My little Squiggle Man is two years old today! He doubled my joy on that Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2006, a joy that continues to grow every day. His birth made one of my most memorable Thanksgiving holidays. When I went to the doctor on the Friday before, he decided that we would induce labor on Tuesday, November 21. We had already determined that Squiggle would be the namesake of both of my grandfathers. It wasn’t until I got home from the doctor’s office that the date sunk in. He would be born on November 21, my Grandaddy’s birthday. We knew, then, his name was well-chosen. By 10am, I had him in my arms. After two nights in the hospital, we brought him home–on Thanksgiving Day.
I remember that day as one of the most peaceful and joyful holidays I’ve experienced. It was sunny and crisp, but not too cold. A beautiful Autumn day. We hardly knew it was a holiday, but we had much to be thankful for. I was so glad to see and touch him on the outside and to be relieved from the pressure of having his 8 lbs 15 oz taking over my belly. We got home just after lunch with big brother Little Drummer Boy all dressed up and proud of his new playmate. I remember just wanting to soak them both up. My nights at Oktibbeha County Hospital with Hub bunking in had been the only nights we’d spent away from Drummer Boy since he was born. I was so happy to have them both home in our house–safe, healthy and in hugging distance.
It took us until the early afternoon to get home, get settled in and realize we were hungry. Starkville is a university town, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving every other year brings in fans for the State/Ole Miss football game. We’d never been in town for Thanksgiving, but we hoped the extra visitors for the upcoming game meant the standard take-out options would be open despite the holiday. We called around and found out Ruby Tuesdays was one of the few restaurants available and placed our order. There, around the table with a high-chair and a basinette, we enjoyed Thanksgiving lunch from black styrofoam take-out boxes–loaded fries, the sustenance of gratitude.
We had our traditional Thanksgiving meal on Saturday with a few sleepless newborn nights under our belt. We cooked it and ate it at my house. Although we spread the table with the same dishes cooked from the same recipes, it was another first. Every year before and since, the menu has been reserved for Grandmother’s house, MeMa’s house or Mama’s house. Still, it was a precious change filled with the comfort and joy of being in the first place your children belong.
The blessing of getting to know Squiggle is just two years in the making now. We are basking in joy that pops in and out, sitting just beneath the surface of the frustration inherent in parenting a toddler through those first tough lessons. As with Little Drummer Boy (and I’m sure Baby Girl to follow), we are sometimes heavy with the realization that so much of who he is becoming is who we are, and who we are training him to be.
Squiggle is intensly resolved. Some might call it strong-willed, that character trait we so often admire in adults, but chide in toddlers. Even in the womb he was resolved. He would straighten both his legs out to push against the constraints–one foot on each side under my ribs. It took more than a few pokes and pushing back on his heels to get him to move, releasing my lungs to take a deep breath. He came out of the womb determined to make his own way. Even as an infant, he would never simply rest his head on my shoulder like his brother did. He would always push back to take in his surroundings. Only now does his loving spirit sometimes give in and allow me that fleeting luxury at bedtime. Squiggle is passionate about everything. He does everything and feels everything at 110%, fully giving himself to it. He is the most fun-loving of my children, the most willing to test his wings with abandon. This trait has prompted more than one person to tell me, “he will be the one to watch.” He learned to smile very quickly, and practices often, along with his trademark squeal-fueled giggle and the universal animal roar he has made his own. His eyes often reveal the twinkle of joyful mischief within, and he is the one most likely to fling himself into your arms–for two seconds before moving on to the next passion.
I love this picture from our first photo shoot. He’s wearing the same white outfit each of my children have worn home from the hospital, and a baby blue sweater–the perks of being born in November. I see an earnest expression, brow almost furrowed in thought. I still see that today sometimes when he is trying to make sense of his little world–resolving his passion for whatever is before him with the joy of life his heart seems to exude. He will be a spectacular man.
God, please help us to get him there with his vibrant spirit unfettered.