I’ve always felt that the boys told us who they are very early in life. It’s a good thing because when puberty hits a very different communication emerges. The elegant evolution of the voice box and its vibrant range of sounds is reduced to utterances of grunts and mumbles, a second language not up for high school credit.
As a little one, Evan spoke the archetypal language of The Hero. He let his body do the talking and as a hybrid Spiderman/Hulk, he performed uncanny feats of physicality. He had the eerie ability to sense when I was unaware and bent at the waist, and would launch himself from the floor, couch or bed to a perfect landing on my back. Talk about sticking the landing! Velcro-ed to my back, he would giggle and survey the kingdom from a few feet up—until he’d had his fill since I was never able to peel him off on my own.
He loved to roughhouse and wrestle. He had a keen sense of fairness. Once at a Durham Bulls game, the starting pitcher (in the middle of his warm-up!) tossed a ball to his older brother who donned a baseball glove and hat. Evan waited—with his glove and hat—for his turn, but it was obvious the pitcher did not have children. We were left with one child grinning and the other fuming. As luck would have it, a foul ball came our way and a generous fan offered Evan the ball. Evan said, “No,” pointed at the pitcher, now out on the mound, and said, “I want him to give it to me.”
When Evan got into his Hulk hands, his joy said, “You finally get me! I take things into my own hands, and I stick up for what is right.” The boy has earned everything in life and has been knocked down more than a generous helping. But as he rises, as he always does, I envision his Hulk hands and even stronger spirit. Gladly, the rest of him does not turn green, and the sweet face remains to this day—beneath a beard.