Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lists of Lasts, Messing With Zack, Chicken Note

Lasts are more difficult than firsts because you know the firsts are coming.  You know, your walking your talking, your tripping and cussing, first teeth and holidays and all of it.  All the memories we make and expect.  But... lasts seems sudden, unexpected, bittersweet and ever so final.

I can barely carry Nick anymore but I don't remember the last time I held him, toddler style.

Zack could never get a hoodie off, he'd somehow get comically stuck.  He can now, and I don't remember the last time we laughed together as we struggled to get it over his head.

Both boys shower all on their own now, hair, body, underarms (I still scrub a back or two, truth be told) all clean with no cajoling or prompting.  I don't remember the last time I washed them off or rinsed their hair.

Last diaper, last soothie, last bottle, last crawl down the hall, last kiddie pool, last burping, last turn the light brighter, last jump in a puddle, last... God, why am I tearing up?

You get the point, the list of lasts is heartrendingly long.  Important accomplishments checked off a giant spreadsheet.  Done and forgotten.  Forgotten until the smell of baby powder washes over you at church or in a store and you realize, heart cracking a bit, that there isn't even any in the house anymore.

Had I known a year ago that last years' Valentine cards were to be the final ones they'd make in school, I probably would have laminated them, and put them in the firebox.  I did scan them and put them in this post.  Would you go take a look at that post?  Please.  It's short I promise and the bulk of this post is sort of dependent on you taking a quick look at that one.  I'll wait...


You probably noticed, beyond the cuteness of the cards, that Marci and I had made some "Things we love about..." lists for each boy.  Last year we gave them to them as they got of the bus, they went inside and read them.  The first thing Zack said was, "Can you do this every year for us, Dad."

"Yes," I promised.  The very thought of some lasts seem unbearable.  As God is my witness, I will do this for them until my last breath is drawn.  And then I promise I'll have twenty more for the rest of their lives ready... laminated, in the firebox.


So, my sentimental and tardy Valentine's Day bit is done so I will just let you get...


Right, I almost forgot, that's why this is so poorly titled today, it's really a mnemonic device cleverly disguised as a lame post title.

Sometimes I am so tempted to mess with the boys.  I wanted to tell them one color wrong, like red for blue, or something, when they were little because I thought it would have long-lasting comedic impact.  Suggesting the impact might be more emotional and, well, damaging, Marci nixed that idea.

I am still tempted, but, I don't.  Except when I do.

The boys are building their recently purchased LEGO sets in the dining room, I am trying to play a little guitar but end up basically playing half a song and then stopping to look for a dropped or missing piece which is damnably difficult holding a guitar.  Giving up, I decide to put in CD.  I deliberate a while, and choose a greatest hits Police album we like, which is damnably difficult holding a guitar.

I put my guitar away downstairs and come back up and Zack asks:  "Dad, what's he mean "that book by nab-a-cough in that last song."  I push a couple of LEGO pieces off the table and, guitarless, pick them up with ease.  Distraction successful.

"How about some Koolaid, guys?  We haven't had any since last Summer," I say to further distance my self from creepy teachers and worse, Russian Lit.

I am blundering about, distracted myself by the shocking number of inappropriate songs that even my boys hear, and, as I pour the sugar into the pitcher, I spill it down the side and pretty much all over the place.  I get the lid on and turn on the hot water.  I begin to rinse the sugar and blue stuff - Raspberry Lemonade as I recall - off of the sides of the plastic jug thing we use for making drinks that, uh, need making, and, since the whole thing needs to be shaken, I begin to do that as I rinse it off under the running water.  With me?

Well, Zack walks in, watches for a sec, and says:  "What on earth are you doing?"  (Someone has said that to him before I suspect.)

I can't say if it was the tone in his voice, his cute little curious face or just my affinity for off-center humor, but I answered:

"If you shake Koolaid under hot running water it mixes better and tastes extra good.  It's science"

Of course now I have to decide whether to extend this fib as the years go on.  I probably will.  It'll be worth it when, someday, I see his son shaking a pitcher of Futureaid under a stream of hot water and see Zack look me in the eyes and wink, saying, "It makes it sweeter, Grampa."

"Yes, science," I'll say.

("Chicken Note" what does that even mean?)

Oh, I know...  Sometimes I write something down for Marci to put on her "things from the backseat" thing intending to give it to her so she can post it so I can use it here.  It's a convoluted process.  Maybe I should just do this instead.

A note from Bill's pocket that he was supposed to give Marci so she could put on her FB page thingee so he could steal it for this blog:

It is fun to say.  Let's all say it together - "They took credit for the chicken..."  Very satisfying sentence, I think.  I could see why we've always wanted to say that ...

Thanks for coming to see us here today.  Oh, and thanks again for looking at that other post (last time, I promise).  I appreciate that.

Say, uh, since you're still around can I ask you something, is this a Valentine?

It came home from school Thursday.  Didn't St Valentine slay a dragon or something before he met a horrible death?  Yes, this is a traditional Valentine's Day dragon-electrified-alien-lizard-o-love.  Right?  Hey, I better get out the laminator.

Now, where's that firebox...


  1. Thank you for the rain drops in a dad blog drought. You've restored my hope. I loved this to peacis.

  2. What a sweet and melancholy post, Bill. Well done, good writing really does something to you, and this did something. I'm sitting here pondering the lasts that have gone quietly from my life that I didn't notice, much less mourn. Great cards too, in both directions. When those boys are old enough to articulate a list as well as you, I think you're going to find it is long indeed.

  3. Smell is such a powerful memory trigger. I'm dreading/looking forward to remembering such lasts. On the more comedic side, a friend told me she knew a family who swapped "spaghetti" and "pizza" for their kid, which led to confusion once that kid started eating meals outside the home.

  4. We had our third and final child not that long ago. I find myself thinking about lasts and transitions more than I have in while. This captures that happy melancholy really well.

    As for your idea, it's one of my favorite things Steve Martin ever said. "Wouldn't it be great if we taught our kids to talk wrong? Like on their first day of school and they have to go to the bathroom. They raise their hand and say, "May I put my dogface in the banana patch?"

  5. How did I miss this post Bill?? It's gorgeous.

    Lately I've been thinking of lasts as well. I just noticed the other day that our boy has stopped coming in to our bed at night. For the longest time, every night, he'd wake up about 2 and just come in because, well, he missed us I think. It stopped and I didn't even know until it was a pattern, and then it was too late to lament because it was long gone.

    Then he went and drew a chalk letter "A" in the driveway. First of many I suspect.

  6. Be still my heart. This is exquisite. Thank you. You inspire beyond words.