(Thumb is the only of the Handful whose entire life is documented in photos of which I have digital copies, so we're going back to the beginning for this one. This was the first time I held him, but I almost didn't include the picture because of that funny thing my hair is doing, but ultimately the Ring and Thumb preciousness helped me get over my hair hang-ups.)
Four years ago today, I was wearing yellow (don't ask me why) with hair that clearly wasn't behaving and hanging out in my favorite Lexington hospital meeting my freshly-hatched second nephew. He wasn't quite as fresh as his sister (Ring) and brother (Pinkie) were when I met them, but that's because this little guy decided to be born in the wee hours of the morning, while I was staying at home with said sister and brother, who at not-quite-four and two weren't up for an all night hospital vigil. Anyway later in the day, we were at the hospital, and the Popster told me to ask him how many grandkids he had. I initially resisted, assuring him that I was well aware of the answer, but he insisted, and eventually I caved and asked with a complete lack of enthusiasm, "How many grandkids do you have?"
Almost before the last word left my mouth, he threw his giant hand up in my face, fingers splayed and proclaimed, "a hand-full." And the collective nickname for my parents' grandchildren, my nieces and nephews, was born, birthed in that Lexington hospital just as much as Thumb was.
Thumb, whose eyes have changed from blue to green somewhere along the line, at his first, second, and third birthday parties.
I won't get to see and celebrate with Thumb until this weekend because he, like his brother, had the good sense to be born near a three day weekend, so we always have his birthday party Memorial Day weekend, but while I wait, let me share with you, imaginary readers, the best of Thumb.
I present my five favorites of a four-year-old:
5. The speech impediment. I know it's not going to last--or at least it's not going to be cute indefinitely if it does last--but right now how Thumb talks and messes up sounds is so deliciously endearing. I don't have any data to back me up on this, but it seems to me that Thumb might have the record for most/longest streak of mispronunciations of any of the Handful, which is only right I suppose considering that a few months ago he surpassed Pointer as having the longest streak as the "baby" of our family. And truthfully, he's already grown out of so many of those sound substitutions, so I know this special little trait is one that I'll have to savor for now and remember with fondness for years to come. Here's a ripped-from-real-life example of how Thumb's precious manner of speaking permeates our lives. Thursday night I was at the hospital seeing Grams, and when I went to leave I asked if she was going to give me a kiss, and she turned me down. In fact she told me that wasn't going to give me any "wugar," which is how Thumb says (or maybe used to say, as I think initial s's are finally within his grasp) sugar. When even your eighty-one year old great-grandmother who's been through so much lately she barely knows her name sometimes can remember and quote how adorably you say words, it's kind of a big deal.
4. Another thing that I'm totally digging about the Thumb is his cuddliness. Even though in so many ways (just wait, we'll talk about them) he's doing his best to grow up way too fast, Thumb is still the sweetest little, loving boy. And he's pretty decent at spreading that love around. I completely melt when he sticks his thumb in his mouth (yes, Thumb sucks his thumb--handy, isn't it?) and lays his sweet head down on my shoulder. He's the best little snuggler, and I'm really crossing my fingers that he doesn't grown out of that one.
3. This face. It's more than the fact that he's possibly the most beautiful boy I've ever seen. It's more than those ridiculous eyelashes or those giant green eyes or even the dimples. It's how that little face conveys every single emotion without saying a word. It's about the nods and blinks and grins, the pouts and the silly faces and the heart-breaking tears. He's got maybe the most expressive face of anyone I've ever known. Too bad for his daddy, but with that face, professional poker-playing is not in this boy's future.
2. Despite the way we baby Thumb and the sweet way that he indulges us in that, he has always been an independent little soul. He will fearlessly try to do anything that the big kids are doing, and "me too" has been an oft-repeated refrain around his house since he was able to talk. If Ring and Pinkie can do it, then Thumb is convinced that he should be able to as well, no matter what. Whether it's playing ball or doing homeschool work, Thumb is determined to run with the big boys, and I love the confidence and determination and single-mindedness that drive all those me-toos. And of course, a big chunk of his desire to to be big is the fact that he adores his big brother and sister and cousins.
1. When Thumb was a little baby, the grown-ups in our family were having a discussion about being funny. Yes, we talk about being funny in our family quite a lot. In this particular discussion we had two opposing theories. Shane thought that based on the anecdotal evidence of the sibling groups we knew that second-born children are the funniest in their families. I put forth the notion that it was actually youngest children, regardless of number. I was using as my examples most of the same sibling groups as it seems most of the siblings groups we know are two-kid families. The major point of disagreement was that Shane, as a second-born, considered himself the funniest of our siblings, and I, as the youngest, insisted that it was me. I did have to agree that my moma, who is technically the second-born of three, is definitely the funniest of her siblings, but since she's a twin, she's only minutes away from being the youngest. Shane then tried to use Pinkie, who was a hilarious two-year-old (and is still a very funny six-year-old), as the example to prove his point, but I maintained that we couldn't make that call until Thumb was older. So I've been watching Thumb's comedic development with avid interest And I'm proud to say (because it proves my theory) that I think he's the funniest of the three of them. He teases and jokes and tricks and has been doing so since he could talk (though he couldn't manage it without that expressive face). One of his specialties is keeping a funny thing going, like the time a very solemn and demure "me not know" was the only answer he would give to his Aunt Michelle, just for the sake of hilarious torture. And I'd like to offer a friendly kick in the pants to the first person to laugh at "in myyyyy notebook," thus making it Thumb's longest-running and most adorable joke. As we all should know by now, humor is my real love language, so this kiddo has me in the palm of his hand.
And as a bonus treat, I've got a video of Thumb doing what he does best: being adorable. Here for your pleasure, you get the voice (though he doesn't mispronounce anything too badly), the expressions, and a peek of that teasing humor. Please pardon how loud I am and the ridiculous amount of background noise. Enjoy:Happy birthday to my little Thumb. Aunt Ellen is going to love all over you this weekend!
*****A late-breaking update: Once again a Peep has just managed to ensure that I don't get to attend her child's birthday party. Today is already Peep Amy's birthday (Happy Birthday!) and tomorrow is the 4th birthday of her Carter, so I already consistently miss their birthdays. Earlier this afternoon, Peep Monica brought our newest little Weep into the world. I'm not going to give you any more details because I don't know if they've fully announced it to everyone they want to know yet. I'll come back and update it with pertinent info once I've got the all-clear.*****