About Me,  toddlers

Luke is a verb

Lately I’ve been taking a little journey back to the period called “inexperienced motherhood.” It usually happens in Trader Joe’s or somewhere else in public, where I’ll look down next to my cart and see that someone has taken a massive bite out of a raw zucchini and then stashed it on the lower rack.

I make sure not to look down for too long though, because if I don’t keep my eyes on the whirring blonde ball of energy that is our resident three year old, he will be behind the counter and elbows-deep in the free sucker bucket, much to the consternation of whichever Trader Joe’s team member is lucky enough to be our cashier that day.

“Hey buddy,” the Hawaiian shirt clad stranger will begin, “you can’t be back here!” or else it’ll be the arched brow and the “Hey, mom, can you get him back on your side?” with a knowing look that plainly says “you’ll get the hang of this sooner or later, lady.”

Little do they know, these innocent bystanders who stand witness to our public displays of destruction, that Luke is not my first rodeo, or even my second, but my fourth.

I’ve had the opportunity to confess that to a few well-meaning good samaritans who stop to help me disentangle him from the climbing net at the park where he is hanging upside down, dangling from one leg, which he somehow managed to thread through 4 different squares of cargo netting.

Or at a splash park last summer when I would march him back naked (again) and unashamed from the edge of the pop jet fountain, white buns blazing under the hot Colorado sun for all the general public to observe. “Sun’s out, buns out!” the neighbor kids shouted gleefully all summer, watching Luke streak across the yard having freed himself once again from the shackles of swim trunks or his pull up.

I thought it would abate with potty training, but alas, he is now more naked and I am wiping more things off of more surfaces than I was before. At least diapers were a contained, albeit expensive, environment.

When Luke’s true nature first began to show itself around his second birthday, we told ourselves he was bidding for attention. Acting up because a new baby was coming. Having a hard time adjusting to all the big kids being in school some days.

Nope. Turns out this just is Luke. Or else he is having the longest and most persistent case of the terrible twos in recorded history.

He’s not terrible, though. He’s actually really sweet and funny and really, really smart. He tells strangers he is 7, that he is the oldest in his family, that he is going to learn how to drive soon. He tells anyone who will listen to him that he “used to live in Italy” (no, he did not) and that when he grows up he is going to be a daddy and a garbage truck driver. (lucky gal the one who scoops him up.)

He is always dirty, usually naked, and has single-handedly inflated our grocery bill by at least $150 a month. A typical breakfast might be 2 eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, and maybe a strip or four of bacon if there is any lying around. He eats like Gaston, he has the manners of Gaston, but he is much kinder than Gaston.

“Mommy I just love you! Come here, I’m going to kiss your mouth. Mommy when I grow up I’m going to live with you and come home every night for dinner (nope). You’re a good mommy, you do a good mommy job.”

It’s hard to stay mad at a guy like that, even when he manages to extract himself from his carseat and OPEN THE VAN DOOR WHILE WE’RE DRIVING THROUGH TRAFFIC.

Yesterday someone posted a viral video from like, home security cam footage and it showed a toddler hanging on and being lifted by the opening garage door while mom’s back was turned and I was like, “yep. That is for sure going to happen to me.”

When I meet boy moms with grown or older sons, I beg them for reassurance that he is going to make it safely to adulthood. Last week we thought an upstairs toilet needed a professional snake job, but then lo and behold, daddy’s amateur snake job turned up AN ENTIRE GREEN APPLE and we all looked in fascination and horror at the child who assured us “Mommy told me it was okay to flush apples down the toilet.”

Nope again.

Next fall Luke will start preschool in our sweet little Montessori atrium. And as much stock as I put in the great Maria Montessori’s methods, I do wonder if Luke might accidentally eat the class pet, punch a hole in the ceiling tiles with the red rods, or squirt his classmates in the face with the spray bottles they use to gently mist their succulent collection during the zenlike period known as “plant work.”

Also, he knows how to use matches.

I feel like we’re playing some strange new game in the raising of this child – one that doesn’t include a rule book – so we’re making them up as we go along, to varying degrees of success.

He wakes us up some mornings by dropping a shoulder into our slightly sticky bedroom door and flipping on the overhead light while bellowing out IT’S MORNING TIME I’M HUNGRY before turning abruptly and thundering down the stairs towards the kitchen. Thanks to DST reveille has been nudged forward to 5:50 am but who’s counting?

Other mornings he will creep around the side of the bed to find daddy and wiggle his still-saturated pullup-clad butt in between our sheet and and comforter, and let me tell you, the person who brings to market an aroma-based alarm clock is going to make some real money.

One memorable morning around 3 am earlier this Fall, I awoke in the midst of what I assumed was a home invasion when he’d pulled a stepping stool up to the bed and stood, 2 centimeters from my head, yelling WAKE UP MAN. (?????) I awakened. And spent the following hour trying to get my cortisol levels back down to sleep-able range.

We love our crazy Duke, don’t get me wrong. He is hilarious, loving, super personable and very, very good at getting his way with his 3 older siblings and 3 older cousins.

I recount some of his antics here for posterity’s sake, and also to demonstrate that no matter how many kids you’ve had, you might not be fully prepared for the immensity that is one of their personalities in particular. (Or maybe more than one! I’m looking at you Blythe). You never know what – or who – you’re gonna get. Which is part of the fun.

(And by fun I mean the kind of fun that you feel on a roller coaster ride, just to be clear.)

I’m curious – do you have a verb in your family? Is there one – or more – in every family?

oldie but goodie (gosh I’m glad I painted that kitchen…everything)



  • Kate Tramma

    Oh my goodness this had me laughing out loud! And man I can relate. My “verb child” is now 6. Good news: he now speaks respectfully to other adults and he functions beautifully in Atrium. Bad news: he can lift heavier objects and reach higher. And still leaves the house alone half naked before 7am. Godspeed. 😉

  • Jean C

    I had a cousin who was very much like your Luke. He didn’t speak until he was nearly 4 years old, and the first time my aunt heard him was when he was high up in a tree shouting obscenities she never knew he had in him. He got into everything, had many a meltdown, broke objects d’art as easily as looking at them, was a menace in school. He grew up to be a priest. I kid you not! Auntie figured he wore out his bad as a child and so there was nothing for it but to live the rest of his life doing good. Who knows but maybe Luke is your vocation son?

  • Carole

    Mine is also a blonde, male fourth child. He is not yet two and outruns everyone in the family. Every older person who meets him says he is going to be a priest. I’ll need one in the family if I live through this!

    • Cecilia

      Carole, I didn’t see your post until after I posted mine, but my son also is blond, and the fourth child! Hmmm…. What is happening here?

        • Nancy

          My blonde, 4th child ALSO was the one that “brought my parenting to previously unknown levels.” We used to joke that if we’d had him first…he’d be an only child!
          Hang on, ladies, for the most wonderful ride of your lives. My one regret was not writing down the day to day antics. (“No, Keegan, you can’t carry the cat by his head!”)
          After 21 busy, glorious years, my verb-child will graduate from West Point. I guess all the time spent fighting bad guys in the woods behind the house finally paid off!
          Godspeed to ask the moms! It’s the greatest job in the world.

    • Kathleen

      My fourth is also a blonde boy, too! And he not a verb just a chubby, didn’t walk until 18 months, slug. But our 5 baby! She is a verb! By 7 months she’s figured out how to remove the heating vent and shove fingers in the metal grate and tear up her little figures! She just turned one and I spend most of my time saving her from close calls! My 1st was a verb too. And those verbs turn into amazing helpers down the road!

  • Cecilia

    I have a Luke. His name is Aidan and he turned sixteen this August. He is the sweetest boy on earth. I have fond memories (well they are now) of him walking across a McDonald’s dining room with his pull-up around his knees & his naked booty hanging out, the summer he turned three. Other fond memories include Aidan frolicking naked at the Calumet Park Beach in Chicago, also the summer he turned three. More recently, he ordered pizzas loaded with spinach and pineapple and 15 bottles of soda to his school and put it under the assistant principal’s name. The crime remains unsolved to this day. Then there was the time his friend played a gunfire app on his phone & Aidan yelled “Get down!” in class, and the teacher shrieked and dove under her desk…
    Jenny, the good times have not ceased, they’ve merely grown a tiny bit more sophisticated.

  • Mary Anne

    This had me laughing out loud! Our Thomas is the verb of the family. He is 3 years old, our 4th, and the third of 4 boys and 1 girl. You have summed him up – I would just add that he has an uncanny ability to surmise a sibling’s weakness/tipping point and just hammer down. He can stare down the best of them and is unrelenting in his determination. A counselor friend of mine with grown children has told me that the things that drive us absolutely mad when our kids are little will later be the strengths that set them apart from the crowd (in a good way!). This little boy will set the world on fire with his love and unflinching determination, our home will never be the same!

  • Amanda

    I have two boys, neither calm and serene, and then three girls. My baby is a boy, and it’s been a long time since Toddler Boy was happeneing here. During school, my girls go play quietly, or string beads, or color. I’m trying to remember what boys do when unsupervised for a couple hours. I’m pretty sure it’s not quiet crafts 😬

  • Cat

    I have a Luke– a little girl though! She’s our second and my husband and I agree that she was put on earth to humble us, because if we just had our easy-going first child we would think we were the best parents ever. Some memorable episodes: whole raw potatoes flushed down the toilet. Almost an entire year where we would have to be on constant guard when on walks/ out on errands because if she found a piece of broken glass, she would stealthily pick it up and put it in her mouth (she outgrew this, thank goodness). When she found a marker (I hide them) and colored the cat blue. The one time I returned from a quick trip to the bathroom, and caught her coaching her older sister into stacking kitchen chairs, so she could climb up to the highest cabinet where we kept matches– because she “wanted to make a fire.” She was three. She’s almost 5 now, no sign of slowing down……

  • Laura Range

    Ah, I appreciate posts like this. Hubby is working today, my 2yo is parked in front of Curious George eating lunch, the baby is asleep on me while I eat (and drop) food over his head…

    And I’m somewhat apprehensive that this baby boy is going to be our verb. Lol. Sat up and crawled at five months, pulling up and cruising at 7mo…I’m not ready to be a boy mom, haha. But it sure comes with some sweet moments when he looks at me so proud of his accomplishments and wants to know if I saw. <3

    Keep on keeping on, mama. You're inspiring the mamas like me.

  • Beth

    Michael. Currently 35 months, going on 18 years. As soon as he was old enough to develop a personality, we went, “oh, we named our kid after the saint known for slaying demons with a sword. And he’s intense in every sense of the word. Probably should’ve seen that coming…”

    • Carole

      Beth, we named our son after John the Evangelist (who Jesus nicknamed “son of thunder”) and Peter, impetuous and passionate. We had no idea how prophetic this choice would be.

  • Mom of Six

    This sounds so much like our 3yo!! He is our 5th, and the loudest and most intense of all. He can unlock doors and escape outside completely silently, loves to cut fruit with knives, and to climb everything. He was the first of our children to have an ER worthy accident and the first to find a way out of our fence in the backyard. He has an 110 megawatt smile though…😁

  • Chantale

    Oh my goodness! I was laughing so hard one of my sons suggested I take a deep breath to calm down. As a mom of 4 boys and a baby girl, we’ve had plenty of adventures already. When he was 2, instead of climbing out of his crib, my verb boy managed to get some bars out altogether and simply climbed down through the opening! I keep reminding myself that my husband and his brothers came up with all kinds of ideas (and acted on them… flaming swords anyone?) and they all survived.

  • Kate

    Our little Verb is also our first, and officially put us in the accelerated parenting program. His defining moment came at 2am, not long after his 2nd birthday. We were awakened by the door to our room banging open as in he marched, announcing, “I took a long, long nap!”

    Now he’s a terribly terrific 3 yo with a future as a Canon lawyer. He was playing out in the snow earlier this week and i looked out the window and saw our St Francis statue laying on the ground in pieces. When i asked if he had dropped it or thrown it, he paused and then said, “I dropped it, but it landed far away.”

    He drives me batty with his boundless energy and total disregard for rules and directions then looks at me with those big blue eyes and melts my mommy heart.

  • Cat

    Laughing so hard I’m crying. I forgot how bad mascara hurts when your eyes water… because I’ve worn mascara maybe 3 times since having my second boy. This was an awesome post. I need more Luke vignettes in my life!!

  • KM

    My Luke is 7 months & just slammed his head into the hardwood floor while climbing up a piece of furniture while I was reading this! I see I’m in for it!

    My brother was a verb growing up. We lived in a quiet neighborhood with a lot of kids so we pretty much had free reign of the place (which was awesome & would never happen now). One day, My brother was riding his bike down our cul-de-sac when our neighbor was backing his truck out of the driveway. My mother happened to be outside weeding the front garden during dinner time (something she never did) and saw what was happening. She screamed my brother’s name & he leaped straight up and sideways off his bike seconds before the truck crushed it. I witnessed it & was paralyzed with fear. My mom’s ability to yell & my brother’s physics defying leap were definitely miracles. We went inside and prayed the rosary in thanksgiving. I think my mom has entrusted us to God’s protection ever since! I’ve definitely been asking Our Lady to look out for my own kids!!

  • Kris

    I have a verb child named Michael. He is my first child, but he was far from the first child I had cared for (I taught Sunday school and worked in day cares). He is 6 now, and he has never stopped moving…even in his sleep! So many of Luke’s antics that you shared sound just like my son. He wakes us up early the same way! But my son also lacked the ability to look people in the eye or pick up on social cues. It turns out he has autism and ADHD. He loves to play with other kids, but he prefers older kids. Kids his own age frustrate him. He can’t do the back and forth, give and take play. He is a couple grades ahead academically and incredibly sweet, but socially and behaviorally he is behind. I have a neurotypical daughter who is exactly the child I prayed for, but through my son, God has taught me so much.

  • Jenna

    I have a Luke. Not named that, but very much as you described… the adorable, exhausting juxtaposition of snuggly, affirming affectionate sweet boy but an absolute heart attack on legs. He’s seven now and is beginning to chill out substantially but even until four or five, parking lots were a nightmare for my breakaway child. An older woman with a large family of grown children who attends my parish took me aside one day after seeing me trying to diffuse a true blue meltdown and told me she had a Luke, too. When she told me which child it was (I know all her children and went to university with several of them), I gasped, because this son she was referring to is the most stable, hardworking , faithful, dependable family men I have ever met who serves as a firefighter. Thinking of that has given me tremendous hope as I at my own rambunctious, adorable, impulsive son. It’s as though his soul is a mustard seed of such potential that God can use in powerful ways, if I perhaps stop freaking out over his outbursts and instead entrusting him to the Sacred Heart.

  • from Louisiana

    4th child!! My verb was my first child, Martha, and I was 20 years old. Dear God, help me. I thought you had a baby and sprinkled it with love and daisies and all would be well. She took the daisies and stuck them where electricity should go, dared you at every minute to stop her, mortified me by making best friends with any horrible scary person available. My mother-in-law, a 4th grade teacher for 20 years, started buying us “Diet For The Hyperactive” type books. Anyway, she’s a all grown up, an awesome daughter and wife and dearest friend to so many.

  • Liz

    I have a “verb” child! I love this! Basically, I get “Jay-ed” all day long. He disturbs you, he makes you love him at every moment and he does the most ridiculously wild things. He is constantly in the emergency room, and he tells me I’m beautiful and gets teenage girls to chat with him at a tender 4 years old. My verb has started saying, “It’s just the Jay life,” when he does something weird and I point it out. Pomegranate seeds and peanut butter in your tomato soup? It’s the Jay life. Wear 4 shirts and 3 pairs of pants to preschool? The Jay life. HA! I seriously think these children are going to be some AMAZING adults though; i already want to be friends with this kid and yours.

  • Shannon Baker

    I oversee the children’s ministry at our church and love the Lukes of our community. The kindest-hearted tornadoes in the world. They bring so much to daily life and give the best, biggest hugs when they stop long enough. I can’t wait what they are going to be when they grow up as it will be something incredible.

  • Caitlyn Buttaci

    Ray is our verb and he’s number 3. Recently at the playground he told me to go home and get his water bottle. I responded, “I’m not going to but you’re welcome too.” Off he ran! Caught him before the street. But yop. Ray.

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