Earlier this year, my husband and I learned we would have another baby. We have a two-year-old bright star at home, and the thought of him as a big brother stirred up a lot of joy. Then we learned this baby is actually babies: identical twin boys. Wow. A trio of boys. I find myself sailing far from my routine, my anchored state. As my belly stretches impossibly round, I float out here, adrift in the wonder of two humans created from a single embryo.
We face the obvious hurdles: where to fit them to sleep and to transport; how to pay for them to eat and be clothed; how to give each the attention we are accustomed to giving our son; how to go from two parents/one child to two parents/three children in an instant. So I attached to one task I thought I could handle: nicknaming the unborn. Our first was “Itty Bitty Smitty.” We still call him that out of habit. Who will these boys be, before they are named for life, before they reveal their DNA, before they unfold into personality and experience?
When I taught second grade, I was required to include recitation in the poetry curriculum. Each Monday, I introduced a poem. We talked about its imagery and language. Then the students began memorizing, a little each night, until recitation time on Friday. Though the students were nervous, their classmates would help them when they got stuck. What an uplifting sight, second graders mouthing words and playing charades to help jog a comrade’s memory. We studied “Autumn Fires” by Stevenson, “Politeness” by Milne, “Who Has Seen the Wind?” by Rossetti. By January, the students were ready for Eugene Field’s 1889 poem “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” We learned one stanza a week. By the end, one or two students could recite the whole poem through: 4 stanzas, 48 lines, 260 words.
For these unborn boys, I entertained suggestions like “Romulus and Remus” and “David and Goliath.” But they are, to me, Wynken and Blynken, two sleepy eyes to go with my sleepyhead two-year-old, their big brother Nod. As my three sons evoke childhood lullabies—ones that, like all else childhood, I couldn’t remember until I learned them as an adult—I face a long, long time without sleep.
Now for the publication: in the midst of “naming” the twins, I received my copy of Crab Creek Review (2014 Volume 1), which includes my narrative “The Naming,” the story of naming my first-born son and negotiating with the Social Security Administration when his name was not documented correctly. It’s one thing to start saying or doing something, like calling our son by the name we chose for him. It’s another to get it certified by the government.
So with that, I am drifting off again. When Wynken and Blynken are sleeping through the night like Nod is, I will sail back here in a wooden shoe to share thoughts on writing, teaching, and memory.