They say you can tell a lot about a baby in the womb. I knew this was true before you came along, little man, but I learned it all over again in the last four months you were inside my womb. I don’t think I got a moment’s rest, but I counted it a blessing because at least with you, I never had that worry when babies go still for hours at a time.
When you were twenty months old, your daddy christened you “the human tornado.” There was the time you ran headlong into the hutch, crystal goblets toppling like dominoes in a musical menagerie of destruction. The time you came down after bath and hit the freshly-mopped floor at a dead run, and immediately and spectacularly wiped out, twenty-six pounds of naked toddler splayed across the Pergo. The time you colored the brand new couch with a Sharpie you found underneath it. Ate two of those not-really-ladybug things (the proof was in your diaper). Strung the contents of both our wallets across the kitchen floor at least a dozen times. Locked Daddy out of his iPhone, and caused the computer to retreat screaming into a passable imitation of the apocalypse by sticking something (we never did figure out what) into a USB port.
And when I’d get mad, you’d reach your arms up and cry, and the more upset I was the more pathetic…and adorable…you’d look. “For the love of all that’s holy!” I would cry. “Can you just leave things alone? I don’t want to cuddle you right now!”
“He loves you,” your daddy would say to me, all puppy-dog eyes, when you came running to me caked with chocolate and spaghetti sauce, looking for the umpteenth boo-boo kiss of the day.
Nothing could keep you down. Not your big brother sitting on you, or your big sister locking you in the closet when you were both supposed to be napping, so we didn’t find out until we came in an hour later and found every single piece of clothing in all five storage boxes flung higgledy-piggledy. Not even the time you tried to follow your siblings up the ladder of the old-fashioned slide at the park, and you fell from the fifth step. “He’s a tough boy,” we said every time somebody winced at seeing you on the bottom of a doggie pile. “He has to be. He has three older siblings.”
But it turns out there was one thing that could knock you down, my little tornado. It’s been lying in wait in your brain since the day you were born. And now that we’re here in a place of tubes and leads and beeping monitors and perpetual fluorescent daytime–now that the question is not when you’ll cause your next havoc, but if…now I’m asking for only one thing. Come back. Come back and cause me some mayhem.
Note to my regular readers: Michael is fine! I promise! When I saw the “tornado loves you” graphic at WOE this week, all I could think of was the wild, wanton potential for destruction and adorability that coexist in toddlerhood, and although I tried to come up with something else, this was what wanted to be written. I have such a wealth of material to draw from, how can I not use it? (Challenge: which incidents in this piece are entirely fabricated? Can you guess?)
This is the third of the seven pieces I set as a November writing goal, but the first I’ve posted online. And by the way–yes, children have strokes, too.