the bylaws of boyhood

They are loud and loopy.  And lots of fun.
They laugh like fog horns and act shocked after every big burp.
They'd rather pick their noses than bouquets of flowers.
They climb up slides and stick solid landings off bookshelves.
They have more curiosity than an entire litter of puppies, more energy than a whole hive of bees.
Their favorite color is dirt.
Life with them is delightfully chaotic, a sane amount of crazy, mostly.
And a splendid adventure, always.


Big K little k, what begins with K?

We walked Tucker to school this morning, peeling away from the rest of the pack to go up kindergarten hill.  I leaned over his head, reminding him once more of the paperwork inside his backpack that needed to be turned in.  And to tell him again how much he is loved.  His hair smelled like shampoo and dreams.

We sure have waited a long time to send a kid to kindergarten.  We've made it this far, and the magic of the milestone is not lost on us.  We are delighted to send him, a sort of white-knuckled delight, but still.  We acknowledge the hard work of parenting a child past five, but also clearly recognize the underlying luck.
I oscillated between pride over his readiness to bolt toward the building and wistfulness that he were one who needed to hold back, wanted to hold my hand a minute longer.   I pushed beyond a bunch of messy emotions and let a wave of gratitude wash over me, exhaling one of the shortest prayers I know, Thanks.  I wished him luck as I watched him begin to do the thing he is so plainly made to do.
We took Tolliver out for pancakes, gave him our full attention as he flew the small plane, a gift from Tuck "so you don't miss me too much," precariously close to the syrup.  The afternoon stretched and sagged.  I put away groceries and ran a few miles and folded some laundry, checked the clock more than I should have, wondering what he was working on.  Andy kept busy braising short ribs for chili, the lunch Tuck requested we pack for his first day but agreed to for the second.

When it was time to retrieve him I bent over again, inhaled the scent of new beginnings, of sweat and sharpened pencils and even bigger dreams than the ones his body held this morning.


the night before

His lunch is prepared, a salami sandwich, some watermelon and a note from dad.  His backpack is hanging by the door, sharpened pencils inside.  He has a new raincoat and first day clothes courtesy of grandparents, and has been receiving good luck texts and toys from cousins and friends.
He said yesterday that his heart was feeling kind of glassy, and I think I know precisely what he means.
I want to be an octopus, to hold on to everything, his hand and his small boyhood.  His fragile heart.
We're all a bit nervous, but mostly curious and eager.
We said a short sending prayer, to help him find friends and be a friend, to help him do good and be better, to help me let go.
He is ready for this.  We are ready for this.


another day

Many nights I tuck the boys into bed grateful for the day I spent with them, but glad that it is over.

Sometimes, though, there's one that I wouldn't mind reliving.  One that, if I could I would do the whole thing over again, exactly the same.  Well, except for that one part, maybe.
When I woke I felt a sudden temptation to participate in the end of summer scramble, to squeeze in as much as possible before the proverbial sun sets and school begins.  Except my ambition to do everything got tangled up with the freedom to do nothing, feelings taking turns almost as fairly as the boys were.
They played so well together all morning.  Tucker shared his puzzles, teaching Tollie how certain pieces could be interchanged.  Tollie invented a tent game with empty toy baskets and blankets and flashlights, and invited Tuck to join him.  They read books together side by side on the couch, Tuck sounding out words and Tols shouting about what he saw in the pictures.

And I did my best not to waste time wishing the day wouldn't get used up, not to worry we were missing out on something better.  Because the day did get used up, as days do, but in some really good ways.


these boys

They share eye color and the same last name, sometimes couch space and occasionally toys.  They speak the same wild language and operate in wildly different ways.  They are two of the people I love best in this world.



Sometimes I wonder whether the boys realize they're weaving days from a dazzling legacy. 
And then I wonder when the baton was passed, when we became the ones taking our children places where the earth erupts with magic, showing our own kids that they can fill their hearts without accruing a single thing.
Burr Oak State Park


under the sun

Tuck sounded a little teary as he asked from the backseat,  "So you mean when the sun swallows the whole earth more kids will have been born a lot of times, and they'll all live long lives before then?"

We borrowed books about the solar system last week, and have been reading and re-reading them.  It is hard to grasp how huge the sun is, to wrap a brain around a billion years, to imagine the earth as uninhabitable.

Later in the tub, Tuck wanted to know, "It's going to be at least seventy days before the sun boils the oceans away and burns up the whole planet, right?"

Tollie quickly chimed in, "That sounds like an emergency! The fire engines will have to come and then the firefighters will have to spray water on all those flames and the water will go up very high and the fire will be all done and the firemen will save all the cats and dogs, too."
Tolliver is still figuring out that not everything can be controlled.  It stormed over the weekend, and not a fan of strong weather, Tollie said, "You need tell that thunder to be quiet."
Tucker replied, "Mom and Dad can’t just turn off the rain, bro."

They’re both learning that although we would do ANYTHING for them, that we will hold them tight and do our best to keep them safe, we can’t promise protection.
Tuck has been consumed by the idea that someday the sun may takeover the earth.  His brain has been accumulating questions about where we'll go live and what animals might survive, perseverating on how hot the planet will be and how nothing could survive here.  His queries come with fragile concern and intense curiosity.   There may be a whole world of worries in his head, but forefront is something that's predicted to happen in billions of years.  Perhaps he has to battle against the idea of death twice as hard as his peers.

We remind him that the sun's destruction will not begin until way after his children have children.  We mostly discount ideas that angels or unicorns or astronauts or an omnipotent being will arrive to save the day (or the cats and dogs) from a red giant.  We explain that we are not in control of thunderstorms or stellar evolution, of drunk drivers or bullies, of cancer cells or terrorists.  We admit to our own desperate, clumsy efforts to be brave.  We tell him that his courage can be built on the confidence that we love him, always, no matter what.  We explain that none of us can insure against anything with worry.
And we try not to waste energy worrying ourselves.