Tuesday, January 13, 2015


My mother-in-law has a theory about our children, and it has to do with their hands.

My son, the eldest, would sleep from his earliest infancy with his fingers balled tightly into tiny little fists.  He was born with a herculean grasping reflex resistant to any sort of outside manipulation.  Over the months, his fingers learned how to curl around a wide variety of colorful and textured devices.  He would fixate on one toy or another, refusing to let go.  Every attempt to remove the object of his affection would be met with squawks of displeasure.  Eventually enthralled in a drunken fit of sleep or fatigued ride in the stroller, his grasp would loosen, and whatever had become his beloved thing would fall to it's peril.

Over the years his love of objects has continued.  Whether it be books or remote controlled cars.  And he has become a merchant: a dealer of things.  He often leaves for school in the morning with a small array of left over Halloween candy and returns with a handful of erasers, pencils, or other electronic doodads.  He has formed a complex bargaining system in which he somehow comes back with handfuls more than he began.

He is a fiddler, an architect, an engineer.  His fingers are antennae reaching out and probing his environment.  He is most at peace when he is manipulating.  Changing one form to another.  Fixing that which is broken.  Breaking that which is pristine.  He is continuous motion.  His hands literally consume the environment around him.

My daughter, on the other hand, sleeps with her palms open and pointing towards the sky.  And her personality, since infancy, has followed my mother-in-law's prophecy.  From her first ability to hold a pencil, she has become a creator of letters.  A giver of gifts, from an early age she would drag her babysitter down the street depositing trinkets in the neighbor's mail boxes.

She is open and emotional.  Her realm is too large and complex to be worshipped in one's hands.  She concerns herself with social graces, and has learned the grown-up habit of complementing those around her.  Incredibly smart and able, she seems much more interested in the ephemeral.  She sometimes takes the money from her piggy bank, and tries to convince us to give it away to her friends.

She is lovely.

Last night my daughter was owed a visit from the tooth fairy.  She lost her front tooth, and knew that upon awaking in the morning, there would be two gold coins under her pillow.  She questions us often about the authenticity of the tooth fairy, but then smiles her serrated grin and tells us that the fairy must be invisible.

This morning there was an added surprise.  Someone had placed an extra one-dollar bill underneath her pillow beside the two coins.  She assured my wife that this was a sign that she has been an extra "good girl" lately.  But we both know that it was my son.  He snuck into her room, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and placed one of his hard earned bills under the pillow.

I used to worry about my son's hands, but do so a little less now.

It seems his grip has loosened a bit,

and now he holds on tightly to people too.


Unknown said...

I love this. Thank you.

Never Again said...

Hmmm. When I read about your son, I was thinking surgeon's hands. What do we want from our surgeons? *I* want a person with antennae in his/her fingertips. I want that desire to fix things and hold things. I also want compassion, which your son demonstrates at the end.

opwfredericks said...

Jordan, this made my heart swell.

O.P.W. Fredericks