caterpillar looks on his toadstool.
While navigating from his bedroom to this most delightful of areas in the house, J can turn into the Mayor of Halloweentown, turning on a dime from happy to annoyed if we try to stop him to help with something.
It’s been made clear to him, however, that the proximity of the J-Cave to the laundry room has a built-in obligation to monitor all loads, incoming and outgoing, that pass by his door. He accepts this burden with as much grace as he can, and that’s not saying much. The other night he gave me a look of total irritation and annoyance when I said “but aren’t you going to help me FOLD these clothes???” With a heavy sigh he sat on the floor, a look that said “well, I guess…if I must…but it’s under duress that I do this.”
I don’t blame him. I wish I could go into that room when he’s not home and just curl up. I wish I had the lovely heated blanket with red velvet on one side and sherpa lining on the other. I wish I had the three sources of light that can take the mood from “let’s get ready to rumble!!!!” to Tchaikovsky’s Arabian Dance with just a few clicks.
It would be very easy for J to go overboard with that room. That is: if J wanted to hunker down and not leave the room unless we forced him to, it would be easily done. We can hear him through the baby monitor (and, thank goodness, he can hear us,) and he has a bathroom nearby. Turning that room into a refuge he doesn’t want to leave is very easy, but J has figured out that too much of a good thing (like sleeping through the night there) is not advisable. Every night, immediately after his shower, he calls roll, waits for TGG to get home and, with nary a complaint, packs his things and moves up to his bedroom. Behind him stay the darkened room, the neatly folded blankets (he has the heated throw and another blanket so furry and soft it’s like hugging a Golden Retriever puppy,) and no mess for anyone to clean when he leaves for school in the morning.
He knows (and we’ve got the PECS for it) that on Saturday and Sunday mornings (as well as on holidays,) he can go down to the room and get settled, allowing anyone else who wants to stay in bed a little longer to rest uninterrupted. He knows that meals are taken at the table, and that he is responsible for taking out the trash and dusting and wiping. He knows (because I told him this morning) that he has to vacuum his rooms today, and he’s put it on the board as a reminder. After years of ignoring it, the PECS for BEAN BAG now figures prominently in the rotation, and he has taken to skipping his “candy stop” at the office in order to get home faster…
J loves his whole new house. I think he feels he’s seen it grow from an empty lot into the full-fledged home it is now. That he has a soft spot for his rooms (which are neat as a pin and completely organized and decorated) over the rest of it is understandable. The process of getting the whole thing done on time, and of adjusting to the changes in his routine while we were getting settled in was not easy for any of us. If Dada and I could take time off from our schedules, we would; we have been falling asleep on the couch a little too easily. J’s booming voice, calling out names to make sure we’re here and not off somewhere gallivanting, is the only thing that jars us awake. We know this whole thing took its toll on him, too. We have, several times now, found him neatly tucked in under his blanket, pleasantly snoozing on his bean bag while waiting for TGG to get home from class. It’s a nap, not a way to assign this room as his bedroom…as soon as we say “hey, J! Bedtime!” he leaps to his feet, gathers his things and heads up to bed.
In the downstairs TV room, we hear him giggle, hum, sing, laugh, talk to himself. In the bedroom upstairs we hear YELLOW BUS SCHOOL. As we tuck him into bed, turning off lights and fluffing up pillows, the downstairs room seems forgotten. YELLOW, he says. YELLOW, we repeat. BUS, he adds. BUS, we confirm. SCHOOL?, he asks. SCHOOL, we answer. And we say goodnight and step outside and through the door it cycles again twice more…YELLOW BUS SCHOOL, YELLOW BUS SCHOOL, accentuated by yawns.
The other is where the wild things wait for him.
No matter…all over the house, he IS The Emperor…