Finn at the Fire Station

He loved fire trucks so much when he was younger that for his second birthday we threw him a “fire truck” themed party — without a real fire truck. The truth is that he loved them from afar, where they were less noisy, and less, well, scary.

When some good friends called to say they had arranged for a tour of the Miami Beach Fire Station this winter break, I told Finn that we should go. “I don’t want to ride on a fire truck,” he responded. “It’s too loud.” “You won’t have to ride on it,” I said. “We can just get a close look while it’s not moving.”

So when his friends Summer and Skye shot water out of the fire hose, Finn watched. When they rode around on the paramedic beach rescue buggy, he waved. When they tried on the oxygen mask, he left the room.

But he did check out the controls…

…and spin around the fire pole…

…and after much, much cajoling, get into the driver’s seat of a brand-new fire truck:

The fireman was so pleased to see Finn finally¬†embracing what he assumed to be all-things-fire-truck that he shouted up, “Having fun, buddy?”

What did Finn scream back? “I’m inside a submersible!”

Oh, this boy of mine!

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Finn’s art

In watching Finn create holiday cards throughout the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a relatively significant and somewhat sudden change in his artistic representations of things. Up until recently, he’s specialized in “abstract art,” such as in his early summer painting, which he entitled “Porcupines sleeping in their beds”…

…and in “The Ferris Wheel,” which he created after our July ride on the giant ferris wheel at Chicago’s Navy Pier:

And of course there were the late summer and early fall ocean scenes, filled with colorful, darting fish and blue water:

In October, as he turned three, he still preferred to depict the world — and universe — as chaotic and colorful, such as in this painting of our Solar System, with Earth in the upper right-hand corner, the sun at the bottom, and Mars and Neptune (as he rebelliously insisted) in between them:

In November, he added things like (giant) eyes to his ocean creatures…

Then when I suggested this month that he create holiday cards for his teachers, I was surprised to see his more realistic depiction of Ms. Mary, complete not only with appropriately placed facial features, but with details such as (three) fingers at the end of each arm, blue hair on top of the (somewhat large) head, an actual torso, and a couple of (less detailed) classmates:

What an incredible difference between Finn’s attempts to paint Ms. Mary in August, and then again this month, even though he was less than satisfied with the final results:

The next day he drew a picture on a card for his “practical life” teacher, Ms. Olga, whom he decided to place inside of a house:

…and then there was a cyclops next to a kite:

But my absolute favorite — the one I wouldn’t let him give away — was the picture he afterward held up and reflected upon, astutely exclaiming, “This guy eats unhealthy food every day!”

Although it’s likely that his Montessori school’s attention to fine motor skills and his exposure to the older students in his class have both influenced his artistic representations, I also understand that there are particular stages of brain development that take children from “scribbling” to more a more deliberate use of shape and form.

It’s SO FASCINATING to witness such a clear outward manifestation of the complex and mysterious changes going on inside my boy’s brain… and it’s so precious to hear him reflect upon and tell stories about his own creations.