So I reply, "You mean like you're number six at school?" Because in second grade, that's how they do it — each child lines up for lunch, recess, specials — all by a special number assigned alphabetically by the teacher.
A week in to the school year, when Sam is able to recite who is what number, I'm fascinated. When I point out that the order is done alphabetically, he says "No, it's not. Number one is Maddie, number two is Alex." I explain that the order is by last name and his eyes get bigger as he rattles off their names again with this new information.
I'm amazed that he ordered everyone by number and not alphabetically.
When he starts checking out books at the library on the U.S. presidents, I am relieved he's moved on to a new topic, because let's face it — how much more could he possibly learn about geography? Or cloud formations?
Pair a new interest with his current Animaniacs obsession and now my son knows every U.S. president in chronological order. (Sam, who is number 15? "James Buchanan, Mom.") This song is in heavy, heavy rotation around our house. He sings it non-stop. It's quite something to hear these lyrics explode from his mouth:
Tom Jefferson stayed up to writeWhat a skill — my brain has no such ability.
The Constitution late at night
So he and his wife had a great big fight
And she made him sleep on the couch all night
James Madison never had a son
And he fought the War of 1812
James Monroe's colossal nose
Was bigger than Pinocchio's
What I do have is a new appreciation for the way Sam orders his world. There is much comfort to be found in predictable, unalterable facts. It's the other stuff — it's the people in our lives. It's the emotional, the messy, the unpredictable that makes him anxious. Me too. I guess you just hold on and trust that order will eventually arise from chaos.