Actually, Rocco is my one kid who I don’t feel sentimental about when he has a birthday. He was one of those babies who was irritated that he was stuck in a baby body because his brain thought he was older. He’d get so frustrated trying to make his dimpled fingers build train tracks that were too complicated for my feeble brain to even imagine. I know because he’d loudly express his disgust at my attempts to help.
So each time he turns a year older, my thought is, “Finally!” Instead of “Already?” I’m happy he’s a year closer to being able to do all the things he really wants to do.
Not that he isn’t perfectly happy now, building Lego creations and playing games and drawing up plans for world domination with Crayolas on lined paper. Rocco is never short on ideas.
Here he is, building a stone and log bridge so he could walk across the river to a fallen tree.
Along with all these ideas in Rocco’s head comes the conviction that he has all the answers and he knows a better way and he’s not going to wait around for directions.
He still asks a lot of questions, like, “What’s a mankini?” I told him there’s only one way I could answer that.
On our trip to Yellowstone, at any given moment, you could hear someone saying, “Rocco. Rocco!” The first firmly, the second fiercely. It takes that to get his attention, and even then you never get his full attention because half of his brain is still listening to himself while the other half may be doing any number of things. There’s not all that much room in his brain left for listening to things other people have to say. Like, “Watch out for the bear!” Or, “Your robot army is is attacking!”
If there’s a book character that reminds me of Rocco, it’s Zaphod Beeblebrox. It’s uncanny, their similarities.
Rocco’s voice has two volumes: loud and louder. He chooses friends who are also loud and louder, and they yell at each other when they’re happy and they yell at each other when they’re mad. Arguments are settled by whoever’s voice holds out the longest. It’s enough to bring a tear to any politician’s eye.
The only time we can really get through to Rocco is when he’s eating, as he often uses one hand to jam as much food into his mouth as will fit and is unable to speak for minutes at a time. We have to save up anything we want to say to him during the day for dinner time, when the food jammer comes out.
(Rocco’s 4th of July outfit. He insisted it was red, white, and blue and once Rocco makes his mind up, there’s no convincing him otherwise.)
He continues to be selflessly generous with everyone he encounters except for his archnemesis, Leo. He gives away candy, Pokemon cards, money, Lego creations—but the minute Leo shows up, shop is closed. “Sorry, I just ran out.”
During read aloud at night, Vincenzo has taken to sitting on Rocco’s head. Rocco laughs and laughs. Leo joins in the pile. Rocco gets mad.
Rocco builds something every day. Only the materials change. He builds things of sand, sticks, pillows, blankets, rocks, Legos, spaghetti, architect sets, robot sets, mashed potatoes, carpet fuzz. If it is within reach, Rocco will build out of it.
A tiny sampling of some of the things he’s built this summer:
Yesterday we had a babysitter over while I got some things done. I heard Rocco outside teaching her how to play soccer, then they came inside and he got out the beginner piano books and gave her a piano lesson. He’s had 4 lessons himself, you know. If he keeps this up, we’re going to have to start charging the babysitter instead of paying her.
Now for some random pictures that don’t quite fit in with anything:
Hot slide face!
(He loves to read. Some days that’s the only way I know he’s mine.)
Sometimes I worry about Rocco. I worry that he’ll never listen to what his teachers say, that he won’t listen to what his boss says, that he won’t listen to what anyone says, that he’ll drive whoever he falls in love with absolutely mad with all that not-listening. (I hope whoever they are, they have a loud voice.)
But I don’t worry about him much. Rocco has all the confidence I always wished I had, the ideas to back it up, the never-say-die attitude when things go wrong. He approaches failure as a challenge instead of a defeat. He laughs the loudest and longest, and he never takes it personally when you tell him you need a little break from him. He wakes up every morning excited to see what he’s going to come up with today.
I do too.
Hey world! Are you ready for this guy?
It’s okay. Neither am I.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Mexican corn cakes with pulled pork
Kale salad with dates and shaved parmesan
Leftover birthday cake