And so continue the Levi birthday chronicles. One year ago today I posted Levi in June as a prelude to his previously posted birth story Waiting for Levi. Over the past year, I have been so very God blessed to have spent more time with this little Colorado mountain boy than any other time in his life. Just since the end of December, we got to hang out in our Christmas pajamas . . . He introduced me to his new baby sister (and a crazy grand-dog) in February. . . In April, we discovered an honest to Merlin REAL castle deep in the forest and high up in the Rocky mountains on a hiking trail . . . hand in hand, we talked of wizards and dragons and ninjas . . . I may have introduced him to my witch cackle . . . I loved the way his eyes widened with intrigue . . . and he quietly and somewhat suspiciously removed his hand from mine. Don't judge . . . It's been much harder to cultivate a relationship with him than it has been with his sister. He only likes boy things . . . and with the exception of his momma and sister . . . boy people. I must work hard to stay relevant and interesting. He, on the other hand, and as ever, remains fascinating to me (Oh, unrequited love!!!) . . . So here are a few dos and don'ts I've learned on the way to worming my way into his semi-misogynistic little Viking heart:
- DON'T call him a little boy or "baby." You will be delivered with a disdainful, scary glare.
- DO chase him down and kiss his whole face. He will resist at first, then go limp in your arms, forgive you for calling him a baby, and then mumble fiercely, "I'm NOT a baby" in order to get more kisses . . .
- Do feed him.
- Feed him some more.
- Do read to him. Read about dragons or garbage trucks or cool cats with sunglasses and tennis shoes or witches falling off broomsticks or about little girls traveling west over prairies (he'll secretly listen while your read to his sister).
- Do Climb something with him.
- Don't NOT climb something with him. If you don't climb something with him (like a 30 foot high jungle gym), he'll take it very hard and run away. It's better just to start climbing.
- Find him a stick. He'll keep himself occupied for hours and you won't have to climb anything for a while.
- Feed him. Learn him. Love him . . . until you can steal a little place in his heart . . . maybe just a little to the left of the Ninja Turtles.
June 13, 2016
It's June again. We're celebrating summer and longer, lazier days and our Colorado babies, who both arrived to bless our family around this time of year. Mackenzie is our Middle of July baby, and Levi took his sweet time showing up on a Sunday afternoon in June three years ago.
Meet Levi. Our sweet, happy, animal loving, sister worshipping, momma shadowing, every day's an adventure kind o' boy. He's the best surprise I never knew I wanted. Stay with me here . . . and if you have to judge, at least appreciate my honesty . . .
It's not that I had any reticence about grandchildren. I'll take a dozen of those, please! It's just that . . . well . . . (come closer and I'll whisper;) they were all supposed to be girls. I like boys. I have nothing against them, really. But I grew up in a distinctly boy family. I have no sisters. I never cultivated any close, enduring relationships with any female relatives. So I was smugly, quietly thrilled when my first daughter was born. I never even entertained the thought that she wouldn't be a girl. When my second daughter was born, I was over the top ecstatic. I hadn't been so sure with her, and maintained through my whole pregnancy that it didn't matter. But all bets were off when the secret came out (quite literally;) in the delivery room. I nearly fell out of the stirrups thanking Jesus. I LOVED having daughters. I LOVED raising daughters. And then there were three. By the time my Mackenzie came along in 2009, I was harboring illusions of building my own little colony of girl people . . . even if it was through my daughters. I didn't think they'd mind doing that one tiny favor for me;)
Segue to January of 2013. I was working in my office with the expectation that my daughter would call with ultrasound news that morning, and with every confidence that there would be no surprises. The minutes ticked into hours and I became distracted and absorbed in my work. My IPhone sat face up within my reach just beyond my paperwork. It was just before noon when the text came through. My Brittany, always the creative one, had group texted a picture to the family of Mackenzie holding a chalkboard sign that said "It's a Boy!" (below). I reached for the phone, squinted hard, gasped, and reflexively flung my phone across the room. It bounced off the wall in its Otter Boxed insulation and came to rest safely on the floor while I focused on breathing and thought . . . WHAT do I do with . . . A BOY?! And then I spent the next 20 minutes crafting a response that wouldn't send piercing arrows into my daughter's second trimester tender heart. I'm fairly certain I succeeded. I think I said something to the effect that he would be the best loved little boy every born. I needn't have worried though. Come to find out, Britty was struggling through her own little crisis. It wasn't the boy part that was bothering her. It was the boy parts. WHAT, she wondered, do we do with THOSE?!
I'll bet you can guess by looking at the pictures (and maybe you're a little wiser) that any anxieties we might have thought we had evaporated into thin air even before this beautiful little boy showed up. Sometimes we just need a very short minute (or twentyish) to process. And can I tell you that I am every bit as enamored, as fascinated, as head over heels in love with him as I am with his sister? Even in light of the fact that I am all but invisible to him . . . it's hilarious! He ONLY wants Poppa. Or the dog. Or the other dog (is there a cat anywhere?) when he skypes. He will politely acknowledge me and say hi, Gramma (because his momma tells him to). And then he will crane his neck to look around me and yell, POPPA! And since there is nothing I don't love about this little boy, I even love this:) heart heart heart . . .
Below is an excerpt from my Top Ten 2013 . . . Happy Birthday, my Levi.
Waiting for Levi
The call came in from Colorado to Michigan on a Friday evening in late spring. The baby was coming. My daughter was about to give birth to her second child, a son named Levi Kyler. The unpredictability of birth, distance, time constraints and commitments prevented us from being there. I fell asleep holding my phone to my chest that night, and woke up, still holding on, panicked when there wasn't a check in by morning. Labor was moving slowly, and I guessed by Saturday night, excruciatingly slow. By Sunday afternoon, anxiety compelled us to seek the company and comfort of family, and we retreated to my husband's parents to wait for news. In retrospect, it was the second best place to be when I considered the miracle before me. My husband's mother had beat ovarian cancer, not once, but twice, and at seventy-five, had regained her former zeal and zest for life after her long recovery. That she had even survived against all odds to meet her first great-grandchild, and our first granddaughter, Mackenzie Leigh, who could easily pass for her own birth twin seventy years later, was a gift that I thanked God for every day. Family and the simple delights of everyday life were the most important things in the world to her, and I knew that as we whiled away the hours and speculated about the imminent birth, the labor occuring, the color of Levi's eyes - would they be the same electric blue as Mackenzie's? As her own? - that these things were as close to her heart as they were mine. When the first photo suddenly appeared on my I-Phone screen shortly after 4pm that Sunday afternoon on June 16th, I caught my breath, and as much I didn't want to tear my gaze away from my new grandson, whose eyes were, in fact, that same beautiful blue, I generously passed the phone off to waiting hands. I'm sure I was indiscriminate, too overcome to know who got the next look. But if I had to do it over again, I would make sure it was her, the great-grandmother that my grandchildren are so blessed to have in their lives.