Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daddy moment

A few weeks ago we had a delightful country Saturday with pancakes for breakfast, a morning at the beach on the lake and Dear Alex and daddy in the cold, cold water. After an hour or so, after your limbs go numb you don't really notice the cold anymore - but you really begin to appreciate the energy of the kid that's become your sole focus as she willingly runs into the water and submerges with no regard and full confidence that you'll be there to pull her up and out, cold and proud to have been underwater and ready to do it again (and again) - A few hours later the weather changed, with low grey clouds and the rumble of thunder from the west. The light changed from gold to silver to flat and dark in the course of a few minutes, and we hastily packed up the canoe and motored across the lake to home. With rain on the way and some shopping missions to perform (mostly acquiring clothing and stuff for the girl - I forget what it was specifically, but then again, she almost always needs something) Beautiful Wife and I took Dear Alex to one of the nearby -marts. We found the right-sized perfect pairs of shoes (aha - sandals, more shoes! that's what we were looking for) and headed home. Right on cue, after a few rounds of "Yellow Submarine" (her fondness for the works of The Beatles will be the subject of another post, for sure) in the car, Dear Alex fell asleep in her carseat as we drove home in the rain. We've been here before - time to get out of the car, but the kid's asleep taking the very rare afternoon nap, which she richly deserved. What to do? Let her sleep. Beautiful Wife went into the house to do some emergency cleaning. (we haven't vacuumed for months, and it was beginning to look a little like the outside inside, with all of the dirt, leaves and twigs on the floor) I stayed outside with her, lest she wake up and freak out that there was no-one there. It was still raining, but I took the oportunity to do a little leaf-raking and yard cleaning (all within sight of Dear Alex sleeping in the carseat) After a while, I got tired of the required watchfulness and the futility of actually trying to accomplish anything while keeping one eye on the kid in the car, and tired of being rained on, so I decided to simply open the back hatch of Dear Alex's station wagon and climb in. So, picture the grey-green Pennsylvania light, and a little silver station wagon in the rain next to a little red house in the woods, with a sleeping child in the carseat and a tall-ish man twisted to fit in the little cargo space with my feet against the windows as the rain came down. Beautiful. If you haven't had the opportunity to watch your child sleep deeply, peacefully, confidently, it's a wonderful thing. From where I had twisted myself, I had a perfect profile and could watch her face change and think about what she must be dreaming. There was something about the perfect closeness, and stillness of Dear Alex against the confines of the car and the rattle of the rain outside that made this moment worth remembering.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

It's been a while since I've written to lil'screamie - consider it a much-needed early-summer vacation from thinking too hard about the what's and whys of Dear Alex. We've had an eventful past few weeks, and there's a world of stories that really need documenting, as memory becomes unreliable with the multitude of details. We've had a real burst of activity, with visits from both of my sisters, and a trip to the Hamptons over the long Memorial Day weekend, and visits to the New York Aquarium and the Bronx Zoo and MoMa and Coney Island and carousel rides and the various side-trips that seem to be what things are about these days. Beautiful Wife and I have been busy, with plans and trips to places to engage Dear Alex with the world, and by any account, it's working. I've really been enjoying our outings and new experiences, and it gives me great happiness to say the Dear Alex has enjoyed it too. It makes me wonder, though, about what it is that we're doing, and how much of it is for her, or because of her - The Kid is a great excuse to do anything for the sake of her entertainment and education, and that's okay by me. I've been trying to remember if I could, anything that I remember from my deep childhood that would help me know what she's getting out of these many experiences - I draw a blank, and I know that someday, she will too. For now, the details and freshness of our day-to-day adventures stand out for her vividly, as stories that she can tell in a very halting and rudimentary way as we talk about her day(s). It feels like something important, and so we go on.

This weekend, being Father's Day weekend, was somehow more important and reflective for me, as I've come to really appreciate what being 'daddy' is all about. In the beginning you are there somewhat by surprise, somewhat by default, as you are indeed certainly responsible for at least half of the awesome creature that is becoming another human being right before your very eyes. In time you grow to really understand that it's not a fearful learning experience, or a new job, but something that you've been training for all your life, though you didn't know it at the time. Everything that's happened to you informs how you are and will be with the most amazing challenge of your life - and you meet the challenge and do the things that you'd never thought you'd ever do with a smile, and grace and the patience of a saint. At least that's what I hope for and want to be - only the best and the everything to my Dear Alex. The beauty, of course, is that it is returned in kind, with hugs and "I love you" and the joy of helping Dear Alex grow.