O Zsha-Zsha, Where Art Thou?
Zsha-zsha. That is, by far, my one-year-old son’s most frequent word. Not ma-ma or da-da or ba-ba, but zsha-zsha. It’s what he calls his big brother, Jackson (my stepson who turns 8 years old this month). It’s the very first thing Jacob says when he gets out of bed—because our weekday routine has been going into Jackson’s room to wake him for school as soon as we are awake. And, it’s what he says whenever he hears one of the doors of our house open—assuming it’s Jackson coming home from school or returning from spending time with Mommy, Nana, Papa, or Auntie.
Over the past year of Jacob’s life, and especially over the past few months, Jackson has been so much to him. He has been his entertainment and instant recovery from tears—Jackson can make Jacob giggle uncontrollably by just looking at him or jumping in front of him. He has been his mentor, showing him: what is okay versus gross or weird to stick in his mouth, where he never should put his fingers, and why superhero costumes and Star Wars toys are cool. Jackson also has been Jacob’s best friend. In spite of the almost seven-year age difference, Jackson happens to love spending time with “The Cutes” (his nickname for Jacob) as much as Jacob loves hanging with his Zsha-zsha. They chase each other around the house, read together, and bang on all things that make noise in our home.
This week has made me realize that they have an even more special connection than what I’ve witnessed thus far. Jacob has always gotten sad when Jackson has left, looked for him in his room and said his name when he’s gone, and ran toward the door and greeted him eagerly when he’s returned. As we’re on vacation, it’s been over a week that the two of them have been apart, and Jacob is having a hard time with it. As usual, the first couple days when we were still at home, he awoke calling out “Zsha-zsha” and pointing to Jackson’s room. When we entered Jackson’s doorway, he kept saying, “Zsha-zsha? Zsha-zsha?” and looking under the covers on his bed. When we went downstairs, he combed the kitchen and living room, probably thinking Jackson was hiding in one of his usual spots. The whole weekend passed as usual too—with Jacob running toward the door anytime it opened and shouting, “Zsha-zsha?!”
The hardest for me has been since we began our road trip to Ohio. Boys near Jackson’s age and height and with his hair color have been in a car next to us at a rest area or at the pool or in the elevator at our hotel or bike riding by us at the park. Jacob has stopped whatever he’s doing, pointed at the boy, and shouted enthusiastically, “Zsha-zsha!!” as if finding exactly the thing his heart most desired. When he’s begun to realize it’s not Jackson, his exclamation has turned to a repeated question until the “Zsha-zsha?” trails off.
Jackson and Jacob have been trying to connect via Skype, but their schedules have not yet aligned. On top of Jacob being sick (he was prescribed eye drops and an oral antibiotic from a walk-in clinic for eye and ear infections), the way I can’t let go of stress even on vacation (another post for another day), and the busyness of squeezing in visits to every friend and family member we know in the area, this has made the vacation a little harder than expected. Still, this week has been a welcome change of pace and a wonderful gift to see our loved ones. And, I’m sure the boys will be ultra-thrilled when they are reunited in a few days. Plus, it’s nice to have a few reasons to be okay with vacation coming to an end…