On the same day I finally fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, I sat in the bathroom crying and looking at two blue lines. I had a 15 month old son, I was living “in community” and my group of friends had just got through an intense tragedy. I wasn’t feeling ready for a baby. I called my husband and told him through my tears. He called me back. “Is it wrong that I’m really excited?”
We had a feeling it was another son. We had already named our first one when we watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas on tv and looked at each other and whispered “Linus.” A name for a sensitive intellectual, a unique dreamer, a thinker. How appropriate for the boy he turned out to be!
Linus took his sweet time getting earthside. When I was mere week overdue I cried so hard for the love of my baby, for my arms aching to hold him, that I threw up. And then I stood there, staring, sobbing, completely forgetting vomit protocol. Hugh told me to wash up, he’d take care of it. I shouldn’t have gotten hysterical, because at 16 days overdue he was STILL NOT BUDGING. I went to a Superbowl party, shuffling and huge and miserable, ate a bunch of my mom’s perfect guacamole, and went home. I tried to watch High Fidelity with Hugh, but I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I kept getting up to go to the bathroom, and after a couple of hours of this I knew it was time.
I called my midwife, my entourage, my mother. My parents walked across the street and picked up our nearly 2 year old son. I laid in the tub and joked with my friends in between contractions, while they put cool rags on my head and poured warm water on my belly. “You’re cooking, Kate!” I stayed calm throughout, relaxing, ensconced with love. When the time came to try pushing I moved to the living room, squatting next to the sofa. I thought birth would be easier the second time. It was faster, but not easier. I remember commanding him “Linus Kaspar McKinney COME OUT.” And then he did. A little blue, not moving. Not breathing. A few rubs, a puff of air, and he sweetly opened his wise eyes. He never cried.
A championship nurser from the start, Linus was a completely easy-going baby. Sweet and good-natured, he was very different from his brother who, from the moment he was born, distinguished himself from all other babies in the world and left an indelible mark. Linus’s dear personality was not immediately distinctive. But it didn’t take long before he made his mark with language. At 10 months he spoke his first words. Quack Quack, and “Keycars” (because.) At 16 months he called out from a floatie on the lake “Look at me, mommy! I’m swimming in a boat! And most famously, at 22 months, when I scolded him for kicking and screaming as I tried to put on his pants he told me ferociously “Don’t be rude mama! Don’t be selfish! I was not screaming, I was talking!”
Linus is my most tender child. He wanted to marry me for years. He’d compliment my outfits, never happier than when I was dressed fancy. He’d embrace my belly, heavy with his baby sister. He developed an alter ego, Chocolate Covered, who had a wife named Strawberry. Their children Banana, Candy, Television, Telephone, and Computer had many adventures.
As he grew he quickly established himself as being a perfect amalgam of me and Hugh. His tallness, his shyness, his studious and serious personality came from daddy. His unironic love for monogrammed robes, bunny slippers, bubble gum machines, and ventriloquist dummies clearly came from me.
Albert Einstein is his hero, so much so that he went as “Albert Frank-Einstein” for Halloween. He wants to go to Ball State University and double major in English and Science. He’s hilarious, with a dry sense of humor that sneaks up on you. He’s a tremendous writer. He has a blog, mostly snark with some social justice, called The Wacky Adventures of Glasses McMustache. He makes sock puppets, draws comics, writes stories and is obsessed with animatronics.
Deeply sensitive and gentle, Linus is the first to worry about how someone is doing. He doesn’t ask to ingratiate himself to others, he truly cares and wants to know. He stands up for the oppressed, cries for those who are hurting, reacts with anger and pain to this life that just doesn’t care what is fair. I believe he can change the world.
10 years ago Linus Kaspar came to stay. His sweetness, his light, his depth of feeling, his humor and his intelligence have highlighted our life every day. I’m deeply proud to be his mother.