While I was still pregnant with Luke and considering names for the perfect, little boy that would soon be joining us, I remember distinctly the moment that the name Luke popped into my head.  I was stopped at a stop sign in our tiny little town on my way home from grocery shopping.  Suddenly, I just heard it in my head, “Luke.”  That is a very nice name and I think it meets all my criteria.

  1. I have never dated a Luke.
  2. It is short.
  3. It doesn’t rhyme with any derogatory words.
  4. It will not be mispronounced.
  5. It is common enough to not be weird, but not so common that three kids turn around every time I call his name.

I took the idea home to my husband.  Who immediately agreed.  The name had also come to him.  Of course, he had a much more practical reason for liking the name.  “After all,” he said, “I have always wanted to say, ‘Luke, I am your father!'”

And so it was that Luke came to be Luke.  We knew Luke was perfect when he was born.  His life was a miracle. We loved every piece of his 5 pound, 11 ounce body.  We watched him grow and waited eagerly to introduce him to Star Wars so he could meet the hero that inspired his name.  As time went on, though, we began to realize that our perfect son may not ever understand the humor in his Daddy’s words, “Luke, I am your father.”

The unfortunate fact is that the movie Star Wars is notably lacking tractors of any kind.  Now if our hero, Luke Skywalker, were to fly through space in a John Deere tractor battling evil farmer clones in combines, Luke might be convinced to watch.  However, since Luke prefers harvesters to jet fighters and perfectly hitched fertilizer sprayers to witty robots, we reconciled ourselves to the hopelessness of introducing our Luke to THE Luke.  Until today.

Unlike Luke, Thomas loves all things Star Wars, so he was elated when I offered to let him watch one of the DVDs on my laptop today.  Not long after the movie began, Luke bounded into the room, and I thought, “Well, that was fun while it lasted,” knowing the battle that would follow.

However, instead of pushing away his loud, aggressive, older brother, Thomas excitedly invited Luke to join him.  “Luke, you wanna watch a show with me?   The hero is Luke – just like you!  C’mon!”

20170409_144259Luke happily plopped himself next to his brother.  They hugged for a few minutes and then resumed the movie.  Luke lost interest after a few minutes and has been in and out of the room many times, but each time he returns, he is welcomed by his little brother who pauses Star Wars long enough to love on Luke.

Who knows, with enough loving invitations, maybe Luke will understand the story someday.  After all, “The force is strong with this one!”


Ride, Rinse, Repeat

Every summer, Luke seems to develop a new and intense enthusiasm.  Sometimes these are amazing breakthroughs that I think could lead to a future career; other times, I am simply baffled: stumped by the utter lack of predictability that seems to drive his attention.  Last summer, his enthusiasm was pruning shears.  He became quite an adept pruner as he helped me trim up the many apple trees that grace our yard.  Unfortunately, his enthusiasm simply could not be constrained to our overgrown fruit trees.  He needed more, and the possibilities were endless.  He quickly discovered that plastic toys were excellent subjects upon which to practice his art of pruning.  We responded to that move by boxing up his toys and stashing them away in the van that outlived its usefulness as a vehicle and discovered its destiny as the only closet able to withstand Luke’s attempts to break in.  Not to be beaten so easily, Luke upped his game to the radio antenna on our car.

“Oh yeah?” we responded, “We’ll hide those shears on the highest shelves of the garage.  You’ll never be able to reach them.”

Wrong again.

That little monkey scaled the shelves up to the counter top, climbed on top of the garage freezer then up on top of the shelves, retrieved those pruning shears and hopped back down.  Then he did what any logical, clear thinking adventurer would do; he pruned the handlebars off his brother’s scooter, snapped the plastic wheels off his wiggle car and cut the handlebars to his own bike down to size.

We played an eternal game of hide and seek with those pruning shears all summer, but no matter how cleverly hidden, that boys sixth sense for shears helped him sniff them out.  Having demolished his primary mode of self-transportation, we spent most of the summer on long drives and visits to the lake.

This year, I decided to take a risk and bought Luke a second hand bike at a local thrift store to replace his trimmed up version from the previous year.  Bicycles have become the new theme of our summer.  Luke has loved riding bikes since he taught himself how on the neighbor boy’s itty bitty starter bike when he was just four years-old.  Lately, I have braved several early morning rides about town with him.  Whenever we weren’t riding, he was out trying to figure out what new things he could hitch that bike, and everything else with wheels.  His new hitching tool of choice is the C-clamp, a marvelous instrument that can be attached relatively easily to almost any type of vehicle.  And then came what I think I could safely call one of the happiest days of Luke’s life.  Grandpa welded a real, genuine hitch to his bike!  Now he can easily hook any number of yard implements, dustpans and wagons behind him and proudly carry his trailers up and down the driveway.  He has even taken to loading three year-old Little A into the wagon and giving her rides.

Last week’s riding adventure brought out the sense of humor that I am starting to see Luke develop.  While pulling sister in the garden cart, he noticed a puddle created one of the yard sprinklers.  With a mischievous giggle he B-lined for that puddle while the sprinkler was turned away then abruptly stopped just outside the wet edge, leaving poor little-A parked as a prime target for the sprinkler.  She obligingly howled as the cold sprinkler showered her, and Luke was thrilled.  Once the sprinkler shower had passed, he resumed the ride down the driveway and returned just in time for a repeat performance. Then he fell into a rhythm, ride, rinse, and repeat, ride, rinse, and repeat.  His giggle unabashedly more proud with each cycle.

Even Little A seemed to enjoy providing the thrill of a screaming fit for Luke’s entertainment.   Although I shouldn’t encourage the teasing, it makes my heart happy to see him learning to manipulate other people’s emotions and understand that what he does affects the way other people feel.  It is a very basic concept, but that understanding is the very basis of developing the ability to connect with people.  And I find it amazing!

Getting Hitched

20160325_141936The weather has finally brightened up just a bit here in Idaho, and Luke happily escaped to spend some quality time with his tractor in the back yard this morning. As you know, Luke loves all things tractor and he quickly set to figuring out the best implements to hitch up.

My boy has come up with some rather ingenious hitches in his lifetime. He was initially inspired by Grandpa’s clever use of a twisty tie to resolve his early hitching problems when he couldn’t attach a plastic car to his toy tractor. From that magical moment that Grandpa solved his problem, he was hooked – or should I say hitched. Over the years, Luke’s hitching tools have evolved from simple twisty ties and pipe cleaners to sticks, pipes, screwdrivers and clamps. Anything that can be hitched, will be hitched. If it doesn’t have a hitch, a hitch must be created.  Whether sled to bike, mower to van, tiller to tractor,  or wagon to wheelchair, Luke may be occupied hitching for hours.

Today’s hitches of choice are large clamps we purchased back in our naive days of trying to20160325_141321 repair the furniture as Luke broke it. The goal was to hitch hoe to tractor in back and snow shovel to tractor in front, and all was happy until he could tighten the clamp acting as snow shovel hitch at a perfect 90-degree angle. It kept slipping on its designated hitching rod, which led to a solid 30-minute meltdown filled with wails of anxiety and frustration. I worked furiously to devise a method to hold the clamp at exactly the angle he needed it to be. Thankfully, we accomplished this to his satisfaction and he was able to move on to his next, simpler project – removing pins from the tiller wheels – great tool for future hitching projects.