The thing, with Noah, is that his victories, however small, are so hard-fought for. And harder won. Little things like preschool, karate class, swim lessons, riding a bike, talking to another child or simply using an idiom or bit of slang correctly are huge for him, and for us to witness. He is playing a constant game of catch up.
And we are his cheerleaders, celebrating every baby step and breakthrough, screaming from the rooftops.
And then there's Ezra.
Things come easily for Ezra. What once was a sigh of guilty relief over his "typicalness" is now a gasp of wonder at all the things he can do already, at his seeming bottomless well of innate talents and abilities.
He doesn't just talk. HE TALKS. Full sentences. Every word he hears he immediately absorbs and starts to use. He talks about things he sees and thinks and did earlier that day and would like to do tomorrow Nouns, verbs, abstract concepts and feelings and scenarios playfully pulled from his imagination. He asks questions, he wants to know what and why and when and how come, and he ponders your answers with a seriousness in his eyes that looks so out of place right above his chubby baby cheeks. I might not catch every word of it -- his two-year-old tongue is not always up to his much-older-than-that vocabulary -- but I understand more than enough. We have conversations.
He is social and affectionate. Strong-willed and determined. He will not let fear or failure stand in his way of trying new things. "Too young, too small, too little" mean nothing to him in his furious quest to master all big-kid things. The self-critical, perfectionist streak I admittedly passed on to his older brother seems to have skipped over Ezra completely, replaced with boundless optimism and a refusal to quit trying until he gets something right.
Not that he even needs to try that hard, that often. He can pedal a bike, kick a ball, hold a crayon, use a spoon, run and jump and climb and balance. He can count to 12 and name all his shapes and remember EVERYTHING after a single viewing, hearing or doing. He's funny and he knows it, irresistably naughty and mischeiveous and he knows a hug and a kiss will melt any and all of my defences. "Thank you you're welcome," he says, after offering me some pretend pasta from his pretend picnic spread.
He is the biggest little person I've ever met in such a compact, cuddly package.
He followed Noah to karate and watched from the sidelines, once, then rushed in to demostrate a perfectly mimicked forward kick at the target. The teacher's eyes grew wide. "Wow. He's a natural," he said, genuinely impressed.
"Hi-YAH!" Ezra said. Then he put his arms down and bowed. HE BOWED. HOW DID HE KNOW TO BOW?
I worry. I worry that it will be hard for Noah to see his little brother naturally excel at the things he struggles with. And God, aren't enough things hard enough for him, already? Ezra, of course, idolizes Noah. Worships the ground he builds Lego castles on. They bicker and argue, but things only get really heated when Noah is doing something that Ezra can't, or simply can't yet. I worry that those roles are already getting reversed.
So I say things like, "Noah is soooo talented musically, you know, he has perfect pitch and already makes up his own songs and if we can just get his fine motor skills up where they need to be I bet we can really set him loose on a piano and..."
Ezra sings loud and terribly off-key, you see. And then I worry even more, because I know what I'm doing, right there, and it's awful and not fair, that my pride in my second child gets colored by concerns for my first.
Oh Ezra, you are so uniquely, breathtakingly amazing. I hope I tell you that enough. You blow my heart up every day with pride and laughter and I love you so, so crazy much.
I'm your cheerleader too, and you're never going to get rid of me embarassing you from the sidelines of whatever thing you choose to do, because I already know you'll be the greatest and most brilliant boy to ever attempt whatever that thing you choose to do is.