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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)

TITLE: Sugarboy
By Kris St. James


"I am the sign painter of the illiterati."


He looks up at me from almond eyes and grins an almost toothy grin, his weakened legs wobbly and unsure. Stubby fingers reach for me and his coo beckons me "come down here to me now."

"DaDa. DaDaDaDaDa! DaDaDADADADAAA!!!" His word for everything.

I will not refuse. I lift him up, eye to eye, cheek to cheek, heart to heart. He is mine. He is me. “Hey, Joe! Whaddaya know?”

His skin is soft and smooth; the fine, velvety hairs cover every inch of his little body and his fingers go straight for my face. My ears. My glasses. They are whipped off before I can defend. His baby-pot-belly pokes from beneath his drool soaked shirt.

"DaDa. DaDaDa! DaDaDADADAAaaada!!!" he commands, his voice rising and softening at the end. A grin. He shoves an elbow into my mouth, imploring me to sniggle his armpit and I can not resist. His laughter is instant, even before my mouth and chin make contact with his goosey-spot.

"Sweetboy," I say. "Sugarboy." His syrup runs down his still grinning chin and onto his shirt. The arm. The elbow. Again. Again.

Snicker. Snuggle. Tickle. Giggle.


I zerbert his fleshy cheek with a loud razberry and he tucks his shoulder to his ear, giggling, pushing me away with one arm, pulling me in with the other.

Baby smell. I inhale deeply, this Ponce de Leon potion of youth; odor of life. Pure. I inhale again.

He pushes my face away, taking in my features, sans glasses now at my feet. "You don't need those", he is saying. "Look at me. Look at me. What do you see?" I take his dollish hand with my calloused fingers scarred from labor and caress my stubbled cheek with it.

"Rough!" I instruct. "Rough. Daddy's face is rough!"

He pats his thigh, the sign for "dog", then balls up his fists and smudges at the corners of his mouth, the sign for cat. His sign for cat.

"Cat. Yes! Dog...ruff ruff! Cat...meyoowww! Meyoowww!"

As if on cue, our dog barks outside. His eyebrows arch high and he points at the door.

"DaDa! DaaaDaaaDAADA!" He squirms in my arms, pleas to be taken outside to see Buddy.

"No, bubba. It's raining. Raining." I make the sign for rain, but he waddles over to the French door, looks back over his shoulder, pulls back the blinds. The sky is ominous, dark and dreary; crying, wailing.

Flash! Thunder. Thunder. Thunder.

"DaDa! DaaaDaaaDADADA!" He turns and races back to me, fear on his face. "DaDAADaa!!" I sweep him away, up into my branches, my wings, my fortress. He looks back at the door, searching for the monster he knows is pursuing him. None. Nothing. Then DaDa. The arm. The elbow. The grin.


"How can I ever explain you?" I look into those delicate, almond-shaped eyes, bluer than blue. Deep, white-flecked amethysts. Jewels. "You are my sun."



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This article has been read 1504 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kenny Blade05/25/06
This is incredible stuff! I like the way you took a moment in time and painted a picture as opposed to the telling of the story. Real. A true picture of exhilirating joy. Awesome work.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/25/06
This made me cry. Beautiful, especially knowing a little bit of the story behind it. I don't understand your first line, but just loved the rest.
Jessica Schmit05/25/06
Beautiful account. Very well written.
Sherry Wendling05/25/06
To quote the Psalmist, this is "too wonderful for me!" You dipped your pen in the miracle of life and started writing. The eighth wonder, the way of a father with his son. What a blessed little boy!
terri tiffany05/26/06
This was beautiful. You caught every movement ...every emotion perfectly. Excellent!
Lynda Schultz 05/26/06
Suzanne R05/27/06
You gave us enough clues to realize that this is one very special boy. I love this piece - the joy you experience as you interact with your Joey is beautifully expressed. From what another comment says, I gather it is based on truth, too, huh? That makes it even more special.

Not a criticism ... just a comment. When you first mentioned his almond eyes, I immediately thought that this was an Asian child. But then at the end, I found that his eyes are almond shaped but blue. Guess almond shaped eyes don't have to be Asian, huh?


What a magnificent way to end.
Amy Nicholson05/29/06
What a wonderful picture! You translate joy to the reader throught this interaction between adult and child. Sometimes I think that we are here to teach children about the world, while they are here to remind us of what Heaven is like. God bless.
L.M. Lee05/29/06
enjoyed your descriptions
darlene hight05/29/06
Loved everything about this including the title. Well done!
Brenda Craig06/01/06
What a wonderful example of a "Father/Son" relationship that paints a beautiful picture of our relationship with our heavenly Father

He is mindful that we are but dust, as you are mindful of your sons dependency; with great love tenderness and protection. As you are his fortress, his wings, likewise, He is our fortress and covers us with His wings (Psalm 91), and takes the same pleasure in us.

This created a lovely picture for me of how He delights in us; with joy. May we have the faith of a child.
Kris St. James06/01/06
"Guess almond shaped eyes don't have to be Asian, huh?"

Down syndrome. When my grandfather was alive, he used to call me Sugarboy. I had no idea how much he loved me until I began to reflect back on my life and how much he did for me and how much he taught me. So, I have passed the sweet title on to my Sugarboy; my sun on rainy days.
Debbie Sickler06/01/06
Kris, I just now read this and I loved every word. I could picture you with your son and the love and joy jumped off the page. Congratulations on a well deserved win.
Sherry Wendling06/01/06
Kris, congratulations! And thanks so much for the 'story behind the story.' Beautiful.
Crista Darr06/01/06
This piece is filled with tenderness. It touched me. Thank you.
Beth Muehlhausen06/02/06
Precious and tender. Lots to think about. The first line hit me after the fact - when the story became a commentary on perspective. The joy is there, if we only have eyes to see it.

This is one fortunate little boy, to be so cherished.

Kris St. James06/02/06
When were expecting our second child, it was unexpected. When we found out it was a he, we were thrilled (and surprised). When he was born on Mother's Day (two weeks premature), we were concerned. When the neonatologist said he had Down syndrome, we were devastated. For a time.

To anyone considering aborting a child with Down syndrome, consider this: we would have hand picked him from God's "Baby Shelf". He is amazing. So many people think that Down kids are useless and miserable and beter off dead. Not true. He can sign about 10-15 words and can sight read around the same number (but a slightly different group--some signs require fine motor skills no infant has as yet). He turned two last month.

It's true they require more work, but it's also true that you often get back what you put into life.

He gives us joy. (And so does our daughter! I'll write about her next!)
Karen Treharne06/07/06
Thanks so much for giving background about this story, Kris. Your sugarboy is blessed to have you in his life - and obviously, you are blessed to have him as well. God is faithful. I'm happy for your win, and I look forward to reading about your daughter.