The Hand-Off

June 14, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in Giggles | 22 Comments
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I was working my first lunch shift after five days off. Giggles had finished his peanut butter sandwich and slices of pineapple and drained three cups of milk. I unbuckled the straps on his booster seat, and we walked together to the sink to wash his sticky hands and face.

I hoisted him up and turned on the water. He threw the dish sponge into the bubbly water in the left half of the sink (as he always does). He obediently put both hands under the cool faucet stream (as he always does). He said, “Orange soap, Mommy” (as he always does).

My Holding Pattern
But this time, it wasn’t like always. As I helped him scrub the peanut butter off his knuckles, I marveled at his hands. His fingers were long and solid. His nails, wide and square. His thick, meaty palms carefully cradled the dollop of orange soap.

They were nearly as big as mine. Little-boy hands. Or, maybe, just boy hands. No more little.

I’ve watched his hands turn pages in books. Connect the magnets on his tiny trains. Grasp slippery strawberries and dusty pebbles. I’ve held his hand in mine on walks to the mailbox. I’ve helped him unwrap birthday presents and balance bites of cake on a plastic fork. I’ve seen him gently hold a doodlebug between his fingers and release it into the grass.

Missing Pieces
I’ve seen those hands nearly every day of his life. From the moment they first gripped mine, I could feel the tenacity of his hunger and his thrill at simply being. As he has grown, a hunger for adventure has replaced the instinctual one for sustenance. And even though he has grown, his joy for living remains palpable.

I’ve seen those hands nearly every day of his life.

And I still missed it. Before my eyes they transformed from baby hands to boy hands. No more little.

They’re almost as big as his heart. Almost.



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  1. Beautiful. The bits that matter happen when we’re busy doing all the routine stuff that hardly matters.

  2. That was lovely. My second daughter just started speaking in complete sentences. I’m happy for her (and happy that we can finally understand her) but also experiencing the same bittersweet sense of awe. I’ve been there for ever syllable, word and exclamation, and yet there’s just something about that moment when you realize that “little” is gone…


  3. I have a deep affinity for baby hands. One of the reasons is because from the moment of their birth they are just so perfect, and exquisite and in some ways as they will always be. The little lines for some reason make me always think of adult hands. But they do change don’t they. They get leaner obviously, and a little worn around the edges. They tell our children’s stories, just have you done in such a lovely way here.

  4. Beautiful. There is something inexplicably amazingly wonderful about a small child’s hands. My daughter’s has tiny hands like me and they are still so preciously small, chubby and deliciously warm and soft to hold in mine and watch in awe as she plays. I will miss so much of these toddler days when they are truly gone but one thing I will most definitely mourn is the loss of those baby hands.

  5. Ah, you did it again, built a beautiful poem with your words! Lovely. Hands are so amazing. Like hearts.

  6. This weekend I’ve been marveling at how big my girls are. I feel like I missed a moment of change too. Beautiful post!

  7. Sometimes we’re there with them so much that we don’t notice the growing that happens right before our eyes. Next thing you know, they’ll be asking for the keys to the car. Noooooo!!!!

    I’m glad you were able to notice, savor and mark his passage into boyhood. Even then, he’ll still be your baby won’t he? 🙂

    • I was just telling my husband that I think, of all three kids, Giggles will always feel like my “baby.” I compare him to Lollipop and he seems so small. I compare him to Bun and he seems so big, despite still being so small. The juxtaposition, in my mind, means he’s my baby forever.

  8. Those baby hands are so adorable, that innocent goodness. I’ve noticed changes in my little one, her increase need to be self sufficient in dressing herself, eating her lunch and yes, washing her hands. I echo Justine’s comment – I am glad you were able to notice it.

  9. One of the first things I noticed about my daughter after she was born was that she has my husband’s hands. The same long delicate fingers and long nail beds. I had wished for those hands…..I think those long nail beds are so beautiful and I’m kinda jealous that my husband (who doesn’t wear nail polish like me) gets blessed with beautiful long nail beds. I’m always staring at her hands and the way she holds them just so. They seems so tiny. I can’t believe that one day I will look at them, and they will seem like girl’s hands…instead of baby hands!

  10. Even bigger when put next to the new baby’s hands, too!

    • Yes! And five days of just baby hands while the older kiddos were away is probably why his hands struck me as so utterly boyish and big. Sigh.

  11. Sniff…. very sweet!

  12. Ooops…I was logged into for a client. Left a message here…but now it’s gone:/

    Anyway…made me sniffle too:)

  13. They do grow up when we are not even looking.

  14. I have been experiencing the same thing with my oldest. Her baby fat is gradually disappearing, her vocabulary expanding, and her steps widening. I am both thrilled and surprised that she is getting older. I knew it was coming but didn’t expect to actually come I guess.

  15. Oh, they grow TOO fast.

  16. I guess little boy is growing up into a boy and after that, to a little man himself. 🙂

  17. This is really, really lovely. It sneaks up on you doesn’t it?

  18. so very true! I was just noticing this about my little one’s belly this week. When did he start getting a true stomach- with even a bit of abs?! What happened to his Buddha belly?!

    Thank you so much for swinging by my blog. I’m glad you came by 🙂

  19. Oh, I love the boy hands… so different from the baby hands they used to be, but the same. I love them so! I kiss them at night after he’s asleep… I can’t help myself.

  20. I remember the first day I looked at my son’s hands and saw his father’s. Wow.

    I fell in love with this boy’s father when he was very young. 14. Well, okay, I didn’t fall in love. But I did know him. And I held his hand. So I knew a young version of that hand quite well.

    And then, one day, I saw hints of that same hand show up on the end of the arm of my little baby boy. It was bittersweet. Brilliant.

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