My preschooler boy is my biggest fan on Earth. I don’t think I will ever-again come across a kid who’d sacrifice his own conveniences for me, who would much rather remain uncomfortably in mannequin-still place if it meant sitting next to mommy. Jrue will squeeze into the tiniest spaces, the strangest positions, the most inopportune moments, even if it risked punishment, just so that I knew that he found me quite satisfyingly appealing. My daughter, Jai, eh, travels around, will have a seat in my lap every now and then, finds my earrings fun to press, but mostly seeks out daddy, the most natural match-up of zodiac signs there. Jrue is just all the way live, every day, for my assurance, attention, and authorization, even when it makes much more common sense to ask daddy.
Especially when he should just ask daddy.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about Jrue and Jai’s tendencies to follow me around the house. With those actions pair an even creepier occurrence: Jrue can seemingly intuit where I am in the house with minimal sight and no sound. Take, for instance, nights when I sleep on the sofa. Both babies are put into bed by 8 p.m., and their brains have no reason not to believe that mommy will sleep anywhere but in her bed. Nevertheless, Jrue is a nightwalker (morning-walker?), up on random mornings at 1:14 a.m. or 3:05 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. because of thirst or wetness or (imaginary) bugs or boredom.
I kid not, Jrue shuffles straight to the couch when I am asleep on it or straight to the bed when I am there…I have never experienced a second when he needed me and was confused as to how to find me. I am a light sleeper and can hear when his bedroom door opens. I listen as his feet pad down the carpeted hallway, then pause. Then, he is there, tapping my shoulder or just standing over me like Chucky doll until I roll over and address the disruption.
It takes me aback because of his 100% success rate. The house is usually dark that time of morning, save for lights from the digital clock display on the stovetop. It never fails, though. I don’t know if he has my latitude and longitude coordinates mentally arranged at all times or a willing compass that corresponds to my location, but he could probably point me out while blindfolded in a busy theme park (which I have no desire to try out, by the way).
Equally, I have experimented physically hiding from him over the years…in the hallway closet, behind the shower curtain in the master bathroom, just inside the garage door. Jrue calmly notifies me that I cannot fool him; if anything, he gives me a look of merriment, as if he’s on to my capers. Or, if I’m locked in a room (intentionally on my side, “in danger” on his side), Jrue will scream bloody murder until I show him that I’m unharmed. The shrieking is appalling.
It’s almost as if…he can smell me.
I’m now wondering about this sense he carries for mom-related following. I was teaching college English courses while Jrue was in utero and my students would notice how he’d shift around, as if taking out his laptop to compose notes on my lectures. When I went on my unexpectedly early maternity leave in March 2013, then bedrest for high blood pressure the month before he was born in June, I spent the days singing and reading to the bump.
As a baby, he only wanted me for soothing most of the time except when staring up at daddy when he spoke in his deep, chromatic tone. Jrue and I spent many cold days inside with books and many warm days walking the sidewalks around mommy’s office singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” until it became his theme song. He would take hour-long rides with me, sat quietly as I taught a class, then sleep peacefully as we returned home in traffic. Jrue’s early experiences with me compared to his sister’s were more well-bonded, I suppose, but because of professional circumstances at the time and because, hey, he was our first-born, with all of the first-born nervousness that arrived with him.
Jrue even told me I was having a girl baby when mommy and daddy learned of Jai’s presence by staying under me, clingy, all the time and babbling about “J2.” It’s something like an old wives’ tale but, melded with the more intense sickness I had, Jai was undeniably a girl from six weeks on.
Jrue shows more than a sixth sense for when mommy is relaxing. It’s at a greater skeletal level. His closeness to me is an embedded partiality of his self, less than an impenetrable conjoining, more than a mere protection. His concerns are sincere. His questions are earnest. I call him “No Fun Julius” in a humorous nod to singer Beyonce’s pseudo-famous bodyguard, particularly when he gets jealous around daddy. It is true that his level of empathy and instinct appears sharp for a child his age, which may further explain his adjacency to me. Additionally, with Jrue’s high level of sensitivity, I can really freak him out if I yell, but it’s sometimes a preferred discipline over spanking him when he gets outside of safety zones.
I have no idea if it’s his birth order or a combination of birth order and gender. It could be just his personality now that will change as he ages and grips a stronger, more mature sensation of love. Undoubtedly, I am currently unable to get too far from my son. I feel as if he may be watching me through a window right now.
Okay, no. Whew.
West, Julia. “Informal Study: Children Officially Have a 6th Sense to Know When Mom is Busy.” Mothering, Sep. 8, 2016, http://www.mothering.com/articles/informal-study-children-6th-sense-know-mom-busy/. Accessed Oct. 1, 2017.