Tony Woodlief | Author


Ever put off writing a letter until you have the time to make it really special? Then the next thing you know, eight years have gone by, the person you were going to write to hates you, and you can’t remember what you wanted to say in the first place?

So I’ve been meaning to write a long post about the new boy, post a picture, and so on. It ain’t happening any time soon. So let’s just hit the main points for now.

The child is like a teenage boy — he parties all night, sleeps all day, and is obsessed with breasts. Given that I’m an up at five in the morning kind of guy, this doesn’t wear well on me. The wife, on the other hand, has some kind of estrogen Superwoman thing going on that enables her to nurse him every ten minutes at night, reorganize the garage and work in the yard all day, and still look breathtakingly beautiful when I get home.

Everyone asks us: “how are the other boys adjusting to their new brother?” The answer is that they are France and he is Lichtenstein, which means that they mostly talk to and about themselves, but occasionally remember he exists and stop by for a visit.

Eli has struggled a little, however. The second day we had Isaac home, Eli came into our bedroom where my wife was sitting on the bed nursing the baby.

“Mommy, will you hold me?”

“I can’t hold you right now, sweetie.” Quietly he turned and left the room. A minute later I peeked into his bedroom and saw him curled up in his little rocking chair with his blanket under his arm and his fingers in his mouth, listening to music.

“Are you sad, Eli?”

“Yeah. I can’t fit in dat bed.”

“Come here, baby.” He toddled over to me and I cradled him in my arms. He sighed, that long low sigh we all make when we finally get to hug someone we love and have missed terribly, or when we slip into bed after a miserable day.

We talked about the random things that occupy a child’s mind, him looking up at me with his cheek against my chest, and for a little while he was the baby again. Then he wiggled out of my arms and tackled me, ready to give the little boy thing another go.

I worry all the time that I’m not giving them enough of me. They crave my time; they soak it up like thirsty plants. Caleb still talks fondly about when we spent a few days putting flooring in the attic. It was a hot and miserable job from my perspective, cutting boards, dragging them up the stairs, and gluing and nailing them down. But Caleb had a blast in his little tool belt and yellow construction worker’s hat as alternated between whacking boards with a hammer and decorating them with his little brush and watercolor paints. I wish I could see the world through his eyes more often.

The other night one of the boys started a rumor, which spread to the other one, that I was going into work in the middle of the night. I know this because they opened my bedroom door at 11 p.m. and marched to my bed like a delegation from some tiny country of wee people, demanding to know whether I in fact was getting ready to go to work.

“Do I look like I’m getting ready for work?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’m sleeping, babies.” They just stood there quietly in the dark, but I could feel them staring at me suspiciously. “Now let’s go back to bed.” Of course this required a Daddy escort, because while they were brave enough to come down the hall to check on me, they couldn’t quite muster the courage to make the return trip on their own. Then there was the tucking in, the requests for sips of water, the additional questioning about exactly when I planned to go to work, why I have to work at all, and whether they could have chewing gum in the morning.

“Daddy,” Caleb asked me a few weeks ago, “why do you have to work?”

“So we don’t have to live in a shoe box.”

Fast forward a few weeks. “Daddy?”

“Yes, buddy.”

“Do you have to work tomorrow?”



“Uh huh?”

“I want to live in a shoe box.”

They are an observant, literal little crew with keen memories. Just the other day I caught Eli chomping on something at eight in the morning. “Eli, are you chewing gum?”

“No, I’m Eli.”

It’s often frustrating in the moment, but it makes me smile when I write it down. I should smile more often, because one day all I’ll have left is what I’ve written, and what scraps of memories remain in my mind. But I’ll be able to watch them, God willing, experience what I’m enjoying and enduring right now. I hope I prepare them well.

On Key

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