That’s his middle name: Hollis. It was his grandfather and great-grandfather’s before him. I’m the only one to call him that, but there you have it. When Jaeger just feels toooo formal, that’s what comes out: Hollis.

Jaeger is my tool-toting, mechanically minded son, always has been. I have pictures of him wearing so many plastic tools his little osh-kosh overalls are down around his knees with the weight, and pictures of him solemnly “helping” Dad and Grandpa when he couldn’t even use the toilet by himself. More recently, he helped us lay our upstairs tile:

And pour our front driveway:

From the time he was tiny, he has been fascinated with tools and has always been the first kid I call when I need help with something. Sometimes this irritates him, but I remind him that there are advantages to being known as someone who will get a job done.

He doesn’t mind so much when the job involves fire; I realized today that almost every picture I have of a birthday cake lighting includes Jaeger, holding the matches:

Jaeger can design and build a wooden box just the right size to hold something that no other box will hold with as much ease as he can put together an apple pie or a pan of lasagna–no storebought fillings or crusts for this kid–all from scratch. He can bake bread as well as I can, too.

He’s also somewhat… um… accident prone. From the time he was no longer safe on one hip, the kid has been a perpetual case of goose eggs and minor, yet bloody injuries. One day he got off the bus looking like this:

Yes, that’s sliced clear through. Uhg. Ironically, by a malfunctioning “safety seat”.  The most amazing thing about his aptitude with tools and his willingness to try new tasks is that it isn’t easy for him: he has a significant tremor in his hands that makes his handwriting nearly illegible and as a result of which I no longer even flinch when he breaks a dish; it’s a regular part of life.. He cleans it up and tries again. And handwriting aside, he always brings home a 4.0; the kid wants to got MIT, and I believe he will get in wherever he applies, because he has that kind of tenacity.

He’s thirteen, and he’s already researching these things. He’d also like to get his pilot’s license when he’s sixteen and maybe build an airplane for his senior project. He says this like it’s an impossible dream, but knowing Jaeger, I wouldn’t be surprised if he figured out a way to make it happen.

He’s is the third of six kids, the archetypal “middle child”. He tends to get hit from both sides in so many ways:

He’s usually a pretty good sport about it, but sometimes he really feels it, and then I feel bad, too, because there is so little you can do when a child’s feelings are truly wounded and they are too big to gather up on your lap anymore.

When did that happen, by the way? When did they go from a song and a story on my lap every night with a face like this:

To the uber-serious teen who is more likely able to pick me up, than the other way around?

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