Pillow Talk

I love a cold house. Like, ridiculously so. My bedroom at night is downright cold. (You can blame a certain Robb Williford for this. I had no choice but to adapt my body temperature to his arctic preferences.)

But the furnace stopped working yesterday, and the temp in the house was dropping dangerously close to my age. I’m a tough girl, but this I can’t handle. So we loaded up and came to my parents’ house, which meant three things: 1) Tuck could watch Broncos with his favorite comrade, Grandma, 2) Favorite cereals for everyone, 3) Waking up to my dad’s coffee.

It also meant that Tuck and I would be bunkmates. I came to bed after he had fallen asleep, because I’m an adult like that. I nudged him to move over and make room for me. He looked at me with narrow, sleepy eyes and pillow creases across his cheek. “Um, no, Mommy. I’m going to sleep on this side. Sorry about that.”

I forgive you. And I’ll sleep on the far side.

“Mommy, can I have that fuzzy blanket you brought up?”

“No, because you get to sleep on that side.”

He rolled over to face me, now fully awake. He looked at the book in my hands, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. (Love. Her.)

“Mommy, what does that say across the top? Number One… New… York… Tim’s… Boat Stealer.”

“Close.  Actually, it says #1 New York Times Bestseller. The New York Times is a newspaper, and they keep track of the books people love most. That means this is a book that America loves.”

He traced the letters. I said, “That’s one of my dreams, Tuck. I would love for one of my books to say that on the cover.”

He held the book out to me, “Well, look! You already have a book that says that!”

“No, I mean I book that I write. I hope someday one of the books I have written will be a New York Times Bestseller.”

“Ohhhhh…” A look of recognition. Aha. So it’s not just about collecting NYTBS, although there is great merit in that.

He opened my book, naturally filled with doodles and notes, circles and scalloped underlines. He said, almost out of the side of his mouth like he was speaking a secret we keep together, “Mommy, I told my teacher about this. I told her that you write in books.”

“Oh, did you?”

“Yes. I told her I think you underline the very best sentences, and probably also any words you don’t know.” The second grade version of ‘interacting with the text.’

I smiled. “Yep. That’s pretty much how it goes, buddy. Do you ever write in books?”

My rule-follower looked at me wide-eyed. “No. I definitely do not.”

I situated my pillow under my head as he found my bookmark, a 3×5 card with one of my favorite quotes scripted in my handwriting. He asked me to read it to him.

“It says, ‘Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. It takes so much time and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies,’ and it’s written by Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors.”

He rolled onto his back and said, “A million moments.”

I think this is one of them.

Side by Side

Tucker carries Maxwell to me at least six times a day.  Wherever I am in the house, Tuck appears.  With Max.

“Mommy, he wants to sit with you.”

“He wants to be near you.”

“He wants to know where you are.”

“Mommy, Max will sit safely on your lap.  He’ll be very quiet.”

“He was looking for you.”


This morning, as he carried Max out to me while I was taking out the trash (please disregard the fact that one of these young gentlemen should be taking out the trash), I said, “Tuck, Max doesn’t have to be with me all the time.”

“But he wants to.  So I bring him to you.”

“He’s okay, buddy.  He can learn to be away from me sometimes.”

“Mommy.  It’s just that I know how he feels.”

Strep Never Sounded So Good

Tucker had a lump sticking out the side of his neck.  Walnut sized.  Noticeable and concerning.

Very concerning.

I tried to minimize the concern, since Tucker’s mind always goes to extreme diagnoses and imminent death.  But I can’t say mine didn’t go there too.  And I wonder if he’ll ever get to a place in his life with the naivete of taking things in stride.

Turns out, it was a swollen lymph node due to infection.  He had strep throat.

The pediatrician said every single parent’s mind goes straight to “The Big C” when they see a lump protruding  from anywhere glandular in the child’s body.  (Count me among the majority.)  He said 99.99% of the time, a swollen lymph node is nothing to worry about, and one way I can tell is that a lymph node will fluctuate in size.  A cancerous anything will just get worse, if left untreated.

So the lymph node can stay enlarged for months, with still no need for concern.   Well, then.  This I can handle.

I’ve lost the privilege of believing it won’t happen to us.  It has.  It could.

A friend said, “A family like yours deserves a free pass.  You’ve done your time.”  His family is nine months into a battle with their daughter’s brain cancer.  His family deserves a free pass too.

Life doesn’t give it very many of those.

Strep has never sounded so good to me.

The Power of Suggestion

“Can I jump with you guys on the trampoline?”

“Sure, Mommy.  We can jump together.  Just don’t break it.”

“I’ll sure try not to.  And maybe I should wait until my knee gets better before I try jumping on the trampoline.”

After the fall on the ice a couple of weeks ago, my knee is now a battleground of blue, grey, brown, and green bruises, and itchy, itchy, itchy.  The craziness of the itching is how you know it’s on the mend, they say.   So maybe I’ll get that incident behind me before I go playing Crack the Egg on the trampoline.

“Or you could lose some weight.”  Tucker’s suggestion.

“That’s an option, yes.”  (Pause.)  “Hey, buddy?  Here’s a good rule to remember: Never, ever, ever suggest to a girl that she should lose some weight.”

“I know.”

“You know?  But you still said it to me?”

“Well, I know not to say it to girls.”  Right.  And, still.

“If you say that to your girlfriend, she might not love you anymore.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“But someday, it’s likely you will.”

“She won’t love me, but she’ll like me.”

“She might not.  This is what I’m trying to tell you.  If you suggest to a girl that she should lose weight, she will think you’re saying she’s not beautiful the way she is.  She will think you would love her more if she were shaped differently.  And you don’t want her to feel that way.”

“Right.  That’s why I’m only saying it to you.”

“Well, it’s still not my favorite.”

“That’s why I’m only saying it to you.”

And I’m finished with this conversation.

Way to go, Smart Mom.

I know these symptoms.  In the morning he has a runny nose, and by nightfall, we can land in the ER.  It’s the nature of Respiratory Airway Disease.  Zero to sixty in .2 seconds.

Tuck was showing all the classic signs of decline, and I had tapped all of my at-home resources and remedies.  We couldn’t get ahead of it.

…Hey, Robb? She said ‘Way to go.’ I did the right thing.

His breathing was labored.
His heart rate was accelerated.
His throat was tight.
His stomach was distended.

I know these symptoms.

Should I take him in?  Is there anything more I can do here?  Am I missing something?  Robb, what did we do before?  Can’t you help me think?

“Tuck, do you think we should go to the doctor tonight?”

“Yes, please.  Right now, Mommy.”

And so we went.  Just me and my tall boy.  To the ER.

Suffice it to say, the doctors affirmed my decision.  Multiple breathing treatments, steroids, a bonus diagnosis of a double ear infection, and four hours later, my boy was on the mend once more.

As we left, the nurse said to me, “Way to go, smart mom.  You did everything you could at home, and you let us take it from there.  If you had waited, you would have had a very sick boy in the hospital.  Way to go, smart mom.”

Hey, Robb?  She said, ‘Way to go.’  I did the right thing. 

And Tucker is okay tonight.