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Alex is SIX!!

At the moment this posts…  2015-09-13 03:31 UTC (the 12th at 8:31 PM Pacific, 11:31 PM Eastern)… Alex will be exactly 6 years old accounting for leap years and time zones and all the rest.  So…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!!!

As I have done on previous birthdays, here is a quick interview with Alex about turning six… well, almost 12 minutes. So maybe not so quick. I thought about editing it down to five minutes or something, but I was too lazy to take the time.

As usual, I suspect only close family will watch the whole thing. :-)

And now for my usual rundown of things that are different from the last one of these posts (which this time was from when he turned 5).

  • First, to get it out of the way, this summer Alex was diagnnosed on the autism spectrum. In his particular case the parts of this that actually affect anything that requires attention manifest as social anxiety, with some selective mutism. To put it simply, he is very outgoing and self-directed and talks constantly at home or with people he knows very well, but he shuts down quickly in unfamiliar situations, and takes a very long time to become comfortable in those new situations, especially if he is required to interact with lots of people. He is working with a councilor on techniques to make things easier on him, but new people and places are still pretty stressful for him, which sometimes results in him acting out in one way or another, refusing to speak at all, making animal noises instead of speaking, or just plan hiding. That kind of thing.
  • The one other aspect that is actually problematic is that he can be very inflexible with rules he makes for himself. Normally, this is not a problem… this, uh, describes me quite well too…  but one particular rule is one we are working hard to get him to change his mind on. In December, after years of it not being a problem at all, he decided that if he were ever to use any bathroom other than the downstairs bathroom in our house, that would make Daddy die, so therefore no matter what, he would never do that. Which means if he doesn’t come home to “check his trains” at least once every six hours or so he is very uncomfortable, and if it goes past eight or so, we’re in deeper trouble. We really want this particular rule to go away. Not really concerned about any others at the moment. :-)
  • This year Alex lost his dog. He had never known life without a dog. Dog was his first word. Roscoe was his constant companion. It was very sad, and a big deal for a five year old. He mostly tried to be matter of fact about it, but it was clear there was a big hole in his life, and questions and concerns about life and death became a common theme for many months.
  • This year Alex also got a new dog. As of his birthday today, Miley has been with us exactly a week. We have yet to see how everything will work out in the long run, but Alex was very very excited to get the new dog. Perhaps a little too excited, as can be seen in the interview, but we are working on that. By being so submissive to him Miley isn’t really helping to discourage Alex’s excesses though.
  • The once unimaginable has happened. While trains are still a frequent toy, and train games are still played, the train obsession appears to be over. From about age 1.5 to age 4.5, trains were the be all and end all of everything.  Since then they have been slowly fading. Not going away, but fading. He will always have a soft spot for trains I think (and maybe hope a little) but they are now just one of many things, not the center of everything.
  • But, there is a new central obsession, and for almost a year it has been Minecraft. Minecraft wasn’t even mentioned in last year’s birthday post. He started playing soon after, and was instantly hooked. First all creative mode. Then all survival mode for awhile. Now one or the other depending on what he is planning to do and who is going to be playing with him. Minecraft is a family activity, and all of us play with him, sometimes all of us at once, in the same world, cooperating to build things. As each month goes by, his creations have gotten more complex and more creative. He now routinely builds very large complex fully decorated structures. He plans out what he is going to do, builds a outline or scaffolding, then fills in the rest of the structure as needed. Often he acts as the central coordinator, determining the overall plan, then dividing up the necessary tasks between each of the family members he can get to join him. He’s got many Minecraft worlds he is cultivating over time on each and every one of our devices, many of which have now slowly developed over the course of the whole year. Recently, when opening one world, he said “This was one of my very first worlds, see, look, I didn’t know how to do anything yet, everything I built here is RUBBISH! RUBBISH I tell you!”
  • He started riding his actual bike! Sometimes. Occasionally. It still has training wheels on it, and he still PREFERS his push bike (which he calls his “tool bike”), but he has spent time riding his bike around the neighborhood with me. He could probably actually already ride without the training wheels, it is just a confidence thing. He likes what he is already secure with. Thus still prefering the push bike. We’ll probably start raising the training wheels soon…
  • He no longer has a single favorite movie or TV show. He watches a wide variety of different shows, and lots of different kinds of videos on YouTube too. Not much train stuff any more. But lots of Minecraft related stuff. And other “let’s play” kinds of game videos. But other things too. For TV he still primarily like shows that are in some way based on vehicles, but there are a few that are not.
  • For many months he talked about how he wanted to go camping. Eventually, we bought a cheap tent and went camping…  in the yard. He loved it, and he and I ended up sleeping in the tent four or five nights. I asked if that meant he was ready to go camping in the actual woods or something.  He said, no, in the yard was what he had meant all along, and that is the only place he wants to camp. :-)
  • He sneaks into presents. Knowing that one of the Amazon boxes was a present, despite multiple warnings not to open it, he just couldn’t resist. He opened it just enough to peek. He almost lost the present because of it, but he earned it back later, so it was still one of the presents under his Birthday Tree.  (Yes, birthday tree, we did a birthday tree to put the presents under. :-)

As usual, I’m sure there is much more, but that is what I could remember off the top of my head just now. I’m sure it is more than enough for most folks reading this. :-)

[Edit 14:42 UTC to remove an extraneous space.]

[Edit 2016-09-12 07:46 UTC to fix a typo found a year later… “w” -> “few”.]

@ElecCollPolls tweets from 2015-09-12 (UTC)

@abulsme tweets from 2015-09-12 (UTC)