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.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Will

Tonight was a rough commute. I live in a city, and work in the suburbs (go figure), so the approach to my town at the end of the day feels a little like the approach the X Wing Fighters Pilots have to take to destroy the Death Star (did I just give away the fact that I'm a nerd?).

There's nothing though that makes me so upset as having someone in a flashy car making trouble for everyone on the road.

"Who do you think you are," I said to myself tonight after being cut off by an older man in a new sports car - a sports car I might add, that I dream of owning when I win the lottery.

Between the outrage that I felt at being cut off and the insult of seeing such a piece of work drive around in a car that I admire, I had to restrain the urge to respond with a gesture and a few choice words.

It took a while to shake off those negative feelings. They weren't at all assuaged when I saw the very same driver do the same thing to several other folks - they must have taught him that at Imperial Storm Trooper Academy.

"Five car lengths," I said to myself looking up at the very short distance that all those maneuvers had netted for the jerk, "All that nastiness for five car lengths."

I wonder sometimes about those folks. I wonder how awful it would be to know that however they feel about themselves (good or bad), they channel such negative force into the world; make a lot of folks around them feel bad. I know it's a small thing, really; I mean, nobody got hurt, but who knows how far a negative force can go in the world. It's a little like the dark side of the force.

I was wondering about that for a while tonight, and just a few minutes ago, a friend of mine posted something so kind and thoughtful on my Facebook wall that I just radiated like a warm cup of tea for about five minutes.

"Where did that come from," I thought, and realized how, without really knowing it, my friend had overcome the ill will of that jerk on the road with their good will.

"You never know how far a good act will go," my Dad used to say to me, and I guess it's true.

I hope I can take what I was given and send it on a little further.

Good night.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Snow

Everyone's talking about the early snow that's falling tonight. I think the most common things I'm hearing or reading are "... can't believe," or "... can't remember," when folks look up or out at the thick flakes.

For me, although it's been a long time, I do remember a snow once in October. I remember most vividly that I was only half way through the list of yards that I'd agreed to rake when those two icy inches of snow fell. It made the remaining work hard and muddy and cold. But when the sun came out afterwards and I plied up those clumps of matted leaves with my little steel rake and the earth released that musty smell that it has when it's scratched up after having lain beneath snow and leaves, I remember thinking it felt more like Spring than late Autumn.

That odd, out of place feeling, stayed with me that whole season and it wasn't until the holidays that year, I think, that I got some sense of normalcy back.

Now the feeling is stronger, if a little different. Not that I'm out raking leaves for hire these days. But this untimely weather has scratched up memories that have lain under the passing of many years and I feel a bit like I'm walking in an earlier time. It's like I'm being led by the hand by some ghost out of a Dickens story through a time in my life that seems unreal to me now.

I'm always dumbfounded by how much feeling goes with those memories, and how fresh it can feel, even though it's been years since the things that made those feelings happened. People and times that I'd thought I'd forgotten or at least forgotten to think or feel about when they stopped coming in and out of my life. And though I'm hardly a Scrooge, I feel for a moment like him re-examining the turns that led me out of that time and towards the place that I am now.

It's late, or early maybe, and I'll be off to get the last hour or two of sleep I can before the kids wake up and bring me back to the present. I can see from the window that the cars outside are frosted with about an inch of wet snow - not too bad; shouldn't keep us from going out Trick or Treating on Monday.

Though there are not leaves to rake for me this year (benefits of city life) there's enough else these days to get me back to the present in a hurry. And it's just as well. I'll let that cold silvery hand go at the first gleam of sun in the morning. Just a couple of hours more.

Good night.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Normal Days

My little guy's story time is over and I'm sitting here while he settles down in his toddler bed.

"Is that your 'puter Daddy," he says as I browse and type on my laptop.

"Go to sleep," I say and he laughs, and laughs and settles down.

It's part of a routine we have now. Toothbrush, story, talk and rest while I type. I look up at his sleepy face periodically for the hour or so that I sit with him (he still takes a bit to put down) and think of myself at his age.

Sometimes, if it's a long night, I'll let my imagination run a bit and draw up conversations that might occur between the versions of myself at different ages; like a split screen between different Daves. I wonder how much we'd feel we had in common, or even if we'd like one another.

Normally, these imagined pairings cross decades of lived experience. The open eyed toddler looking up at the grown man; the slim shy teenager speaking hesitantly to only slightly less shy adult that I've become; the seedling and the tree.

But for some reason I can't explain - maybe it's those first few cool nights of fall - I find myself faced with two men very close to my own age. The new father that I was after my first child and the newly minted father of a disabled child trying to come to grips with a radically altered life.

"Geez man, look at all that grey hair - what the hell happened," the new Dad Dave says, looking a bit stunned.

"Lost some weight big guy - and looking rested; nice going," says the second, sleepy, cranky Dave, "What's it like to get 5 hours of unbroken sleep pal?"

"You guys want a beer or something," I ask in the empty kitchen, wondering if I have three beers (and then realizing imaginary beer or wine will do fine).

"Sure, what you got," says new Dad Dave.

"The last thing I need is a hangover," says the cranky Dave, "Got a ginger ale?"

And we sit, the three of us and talk out the last few years. We review all the tough days and the good days and the days I've nearly forgotten. I look at their eyes. The aged but eager eyes of my new Dad Dave and the "what just hit me eyes," of Cranky Dave.

"What do these guys see now," I wonder.

It's all nonsense, I know. Those two guys that were are long gone and this guy with grew hair that fits into the jeans of the younger guy and can look the cranky guy in the eyes is what's left.

It makes me wonder the way I used to wonder what happened to the perfect days when the sky was blue, or those terrible ice storms that brought down power for a week when I was a boy. It makes me wonder what happens when the thing you thought would never change has begun to change or is gone altogether.

There's no answer to these things I know. It's like trying to catch the smoke from a candle.

But every once in a while, a song will come on the radio, or the moon will show up over the rooftops and silver a thin cloud or the house will go quiet (really, really quiet) and I'll feel for a moment like I used to; like I've slipped on a pair of shoes that have sat at the back of the closet for a couple of years - I'll remember. Soon enough though, those moments will go too.

My little guy is nearly asleep and with any luck I'll get to watch something on TV in a bit while my wife puts my daughter to sleep. I'll check work email and - luck willing - I'll be asleep before midnight.

"The new normal," they say; "You can get used to anything." I know it's happening - It may already be done. What felt strange and awful and amazing is now just another day.

Another normal day. Good night.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dizzy Days

I've been off line for a bit due to something with the odd name of Labrynthitus. Though it sounded more like the punchline to a medical knock knock joke when my doctor told me, it was actually a temporary problem with my inner ear that disrupted my sense of balance.

"You're going to be dizzy for about a month Dave," he said, "And you might have some ringing in your ears."

"You mean four more weeks of this," I asked in dismay at the time. The onset of what I came to call "the rockin' dizzies," was so sudden and strong that I had hoped it would retreat just as quickly.

"Uh-huh," he confirmed, "and no driving for a few days - at least until the dizzy feeling has grown less."

And here I thought that my kids were the only ones to make my head spin for so long.

If you've never had this, the closest I can compare it to is the feeling of just having stepped off a roller coaster - kind of woozy and wishing I had not had a hot dog for lunch. I wouldn't have thought how important balance is until I had it working improperly for so long.

So I had to slow down for a bit and as the computer gave me a headache during this time I had to disconnect too. It was a quiet month thankfully. I was able to travel by subway to work and the kids were out of school. I did my best not to do anything 'bouncy,' which the doctor had warned me against, and rest and recover.

Having all that inactive time really reminded me how good it is to be busy and how lucky I am to have some flexibility. I was also reminded how lucky I am to have such a good family to help me.

I'm also fairly sure now that good balance depends on more than just one person's efforts. I wouldn't want to go through this alone. I feel like one of those high wire acts where every person in the act gives a little more when necessary to keep the others from falling.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Caught on Tape

My little boy is becoming something of a verbal tape recorder these days, playing back each interesting word or phrase that catches his fancy. He's gotten pretty good and can let off these little adult phrases with all the intonations in the right places.

Sometimes, as you can imagine, this behavior can be very cute and appropriate, like the other day when I thanked the barista at our local coffee shop and my little guy said, "Thanks! Have a good one!" Or even cuter when he'll bring a phrase back from memory at some randomly appropriate moment, like when the other night I expressed some frustration about the lack of ice cream in the freezer he said, "Not today, Sorry!"

At other times though, the use of his internal tape recorder can be a little too revealing.

About a month back, we were preparing for a party. We were expecting family and friends and my son and I were out in the car running errands. This being a small city, the driving can be somewhat challenging. When we came to one of the tougher four way stop sign intersections on our traveling circuit, some hurried gentleman in a ragtop Audi made a pretty good attempt at a rolling stop that wasn't going to stop.

I stopped flat and steered away to avoid an impact. I caught the driver's eye, waggling my finger at him and let out a choice phrase (as I thought) under my breath.

I was very angry at the time, but forgot about the whole thing after a few more turns and a couple of stops on our errand route. It wasn't until we were back home later that morning that I realized I'd made a mistake.

We'd come in the door and found my wife's Mom and her brother had arrived. They were helping to set up.

I set my son down and he began to play with his toys. I went into the kitchen but hadn't been there long before my wife called me back.

"What's he saying?" she asked me.

My son had set up his stuffed animals on the couch. He was standing stock upright with an extended arm and was waggling his finger straight at a purple bear: "Stay right there jack-*ss!"

"Um," I said shuffling a bit and feeling sheepish, "Not sure where he picked that up."

Guess I need to be more careful.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roll the Wrists

I've started teaching my five year old some of the basics of collegiate wrestling - no throws or turns or locks mind you - just some basic things about balance and escaping. As I've known them, school yards are generally places where more pushing and grabbing happens than actual hitting, so I'm hoping to enable her to fend off some of the natural aggressors.

I was much older myself when I learned to do this, but I found that just being able to fend someone off makes enough of an impression; bullies turn elsewhere when they see you are going to be work.

"Let me try it again Dad," she says each night now - I never expected how much she'd like the training.

I started with something I was taught when I took wresting in high school. There was graduate of our school who'd come back from his college program on occasions to practice and assist teaching us.

"Simplest trick there is," he told me one day, "When someone grabs one or both of your hands, just roll your wrists over and take their initiate away."

"If you're fast enough," he added, "Sometimes you can surprise them enough to pull them off balance."

So we've been taking turns at a quickest draw in the west contest each night to see who can free their hands more rapidly from a sudden attack.

"Got you again," she laughs when she slips out of another parry, "I'm faster than you."

I regret when we're doing this, the necessity of teaching any self defense. But it's sitting right at the end of her nightly exercises.
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Self Defense
I wish I didn't feel the need to enable her. I wish even more that I didn't feel the need to train her so that we can work together some day to help train her little brother. But I know too well what a play ground can feel like when you don't know anything about self defense. It can be a lonely place.

I'm hoping if I can keep the training fun and defense minded (no hitting - just escaping for now), it will boost her confidence and make her world more manageable. I hope that by teaching her to keep her hands free, it will make sure that they're free to do the math and the reading and the writing.

Monday, April 25, 2011

When Something Happens Everyday

I used to work the night shift as an assistant to the city desk for the daily newspaper in my home city. It was my first job out of college and I filled a role that was called an editorial assistant. We were a kind of errand runner slash note taker slash copy writer slash general hand around the room. We did the little jobs while we learned about the news.

When it was quiet, I'd watch the events of the world come in across an early version of the internet. In those days, the news came through services provided by AP and Reuters on green screens with yellow type. There was no indexing or hyperlinks; you just scrolled through a long unsorted list of stories like goods in a general store - it was assumed that because you only had one place to go, everything you saw was important.

I was excited by the pace of that city desk; the news coming in by phone or from a reporter off a beat or off the AP or Reuters services - news of the world, of the nation of the city. I'd get off the job at 1 a.m. and walk past the roaring presses on the first floor and wonder what the next day would bring. I worked through elections, and local crime and natural disasters and even a war in that job. But when I went home, it was quiet. There wasn't a lot going on in my life. I had to work at it to make things interesting.

I don't know if it was the process of getting older, or graduating to a more responsible job, or being married or having children, but my home life feels busier than that city desk ever felt. And as it's my house that the news is coming in to, it's a whole lot more personal - work news, kid news, family news, news of local politics and even beyond. We're a smaller world than I saw at the newspaper, but we're a planet that packs a punch.

I don't know when it will stop (if it ever will), but it feels like something significant happens every day now; like there's an event that comes through our door that could be put up in big Daily Planet block letters with a splashy photo underneath; something that will make all the tongues wag and eyes pop when people read it.

"Where's that copy Sexton?" my old editor (wonder what's become of him) said once upon a time, "Post it already will ya."

I was only working on the little local stories, News in Briefs or NIBs, we used to call them, but the night editor treated them as if they were front page.

"We don't have a paying ad for those two inches Sexton," he'd laugh, "Get that piece over here - whatever it looks like."

Sometimes, when I'm writing up the family events now, I can still here his voice and see his (seemingly) immobile shape and his big thermos of coffee and the mound of cigarette ash and the pile of discarded newsprint. I think of him and wonder what our headline will be tomorrow.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bicycles an Swings

Yesterday was my first day of Spring. We broke out my daughter's bicycle and my son's trike and tore up the walkways at our local park. I felt a little like a father robin out for a test flight with my little nestlings.

Except the little birds aren't all that little; my son is getting both hands up on the handlebar (and the swing ropes) and my girl is nearly riding solo on her two wheeler - the winter changed a few things on me.

"Give me that bike back!" my son demanded when it came time to head home and added (for my understanding), "It's not night time - sorry."

I had worried he might not be ready yet - what was I thinking? I think it's me that's not ready.

I'm wondering if this is going to be the norm going forward - having my mind blown at each quarter turn of nature's stop watch? I feel a little like the relay racer who sees the baton rush away in a blur while he catches his breath. I feel as though the all to brief time where we run side to side for the hand off will go by before I have time to catch my breath.

Happy spring everyone.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sea Monkeys

I did not know, though I'm not at all surprised, that sea monkeys hatch from eggs, require fish food, and grow to maturity in five days. The sea monkeys will also live in my bathroom, next to the toothpaste, and I'm not allowed to play with them.

My daughter is happy, delighted actually; I just feel confused, like cows are forming a political party.

Good night.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Flowers

I put some mums and daisies and daffodils in our containers out front today. Sunshine yellow and paper white and a kind of fuschia purple that you might find in a big box of crayons. After the heavy rain overnight and this morning, the soil was moist and clumpy and perfect for planting. It's a delight to see those colors after the drab winter.

When I dream of the few years I'm likely to allow myself for full retirement, I dream of gardens. A space filled with bright annuals and persistent wildflowers and bushes and perennials that require seasonal care and attention. A place to sweat and get the good soil of the earth under my nails.

You see I spent a good part of my young adult years caring for other people's gardens. It was good work while I was a student. It left me time to think and to dream. It gave me wholesome work to do while I was still unsure of how I would make my way in the world. It's good to begin in a garden.

And in the event the pleasant garden of my retirement does not materialize someday (though I very much hope it does), I spend a little time - a day each season at most - uprooting and pruning and making my little temporary garden fresh. Yellow, white, fuschia and the black moist, musty soil of early spring; they're all in my thoughts today and will be in my dreams tonight.

I'm looking out at those flowers now. I know the earth and all its changes are stirring and that new things will come. I wonder what this season will bring. I'm planting the flowers and hoping. I'm thinking and dreaming of what will come.

Good night.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What to do?

Everyday is a tough day for somebody. I hear the news, personal and local and from far away and know there's always something tough going on somewhere.

But some days it just feels like there is a lot of that toughness coming down, like a bad winter or a hot summer or a rainy spring. I can just feel it like I imagine some animals can feel the approach of a weather front, though it may be miles away.

But what to do? Grab a shovel and hop on a plane? Sit with my head down and worry? I know today that neither of those impulses are correct, but sometimes I struggle to find the motivation to do anything at all.

I once saw a quote of Ghandi's posted at eye level on a colleagues' desk that read something to the effect of "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

And in the way of the best advice, those words startled me and puzzled me and stuck to me persistently. Those words came back to me again and again whenever I felt like putting down a dull task, or letting my feelings delay a necessary task. Those words dogged me and made me uncomfortable when I was already uncomfortable.

It's been at least ten years since I read those words, and that colleague has probably moved to a new job, just as I have. But now I find them a great comfort. When I feel helpless, like there's nothing I can do to help a situation far beyond my control. When I wish I could be there, or could have been there, and feel like chucking whatever insignificant task I'm working on, those words keep me steady and on track.

And so today I'm trying to remind myself that the small actions and decisions of people who had ordinary responsibilities in ordinary jobs just a week ago had impacts they could never have foreseen. That the small, seemingly insignificant tasks or routines that they had done countless times before would ensure that a valve worked, or a sensor was functioning or a monitor would shut some itself down automatically if the earth shook.

So today I'm trying to focus on the small tasks that I've been given, however small and unimportant they may seem. And today I'll try to keep my mind on the little wheels and cogs that would only matter if they stopped. Today I'll be responsible. I guess it's time for me to get back to work.

Hope you have a good day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Techie Days

I'm trying a new method of posting from my smart phone - my new toy - so these new on-the-run posts may be short; hopefully it will encourage me to be concise.

I'm a reluctant techie; I work in technology but drag my heels to use it. My kids are already more comfortable with the new tools and toys than I think I will ever be.

And even though I'm on a smart phone, I can't bring myself to use texting abbreviations like 'K for okay or 4 for for or u for you. Which all makes me a bit of a dinosaur by most measures - but I'm soldiering on none the less.

I wonder what my kids will think someday when they read all this (if all this is still here) - part of my reason for blogging is to provide a record for them of this time in their lives. I wonder how quaint it will seem. I wonder what they will think.

Well, this post already is long enough to be disqualified as a tweet - the new bantam weight of pith. So please bear with this old dino Dad as he tries to evolve before the next meteor strike.

BBN - sorry, couldn't resist.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Sample

I had an embarrassing parent-ashamed-to-be-seen-by-their-child-in-public moment on Saturday.

I had my son with me and we were stopping for a cup of coffee at our corner shop before going to join my wife and daughter for services. While waiting in line, I noticed one of those square ceramic serving plates the shop sometimes uses for free pastry samples - I'm not to be trusted around those. It was sitting on the counter near the register and on it was the last lonely piece of a butter croissant.

I looked at that bite of croissant the way my son sometimes eyes a lollipop he's not supposed to take. I wrestled oh so briefly with my don't-take-the-last-of-anything scruple sensor and then did the what the bad angel whispered in my ear; I picked the flaky bite between forefinger and thumb.

You can likely guess the outcome.

Somewhere in the second between taking the sample in my greedy fingers and popping it in my mouth, I realized it was not a sample.

That awkward fact dawned on me as I saw the horrified look spread across the face of the twenty-something male barista who looked as though he'd just seen a baboon making donuts. I quickly tried to recover by offering to replace the soiled article, but the poor woman I'd pilfered from was gone in a heartbeat and there was no easy way to recover.

This left me facing the smirks and glares and open mouthed stares of the folks in line behind me - not to mention my impressionable son. Was I ever wanting to sink through the floor.

I left with what dignity I could recover (not much) and tried to imagine how I could manage my life without my daily stop at my favorite coffee shop - not a happy prospect.

A couple of days have passed since my confection transgression and that glowing red embarrassment in my cheeks has faded to a guilty pink.

I went back to the scene of the crime this morning to take my medicine and let the attendants have a few laughs at my expense. It felt about as bad as seeing someone after an awkward date, but it had to be done.

After re-crossing that threshold, I had a couple of thoughts about the whole thing.

On reflection, I think I made a terrible faux pas, but an honest mistake; I've decided to try and let the incident roll off and move on. I've also decided to not to attempt an apology if I ever run into that poor lady again; there's no sense in making things more embarrassing for her. I'll just have to remain that guy who took that lady's food for as long as folks remember and bear with it.

And if one thing is for sure, I've also decided to swear off free samples for life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My daughter woke up for a little bit tonight, and I'm sitting with her while she drops off back to sleep. The cat jumped up and startled me (she likes to pretend she's a hunter) and is sitting on my other side and has started purring and it's been hard to stay awake.

But the house is peaceful and my son is sleeping soundly and it occurs to me that we've come a long way from the days when we didn't get more than a couple of hours of rest at a stretch. I feel, like I feel when the winter suddenly relaxes it's grip for a day or two and the kinder weather returns; like a prisoner whose been unexpectedly freed (and is unsure if the release is permanent).

(I'm hearing the steady sounds of my daughter sleeping, which tells me I can head back to my own sleep in a bit.)

I wonder very much what's coming next for us, what the Spring will bring with it.

I find myself looking for early seasonal birds and thinking about the little crocus fronds that come up first in March and the acrid musty ozone smell of the earth thawing. I know Winter has a punch or two left to throw, but I feel like we're coming to the end. I'm hopeful I guess and that has to be a good thing.

Good night.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If I walk on swift legs
With arms smooth and strong
And a heart beat steady
As a summer song.

And at days end meet
Secure and bright
A roof, and walls, and door
To keep warm this night;

And arms and hands
Embrace with love my own
And bright eyes assure
That this is my home.

Is it enough for my will
To soften, for my watch to relent
To what end do I follow
My heart and find content.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Close My Hand

The day I both dreaded and looked for came and went when I wasn't watching; my little man has begun to be aware that one of his hands wont work the way the other does. There's something, I guess, that every father dreads his child knowing, whatever it may be, because once they know it, it's impossible for them to unknow it. My son is now aware of his disability.

"Close my hand," my little guy says in the morning and at lunch and when he thinks of it.

Because his version of that phrase actually sounds more like hose sand, until today I thought he was asking to go to the beach.

He looks down at that hand and moves it with his right hand and seems to know now that there's something missing. He's doesn't display any anger or frustration (not yet anyhow), he's just puzzled I think.

He'll look up at me or his mother or sister and repeat the request until we can distract him with some other activity.

There's no way to explain it to the boy (not yet anyhow), and very little to do beyond what we are doing, but like the tax notice or the mortgage adjustment or the dental x-ray I knew was coming, that day is now.

There's a silver lining in all this of course. He's aware of that left hand, and so he'll try to use it more and more. Even though it's affected by his cerebral palsy, it belongs to him and knowing my little guy, he'll find a way to make it useful. Like any kid with a toy that's a little beyond his years, he'll fumble with it for a bit until that day that he learns to make it do what he wants it to do.

But that knowledge that his early days held back like the warm days hold back the frost is now settling in upon him. I can't hold it back. I can't bring back the forgetful summer.

I wish he had more time to be innocent. I wish those little shoulders didn't have to heave up that load so early. I wish I could make it easier for him. As vain as those wishes are, I wish them.

He's a strong boy though. And more tough minded than some adults I work with. I know too he'll do what he has to do; I know there are a village of people standing just behind him and beside him. He'll be all right.

Good night.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Old Man & Winter

We've had so much snow this winter, it has begun to remind me of my time as a boy growing up around Boston. But even in that colder past, I only recall two or three winters that packed this many punches. I've felt like I sometimes have when I'm overmatched by an opponent and the best I can hope is to hold it together long enough to live to tell about it.

This last week left the latest layer of snow, a good fifteen more inches. We're running out of places to put it all. At least half of our parking spaces on the street are now occupied by 7 foot tall piles of snow.

"Reminds me of Boston," I said to a neighbor and fellow expatriate of our fair city. We were shoveling our adjacent cars out of deep snow drifts and trying to find a place to put the snow.

"Yeah," he said, smiling and added in true Boston fashion, "It's wicked snowy this winter."

Then, forgetting that he was a bit younger than me, I added, "Reminds me of the storm of '78."

His face just went into blank wonderment, and it was a good ten seconds of silence before I realized he might not have been born for that one.

"Or the winter of '92," I said trying to recover.

"Yeah," he said, "I remember school being closed a lot that year."

"School!" I thought to myself, "Oh boy. I was in school in '92, but I was teaching."

We chatted a few more minutes and finished our shoveling. It was amicable, but I felt a little embarrassed.

Everyone has one of those moments when you know you've crossed another of the many thresholds of age. And even though I know I'm still young by many standards, this was one of those moments that made my progress through time feel rougher than normal.

I've looked at that snow out there a little differently this week; I've been thinking how my father was younger in 1978 than I am now in 2011 and the future that I had always imagined so far away as a boy is now upon me like the layers and layers of snow that sit just outside my door.

Winter makes you feel old I've heard people say. I think personally it's time for a little early spring - I'm ready for some younger thoughts.

Good night.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just a really quick post tonight. My little guy has begun to sleep for a fairly long stretch at night, which is a good thing. But he takes a long time to put to bed, which is driving me a little crazy. One hour, two hours, sometimes three hours of stories, pleading, putting my head in my hands and trading places with my wife to get the little guy to sleep. It's like waiting at a bus stop when you're late for work and watching as bus after empty bus ride by with the "NO SERVICE" in the placard window.

But right about the moment when I'm just about to lose it each night, the little guy, without fail, will look up at me with a rascally little grin spreading over his knowing face and he'll say:

"I love you too Daddy," and then he'll laugh.

It's like the bus still hasn't arrived, but a free donut and coffee truck showed up while I was waiting. It's just unbelievably sweet and delicious.

You can imagine, I just can't be anywhere near mad when he does this. I know that in part he's just trying out another power phrase and enjoying the reaction he's getting out of me; but there's also a little part of me that just loves to hear those words come at me from that boy - what a feeling.

It more than makes the three hours of picking him up and putting him back in bed feel worthwhile. It's like working a long weekend and being given a new car to drive home. It's weary and wonderful.