Monday, March 24, 2014

about a boy

When Eli was growing in my belly I was pretty sure he was a boy.  So sure, in fact that when Loren announced "It's a girl!" at his birth my first words were, "check again." During Eli's pregnancy in the rare moments I was able to sleep through the intensive tae-kwon-do routine that was going on in my uterus I would have these crazy action-hero dreams.  Like I'd be skydiving into a flaming airplane where I would need to rescue 20 people and fight off terrorists in hand-to-hand combat.  Stuff like that.  So not my style.  And while It may have crossed my mind sometimes that perhaps we would get a laid-back kinda boy... I knew deep down it wouldn't happen.  Some things you just know.
 Eli's verb these days is "DO."  A hundred times a day he brings me something and says "do."  Put on a shoe, peel an apple, change a diaper.  Fix a page he just ripped out of a book.  "Do, mama, do."  It seems fitting.  He is a non-stop do-er.  As is evidenced by the way our house looks most days by 10 am.
But this do-er has a snuggly side to him.  He has taken a shining to this bear "Helicopter, " a hand-me-down with a mysterious name given by a two-year-old Sadie.  It might have been the name that attracted Eli to him in the first place (or possibly the belly-button) because when Eli can't find Helicopter he sleeps with a magnet with an actual helicopter on it.  He likes to hold the bear real tight and say "deeeeze" which is his word for squeeze.

Eli gets a lot of squeezes these days, because sometimes, it's all you can do to save your sanity.  His state of perpetual motion is something to be reckoned with.  Water cup dumped in plate, hands splashed in that water,  giant mess.  Every. single. meal.

Kitchen cupboard unpacked, pot lid flung frisbee-style across kitchen straight into eggs on counter. Epic mess.

Bath time.  You'd think bath time would be neat.  It is either a combination of water being splashed out of the tub--or inappropriate items being added to the tub. Or both.  Recent casualties have included a hair dryer, and a well loved book of dad's "Flying with Floats."  Didn't make too good of a splash landing.  Praying our bathroom floor holds up.  Washing lots of towels.

This week Loren and I have been attempting to renovate our sunroom--just paint and put in a new floor really.  The project is a source of endless fascination for Eli.  He just wants to do.  He watches carefully as I use an exacto knife to cut the molding from the wall before I pry it off.  Without a word he disappears into the kitchen returning with the carrot peeler and proceeds to "remove" the fins from the wall heater.  As we install one plank of flooring we look up to see that he has scribbled on no less than 7 freshly painted walls with a carpenter's pencil.  I should have looked when I heard him saying "paint, paint, paint!"  It's so frustrating, and yet also understandable.  The world looks different from 18-months-old than it does from 33.  I am quite sure that most of what could easily be written off as mischief is actually an attempt to contribute to our household in a meaningful way.

It is a challenge.  Every day with this guy.  I was thinking about it in a brief moment of solitude this morning.  Actually, I was thinking of my youngest brother, on a freighter somewhere between here and Japan, and how as a little guy he never slowed down.  He had a true desire to move and learn the world around him kinetically.  It can be hard to parent this kind of a kid (ask my mom, she can tell you all about it x4) but it can also be so rewarding when their energy is directed into a worthy cause.  Of course, Eli is going to need to work hard and use his hands along side his head and his heart.  I'm not exactly sure how this will look over the years, but I know what it doesn't look like, which is a lot of time spent in front of a screen watching violent images and playing video games.  I feel like that would most certainly spell disaster for a boy as inclined to rough and tumble as Elias.  It is probably a saving grace that he has a big sister who is currently into everything fancy.  As I type this Eli is sporting a Disney princess tattoo on his bicep and wearing a pink t-shirt.  (Thanks to the random lady at the hardware store for introducing my kids to fake tattoos and Disney princesses in one fell swoop! Do those tattoos ever wash off?!)

I'm going to watch this boy so many times, caught between a nag and a sense of outright wonder and amazement at what he is doing.  Today it was standing  in a box on the teeter-toter, on top of the couch (Loren had set it there to vacuum).  Sometimes there just aren't any words.  But lots of times there are, and those words need to be positive, affirming ones.  I can see how important it is to shower love like that on a kid who could easily make you yell and want pull your hair out 20+ times a day. 

Every morning Eli sits straight up in bed and says to me, "wake!"  After all, a new day awaits. Why linger in bed, right?  Then he goes out to the kitchen and tells Loren who is usually up making coffee "Joe!"  He helps his dad (and sis) bring me a cup of coffee and hauls his favorite books into bed where he flings them over to me too roughly (usually spilling some coffee) and snuggles in for a read. In these sweet moments, with only a little spilled coffee burning my arm, I feel like the luckiest mama in the world--call it what you will, snips & snails, zen or straight up grace, whatever it's good stuff.


  1. Oh! This is such a beautiful post! I know I shouldn't laugh, but the way you describe your little guy's mischief really had me smiling.

  2. This is the best post about raising a boy ever, I think. It made me smile and imagine your home life. He is so lucky to have such a good, loving family as the rest of you! I can't wait to see what he achieves in life when he's older. :o)