Friday, November 8, 2013

I Saw My Father, and He Met My Son!

A couple of factors lent themselves to the aide of the sandman last night.
 1. We (as a family) are at a place where my father’s name is coming up a lot these days 
 2. I watched far more than the daily recommended amount of HGTV just before lights out.

The house was a buzz just as I was coming downstairs. Nothing was really a reflection of reality in the sense that the stairs I was descending, while understood to be mine in the dream, really belonged to the Victorian house number 3 from House Hunters International. 
There were contractors everywhere doing what contractors do, carrying buckets and paint brushes, never really working but in a spitfire hurry to get somewhere to do so.

Then the familiar faces started popping up. There’s Lora Baker and her husband Ron (whom I have never really met in person but imagine to look like a mix between Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec. and Al from Home Improvement) making business phone calls in the kitchen. So very nice of them to make the middle of the night trip from Georgia to work from my house.

A knock at the door produced this large, pale faced woman who insisted on coming in and sitting down. She proceeded to say that she hasn’t been in the house for years and she used to play cards with my parents. She was very excited to see them again. I was so sorry, as I am when this happens, to have to inform her that he passed away 4 years ago.

“What do you mean child-he’s right there”. And she was right. He was.

My dad, an unnamed man and I adjourned to the small table outside, away from the bustle to catch up. The conversation will always be mine and mine alone, but it was as familiar as yesterday. I could just about smell it.
Suddenly we found ourselves in a room in the house. Soft light pouring in the window and bouncing off the semi-dusty hard wood floor. I was standing in the doorway half in the room half in the hall. The unnamed man sat on the on trundle bed and my father sat on the floor like a teenager.

Around the corner and in an unbalanced hurry, a 1 ½ year old Carrie (my sister) came ripping around the corner. Wearing only her diaper and towing a head full of magnificent curls. She made way towards our location.

I told dad to lay down on the floor. “Let’s see if she sees you”.

She drunk toddler walked past me into the room and went directly to where my father’s silhouette was and draped her small body across his chest. She raised her head and looked back at me, but now she was my son. Wispy dirty blond hair and those blue eyes, turned back to my dad, laid his head on his chest and spread his arms wide in the form of the cross to put his tiny hands in my fathers and lay there…still…comfortable.

I went and sat next to the unnamed man on the bed and buried my head in my hands. I do not cry often but when I do, it is certainly for the right reasons.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Societal Benchmark-An Editorial

I am concerned!

The (not-so) recent onslaught of the figures in our direct limelight are not the same caliber people that my father had me looking up to. More overly, these people are being allowed to serve as a benchmark for where we are as a society, and the level of intelligence has plummeted.

There is a tongue and cheek movie called Idocracy, where in the future we are led to believe that we (Americans) teeter on the brink of extinction based on our diminished, if not deleted, sense of intelligence. A movie mind you that should be turned on to induce chuckle, kill two hours on a Saturday, and move on with little to no further thought. But what if we see ourselves taking giant leaps towards making this movie prophetic. Where will we be when one day we begin to water our crops with energy drinks and wonder why we are hungry.

We already know that technology has afforded us spending valuable time on anything worth while. Our attention spans are shrinking faster than Al Rokers belt size, but have we ever stopped to wonder at what cost?

The final nail in this proverbial coffin for me is the sporting headlines of Richie Incognito the bully. I understand and recognize that there is a particular brand of behavior behind closed doors in professional sports locker rooms, and it should be that way. At that level of performance, teams are families, and I for one love my brother more than most people because we have rolled around in the dirt trying to kill each other.
 But this Incognito took hazing to a whole other level, and then we, as a public, became aware of it. A Molotov cocktail.
Our attention spans have most of us reading taglines and never the content, so all we learn is the "Duh" of any given situation, and its shovel fed to us by the millions of reporters neglecting
advances in modern medicine and space exploration to break twitter scandals wide open.

We have Mayors smoking crack and then talking about it to the media with his loosened NFL throwback tie dangling from his dainty 300lb frame, we have NFL stars crashing into trees at 9am wasted with weed in the car, we have.....forget it, you understand.

How am I supposed to take any of the examples we have today in the public eye and assure my child that he can be just like him if he tries hard enough? Am I supposed to concentrate only on the fact that Brawando has electrolytes?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

There's a Bookshelf Next to a Door

The bookshelf was not placed there with any more of a thought than "it fits".
At the time I placed my (not so) sacred copies of paperback Star Wars books, little minds moving little hands was not a thought in the process.
It was simply placed there.

Over the course of the last few weeks, this area of his room has been the pasture in which he has learned simple motor function.
Daily he shuffles over to the bookshelf in question with one leg as the propeller and the other for guidance and reaches the lower shelf with no opposition. Here is where he defines his motor skills and methodically pulls each of the paperback books off the shelf and puts them behind him on the floor.

This process is as fascinating for me as it must be for him. I can see his wheels turn. And when he has emptied the shelf, he turns with a grin and we practice our clapping as we applaud his Herculean effort. He is to be celebrated for defining his limitless abilities.

Yesterday was the same, however after the 3rd of 25 books was de-shelved, he noticed the door next to the bookshelf.
This door was not just put in, nor was the bookshelf recently placed next to it. This door has been there all the while. But to him it was new.

So he shuffled over to investigate. One leg as the propeller and the other for guidance.
He realized that he could move the door if he pushed on it, and so he did. But out of the corner of his eye he saw the work that still remained on the lowest shelf of the bookcase. So he shuffled leg as the propeller and the other for guidance, and began his book removal routine.

He has done the routine so often now that he was able to take the books off one by one without looking, which was good, because this allowed him to keep one eye on that "new" door, until finally he had to get back to it.

I could see him wonder "if I keep pushing the door, how far will it go". So once again he abandoned his book post in search of loftier leg as the propeller and the other for guidance.
He continued to push the door until he closed it all the way, then with a final push he made it click shut in place.
I could see the "phew" of hard achieved satisfaction as he closed, not just the door, but the whole task at hand and put it behind him so that now he could return to his original job site.

I believe this to be his first real lesson of prioritizing and multitasking and had no idea this would be such and influential area when I so nonchalantly put the bookshelf next to the door.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mobility~The Wheels Are Turning!

A parent learns and grows as much as the child in the first year. Of this I have no doubt. The only dramatic difference is that we (parents) have real examples of past triumphs, tribulations, and failures to gauge the process from.

I am immersed in waves of real life. Awe and wonder are ingredients of my everyday life and more often than not, I simply find myself smiling ear-to-ear while I watch his little wheels turn.

Currently Braden is on the launch pad to independent mobility.  He is exploring the desire for things just out of his reach surpassing his ability to reach them. He can scoot on his belly, which usually just ends up in a tummy pivoted 360. He can bring himself to his knees from sitting by simply extending his reach, which usually just ends up on him lightly face planting. And he can reach further than humanly possible in the manner that one might take one last reach for the lifeline that will pull them back into the boat.

The fascinating thing is to watch the facial expressions depict his internal monologue  I am convinced that while he cannot form words or sentences externally , his internal monologue is well spoken and seemingly narrated  in a James Lipton fashion. "If I just do this than perhaps I can do this...DAMMIT!" or "OK. Let me move this foot here and try to stretch...DAMMIT, why is the other foot wedged so helplessly behind my knee?".

The other notable nuance of this whole scenario is the juxtaposition of my son learning to get mobile and my mother having recently lost the ability to be so, sharing the same property. Everyday I smile that "he's up to something" smile while watching him explore his inevitability  while everyday I sigh that "I wish it weren't this way" sigh of watching my mom comes to grips with her inevitably.

Some days, most days, the simple desire to write about this battle keeps me from watching them fight to the death, and a part of my daily internal soundtrack is the Lion Kings-Circle of Life, but one without the other would be far too much emotion for one "new parent" to handle.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Time~Resistance is Futile!

I have always wanted to use "resistance is futile" but never imagined the term would quite be in the scope that  I am using it.
Having taken a crack at this parenthood thing now for the better part of eight months I have drawn various conclusions. Most done so out of the sheer necessity sanity saving tweaks.
Time is one that would make the largest difference in a parents life, yet remains (timelessly) out of our control.

In a young parents life, everything is time-

The seconds last for eternity but the days/weeks/months are gone in the blink of an eye.

Hurry up were, late! Why is he up soooo early?

Warm the babies food up for 38 seconds only! No more/No less.

What time is the babysitter coming? How long do we have the sitter for? What time does the sitter have to be home? Sorry your late getting home.

If the trip takes 14 minutes, I can feed him for 23 minutes which will give us 2 hours and 15 minutes to enjoy the show before we have to take the 7 minute walk back to the car to feed for 23 minutes and come home.

Are you recording the TV tonight because he wont be bathed in time?

4:00 pm-When will you be home? 1 hour. 4:07 pm-How has it not been an hour yet?

We should have the party at 2 pm so everybody comes on time. Everybody's late.

Dinners not until 9 tonight, he took a 2 hour nap.

You don't usually poop at this time a day, and never this much!

Happy 1st Birthday little man......Happy 21st Birthday son....I can't belive your 40.

I have always known, as any free thinker would, that to resist time is futile. There is nothing you can do about grey hair, an extra candle, or a couple of creaky joints. But until I became a parent I had no idea how important a minute can be.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I know Now Why the Tigers Do What They Do!

I landed on this portion of life at the right time (for me), but still extremely confused, distracted, and dare I say scared. Earlier than some, but later than most, my life to date dictated for me when the right time to become a father would be. The fact that "it all works out" is not wasted on me, as a visit from the stork at any earlier of a time in my life would have had much different consequences  As far as the standard checklist goes, and unlike any other path I had explored to date, this one seemed to be in a functional order. Love-check, Marriage-check, Job-check, House-check........Baby-check. Had he been delivered in any other sequential order perhaps some drastic re-calculations would have been required....but prince came at just the right moment for me.

In my life to date I have experienced moments of bubbling, unbridled emotion directed so specifically at one other human that the only seemingly apt reaction would have been to just lean over an BITE the other person. Words would have fallen short at such moments as there just was no time to construct them. These moments seemed to manifest out of thin air. And yet they were fleeting. Simply moments that may, but usually not, reappear for the next unforeseeable expanse of time. Noted, but not forgotten. Babies change the frequency of this phenomenon ten fold.

Just like their predecessors before them, and in the most mundane and un-noteable times, I am stricken with that energy. Making eye contact in the early morning over his changing table, or watching him sleep. Seeing him see himself in the mirror and smile, or observing him stare at the top of a tree.  A bubbling in my toes that rise to the tip of my head leaving a wake of chills over every external hair on my body. Electricity seems to pulse and fire out of the top of my head. I may be holding him but I can't seem to get close enough. To kiss him is an insult to the moment, to hug him is inept. In the blink of an eye, the only right thing to do is completely consume this child. I must EAT him! He belongs inside me basking in the love and emotion that my soul just concocted in his honor. And then it leaves. My pulse still pounds, and he is still fixed on whatever he was fixed on before impervious to the fact that he was nearly cannibalized in the name of fatherly love. Mere seconds were all it took.

Unlike the other moments in my life where a fraction of this experience had happened no time seems to pass before the next wave creates the undertow and sweeps me away again. It's exhausting, but if nothing else, and for the first time in my life, I totally understand why tigers eat their young.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Celebrations and the Babysitter

The art and immediate perseverance of parenting has been mountains more than mind boggling thus far.

Like other vehicles of learning, I find myself more responsive to the "jump in and do as you go approach" and parenting is exactly that. There is no e-brake. You simply try by trail-and-error and adapt.
The nuances that come with this approach as an exploration of self. A redefining of what I thought were my own traits. A re-scripting of daily vocabulary, and a visceral wonder of what I have never wondered before.

Firstly I have noticed the major milestones and celebrations that come with new parenthood. These items that dot our small home landscape and shape the themes of days and weeks.
One might think that there is very little to celebrate of a being that literally knows only how to eat, poop, cry and sleep, but that is merely the foundation and the structure is so much more architecturally beautiful than I would have thought.
These celebrations are done in an exaggerated tones. Shouts of joy from another room to "COME AND SEE....", as well as a total overhauling of vocabulary to describe happening events.

The first few days-we celebrate "poopies" and sleep. His first BM (that isn't meconium) is exciting!
The first 2 weeks-we celebrate milk, "poopies", and sleep. Breast feeding has a larger than thought failure rate and when it works and mothers milk comes in correctly...we celebrate!
The first 3 weeks-we celebrate weight, "poopies" and sleep. Many later in life lessons can be learned when we remember that in the first 3 weeks of life, parents want to have a balloon and cake party for every ounce the child puts on! This alone is the measure of success.
The first Month-we celebrate smiles, sleep and positive distractions...."poopies" have become routine and are no longer the bench mark for health but something that is merely inevitable.

So this positive distraction I speak of. This is something/anything that can take your child's mind off of his tantrum, or any other pressing matter that may be consuming his emotions.

Ours is the changing table! We have taken to calling it the "babysitter" and before you go calling CPS, please note that we do not leave him there while we go take in a movie....we simply take longer to change his diaper because there is something about this place that he really loves.
Being a professional observer, I have been marveled by what exactly is happening in this small corner of our already small home.
He lays down, crying or not, and immediately locks his eyes on one spot that I have yet to determine exactly where this is. He then proceeds to smile, oooohhh, aaahhhh, coooo, and reach for. By every definition he sees something that holds his attention for up to 15+ minutes at a time. (In baby time this is an eternity)

Yes there are monster stickers on the wall, but he seems to be looking above that. Yes above that is the blinds, but what is so exciting about blinds?

I am convinced that he sees his guardian angel(s). That this is the place that either my dad or Kristen's grandma come to see their grandchild. Probably both. They spend 5-10 minutes every hour or two at all times of the day touching his cheek, smiling at him, and letting him know they are there and always will be as long as he needs them and he loves them. He knows they are warm and safe. His tiny mind knows that at his darkest hours he will never be alone. He is comforted.

I find myself staring at him and smiling ear-to-ear. He is un-affected by my presence until, like clockwork, I lean over and say "do you see grandpa? do you see great-grandma?" and he breaks his concentration and stare at me and smiles..and I swear, every now and then he winks....I'm going to love this job!