Open Letter to Toby

Look at you.

Because I am.
I’m noticing you. I promise. Even if you are last in a line of three, the final duckling in the row. Even though you’re as elusive as a spark from your smile to your toes, one minute a seemingly permanent addition to my hip, the next a runaway toddler, the next you, in the here and the now, talking a mile a minute as you blissfully walk into pirate day at school. 
If our progression in the parenting of your oldest brother is like a careful trickle from a tap, controlled and cautious, and your middle brother’s a steady steam, yours is a torrent unleashed, white water raging to points unknown. We pull you along with us so often, gripping your hand and tugging, tugging, tugging. We plop you into your booster to ride along with Nate’s car pool. We drag you from soccer games to karate to 2K runs to the elementary school art show.  Let’s go. C’mon. It’s time.
And you’re so willing. So ready to keep stride with your brothers. So eager to tackle schedules that are too busy for you, sports that are mismatched for you, literature you can’t possibly understand.
You’re a sprinter, in a time of your life when you should be skipping. Or forgetting where you’re supposed to be at all.
But I haven’t fogotten, in case you’re wondering. About things like pirate day. About being five.
(Even if your costume was dug out of the dress-up box at 8:54 am while the clock ticked in a candance of we’ll be late, we’ll be late, we’ll be late that beat at the back of my mind and may have escaped my lips.)
Your eye patch was too big.
The first bandana we unearthed was way too small. Whenever did it fit you? Did it ever fit you, or was it in fact a reminent from one of your brothers’ past, a token from a Halloween before you were born, or birthday bash in which you were oblivious to the festivities, entertained by car keys or a baby biscuit while Calvin, or perhaps even Nate tugged it onto his head?
But no matter: you’re a third-born, and you genuinely don’t care. You discover each left-over scrap and toy with reverent surprise, turning it over like the piece of a puzzle it is. Ohhh. Nate’s. When? Where? How did he wear it? Just like this?
Yes. Just like that. Just like you. Because you’re a natural, and you don’t even know it. So as much as it pains me to say it: welcome to the big leagues, kid.
Or have you been here all along?
(This post is part of Wordful Wednesday at Seven Clown Circus.)

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