we already know what happens to those caterpillars

Most of the time Tucker is reading a book. Or twelve books. Tonight it was the enormous encyclopedia of caterpillars from the coffee table. Tuck is full of facts, so confident, so certain about everything, so convinced there is a right and wrong, so positive he knows one from another. He is also, admirably, open to everything he doesn’t know, lingering comfortably in all the gray space.

At his spring recital it was clear that Tucker is becoming a well-trained pianist. More than one (mostly unbiased) audience member pointed out that Tuck not only knows which notes to hit, but he is also beginning to make the music his own.
His teacher seems to be an expert at knowing how to differentiate between challenging a child and asking too much of him. I feel like I could benefit from a lesson on that.

Tucker learned to ride a bicycle this summer. It's just something he's never been inclined to try. I pushed a little, and he grudgingly gave in. We headed out midday, while Hank napped, me hunched over and sweating, him pedaling furiously and finding balance. It didn't take long for him to catch on, and he had the best time keeping up with the big kids at the recent block party.
Tuck has a new piano piece assigned for practice over the summer, ambitious with alternating hands. He began with just the first few measures, and then moved on to the whole first page. He can get all the way through the song now, not without some minor glitches, but he performed it twice for company this past week.
He is still, mostly, too carefree to spend much time analyzing mistakes. That doesn't mean he isn't learning, isn't trying to improve his skills, just that he doesn't perseverate.  I could use a lesson there, too: It's okay to share things with people before they're perfect; things might never be perfect.

He made a poor choice at the pool last week, and came to me with guilt written all over his face. I'm so sorry, he whispered, clearly remorseful. I mess up too, bud, I responded, wishing hard I could absorb it all on behalf of him, and trying best to communicate both my appreciation for his honesty and my complete faith in his ability to handle any thing.

Tucker has handled so many things. I'm not sure which of these forced me to consider the essence of some recent transformations, but I do want to honor the moments when Tuck takes a further, substantive step toward becoming a bigger, better version of himself.
Turns out gradually letting go of the back of the bike is a good place to watch wings spread. I hope he sees himself the way I see him.


there's always something*

*There are usually many things.


on the river

We spent the weekend with friends, along the Ohio River. Hank carried around an old yellow Care Bear - Sunshine Bear, if I remember correctly - and it was merely one of MANY things that felt reminiscent of my own growing up. I remembered how to drive a wave runner, the way the muck felt beneath my feet, how easy it is to become absorbed scooping and pouring, to lose track of time.
I was thrilled to see all three boys take to the river right away. 
Two baths later they still have dirt in their ears and under their nails, and I completely understand why my argument "but I went swimming today" never held up to my parents' bedtime directive to hop in the shower.


a magic

There is a magic among these brothers that is all their own.


red white and boys!


a hymn for the haze

On a scale of one to psychopath, we may have been super crazy to take the boys downtown.
The new playground was almost too hot to touch. And the fountain park was really crowded, a rainbow of humanity gathered to cool off, packed like berries in a jar of jam.

We managed to find a shady spot for our picnic, and while one of us watched Hank like a hawk, the other doled out food. The boys each ate all of the things we packed for them, cold cut sandwiches on bagels, nectarines and fig newtons and snap peas and strawberries. And then they pretty much ate all of the salad intended for us, picking out cheddar cheese cubes and almond slivers and pear slices, leaving only a few lonely leaves of kale.

A lady observed us trying to coordinate our own little slice of chaos: shoes off, sunscreen on, food in mouths, boundary reminders. At one point she came over to say something along the lines of Oh, you have three boys! They're so handsome! Are you going to try for a girl?! It's such a risk...
Once, at the fountains a few years ago, I lost sight of Tucker for a moment. I mean, it felt like an eternity, time enough for a future without him to flash forward. The fountains had a mist feature, and when the program switched all of the streams to vapor, I couldn't find Tucker in the fog. I located him nearly a lifetime later, running through a row of rose bushes nearby. I hadn't even been looking in the right place.
The next day I wrote a letter to the city parks department explaining the risk, and requesting they reconsider the mist.

I did not address the stranger's curiosity on Sunday. We had already determined not to let the sun violate our outing, so neither would her wondering. We did have a daughter, but we lost her, I thought, nodding vaguelyAbout that time Hank began to run, which felt like the best news the earth could deliver -- sidetracking me with gratitude for who is right here, a child demanding just enough attention to let the question, and happy memories of her, hang in the air.

watching the grass grow


here we are now

Some days the boys are pretty busy, with tennis lessons and riding bikes and swimming with friends and baseball games.
Other days they wake up and look at us like Here we are now, entertain us.
Depending on who has more energy or who has a longer to do list, Andy and I interpret their collective demands a little differently.
Both of us tend to send them outside to play, because imaginative games are born of boredom, especially in the yard. But when they tire of playing lumberjack (or I panic watching them heave axes over their shoulders), when swinging from vines becomes more sibling squabble than synergy, we usually step in. On this day one of us suggested art, and the other architecture.


tunnel vision



Random things the boys have been reading / eating / painting / pretending / building lately.
Plus, eagles.
Plus that one time the kitchen was clean.
And also, that line in Tol's father's day poem, about Andy being better than a book? The best.