To My Cal:
You're sitting here on my lap while I (try) to type and you are one wiggly eight month old! You're the grabbiest Grabby McGrabberson and you love to reach and swat and swipe at things. You are constantly putting weird objects in your mouth and me just moving that object out of your reach is no longer sufficient. You will roll to it. You will throw your upper body and push your legs and you will get it back. I learned this well when I pulled three different aerated logs of sod dirt from your tiny ninja death grip. You couldn't hide the evidence in time and your lips, tiny fuzzy baby moustache and two perfect white chiclet teeth were a deep shade of brown. You get pre---tty offended when I take things out of your hands. But, no one offends you more than Hayes. If he takes one "his" toys from you, you throw your body to the ground and your little shoulders shake while you sob and cry and scream. Hayes is usually pretty good about quickly giving it back and giving me the look like "I can't be in trouble, I already gave it back!"
This month I've been thinking a lot about your tender heart. You and your brother inherited it from me and let me tell you a bit about it. A tender heart is an interesting quality to have. With Hayes, I didn't think much of it until he was older. A new baby brings the most pure and angelic spirit with it. I wanted to guard that spirit with every ounce of me. When you boys first entered our home, I never let music get too loud or TV shows get too naughty, I watched what I said and how I said it. One time when Hayes was small, a mixture of hormones, sleep deprivation and "that" argument that couples tend to have - an unfortunate reoccurring disagreement that pretty much everyone dances around - resulted in me raising my voice for the first time in months. Hayes started crying, hard. That the was the first evidence of how sensitive and tender he was. I always chalked it up to just being the first born, in a quiet house. He's just not used to loud noises yet, I thought.
But then, after you were born, and only a few months old, we were watching a movie as a family on the couch. Something really funny happened and I started laughing. When I laugh real good, my face sort of seizes up and my eyes go all slanty and I suck in for air. Right on cue, to the millisecond, both you and Hayes started sobbing. Screaming! So so sad, the both of you. I couldn't chalk it up to new baby-ness. You came into a loud existence, as much as I tried to keep it down. It's just your tender heart. If you think some one is hurt, or their coming up short of air, or whatever it may be, you can't hide your stress.
When little tears pool in Hayes' eyes every time he watches Tarzan and "You'll Be In My Heart" starts playing. When I had to chuck Bambi II in the trash because he sobbed when Bambi gets sent to live with another doe, that is his tender heart. Who knew you both perceived so much even at such a young age? I can't see the future, and yes you're still small, but I feel urgent to do right by that heart of yours, now.
I feel for the both of you, because I am that way too. The sadnesses of life come and they leave us stunned. I can't watch the news, or even hear about abuse or other injustices. Sad books and movies haunt me for months, lets not even talk about the scary movies I watch muted through mini gaps in my fingers - your dad sure made fun of me for that one! I can't bring myself to buy a pet because losing the pets I had growing up made me feel like I was surely dying too. No matter how much or how hard or how often we see or other people's heartache, these hearts of ours don't seem to toughen up. They can't acclimate, sometimes they just hurt. The more I navigate my way through parenting a tender-heart, the more I realize I am clueless. How do I create a world where the way we feel, really feel and experience it, sympathy pains and all, isn't crippling? Where your empathetic heart isn't taken advantage of, or teased, or prodded, or told to "toughen up" because you're a boy.
These are the things that are weighing on me tonight, as you bounce on my leg and I can see your dimples sticking out passed the sides of your head. Life isn't always this heavy, I promise you that, Cal. Having you in it makes for the happiest and sweetest days. For all the sadnesses you may feel as you make your way to manhood, you'll feel double, triple, quadruple that in joy and fun! I promise you that, honey man.
The world is yours, Cal.