Do You Know the Magic Words?

Isaac took a tumble down some of the basement steps last week. We did the usual check for broken bones, blood, and equal and reactive pupils. All those checks proved negative, so we applied the boo-boo bunny. Isaac seemed out of sorts, though, and so we kept an eye on him.

A couple of hours later, when a portion of my mowing was done (the mowing is never actually done), I came inside, cleaned up, and snuggled him up beside me. Not long after we drifted off to sleep, Wife woke me up. “He shouldn’t sleep after a fall.”

“Hasn’t it been long enough?”

“I don’t know. Better to be safe.”

So I nudged Isaac, who had drifted into that early sleep-place toddlers go to where they make little suckling noises, the memory of nursing printed deeper than many people realize. “Isaac,” I whispered.

No answer. I nudged him again, and said his name louder. “Isaac.” Still nothing. So I put my lips to his ear, and whispered, “Would you like some ice cream?”

An involuntary smile spread over his face, and he woke up right before my eyes. The words ice cream actually penetrated his sleep like an alarm bell. A happy, sugary alarm bell. I wish my own alarm clock said ice cream, instead of wake-up-before-you-fail-and-your-family-starves.

I carried Isaac to the kitchen, got out the van-choc-straw carton, and together we ate ice cream with a single spoon. Soon Eli joined us, then Caleb. Everything was just right, one of those moments when you know you would be happy if you stayed in it forever. Ice cream. The magic words.


  1. Krista

    Heard you on NRO, on It takes a parent- been reading through your site, and I wanted to thank you. We have the same set up as your family, oldest daughter, with autism, and three wild crazy boys. We also moved to the country to provide them work, and never finish mowing because the tractor is always broken. I appreciate your efforts to teach us. Your daughter’s page moved me and made me grateful. I know you will understand.
    Krista Schmitz

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