I distinctly remember an evening in Cayman, it was probably mid-summer when most residents are off island to escape warmer temps, that Clif walked across the street to meet us at Governor’s Beach after class and we had a picnic and played until sunset. So far, this could have been one of many evenings well-spent but this particular evening, Clif and I were standing chest-high in warm, calm, Caribbean water and Thomas, who was five or six months old, was sitting happily on my hip watching the girls dive and splash in front of us on a very nearly empty, perfect shoreline and alternately turning to admire the sunset that was painting a cloudless sky behind us to the west. Still, this evening sounds similar to many others except that I clearly recall Clif and I were discussing the beauty- of both the environment and the act of watching our children in the environment- and the serenity of the scene. Most importantly, this memory hinges on the comment, uttered by one of us, agreed upon by the other, and chuckled over smugly by the both of us, that, given this incredibly tranquil ‘nursery’, Thomas was going to be one chill kid.
Duhn-duhn-duhn. Three years later, life has proven us sentimental idiots. This kid is a hundred things, but chill is not one of them! I have frequently used the word “passionate” to describe my youngest child, because it is the most diplomatic way to characterize his more tempestuous side. Because he still has both feet firmly planted in toddlerhood, it’s uncertain as to whether or not “Hurricane Thomas” is a true force of nature or an exaggeration of personality due to a developmental phase but when he’s not screaming, “I WILL BE NICE!!”, at the top of his lungs from his time out spot at the furthest end of the trailer, a mere 20 feet away, I really enjoy his quirkier, passionate side. Thomas likes things the way they are, he doesn’t switch gears as quickly as the rest of us. The first month or so after the Cayman move was tough, the first month or so living in the trailer was harder, and he even had a hard time when we moved rv parks for the first time back in November! How much easier can a move get? Last weekend we drove up to an rv park north of Orlando where we stayed in the fall and as we pulled up to the gate, Thomas shrieked, “What are we doing at this trailer park!?”. Today I explained to him that we are moving back to ‘The Clarcona’ tomorrow morning so that I could feel him out for any subsequent trauma.
Just in case I sound critical, let me be clear: this fixedness of Thomas’ is not easy to reconcile with my own enthusiasm for flexibility and change, but I love it. It is sweet, it’s a little bit manly, and it’s as inevitable as sunrise and sunset. It is a constant reminder to think more deeply about how mine and Clif’s choices affect the little people in our lives. Nora Ruth won’t think twice about spending a month alone in Italy with my mom, and Alliene has gone on the record more than once to request that we release her from our familial contract so that she can become a member of the Danter family. But Thomas, who hasn’t spent more than a dozen nights away from me since his birth, answered the birthday question, “Where would you like to go on vacation?”, with, “to the trailer, where you are.”
Thomas’ Birthday Questions and Answers:
What is your favorite color? orange
What is your favorite toy? Mikey (angelo- the pillow pet)
What is your favorite fruit to eat? ninja turtle cake
What is your favorite movie? ninjas
What is your favorite animal? lion
What is your favorite song? “singing” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
What is your favorite book? Skippyjon Jones
What is your favorite toy to sleep with? Mikey
What do you want to eat for your birthday? Mikey cookies
What do you want to be when you grow up? a ninja
If you were invisible, what would you do? I would go play on a motorcycle
Are you proud of yourself? Yeah. Why? I just am.
If you were the president what would you do? I would be President Wilson.
And then what would you do? I would ask Congress to declare war.
What are you afraid of? ninjas and the Dumbo ride [at Disney]
What are you good at? ninjas!
What makes you feel sad? that daddy leaves
What makes you feel happy? Nora Ruth makes me happy
If you could fly, where would you fly to? Neverland
What is your favorite holiday? Magic Friday [our family celebrates Friday afternoons by playing at Magic Kingdom]
If you could pick a new name, what would you pick? Mikey. That’s a good name.
Where do you want to go on a vacation? to the trailer…where you are.
I love you Thomas, Happy Birthday. Happy Boorfday.