Tuesday, June 5, 2012


On Saturday I was neck deep in a washer dryer problem that I couldn't solve with any amount of tech support and then moved onto a clogged drain that I've since had to call a plumber for - and I was not handling it well. I'm normally good at home repair and improvisation; I felt like a squirrel that's fallen out of his own tree.

"What are you mad about Daddy," my daughter and son asked when I finally emerged from my projects.

"The bathroom drain," I said and had to bit my tongue when they both laughed.

"The drain! That's the funniest thing ever."

If restraint were anything like a cork on a bottle, I could have hit the moon if you pointed me in the right direction.

I tried what I could to calm down. I exercised. I cleaned up. I listened to music. I did some light shopping. I remained irate; couldn't shake it.

"Let's walk down here," my wife suggested later in the day. We're living in a new town now and exploring when we get the chance, "There's supposed to be a little river down this way."

There was. And some of the most lovely old oaks I've even seen. Their bowls were so wide that our whole family holding hands in a ring together couldn't have circled them.

"Look at that," I said involuntarily holding my hand against the rough bark, "look at that."

And I felt better. All the stupid energy I'd spent getting mad at the things I couldn't fix just fell away like so much junk.

"Trees," I thought, "Who knew I needed a tree."

But I'm glad I found them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Wheelbarrow

When I was a boy, most of what I learned about how to move came direct from my father or my uncles or on occasion a neighbor; and most of that took the form of rudimentary sports. Dad would pitch a wiffle ball at us for what seemed like hours in the backyard, or walk us around a public golf course in the last light of the day when most of the golfers had gone and only the mosquitos were around. 

"Its kind of a dance," he'd say about swinging a golf club, not having any formal training himself in golf but eager for us to learn, "back to front; one and two."

"Your hips do the work," he'd say about swinging a baseball bat, "Your arms and hands are coming along for the ride."

I wasn't the best student in the techniques he tried to impart to me, but he stuck with it for several years. Until I was old enough for little league and soccer and as the Sean Connery character says in "The Untouchables," the lesson endeth here." I then took my queues from coaches and what I could learn from other boys. 

Because my son is disabled, the transition to coaches has happened a lot earlier. It's happened for both of my children. They're learning the basics from folks who are trained to give those lessons. PT, OT, Speech and swimming for now; but other sports will follow. I've had to let go early. 

And I've struggled to wonder what from me they will actually have. My father gave me a good hook shot for basketball and a good short game in golf, but with the hours I'm working and the myriad of other folks helping them, what will they take from me? 

"Wheelbarrow!" my son says when he sees me doing pushups in the morning, "Wheelbarrow me Daddy."

He's the first one up, and while his mother and sister are still sleeping, we take a toy or pillow or a stuffed animal and toss it some way across the living room floor and I grab the boy by the hips and let him walk his way over by hand. 

"Yeah!" he shouts when he reaches that toy, and collapses in a laugh, "I did it!"

My daughter gets basic self defense in the evenings when her brother is sleeping and her Mom is taking a break. 

I try to do those an any other little thing I know will help him or her and that's within my skills. It's not much I know, and I doubt that any particular thing I give them will make much of an impact, but I believe that whatever I take the time to do with my kids will impress on them it's importance to me. That long term memories (and good habits and health) are formed by consistent repetition over time - I hope I'm right. 

I know at some point, like the proverbial father or mother teaching their child to ride a bike, that the kids will just sail off on their own and the lessons will end. I hope when that happens they take something like the memories my Dad left with me; even it it's just a memory of a wheelbarrow. 

Good night. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Broccoli Happy

My son is a silly boy. He can find a way to laugh at just about anything. He laughs at his toys; he laughs at his breakfast; he laughs with me or his mom or his sister when one of us says something funny. No matter what his mood may have been the moment before, he's always about as ready for a laugh as he is to for a sugar cookie.

And such a laugh the boy has.

Everyone, I believe, has some quality that did not come from their father or their mother or some distant cousin in the old country. Everyone has some gift uniquely given to them. My boy has the sound of his laugh. It sounds like the best day of summer, or the ball that you know is going over the left field fence, or the day you met your best friend. It's indescribable; it's natural and it makes everyone around him fall in love.

"Are you happy," he asks with a big smile when I laugh with him.

"Are you one happy," he'll add "or two or three or four happy."

I'll nod vigorously, and he keeps escalating the count as long as I nod or until he gets tired.

"How many happy are you Daddy," he asks finally.

"I'm broccoli happy," I say on queue (he thinks the word broccoli is funnier than any other word for some reason).

Then he'll laugh so hard he'll fall on to the couch and laugh curled up there.

"You're a silly daddy," he'll say with his beaming smile when he finally catches his breath.

"Yes," I think, "And you're my blessedly silly boy."

Good night.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Street Fight

A few words for myself tonight, to remind me that Washington may have lost most of the battles but still won our independence through keeping his army together and hope alive.


When logic's blood blooms from the practiced barb
And stands half blind and blinking behind bewildered rage
And human eyes, the crowd of human eyes, look out like a ring of dogs
Waiting, panting, watching for the fear to rise like a blinding fog
And throw the horns of the heart into the color of dread
Against the onset of mindful, meditating, sadistic ends
And rampage like the captive; sweating and alone
And remember the wounds of the flesh more readily mend.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hemi Baseball

This will be an unusual one for me - a question. Has anyone tried teaching baseball for a hemi kid? I was going to start my daughter and in an impulse of pure "why the *** can't I teach him?" I bought a glove for my boy too.

Ideas anyone?

Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm resetting my little blog tonight. I feel like I'm ready to update clock that lost a few minutes over time. I've known it's a little off, gotten used to it in fact, but haven't made a move to bring it back in line with time.

My son's asleep. My daughter is finishing up her art project (she promises) and will be going to bed shortly.

And I'm wondering how I got here. In the months since I last posted, we've sold our little house and are preparing to buy another. We're sitting in a little apartment that until two days ago I'd never seen before (and probably won't again by the time that July rolls in).

We're in transit. I've got that just having gotten off the plane for a business trip feeling. A little relieved and a little disoriented and a little knowing I have to ignore both feelings and get to work.

"What happened to my house," my little guy has been saying as he wanders around the stacks of boxes in the unfamiliar surroundings. Its not an unhappy question. He's just a little baffled.

I don't know how to explain the fact that we don't have a house and won't have one for a few months.

"Do you want a cookie," is my typical response and so far it's worked at keeping him distracted.

I've been watching old movies and reading Agatha Christie mysteries and re-reading Tolkien and trying to use the same distraction technique to stop my own unanswerable questions about this transition. I'm a little baffled too - What did happen to my house?

So I'm thinking its a good time to reset the clock. It's time to go back to some good habits. It' time to discover what there is to know about us when the place that we call home is no longer there. It's time to write.

Good night.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Early Birds

I think my son is developing into an early bird. He's sleeping through the night now (which is a blessing) and he's shaping up to be an early to bed early to rise kind of guy. At three years old I guess it's hard to be sure of anything, but as his patterns have stabilized a bit, so I'm thinking this may just be his natural tendencies rising to the surface.

That's been one of the additional challenges of his having cerebral palsy, distinguishing between the traits that have come with the disability (and may retreat over time) and the traits that are his personality (and are likely to stay for life). It's a bit of a nonsense exercise on my part, but I suppose it's part of every parents interests to try and peer into those little eyes and try to divine the person that you're just beginning to understand.

One thing I think I can say with some certainty, is that my boy seems to know what he wants and when he wants it.

"I'm sleepy - story time," is something I've heard now a few times as my son has begun to understand himself when he's getting tired. After a little time reading, and of listening to him tell his little jokes to himself while he giggles, he's usually sound asleep. It's wonderful.

On the other end of the night, he's equally clear, but it's not so wonderful.

"It's still dark - go back to bed," I say most mornings with my head still buried under a pillow while my son tugs at my arm in the pre-dawn dark. The little guy knows what side of the bed I sleep on, and for whatever reason, has decided that I'm the easier target in the early AM.

"No - it's the day time," he says, lack of evidence non-withstanding, "I'm hungry."

"It's bed time until the daylight comes," I've been trying to convince him with very little luck.

Some days I win this argument, and the boy will go back to his bed for another 30 or 45 minutes until the first weak light of morning is apparent. But more often than not, he'll escalate his position with tears or angry shouts and I'll get out of bed with a grumble.

"Yogurt please," he says after getting me down the stairs and into the cold kitchen, "Blueberry then Vanilla."

I'll set him up with a spoon and a cup of yogurt and watch him go at it for a bit. He's still not very good at getting his left arm into the act, so he's doing most of the work with his right, but he's gotten fairly effective at spooning out at least the top half of the yogurt before asking for assistance.

Then I try to work in some of the things our orthopedic surgeon has asked us to do to keep his left arm from growing stiff or losing resiliency. I'll massage his left arm and stretch it and try to help him grasp the cup with that hand while he digs away with the right.

"Loosen it up man," I say as I wiggle his affected arm and rub it up and down. He usually obliges me with a giggle or two while I help him angle the cup for better digging.

It's by now that I'm thinking that it's not so bad getting up with the little guy. It gives us time together to get to know each other; time for me to understand who my son is and time for me to understand how to help him in the day to day with his disability.

Sometimes, especially when it's still dim light leaking into the kitchen and the world just beginning to wake up, I feel like the proverbial father bird out with his little bird pecking for breakfast.

"You're an early bird," I'll tease him sometimes.

"Daddy!" he laughs, "I'm not a bird. I'm a boy."

"Yes," I think while I laugh with him, "You're my boy."

Good night.