I find myself saying I don't know a lot.  Tucker asks questions all the live long day, and I don't know the answers to most of them.  He is brilliant at math and science, everything I am not.

Mom, there's a walking stick insect that slingshots its eggs like twenty feet away.  Who takes care of those little walking sticks when they hatch?  Does the mom know where she shoots them?

How did the earth get here?

When I do feel comfortable trying to offer an explanation, I sense that it's hard for him to hear me because he is using his whole brain to think about the next thing.

Who made the pattern of school, five days there and two days home, five and two, five and two?

Isn't magic kind of like science, except magic stuff just hasn't been explained yet?

I learned, teaching, that one of the best ways to respond to a child's inquisitiveness is with the words Let's find out.  It's like a three syllable compass, that phrase.  If I can just get Tuck pointed in the right direction, he's satisfied.

You know how the wood frog can be frozen and thawed?  Can they do that with other animals?

Why doesn't Braxton just throw with his other arm?

He gives voice to thoughtful wonderings and I find myself saying I don't know and Let's find out.
What I did know, though, was that he would like school.  I was right.


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