Look! Filler!

(I meant this entry to be funny but it got away from me somewhere and turned out all sappy)

A big manilla envelope arrived in the mail yesterday -- a welcome package from the Early Intervention people. It was addressed specifically to Noah, and cover letter was both exceedingly chipper (Dear Family! Hi! Welcome! Thank you SO MUCH for submitting an application! It was just what we wanted and exactly the right size.) and kind of vague (Someone from our staff will contact you by phone. More information will be available at that time. This letter will self-destruct if fed through a shredder.).

The package included several helpful worksheets and "Help Your Child Learn to Talk!" checklists, most of which boiled down to: Have ya tried reading to your kid, jackass?


I was folding laundry in our bedroom yesterday, and Noah was down the hall in his room. Reading book after book after book. He'd pull a book off his shelf and slowly page through it, pointing at objects he recognized, cocking his head and pondering ones he didn't. Then he'd close the book with a soft sigh and reach for a new one. He didn't say a word.

I debated joining him. I should be reading those books TO him. I should be labeling all the pictures and asking him questions and trying to get him to say the words instead of pointing. Maybe work on some sign language! Hover! Teach! Intervene!

I kept folding laundry instead. After 10 minutes I finally heard him speak: Oh no! Oh no!

I went to his room. He was looking at The Giving Tree, which I haven't read to him since he was tiny. It's too long for a toddler, I think; it's black-and-white; there are no pictures of aballs and it makes me fucking cry every fucking time.

He was on the page where the little boy has cut the tree down.

"Oh NO!" he said to me, pointing at the sad little stump. "Oh NO."

I crouched down next to him and explained that yes, the little boy had cut the tree down, and yes, the tree was sad.

"Oh no," he kept saying. His eyes teared up. He reached out for a hug.

I turned the page and kept reading, despite the huge lump in my own throat. The boy comes back. The tree has nothing left, except itself, and in the end, that's all the boy needs after all.

And the tree was happy.

I remember the first time I read that book to Noah. I started crying halfway through because I GOT IT, finally. I was the tree, he was my boy, and the job of sending him off into the world would require so much sacrifice and selflessness on my part, but as long as he was happy, I would be happy. I sobbed because it was all too frightening and beautiful and I wondered if I could handle it.

I have no idea how Noah understood that the tree had been cut down. I have no idea how he knew there was something wrong. But I know he did.

"Oh NO."

I hugged him awhile longer before he wriggled away and ran down the hallway, laughing and yelping in gibberish. Even without words, I knew he wanted me to chase him. So I did.

And the tree was happy.




Whatever problems there might or might not be, he's one smart kid. Period. Nothing can change THAT. =)


Yay I'm first!! And I'm BAWLING. I can't do The Giving Tree at all - not even close. And Love You Forever? Forget it - banished from our nursery.


Every.single.time I read you now, I want to have a baby. You're giving me baby-fever, woman!

Also, completely off subject, but since we're practically neighbors, can you email me your stylist's name/salon/number/whatever?


Darn - nudged into second place by slow typing! Have I mentioned that I love Noah? He's a sweet little soul and he'll spill his mysteries in his own time and in his own way. And the tree will be happy - and I'll still be bawling.


dammit, you had to go and get me all emaotional........ I wanna go home and hold my baby.


Sniff. Such a sweet, sensitive boy. You must be doing something right.



The Giving Tree is an amazing book, isn't it? Even though it is written as a children's book, it is absolutely for parents. The first time I heard it with a parent's ears and heart, my seven year old daughter was reading it my husband and I out on the screened porch. We both sat there with tears streaming down our faces as the implications of the story finally became crystal clear. It is one of my most precious memories and the memory you have of Noah today will always, ALWAYS touch your heart.

Thank you for sharing it with us.
my blog:


Another one that makes me weepy: On the Day You Were Born.

Don't ask me why. I don't even know. I can't get through it, and my kid looks at me like I'm absolutely insane every time. I haven't even attempted The Giving Tree.


Amy - Noah is gonna be just fine. And so are you. That love is deep, strong and rarer than you know.

By the way - Sappy? Giving Tree? Um. I think that was a pun.



I agree with Boozie, you're making me have seriously "baby want." Especially when I get to the picture, and see soft baby head ripe for kissing. I can almost smell it!!

Mrs Butter B

Some kids just go through stages, including not talking. Granted, he has some "red flags" that you recognized (Kudos Mom!!!) and that you are addressing (Even more kudos, Mom!). But chances are, he's gonna be great. He's not stopping his communication (He still makes eye contact, still communicates, just not with words that he feels like phrasing ha ha).

He's a wonderful boy, and you are a fantastic parent, and we (the big ole internet world) thinks you're all just superb.

Thanks for sharing with us. It helps in ways hard to explain.

(PS, my younger was a "late talker", had speech therapy (didn't work), and didn't learn to say "r" (w), "s" (th), etc until she was 11 and I bribed her with a "grown up" clothes shopping trip and new haircut. Then miraculously (ha ha, lots of reminding and temper fits), she quit talking like a baby, and started talking normally. Now she's a good student (except math), who's very involved, loving and wonderful.

Here's the best advice I ever got about my younger: Don't quit hoping and don't borrow trouble any more than you have to. (If I could only keep trouble from finding out where I live, I'd be super!!)

Occidental Girl

Just what I needed, something to make me cry! Stupid metaphors with their stupid mushy lovey...

That was really beautiful and inspiring. Sometimes I feel like such a failure as a mother. Especially Monday when I broke down and cried about it for like, an hour. And then I realized that I am not perfect but I am OKAY, maybe sometimes even better than okay, and that's fine. The tree is OKAY! :)


maybe he's a budding environmentalist and isn't talking until we all cowboy up and do something to save the earth. it's a peaceful protest, toddler style. he probably won't say "plane" anymore because he learned what wasteful burners of fossil fuels they are.


"I have no idea how Noah understood that the tree had been cut down. I have no idea how he knew there was something wrong. But I know he did."

GENIUS I Tell you!! That boy is a GENIUS!! Toddler would have not even sat and paged through the book, he would have looked at it upside down and tossed it aside if there were no trains inside. Noah my dear IS JUST PERFECT, and so what if he speaks jibberish right now? He has the important stuff down pat. "OH NO" being one of THE most important. Good luck with it all, whatever your little boy needs.


That is possibly one of the sweetest stories I have ever read. You're both lucky to have each other.


I read that book to my newborn son; now he's EIGHT (how did that happen) and he reads it constantly. I don't know if he gets it, but he loves it.


Aww, now I'm all sniffly at work!

shy me

*sniff* *wipe nose* *go back to internets*

Mediocre Housewife

I think I need to get a copy of The Giving Tree so I know what I'm missing out on. On second thought, I think I'm far too emotional when it comes to my kids as it is. Maybe I should just leave well enough alone...

Kelly M.

Beautiful, in every way.


way to make a girl cry in her cubicle. the tears and the very pink website before my eyes will surely give away the fact that i am not being productive.



Likewise. It's always been one of my son's favourite books and it always gives me a lump in my throat.

I also relate to the arrival of the package.

After we started therapy [speech] I asked about homework and she suggested 'when you're at the park, do you ever take him to the park, you could say up, up, up as he climbs the ladder and down, down, down as he slides down.'

I just burst into tears. Did she think I'd kept them in a cardboard box under the stairs!

I'm right with you dearie.


My little boy is a few weeks older than Noah and not talking all that much either, just a few words- mama, dada, night night, hi, bye bye, and OH NO! It makes me laugh every time he says it, which is a lot.


Great post. You've definitely got a special guy on your hands. You're very lucky.

And I read to my son constantly, but all he can manage to say when he sees a picture is "whas tha?" I know he knows that's an apple because he points to it a million times a day, but he just won't say it. The only things he can identify with words are trucks and cars. So reading isn't always the answer to getting him to talk. At least it hasn't been in my case.


OH NO! I don't even have kids yet and this made me cry. Just looking at the cover of that book makes me tear up. I can't even think of that book without my heart hurting. OH NO indeed, Noah.


sniff. lovely. sniff. beautiful. sniff


Must. Access. Tissue box!

The Giving Tree makes me cry every time too.


I was thinking as I read that, that this kid may have some suspected sensory issues, but he absolutely does not lack sensitivity. This was a wonderful post! What a fantastic kid you're raising there, one with empathy and sensitivity and the need to reach for you when those feelings are assaulted, you could ask for nothing better. So what if he grunts the rest of his life, he's a beautiful soul!

Li'l Foot's Mommy

You and Noah and Jason too are very lucky to have each other. I think Noah is a very smart little boy as evidenced by the outpouring of emotion he exhibited after seeing the pictures on the pages in the book. I LOVE that you dug out a picture from his babyhood with the book in the background. They are only that small for such a short time :-).

Amy M

Stop making me cry at work! (Maybe I should stop reading blogs at work...nah!)

Very sweet post - I love that book! That, "Love You Forever" & the "Velveteen Rabbit" make me all weepy. And I cried during "Harry Potter". Did you? I'm such a sap!




This is the first thing thats made me sappy about being a mom since I got over the post birth hormones. Awwww.


Love love love that book. That was an amazing post Amy...thanks.


I have to say that's really great comprehension, that he know the tree wasn't right and vocalized it!! I think he totally has the ability, he just can't verbalize it. I don't think your journey will be down such a long road at all!


I've never been able to even think about that book without getting all choked up.

Thanks for such a beautiful and perfect post.


Dammit, now you've gone and made me cry.


I've had conversations with another mommy blogger with a speech-delayed son about how much stock people tend to put into verbal ability as a measure of intelligence. And it's frustrating when you have a little one whose speech is obviously not keeping up with what he can understand. There is so much going on in their heads that is probably just waiting to come bursting forth.


Waah. That totally made me all teary-like. Beautiful post and beautiful, sensitive Noah. *sigh* (That book affected me early on as a child also, but I don't think I was as young as Noah by any stretch of the imagination!)


I need to remember to STOP. READING. YOUR SITE. AT WORK. Especially after a margarita lunch.


That was beautiful, though. Thank you for redeeming my faith in motherhood after yesterday's Crazy Target Mom experience, which nearly rendered me sterile through sheer horror.


Now try to get through this one without bawling:


Drat, the url isn't complete.

Here's the book:

Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara Joosse (Author), Barbara Lavallee (Illustrator)


oh mah GAWD now i'm all sniffly and trying not to cry at work. you're a wonderful mom and noah is precious.

Abra Leah

See, it will all be fine. :)


Um, I think he was silent through all of those books, and knew what was happening in the "Giving Tree" because secretly...he knows how to read!

You guys are the best.

Amy Y

That is one of the best books ever!!! :) What a sweet story...


I haven't read that book in a long time. Now I'm anxious to try it again. You should read Stick Kid by Peter Horowitz. It is similar in that it is written for kids, with fun kid illustrations, but the true message is for the parents.


That was such a wonderful post!


yes, the giving tree is a tear-jerker...even when you just read about someone else reading it, apparently.
i imagine i will be quite a mess if i ever have my own children.
in the meantime, i'm very glad to hear that the tree is happy.


What is it about that book? Jack has always loved it and wants us to read it all the time. My husband cried the first time he read it to him. Anyway, great post.


damn you for making me cry at work!

btw, my youngest brother has asperger's. and while it's been a challenging road for our entire family, none of us would trade any of it. that kid used to sit and just snuggle and snuggle. still does, at almost 14 years old. while it's scary to think you might have a child with autism, the gift of it is something to be explored as well. because i truly believe it is a gift. and maybe noah won't be. maybe he'll be fine, a totally normal kid. and that's a gift, as well.

Erin just made me start bawling, thank you very much, now I must reapply makeup!! (OK, I'm not really wearing makeup, I haven't left the house all day!)

My son was referred yesterday for a speech evaluation among other things and I've been totally freaking. Re-reading your entries has really helped me, so thanks! :)


Good god in heaven you MUST stop making me cry in public! What a sweet, sweet little boy you have.


Awwww... That book has that effect on everyone. Ok, well maybe not everyone, but everyone with a heart.

Love the photo at the end!


Reading all of your posts in the past week has made me hold my little guy a bit tighter and help me realize that there is just so much that is unknown about our children.

Whatever you do don't read the book "Someday!" Tears flow with that one too!

hello insomnia

I can't believe he's not a baby! He's grown so much!




*sob* Beautiful stuff.

Momo Fali

Crap. I'm crying all over myself.

Heather K

The EI stuff and evals can be daunting, but we've gotten a lot of great therapy as a result. There's just something unique about therapist who can come into your home and get to know who your kiddo is as a part of your family and what your goals/hopes are and begin to make that happen. If at any point, you feel like you've gotten a crappy therapist, don't hesitate to speak up. Haven't read the Giving Tree in a really long time.


that was beautiful. Thanks, Amy.


This is one of the best posts ever.


Okay THAT just brought tears to my eyes. Now I'm the freak at work who's all 'holding in her tears' face and you know that ain't pretty.

Sweete story.


Love you forever -- cry every time. My son, now 20, still says it to me when he knows I need it. and makes me cry all over again.

Amy, you and your husband are great parents -- from what I read here, at least, and Noah is adorable (a mirror image of my son at that age), and this will all, as you've said, turn out fine. Please know that.


really a lovely post. as a mother, i almost choked up reading that. its something special to see your child make a realization or connection on his or her own. i wish you guys the best.


So very beautiful Amy! What a fantastic mom you are. Noah's one lucky little dude!




That was really beautiful.


Wonderful. I was holding my four month old today and was brought to tears over how much I love him and how one day he won't be a baby anymore. Then I had to come and read this. Sigh...


Oh. My. Gosh. I read part of this post today at work, in the middle of a meeting, where people could see my face. Half way through I realized I...should...stop...reading... and just scrolled to the end, which was a bad idea as well. Must. Not. Cry. During. Staff. Meeting. Wonder if sales of that book are going to mysteriously spike. I've never read it, but it looks like I'm going to have to go buy it! Thanks. :-)


totally wet big heavy tears pouring from eyes... aka. great post.


What a great post, Amy. I too am sniffling all over my laptop. When I read The Giving Tree, I always think "That god damned boy doesn't deserve a tree like that!" I get really mad at the boy, time and again. But before today, I never thought about the metaphor you described (pretty literal, am I). Your post makes the book even better for me.


Okay, so THAT totally made me cry. I think it was the picture at the end that sent me over the edge. I just remember when you posted it the first time. I have enjoyed watching Noah grow and you two grow right along with him. Children are amazing. I will be thinking of you during your appt. Everything will be fine. :)

bethany actually

Someday you will re-read this entry and it will make you cry more than The Giving Tree ever could. Noah sounds like an empathetic little boy. He's gonna be all right.


You gotta stop making me cry dammit!! My FI thinks you are saying bad things about me because everytime I am on your blog I am crying like a baby!!
Lots of love to you and noah.


Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!

Girl of Steele

how sweet. so very, very sweet. i love that book. your story gave me goosebumps.


Oh, man. That was so beautiful, so sweet, so true in every way.


my heart has been ripped out of my chest and is flopping around on the floor like a fish. THANKS, AMY.


Jenny H.

That was so beautiful. I must admit to crying like a blubbering fool along with everyone else. I also cannot read "Love You Forever" and still have a hard time reading "Guess How Much I Love You?". I doubt I could make it through the "Giving Tree".

That having been said, I think Noah will be just fine. He is obviously a very well-loved little boy. I will keep reading to see how it all goes.

Lady S

This post makes me say "Oh yes, oh yes." It sounds like an uplifting moment for you.


This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Fairly Odd Mother

Beautiful post!

I love that book so much and was so dismayed when I'd heard people hated it, I recently wrote a whole defense of it.

Also, my youngest is 'speech delayed' too, although I've decided to let him work it out in his own time. I hope you find the right solution for you & Noah too. It's hard to know what that is and I just hope I'm doing the right thing.


Weird--I just posted about my Charlie's speech delay and then caught up on your blog. We have had a good experience with speech therapy from EI. I hope you will too. I think Noah will be just fine, really.

I cannot get through "Love You Forever" without crying. My daughter Summer threw it away. "I'm just trying to help you out, Mom," she told me.


Oh jesus, this got me.


Thanks for making me cry into my blackberry pie. Now its all salty. What a beautiful snapshot of your perfect love for your son. GREAT. Now the baby fever is back.


That was beautiful, thank you. I haven't been able to read that one to the kids since they've gotten old enough to get nervous when I cry. They used to pat me on the back reassuringly and now they back sloooowly away from me while I blubber "give mama a hug! Pretend I'm the tree!"



Life is strange and beautiful, isn't it?




I'm one of those people who hates that book. The boy is incredibly selfish. Unlike our children who give back love and happiness to us, that damn boy gave nothing to the tree. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Though I agree I would do just about anything for my two lovely boys, I fully expect them to give me back more love than that poor tree gets.


Sigh. Amy, This is one of the many reasons I read your blog. Because you are so damn real. Thank you for sharing your life with us. The thought of little Noah's "Oh No's" At the tree being cut down makes me weep. He gets it. He will be ok. He is such a wonderful boy, and even though I am TOTALLY messed up with the pregnancy hormones, this time, I know I'm not crying because of them, I'm crying because I understand, mommy to mommy, tree to tree...THANK YOU.


When Isaac started speech therapy, she told me off for TR~YING to get him to talk! Stupid me. I still, to this day have no idea how Beverley the therapist got him to talk, there are days where her name is mud though ( like right now, will he stop whining because Elijah is playing with the power ranger he JUST opened for HIS birthday? No, he will not, nope, not....oh quiet Isaac, there are times when we miss you)
I have never read the tree story, just as well, I yawn incessantly when I read aloud, why throw weeping in there? Also, if you ask Seth (6) which book he'd like he says " the Guinness book of records please" Hoorah that he reads it all himself now, ever seen a 42lb six year old lying in bed reading an Encyclopedia? Cute ( yet disturbing)


ABAWL ABAWL! Okay, I have to go cuddle my baby now because that made me a sentimental wreck. Haven't read him The Giving Tree yet. May have to be tonight's bedtime story.

Woman with Kids

Oh my god, why would you start my morning by making me cry? That's not very nice.

Wonderful post; I love that book.


Will definitely have to get this one when we have a little one.

I missed Top Chef last night - will have to download. :)


I love that book - even though it makes me cry.
Your story about Noah, and "oh no" was even sweeter.
it made me cry too.
I also cried the first time my 3 yr old said "mummy" and meant me - that's fairly recent. Makes you wonder what goes on in the brains of these complex little people who aren't talking yet. They are definitely thinking though. Little bloody geniuses they are....


You make me a good way.

Amy the Mom

Oh that book. When my oldest was in Kindergarten, he seemed to master reading overnight. We were stuck in traffic one day, and I always kept a stash of books on hand for just such an occasion. Alex began to read The Giving Tree out loud to me and our three year old twins in the backseat. That was when I finally "got" the book. Jesus, talk about your emotional lightning bolts. I wiped tears off my face while he read the book in it's entirety. I was wishing Uncle Shelby had stuck with poems about boogers right then.


Noah's definitely got a lot going on upstairs, and I know he will be fine and dandy, and much more grateful for your sacrifices than the Boy was to the poor tree. He'll probably visit a lot more often, too.

Yes, parenting does involve much sacrifice, but beware of reducing yourself to a stump.

Katie Kat

Oh man, Amy... that was beyond perfect. Thank you for reminding me that being the tree is sometimes diffcult and painful, but in the end SOOOO worth it. :)




Lovely entry, Amy. I have to stop reading from work.

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