Thomas Christian Anderson
P7021ewVToad.jpg Our Chris was in a big hurry to get here: at daybreak, in our beloved new Brunnhilde, we raced down Trapelo Road, then over to Mass Ave and to Cambridge Street via the brand-new underpass. He made his grand entrance just twenty minutes after we tumbled out at the hospital entrance. We’ve often commented that if he’d delayed another hour, the traffic around Harvard Square would have been sufficiently worse that we’d have had to name him “Harvard Underpass Anderson.”

He has always gone by “Chris,” but when he was still a remarkably tranquil bulge on his mommy’s midsection, I’d already started referring to him as “Toad.”
Valerie wants me to emphasize that he was calm and sweet, not only in the womb but afterwards. A truly convenient baby, who ate and slept just as the big people in his life always prayed he would. I had the honor of giving him his name and a blessing in church (as, indeed, I did for each of our children), and I remember blessing him that he would be a peacemaker.
This was the last time we deliberately left the timing of our kids’ birth up to them. The doctors diagnosed Valerie as “a precipitous deliverer”: our three daughters were all induced, under the management of our medical helpers. Justin came early and beat us to the punch.

The “precipitous” bit came as both good news and bad news, of course: it led to the sort of unwanted excitement we experienced in 1970 with our dear Toad, but it also meant that Valerie has had to restrain herself from bragging about her short and easy labors and deliveries, especially around fellow mommies with sharply-contrasting experiences. Turns out she’s in labor rather a long time before she notices it. By the time it starts to bother her, the baby is just about ready to enter the scene. The term “baby machine” is probably not respectful enough.
“Toad”: Among us, at least, an affectionate nickname implying, whatever you may have thought, neither dislike nor disrespect. Valerie and I had recently enjoyed together (read aloud, at bedtime) The Wind in the Willows. Which may or may not account for the habit that Peter Miller and Chris Hamilton and I, at Abt Associates, developed of addressing each other as “Toad.”

One day, as the three of us were hanging around the water cooler, either Chris or Pete (I haven’t recently been sure which) remarked that we formed an example of “Three-Toad Sloth.”
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