News From The Woods.36


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published January 11, 2000

"A Letter To Robert"

Dear Robert,

Well son, another year has passed and you are growing up so rapidly before my very eyes. You are becoming a "little man" and everyone seems to want to hold you or play with you. You can size up someone in the flash of an eye and instinctively seem to know whether they are "good" or "bad" for you. It is amazing to watch. I hope you can do that later in life, as it will no doubt be a trait that will come to your rescue many times.

For Mommy and I, our most heartbreaking moments were when we went to Florida this past year and did not take you with us. It was my high school reunion and although we had been planning to take you with us and show you off to my old school mates, our financial situation worsened as the reunion date got closer. By the time it was only a couple of weeks away we knew we would only be able to drive like mad to Florida, spend a few days at the reunion, then drive like mad back to Arkansas. Therefore, we decided it would not be good for you as small as you were, to accompany us in a cramped baby seat for a thousand-mile trip made in two days. Jane's folks (your "Mamaw" and "Papaw") kindly volunteered to keep you while we were gone, and although we were sure they were not prepared to deal with you for an entire week we agreed. Of course, they did just fine and I think even thrived on your visit! Mommy and I reluctantly left for the Sunshine State without you. It was our first time to be without you and we did not do very well. All our friends advised us that it would be best for all if we went on the trip alone and besides, we needed the rest! Only a couple of hours into the trip we started mentioning "I guess Robert is at his Mamaw's now getting ready to eat supper, etc." And before we had even made it to Memphis, Mommy could contain herself no longer and grabbed the cell phone to make contact. After that it was about a four-hour ritual to check on you, and of course you were always okay, but at least we were satisfied.

Towards the end of the trip we were getting crazy for you and called even more frequently (we are STILL paying the telephone bill) and everyone assured us that you were doing all right. I guess they wanted to spare us from knowing that you were really missing us but being a brave little boy about it (or we surely would have come home immediately). The worst part for the three of us as it turned out was our homecoming. We dashed straight to the baby-sitters in the middle of the afternoon on the day we got home and ran in to get you. For just a brief minute you smiled - then the tears began to flow. You hung onto Mommy, and then you wanted me to hold you. It was pathetic. When we got you out to the car we could not even let go long enough to put you into your baby seat. I drove and Mommy held you in her lap in the front seat and the three of us just cried and cried until we got home. Mommy and I made a promise to you right then and there that we would NEVER go anywhere without you again - and we mean it! So for now on partner, we're a threesome!

As expected, the lake has a magnetic draw for you. In the summertime you (and Bear) drive us nuts to be taken to the lake every day so you can swim. You graduated this year to your own PFD, which holds you snugly above the waterline, although you "dare" it by leaning way over and dunking your head under water. You push Mommy and I away from you as you want to be so independent and show what a good little swimmer you are. Your very favorite thing to do in the lake is to have me take you under the pontoon boat between the pontoons. It's like your little world under there…… shielded from the sun it is very green and mysterious. You hardly come out from under it anymore without an argument. I think you would just stay in the water until you shrivel up like a prune! And on really hot afternoons when we can't go to the lake because of work you DEMAND to be placed into your "kiddie pool" which we had to provide for you and which sits under the mimosa tree in the front yard. It has a slide built in and you spend hours sliding down the slide and giggling as you splash into the water. We have completely given up on trying to keep Bear out of it as he gets so hot outside in the summer months and he sees no reason why YOU should have all the fun!

In the final months of 1999, you have started to string words together and making short but complete sentences. Usually things dealing with food, family, or fun. Your antics in the living room in the evenings keep us all laughing. You are happiest when the entire family is circled around you and taking in your every word and activity. The more the merrier. You have learned how to insert videotapes, turn on the TV and VCR, and fast forward to your favorite parts. Teletubbies are fading in the past, and Blues Clues is still okay - but you are engrossed with "Buzz Lightyear" and "Woody" now. You can actually recite lines from Toy Story before the scene arrives. For the year 1999, Toy Story is neck and neck with The Wizard of Oz. You request each one at least once a day and we are about to OD on both movies. It's pretty bad when Mommy and Daddy know each and every line in the dialog. I used to LOVE the Wizard but even I have had enough!

The week of Christmas Mommy and I took you to your very first movie show. We saw Toy Story 2 and you sat through the entire movie like a very good boy. As a matter of fact, there was a family with a couple of five year olds sitting in front of us who were squirming and chattering and making noises through the whole movie. You just sat there eating popcorn and watching your pals Buzz and Woody in an all-new episode. You were a little distracted with all the previews but when the opening credits came on you perked right up and whispered "BUZZ!".

Your all-time favorite time of the year HAS to be Christmas! You, son….. are a "HoHo Freak"! You routinely watch Frosty the Snowman and The Santa Claus during your "lunch and dinner breaks" during a day's activities at home. On Christmas Eve Santa came to visit and were you surprised! He came in off the roof and through the sliding glass doors of the porch, with presents for everyone. Your eyes were as big as saucers. He didn't scare you but you were wary and weren't so ready to just jump into his lap, very much like the "store Santa" who wanted you to smile for the camera! Of course, I got some video on both occasions. You love anything to do with Christmas and especially the tree. Our bubble lights are your favorite, and you were allowed to go get a candy cane off the tree once a day until Christmas Day. Although the tree is gone and all the family decorations have been put away you still occasionally look out onto the porch for "HoHo".

Of course, you still like to go downstairs to the studio and play the drums, but your latest delight is the keyboard. I sit you up in a chair and you put on the headphones and play away, changing the sounds and grabbing the pitch bend bar. When you find one you really like, you get one of your brothers or Mommy to put on the phones as you "compose". Then you jerk on the pitch wheel and say "Yeaaaaaaah!".

Sitting at the console is one of your greatest pleasures. You move the sliders up and down imitating Daddy and then go on to the next slider until it's "just right". Although you love to twist all the knobs and push the buttons on the outboard effects racks you are very gentle and do not play rough. You already treat the gear with respect and I expect you will probably find out much more about how it all works in less time than it took me. We bought you a little plastic toy guitar which has lots of sound samples and drum samples and guitar riffs prerecorded, but you actually prefer to "stum" one of my real guitars. Hey…. Why play a TOY when you have the real deal!?? For that reason we decided not to buy you a toy drum set as we figure you would not be happy with it when you can play at Daddy's vintage Ringo Starr set of Ludwigs.

Mommy just changed jobs at the end of the year, which will give her more time at home. This means that you will be spending less time at the baby-sitter and more time at home with us. This is for us the best news yet this year. It is something we have constantly been striving for and we won't be happy until you are with us as much as we (and you) like. You are such a joy in our lives and even though it is tough for us all sometimes, we would not have it any other way. It just makes us appreciate you all that much more.

One final note: During the holiday's the movie 2001 was showing on TV and for some reason, you really enjoyed watching it. At one point you turned to your oldest brother Jeremy and told him you were going to the moon and you were going to wear a hat (space helmet)! That statement pretty much blew us all away, but you know - - - - it just might happen !!!!

(Click on the picture above to hear a RealAudio sound file)

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