Lines what wiggle.

He’s in my lap and we’re reading Lines that Wiggle.  He keeps saying “what” for "that" -- Lines what wiggle, lines what bend...  I correct him, regretting it a nanosecond later, wondering when I became the stodgy spokesperson for the Accuracy at All Costs Club.

He holds up a sign and tells me that it shows what his computer screen looks like.
PH?101, I read.
No, he says, It says 101?HP.
I explain that it’s hard for me to know that because people in our country read and write from left to right.
Actually this is a different way of reading than you know about.
Oh, of course it is.  I bite my tongue.  No one named me Enforcer of the Right Way.  Why am I bothered by the particulars?
Tollie’s covered an entire sheet of printer paper with blue lines.  I’m drawing a fire truck, he smiles proudly.
Lemme show you how to draw a real fire truck, says Tuck, our household's new Commander of Details.

And there it is.  I see myself as a sower, broadcasting seeds.  Words fall off me and start growing in him, small ideas become shade trees of belief, and I’ve inadvertently planted something that blocks his view of something else.
Tuck used to say forth and back when we pushed him on the swing, when he was learning to pump his legs: fooorth and back, fooorth and back.  We didn't correct him.

There are only so many things to go forth and back about.  He'll learn which direction to write and Tollie will learn to make red fire engines with wheels, or not.
It's hard to let your children grow when you've stopped growing yourself.  I'm learning that the line what runs between right and not right may be gray, or it might be blue, but I'm sure it's a little wigglier than I knew it to be.



I call down to ask whether Tucker is hungry yet and hear: I gotta keep working on something I was up to, his voice all italics, his fingers snapping bricks together in new ways.
Our home is littered with half-built hospitals and helicopters, discarded doors and wheels and propellors, tiny pieces that have hurt feet for decades.  He leaves a trail of small plastic structures from the basement to the second floor, a five year old's calling card.


on remembering

I feel like I didn’t write much about spring, forgot to record the way the raindrops fell and fell on the places snowflakes had been, the way new buds dangled from branches like clip-ons, a row of grandmother’s earlobes all lined up.
And suddenly it’s summer.  Spring is over, and the only way to get it back is to wait a year.

I’m afraid I’m failing to record important things about the boys.  And the difference is, although spring won’t ever be exactly the same, it will be back again next year, wet and green and growing.  But five year old Tucker and two year old Tolliver will be gone for good.
We ushered in summer the same way most of the country did, with hot dogs and watermelon and popsicles, marching bands and American flags and family.  And with gratitude.  Our pace, our pulse, will change some with the warmer season, the sun bringing with it an invitation to remember that busy-ness is not a virtue.

I had time over the holiday weekend to think about what I want to remember about right now, to notice how big they’re getting, and how small they still are.  To realize they are always more new than gone.
bowties made by Grandma from postal neck ties worn by Great Grandpa Jim, veteran of WWII


Forget Me Not

Like we could ever forget.

She was our dream.  She was two blue lines on the very first pregnancy test, a flashing heartbeat on a sonogram screen, the mysterious invisible presence who had her great grandmother’s name.

She made us the kind of people who, most of the time now, remember we're not sitting in the center of our own universe.  She broke our hearts open enough to let more humanity fall in.

And then she peeled off the visible world, taking with her meaning and words.   But she left memories.  She left an impression, the way she pulled light to the place she sat, like her own special gravity.

Whatever has left an impression on us becomes part of who we are.  And then we pass it on.
Pass along a little of her sunshine, would you?  Think of someone who's left an impression on you and pay tribute to that person through a donation to BDSRA this Memorial Day.


Instagram may be the happy social media hub.

It's full of little boys with insects and little girls with milk mustaches and vacation vistas and cats for days and food galore.  Unlike some other virtual time sucks that tend to lean toward soul-depleting, Instagram feels generally full of more things that matter, bright spots in busy days.

1.  happy hunter
2.  good morning, spring!
3.  celebrating Easter in Iowa, Ellie and Celie (via iowa2323)
4.  Sunday morning at the hospital
5.  carrot cookies (thanks @lbbills)
6. April birthday #twotollivers

7.  Blue Apron (cauliflower couscous and beef brochettes)
8.  BFFs (for a minute)
9.  monkeys (via ccoyle9777)
10.  morning at the zoo
11. Franklin Park
12.  Billy Porter (thanks @mandydgalati)

13.  hammering at #homedepot
14.  leading the band (on a different day) at #homedepot #pvc
15. La Tavola is Tolliver approved #highlyrecommend #breadbaghat
16.  feels good to go to work
17. new every morning
18.  nursery help

19.  goodnight cows
20.  traditional tree swing picture
21.  big red tub #poppy's
22.  catching fish
23. designated driver (via angieallion) #vw
24.  fifty shades of green (via kristinpotsy)

25.  too big for chaperones @mkstahlohio
26.  Tervis toast to Virginia Tolliver
27.  red curls on Mother's Day
28.  buckets of sunshine #funniestshoppingtripever
29.  two year old tour guide
30.  fireside
31.  Broadway #highlyrecommend
32.  wagon on the way to the GHPL


Two shots

At his recent well-visit, Tucker was due for two school-age shots.  As he received them his face buckled and he fiercely resisted tears.  He looked just like somebody who did not want to cry.  Band-aids on, he bravely whispered That (sniffle) was (sniffle) awesome.

At a neighborhood gathering last weekend, one of Tuck’s small friends ran toward the adults, clothes covered in red juice, explaining that Tucker squirted a CapriSun at her.

Parenting is an almost perfect cocktail of pride and embarrassment, sweet and slightly bitter.  I mean, I'm not really ever ashamed of the boys, but more of my own parental failures.
Tucker knows how to pour his own drink, but he squeezes juice boxes at peers.
He teaches his brother to put on his crocs, but his teacher says he interrupts other children’s turn to speak.
I am often proud of the boys, of their big spirits, but I'm not sure how well the braggable moments balance with the goofs.  And I know we all have both, that they make us human and help us make connections.

At a cookout last night I told an acquaintance that her son was adorable and she said, "I know,"  quickly followed by, "I mean, Thank you!"
We laughed.  I get it.  Our children are all adorable and bright and engaging and unique.  We're proud of them and occasionally embarrassed by them, and of ourselves.

Tuck is far too interesting to be relegated to one story or the other.  He's smart and silly, wise and reckless.
I swallow and it tastes mostly like pride.  Two shots, heavy on the good stuff.  That tastes awesome.