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Five Rocks

After an hours drive, you are itching to get out of your car seat straps.

“Home?” Your blond curls cock to the right and you try to un-clip yourself. 

“Home.” I agree. “Let’s go get Honey.” 

We struggle inside and as soon as your feet hit the floor, you take off across the hall to try and open the locked back door. 

“Ow-sigh?” You don’t understand that I need to change out of my work clothes, put away your milk, and unload the dishwasher. Why should you? You are a shade over a year old; you haven’t been home all day and the sun is out. So, ow-sigh we go.

You race the dog across the lawn and to the garden path.

Kneeling down, I teach you how to scoop the pea gravel with your shovel. I show you and talk thru it. I even make construction noises. You have trouble focusing, and think the shovel is a hassle. All you want to do is scoop the gravel into your mouth, and your hands work fine for that. 

“No, no… rocks go in the bucket.” And you squint your eyes at me and stick the tip of your tongue out to spit the rock into my hand. 

“Ehh?” you ask. 

“Good. Thank you.”

Your red romper is too big. At 14 months old, you are on the small side and the 18 month outfit hangs past your knees. But it is 76 degrees, and I can’t put you in jeans. Just yesterday, I got out your size five shoes. The “real” shoes with blue rubber soles. Now you can play in the grass even if it is wet. Even though they stay on, the shoes are too big and extend out past your toes, so you fall down more. You don’t care, but I do.

Your hair blows into your eyes and ants crawl across your chubby knee. 

“Bye, Mr. Ant.” I brush them off of you without making too big a deal. 

“Bahh….” And you cheerfully wave as the ant blows away. Later I will find two ant bites on your wrist and feel like I neglected you.

Honey darts past chasing imaginary threats and your feelings are hurt when she won’t chew on the rock you offer. “Hon?” you offer the rock again and I smile.

Your little boy voice mimics my vrooms and beeps and you push the shovel into my hand. 
Scoop. Dump. Scoop. Dump. Scoop. Dump. Scoop. Dump.

I hand it back to you, “You try.”

I make the noises while you try to scoop the eraser sized rocks into the red plastic well. At first you graze the top of the path. Your eyebrows pinch together, frustrated. 


“Try again…. Vroooo,” 

After two tries, you do it. Three rocks in the shovel. Your entire face brightens into a grin. 

“Yay! Lincoln!” Claps and high fives all around. We include Honey in our celebration and she barks and grumbles her own form of encouragement. 

Three more times you scoop. Each time I clap. The fourth time, it works. Five rocks, no bigger than your finger nail sit at the bottom of the blue bucket.

I am jubilant. You have just cured cancer. I pull your little body close and kiss your sweet head. You are warm from the sun, and even in my joy, I wonder if I should put a hat on you. 

“Yay, Lincoln! You did it! Good job.” 

Your grin is toothless, despite your six teeth. “Guh ja” You are proud. Shoulders back, head up.

Scoop. Dump. Scoop. Dump. Scoop. Dump. Scoop. Dump.

It’s 75 degrees at 4:10 on May 2nd. You are 14 months old, and you just scooped five tiny rocks into a bucket. I find myself thankful that I ignored the dishwasher, that we came ow-sigh, that I didn’t miss your triumph.

Five rocks.



I have a Master's degree in Secondary Education, a Bachelor's degree in English, and a Secondary Ed teaching license. I also have a four year old son, a one year old son, a husband, and a cat. Let's see how those degrees help me manage my life..... Spoiler alert- they just decorate the walls.

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