With the exception of one small doll, that he'll carry around and endearingly refer to as "Baby", he does not like any toy that is pink - soft - or cuddly. He is very rough and tumble. He loves to run - be chased - and wrestle. Henry loves tools. He loves trucks. He loves robots and dragons and dinosaurs. But most of all (and next only to Buzz Lightyear), he loves little race cars.
I accompanied Henry to the church nursery this past weekend.
Based upon what all the workers had told me about how Henry morphs in to a vicious child - ambushing the other children and causing a host of violent problems - I was fully prepared for the worst. Instead, what I observed was that Henry zoned in on a play race track that had several of the "characters" from the movie, Cars.
There was Mater and the Hudson Hornet, the green one whose name escapes me, the blue one whose name escapes me, the yellow one whose name escapes me, and the teal one whose name (also) escapes me. Most of all though, Henry clutched on to the famous red Lightning McQueen and wouldn't let go.
Everything was going great, until a little boy toddled over and tried to pull Lighting McQueen out of Henry's hands and my son went nuts. Although ballistic is perhaps a better word. If his language was advanced enough to include profanity, there would have been some BAD words ditched out right there in the church nursery.
Fortunately, I was there to step in and my mind was reeling with how I should handle this. Henry was playing with the car FIRST and he'd only been playing with it for about five minutes before this other little boy wanted the exact car that at that moment, was the center of my two-year-old's universe.
All the other nursery workers were looking at me, probably wondering how I'd handle this. Debating what to do, I looked at my watch and told Henry that he had played with the car for a few minutes and now, it was this other little boy's turn.
Either he didn't understand.
Or, he didn't like what he heard.
Because once I issued my verdict, Henry went in to a boneless mass of screeching.
Imagine everything, his small hands, his attention, his eyes, his passion, his heart, orbiting around that shiny red car.
And now imagine someone plucking it away.
That someone being his mother.
The one that brought him in to the world and tenderly nursed him for the first 30 months of his life. Only to now do this.
He threw himself on the floor and arched his back and screamed until the windows rattled.
My efforts at distracting him with something else monumentally failed, so I scooped him up and carried him off to an area of the nursery where I made him stand with his nose in the corner for two minutes.
By the time the two minutes were up, he was still screaming, albeit not quite so loudly and when we walked back to where he had been playing, the little boy had already abandoned Lightning McQueen and moved on to something else.
Henry quickly picked the car up and gazed at it lovingly through his teary eyes, and then he gave me a wobbly smile that said, "Can you believe it?! I got it BACK!"
While all the other two-year-olds in the room seemed to have very short attention spans and would bore of something within a few minutes, Henry never once put that race car down.
And so it went for the next hour.
Henry would be fixated on playing with that one single toy - a roving toddler would come over and want what he had - and I'd have to
Moments later, the other child would inevitably abandon it, Henry would get it back, and then he'd run and hide somewhere no one would find him.
But they always did find him.
Because the room isn't that big.
Thankfully, it never happened that another child was as unwaveringly obsessed with the same toy as my son, or I would have had to have implemented a five-minute playing and then sharing rule, and from personal experience, I know that the only thing worse than pulling a beloved toy away from one two-year-old is pulling it away from two (or more) two-year-olds.
Although it pained my heart to take a cherished toy away from my little boy, I think this was the right thing to do.
It certainly didn't feel like it would be appropriate for me to tell all the other children that they could take a turn when Henry was done, because I could see that he had no intention of being "done" the entire duration of church.
Moreover, this was a great exercise for my little guy since at this point in his life, the concept of sharing is totally foreign. The triplets generally don't take things that their younger brother is playing with - and they are typically very good about sharing things with him that he wants.
So this was his first true lesson in understanding that just because someone wants what you have, that doesn't give you a free license to eat them for lunch.
But I must admit, it never did get any easier. Each time I extracted the toy from his hands, he would throw a fit unparalleled by any fit he's ever thrown. Except for the one he'd thrown about 10 minutes earlier - and would throw again, 10 minutes later.
You'd think that being IN a church, God would automatically make things like sharing among toddlers easier. Alas, He doesn't. So, I put that request in the suggestion box.
I'll be back with Henry at church next weekend.
Working on reinforcing what we learned this weekend.
From now until then, I'll be praying God gets my message.