no sweater, no train service



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Hi there my sweet little Lulubeans! Yes, I know this is unconscionably late – I’m apologizing to your future self, because right now you scarcely care what month it is, but some weeks ago you turned two and a half, and I promised not to go a day longer without my quarterly treatise. You will get to know these peccadilloes, and perhaps be amazed I did this every three months at all – or maybe I’ll have some huge attention deficit revolution and be Johnny On-The-Spot by then. Anything can happen, my sweet. One mustn’t define oneself, or else one becomes calcified and inflexible.


Let me be succinct: you are loud. You have always been loud, but I thought it might wane with the onset of toddlerhood and the fade of that newborn’s guitar-distortion cry. It seems our neighbors aren’t so lucky, because when you have an extreme emotion (either joy or Russian-novel-anguish) you are capable of lungpower that would have been the envy of ship captains during the Napoleonic Wars.

It’s a fitting metaphor, because you experience things very deeply. Sometimes I watch your expression after I make you a spirulina-powder smoothie with raspberries, and it is the sated ecstasy of the satyrs. A few weeks ago, you had some soap in your eye and your mom soothed it with cold, wet fingers against your closed eyelids… and now I occasionally catch you doing the same, just for the languid sensation.


with Polly

The other thing you feel deeply? Your relationships. Man, if you could get the sophomore vote, you would totally be the social chairman of your sorority. Every evening you say goodnight to everyone you know, and sometimes we’re in there for 45 minutes. The absolute apple of your eyelids? Your cousin Barnaby, of course:


When we were up at the farm earlier, you coaxed him to say his first word again – “dog” – then let go of his hand when he wanted to take his first steps. One thing I managed to get on camera was your first conversation together, and I think it’s fair to say that Barno’s monosyllables certainly qualified:

Every morning, you come into my room to wake me up. Mommy has long since already begun her day, but you know I’m still ripe for the bothering. Sometimes you come in with a Found Object and bang it on my head, saying “WHAT’S THIS, DADDO???” Other tidbits from our mornings:

Me: “Um, so, hey Lucy, it’s early – can you come back in a half-hour?”

Lucy: “Daddo, I want to stay here with you, so don’t fight with me.”

Me: “Why are you stepping on my head?”

Lucy: “Because I want your opinion.”

Lucy: “Daddo, what are you doing?”

Me: “I’m sleeping.”

Lucy: “Daddo, what’s happening?”

Me: “Whaddya mean? I’m sleeping!”


Me: “I’m sleeping.”

Lucy: “Okay, I’ll be your blanket.”

dramatic straining noises as she hoists herself onto my bed and flops on my skull

Me: “Wow. My blanket sure smells like fish.”

Lucy: “I had salmon!”

You get the idea. There was a time when I felt so horrible about mornings that I purposely slept through all of them. Something about the dull ache of the early day made me actually sick to my stomach. Now, every morning, I can’t wait to see you. I look forward to mornings like I used to look forward to Nestle Crunch Bars from the ice cream truck. To say you part the clouds and strengthen the sun is an understatement: you are both the sun and clouds, thunderstorms and endlessly warm afternoons, thick snow and cut grass. How did we do it before you? I can’t remember.

Every night either your mom or I tell you a “Barnaby & Lucy” story, featuring some adventure you have taken in an alternate world (the one where Barnaby is already talking, and you can both drive, even though you’re both under 3 years old). Thinking up new stories has been a fascinating thought experiment, because repeats don’t play well in your demographic.

While we were in Texas last month, I was taking a nap, and you came in to “put me to sleep” the way I’ve done for you. I turned on the camera and asked for a Barnaby & Lucy story, and as far as I know, this is your first stab at fiction. Enjoy!

0 thoughts on “no sweater, no train service

  1. cluverc

    this is priceless…just spewed tea all over my computer at “Wow, my blanket sure smells like fish..” She will certainly cherish these epistles. My father was just saying how much he regretted not writing more about our childhood, so now my sister and I are trying to get it all via oral history..Lucy is a lucky girl!

  2. Anne

    Precious. Tell Lucy that one of your faithful readers also enjoys salmon (cold; left over from previous supper) for breakfast, and my hubby never fails to comment on the aroma afterwards.
    I’m a grandma myself, so I can get away with prodding you and Tessa to consider bringing on a sib for Lucy. You guys make a beautiful kid! Of course, it’s totally up to you and Mother Nature. **smirks coyly**

  3. Claudia

    Thank you for posting this, especially the last video. I’ve been feeling all mopey about my babies growing up so fast. Lucy’s story was a great reminder about how much we have to look forward to with the onset of language skills.

  4. Sturdivant

    I live for the Lucy Chronicles…especially with all the pictures! Makes my day- especially refreshing after recruiting civil engineers! ;)

  5. Annie

    Oh god…Ian, you regularly put us all in grave danger of Death By Cuteness, an underrespresented but extremely dangerous phenomenon!
    “A tiny little sweater, and a BIG sweater for ME!”
    And the footage of Lucy & Barnaby will never be equaled.

  6. cullen

    ARe they drunk in that 1st conversation or is the fiery diminutive beau practicing admonishing the lurking cro-magmen on campus, “Eyes off numnutz, we all know my big cousin’s a looker!!” …and she is with them baby blues. A sweet talk like that’s music to the ears; I’m thinkin’ BArnaby’s a winner tenor for the Nicely Nicely part (Sit Down Yer Rockin’ the Boat).
    Kudos Daddo and all around the family tree.

  7. Megan

    If I could be guaranteed a daughter as beautiful and charming as Lucy, I might change my mind about the whole child-bearing thing.

  8. Anne

    Megan: Funny thing is… if/when you do have a kid, you will genuinely find him or her to be beautiful, charming, and fascinating, just like Lucy.
    It’s this Jedi mind trick that happens when you become a parent. :-)

  9. salem

    Christmas is always a great time for happy tears. Thank you Lucy and Ian. Of course, thank you to the magic spice that made it all possible, Tessa.


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