Today, though, the only memories available for extraction seemed to be the one where Atticus had blue feet and the one where I finally figured out how to make him stop crying on a night where he refused to stop.
Even while telling them, I figured these would be boring and disappointing to our favorite middle child, but as it turns out, as long as he is in the story and I infuse the tale with love and warmth, he is happy. He was thrilled to hear that from the day he was born until he was around a month or two old, his feet would get cold and start to turn blue every time he ate, which made nursing him a two-hand job: One to hold a gulping Atticus, one to rub his feet and remind them to get circulatin'. Then he held on to every word about how one night, when he was just a couple months old, he would not, would not, would not stop crying. He didn't want to eat, he didn't need a diaper change, he wasn't cold, nothing. After trying one thing after another, in desperation I gave him a bath, which he screamed through, laid him on a towel on the floor of the living room, diapered him, and began to massage his limbs with lotion.
I told seven-year-old Atticus how two-month-old Atticus finally quieted and spent the next twenty minutes gazing at me while I slowly rubbed his skinny arms and his skinny legs. To this day Atticus is a big-time toucher, and the recounting of the story seemed just as satisfying and mesmerizing to him as the actual event.
Tonight we are going bowling, and we are eating pizza, and he will open a present or two. In between I will be sure to ruffle his hair, and rub his back, and pull him into me for frequent hugs, because this is the kind of love he has craved his whole life, from lanky, squally infant to lanky, goofy first grader.
The best part? Now he hugs back.