Like Father

Tucker seems to have come equipped with a set of sound effects that rivals his father’s. His father, whose parents had to buy a conversion van for the third row seating, the all-the-way-in-the-back bench that still, from what I’ve heard, allowed his father’s airplane noises to fill the space in the front of the vehicle. His father, who impersonates cartoon characters convincingly, who replicates mechanical sounds astoundingly well, who mimics animal noises with ease and accuracy.  His father, who reads children's books with a variety of foreign accents, depending on the story’s setting and on how the mood strikes.  His father, whose playtime soundtrack includes block buildings that explode, fire engines that whistle, thunder that booms, train brakes that screech, and dinosaurs that roar.

His father shows pride in Tuck's one-year-old ability to pretend to cough and sneeze and burp and snore.  His father encourages every vocal imitation, all of his baby buzzes and hisses and clangs and thuds.  His father taught him to "ahhh" after a gulp of milk, to "ughh" while climbing a rocky slope, to "mmmnh" during heavy lifting.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this one small creature can sound like the cavalry.


To a T

He fits our family.  Perfectly.


Special Wish

The outdoor bench is long enough for her to stretch out on and wide enough for us to lie next to her.  It has a thick, soft cushion, which has already been wiped clean of plum juice and soiled prints and pizza sauce, because the bench happens to be just the right height for Tucker to scale and join her, too.  Perfect, really.
After more than a year of deliberating and declining we made a wish for her.  And we'd like to believe that she's pleased.  Speech has long departed her, but her smiles, especially the big ones on her new backyard bench, will forever echo in the marrow of our bones.



It's hot, and it's messy, and rumor has it Andy's rib recipe rivals the best there.  But, we go.  The Jazz and Rib Fest is becoming a fundamental part of our summer routine.  And although Tucker had been primed for the experience last year, actually tasting the ribs this year made this time far more fun.



This montage of the first half of Tuck's sixteenth month convenes some highlights from his days and captures a small fraction of his personality.  I wish there were other things we'd caught on tape, too...  The way he places emphasis at the end of the word "circle," the manner in which he announces he's done with a meal by declaring himself a "mess," the way he blesses the dog when Colby sneezes, the effort he puts into trying to squeeze both feet, and then the rest of his body, into a dryer sheet box. 



He can almost transform the word ornery into an honorable trait, something better than a minor character flaw.  When he pulls the pillow from beneath her head, telling himself "no, no, no" in the process.  When he piles blankets on top of her, nearly smothering her, or when he kneels on her tummy, pressing all of his weight into her, in order to give her a kiss.  When he shares toys with her, flinging them at her face, or when he shoves the bottle up her nose trying to offer her a sip of his milk. 

When people love our children, we feel loved ourselves.  We see it in the sympathetic faces of strangers, we sense it in the strong hugs from family, we hear it in the soft words of friends.  But sometimes it feels like all the love in the world is concentrated right here, stacked up all around her on the couch, when earth feels not far outside heaven.



You gaze at me with a sunny, childlike certainty, a look that shows you know that I am here, always.  You move toward me, arms outstretched, draping your hands over my shoulders, letting them dangle around my neck.  Still, I am afraid.  I want you to burrow into me for everything you'll ever need.  I want to kiss every scraped knee and to quit the sting of all your hurts.  I want to see your first crayoned picture, and the colored counter beneath it.  I want to pack your lunches and praise your graded papers.  I want to send you away to camp, and then to college.  And I want you to come home again and again.  I want to be your world, and I want to give you the world.  But I’ve learned all too soon and all too well that our world is not certain.



He talks about it incessantly.  "Toast," he says.  "Toast."
Just like he indicates everything that is "off".  He points at the TV.  "Off."  The radio is "off."  The fan is "off."
Also just like he proclaims, after anything is turned on, "ta-da."  Turn on the light, he says "ta-da."  Turn on the car, he says "ta da."  Turn on the microwave, he says "ta-da."
Ask him if he'd like to eat, and he says "toast."  Except he won't eat it.  But he does like to talk about eating it.
And he does like to kiss her.  Or hug her.  "Cee," he says, "kiss."  "Cee hug."  "Cee night-night."  And he snuggles up next to her (or on top of her), and melts into her like butter on toast.
And I hope, I hope, a little bit of her melts into him, too. 



Gone Fishin'

It will be a number of years before Tucker is allowed to join the boys on their annual Canadian fishing trip.  But it's never too early to start practicing...


Slice of Summer

Ohio knows how to do summer.  Hot air sweeps down from blue skies and bites tanned skin.  Bees tease flowers under cotton candy clouds.  The house fills with the season as lilies turn into hydrangea, hydrangea are joined by daisies, and blooms gather into messy sprays.  The lawn is green, rain falling often enough that each blade almost qualifies to be wrapped in a Crayola label.  The sun surrenders red and glints through golden locks.  Darkness sinks slowly and pleasantly swaddles exposed toes.  There's hope in the soft pink sky.
Tucker knows how to do summer, too.  His skin glows the delicious shade of a Georgia peach.  Except for the spots where bruises and scrapes mark his legs.  Patrolling the yard, barefoot and bare bottom, has become his specialty.  He points at small insects and colorful birds and wing-tipped aircraft, while words line up inside his mouth like they're awaiting launch from a runway.  Soil peeks from under his fingernails and watermelon juice drips from his chin.  His head tilts back as laughter escapes his lips.  There's hope in every inch of him.


Work of He*art*

There are hands that hold her.  And feed, and bathe, and medicate, and comfort her.  Hands that fawn over her, tweak her toes, caress her cheeks, stroke her hair.  There are hands that create a circle of love around her, hands that put her in the center, the heart of it all.
There are hands that belong to people for whom it is easy to imagine life stretched out before her instead of shriveling behind.  Hands that will not raise high on a roller coaster with hers, that will not stroll around the block in hand with hers.  Hands that will not guide her growing up, and will not shape her future.  Hands attached to lives that have, however, been shaped by her.

These hands belong to her grandparents and aunts.  These hands belong to her.




My bias is hardly veiled.

He is beautiful.
And she is wonderful.



Head to Toe

If she were well, I like to think she'd know most of the words to Spoonful of Sugar.
And she might even try to say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
She's not well. And her disease is something quite atrocious.
But she is practically perfect in every way...


Little Boy

Little boy, so much depends on
your yellow cup
a serenade to wake you up
sun that slants across the rug
the wings on that astonishing bug

and your big cardboard box.
Little boy, so much depends on
your silver spoon
storybooks under the moon
that piece of lint upon the floor
by yourself, closing the door

and your big cardboard box.
Little boy, you remind me how
so much depends on days made of now.

Inspired by the book, a gift from Cousin A.
And by sweet comments from JZG.



Although dealt a poor hand by the genetic deck, she turns ours into a full house.


O Say

Dear Tucker,
You are almost sixteen months old.  And oh my word your language development over the last month has been remarkable.  At your fifteen month well visit, your pediatrician asked whether you had two or three words -- and your grandma explained that, yes, you had two or three dozen.  She wasn't exaggerating.  But since then your daddy and I have lost count.  You say "car" and "beep beep."  The menu of animal sounds from which we can order grows daily -- you'll do "quack quack" and "tweet tweet" and "woof" and "whooo" and "roar", among others.  You're able to identify several body parts, and can name "hair" and "eyes" and "toes."  You can (almost) count to two!  Jumping into the water or stacking blocks or doling out crackers, if we say "one", you say "two." 
And then you keep saying "two," for the third block, or the fourth cracker....

This weekend your cousin taught you to say "pool" instead of "bath" and your great aunts helped you master "wow" as you watched the fireworks.  When you're hungry, you most often ask for "bread" or "cheese" or "yogurt."  Today you learned from your grandma, as you devoured pasta salad, to say "noodle."  Sometimes your requests are prefaced with "pretty please."  This month you started putting words together -- "dog outside" and "more milk" and "please up."  You've begun to call some of your favorite people by name.  And one of your favorite things to say, for awhile now, has been "no no no..."
No matter what you say, Tucker, and no matter when you say it, we are thrilled that your words carry across the rooms of our home, and grateful that your voice carries us through each day.
There may not be words big enough to express our love for you, little boy.



He waves it.
We give it...