…and now he’s eleven. Eleven loud, wild, and crazy years with this kid. This kid! Not a day goes by that Kevin or I don’t say, “I just want to strangle you!” But we laugh when we say it and Rocco laughs too, as if to say, “I know, I would if I were you, too.”
He’s just so very…Rocco, and he has been since the first time we told him not to touch the wine glasses and he became obsessed with touching the wine glasses.
There are words. So many, many words. Rocco is a yammerer. Like, a neighbor stops by to borrow our folding table and Rocco starts talking about when we got the table, how it folds up, how this one time Mom couldn’t figure out how to do it but then he saw a red button thing and showed her how to do it, and did you know it has more than one height setting and he can show you how to change heights if you want. Do you want him to? Because he can.
I made up that example, but I promise you, if you come over to borrow our table that’s exactly how it will go down. Rocco has the incredible talent to go from sentence to sentence without taking a breath, leaving you no opportunity to say, “She’s good, Rocco. She doesn’t need to know the table’s origin story.”
But if you did tell him that, he would smile and laugh at himself. He does that a lot. He doesn’t mind being a punchline. In fact, he kind of likes it. When Vincenzo decides to exert his Older Brotherness and tackles Rocco to the floor, Rocco rolls over like a puppy and laughs and laughs while Vincenzo pins his arm behind his back and hurls insults at him. (Granted, V is a gentle soul. His insults are very mild.)
His table manners leave much to be desired, Rocco being a huge proponent of the “food jammer,” a.k.a. his finger. The kid can eat an entire dinner, including seconds, in about five bites. He sticks a golf ball-sized piece of steak in his mouth. We see him shove the tail of it in, then he chews and chews while we lecture him about table manners and slice off bites of our own meat to show him an appropriate size while he chews some more and smiles. He swallows, then promises with solemn eyes that he will take smaller bites in the future.
But he never does. He takes big bites of steak, just like he takes big bites out of life.
Rocco’s brain gets hungrier and hungrier the more it consumes. For his birthday, he got Lego technic kits, a model engine, a build-your-own Arcade game, and assembly-required lamps. He was at the kitchen counter at 6AM the next day working on a Lego technic car, which was somehow already half done.
It’s quite amazing, considering how terrible he is at following directions. He gets frustrated so you sit down next to him and start reading the directions aloud and five words into it, he says, “Oh, I get it…” and starts doing something that also isn’t right, like putting the screws in backwards or attaching the screen upside-down.
Things we say to him often:
1. Slow down.
2. Read the directions.
3. Stop interrupting!
4. I wasn’t finished.
5. Read all the directions.
6. Let’s stop and think about this.
7. Did you even hear a word I said?
8. What did you do with the directions?
10. I love you anyway.*
He can irritate every member of the family in 15 seconds flat. He doesn’t usually. But sometimes he does. He’s much better at talking than listening. Reason and logic bounce off him like rubber bullets, leaving us to throw our hands up in the air and say, “Good luck with that.”
He built this sword out of perler beads. “It only took me four hours, Mom!”
(Banana for scale and also to the right is a single perler bead, also for scale.)
We joked that he should make a shield to go with it.
“Only six hours, Mom!”
Rocco is happy, strong, resilient, curious, persistent, stubborn, good-natured, inquisitive, talkative, energetic, inventive, creative, and confident. Oh, to have an ounce of that confidence!
He is always trying to reach something just above his head, and don’t try to tell him he can’t because when you turn around, he already has.
Man, I love this kid. He completely wears me out.*
And I hope he always does.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
*Borrowed from Olivia, by Ian Falconer, which is a book about a free-spirited piglet…and also about Rocco.