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A New Chapter

January 29, 2011 1 comment

Today I opened a new chapter for Benjamin and I when I signed him up for Little League (t-ball to be specific).  We went over to the local middle school and entered into unchartered territory for the two of us.  However, after the five minutes that we were there, I become deeply bothered by it.

I found it incredibly upsetting when Benjamin kept hiding behind me and actually ran from the room where the registration was.  He has been shy and nervous in the past, but something was very different this time.  Usually, just a little coaxing and a smile by the new person is enough to ease him a little, but it didn’t today and I found it really upsetting.  Even after a few hour hours something bugged me about it.

At first, all those high school sports films ran through my head where the father pushes a sport on his kid with such a narrow-mindedness as to damage the relationship.  I wondered, if I translated his shyness into a resistance to wanting to play a sport I loved.

Then, I wondered if it was the shyness itself.  I am a shy person.  In grammar and high school, there were times that it really held me back.  In college and beyond, I have had to work extremely hard to keep it from controlling much of what I do.  Sometimes, it wins, but most of the time I can beat it.  But, it breaks my heart to think of Benjamin battling that same shyness his whole life.  It is something I have feared a long time…that he would inherit his papa’s shyness.  I truly worry about it.

However, after I got home, I started talking to Andrea about it and, we talked to Benjamin, as well.  I think we came up with a theory from both sides.  Through daycare and school, every authoritative figure he has met has been a woman (with the exception of me).  For him to walk into a room full of men, all staring at him, must have been a new experience for him.  While they were friendly and kind in trying to interact, they weren’t the woman he was use to, and this must have scared the crap out of him.

As for me, I think it is along the same line.  All his interactions have been with woman teachers and have been about his mental and emotional development.  Signing him up for little league was starting a new chapter for both of us.  In a way, I was presenting him to my world, to a sport I understood and depended on.  Sports are a huge part of my life and the thought that my son might not share that interest feels a bit devastating.  How will I relate to him?  How will he understand me?

Of course, this is ridiculous…He is five and it is way to early to jump to such conclusions.  And, after talking to him, we discovered that his reactions had nothing to do with the sport, itself.

After spending the bulk of the day after that, in a weird funk, we went over to the high school to watch the boys basketball game.  He took to it in a way I didn’t think he would.  He immediately started asking question from Andrea, trying to understand what was going on.  He had a keen interest in what the cheerleaders were doing (‘atta boy).  He asked me who I was rooting for and got excited when he realized we were rooting for the same guys.  And when it came to cheering, well, I don’t thing there was anyone louder in that gym and his excitement was not to be contained.

Tonight, I will sleep peacefully.

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Nap Time

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, Matthew came out of his room during nap time and asked me, “How many more minutes until it’s not nap time?”

I responded, after looking at my watch, “60 minutes.”

He then pulled his watch from his sleeve (he wasn’t wearing it, it was just tucked up in his sleeve) and said, “No, my watch says 5 minutes.”  He then walked a way from me and back to his room, closing the discussion for debate.

The Timing of Humor

January 25, 2011 1 comment

Usually, in the morning, Matthew and I drop Benjamin off at extended care about 20 minutes before his school opens.  It allows me to get Matthew to daycare and myself to work on time.  It also saves me from going through the dreaded drop- off zone (think of the school drop-off scene from Mr. Mom.)

Well, this morning, I was too late to bring him in to extended care, so I had to risk the drop-off, which meant, by rule, that Benjamin had to jump out of the car when I got to around 5-miles per hour because we were warned in orientation that we cannot stop the car (okay, I exaggerate, but seriously, during kindergarten orientation, about 30 minutes were spent reviewing drop-off and pick-up and 10 minutes spent with his teacher.)   It was only the second time I had done it, so I was nervous, as was Benjamin.

So, about a block and a half away, I start prepping Benjamin, telling him to have his book bag ready.  He grabbed it and had it on his lap, and I told him to stay buckled in until I said so, and then he was to unbuckle, open his door, grab his book-bag and jump out.

Well, a moment passed and while still a block away, I heard Matthew shout, “Now!”  Benjamin flinched for his seatbelt for a moment and Matthew started giggling uncontrollably.

After I stopped laughing, I wondered (and still am wondering), how a three-year old is already developing that kind of sense of humor.  And not just that he knew it would be funny, but the impeccable timing in which he delivered it.  I don’t know, it could have just been a coincidence, but I have never been prouder of him.  And, more importantly, it relaxed both Benjamin and I.

Three Minutes

January 21, 2011 2 comments

Below is the story of how we found out Andrea was pregnant with Benjamin.  I wrote this several months before he was born when we were referring to him as “Pudge”.  Also, I think the writers of the TV show Scrubs stole our story.


The instructions were simple.  Pea on the stick first thing in the morning, wait three minutes.  One pink line meant not pregnant…Two pink lines meant pregnant.  I gave it a try first, but something seemed wrong, so Andrea gave it a try.  Nothing.

No problem.  We had only started about two weeks before…maybe three.  Her monthly friend  visited during that time, so we really didn’t expect a positive result.  We went on with our normal Sunday morning routine…coming up with excuses for skipping church and watching TV until we had enough motivation to actually do something…like eat dinner.  On this particular Sunday, I believe we had planned to spend most of it putting off packing.  We were going to move in two weeks.

I really don’t remember the details of that morning.  I don’t remember what I was watching and I don’t remember the things I had done.  What I do remember was a peculiar tone in Andrea’s voice as she walked from the bathroom into the living room.  I didn’t think anything of it until I saw her holding the pregnancy test and her face twisted in confusion.  My heart started beating so hard, it was almost as if it were beating for the first time.

Evidently, she was in the bathroom and glanced down into the garbage and a mysterious pink line caught her eye.  It was extremely faint, but absolutely, positively, definitely there…we think.  I jumped off the couch, trying to temper my reaction.

A few years before this particular moment of time, I had rediscovered cycling (yes, this tangent will have a point realting to Pudge).  It gave me such a sense of joy.  I started out riding the heavy mountain bike I had bought almost ten years before.  After a summer of riding that lead laden bike around, I bought a used road bike off of ebay that was decent, but outdated.  I spent the next year or so fixing that bike up, replacing parts and fighting each and everything that went wrong with it.  I openly coveted a new bike and constantly priced the shiny sleek new machines that I knew I could never have.  Just before my thirtieth birthday, Andrea got me up early on a Saturday morning and told me we had to go to a friend’s garage sale.  We were suppose to meet them in the parking lot of a food store that also had a bike shop adjacent to it because the directions to their house were too complicated.  I “talked her into” letting me go into the bike shop.  After poking around the bikes, and showing her different bikes that I liked, she asked me about the one behind me.  I turned around and saw my perfect bike.  A black and silver Cannondale that was beautiful.  I moved around from the back of it and looked at the front.  On the front was a piece of paper with a picture of Edgar, our dog, on it and the word “SOLD”.  I stared at it a minute.  Then I looked at Andrea and then I looked back at the bike, and then back at her.  I then whispered to her “Did you buy me a bike?”  And that’s the point of this strange written meander…At that moment, when I was staring at a bike that was so completely and obviously meant for me, I whispered the question, because I feared that if I said it too loud, I would wake myself up and it wouldn’t be true.

That Sunday morning, it was the same thing, multiplied by a million.  That second, barely noticeable, ever so faint line on a stick covered in pea, was the fulfillment of a dream I had stopped dreaming for years because I never thought it would come true.  And I thought if I got too excited, I would wake up and it wouldn’t be true.

As Andrea and I stood in the kitchen that afternoon, staring at that test, excitement ebbed and flowed from our voices.  We both pretended to not know what it meant.  We grabbed the instructions that came with the test and took turns reading them and rereading them, trying to figure out what a faint line three hours later meant.  We even did some research online. You see, there was one crucial step in the simple instructions that we missed.  Three minutes, we waited 30 seconds, initially.  We saw the first line appear without a second and threw it away.

That nothing special Sunday, suddenly became surreal.  We were afraid to take a second test.  Since these tests were suppose to be taken in the morning, we were afraid the test would be inconclusive…it is suppose to be taken first thing in the morning.  We spent the rest of the day speaking in what ifs and eventually went to the store to buy some additional test.

The next morning, Andrea took another test and I strained my blurry eyes trying to figure out if that second faint line was really there.  I had spent so much of the previous day surpressing my excitement and convincing myself that it was true, that I expected the second line to not be there…but it was.  That night, Andrea picked up yet another test and took it when she came home from work.  The second line appeared again, and this time…it was almost as clear as the first line.  It was with that test that I feel like I took my first breathe of air in more 30 hours.

There have been a few sharp moments in my life that changed my whole lifes direction.  They were moments that were catalysts that changed the very fibers of who I am and cast new light on my past and my beliefs.

However, nothing could prepare me for that moment of revelation…I was going to be a papa.  This small, defensless little child was going to enter into our lives —  a person that was literally going to be part me and part of the woman I love.  At that moment, I could feel everything changing…and in that moment, I became happier than I have even been.  Even if it took 30 hours and three minutes for the moment to develop.

Categories: Prequel Tags: , ,

My Final Homework

January 19, 2011 1 comment

Almost 16 years ago, I, at some point, was studying for my last test in college.  I don’t actually remember studying for it, so I am only assuming I did.  When I think back that far and to that time in my life, only Andrea’s face materializes.  We would have barely been dating six months at that point, but I was dearly in love with her, but ahead of us lay a million questions…a million “What Ifs”.  Not just about our relationship, but about ourselves, as well.

Thirteen years after that, I sat on our bed, in our room, in our first house, studying for my first Masters test.  I remember it vividly this time because six-month old Benjamin was downstairs with Andrea, crying and crying.  I didn’t want to study and I couldn’t concentrate…I just wanted to help Andrea out and calm down our baby boy.  I was dearly in love with that tiny little guy, and he had joined Andrea in the center of my world.  However, I was adding on this new complexity to our simple life and it filled me with anxiety and, yes, a million more questions.  On top of the school itself, I was still trying to figure out if I could be a good father and a good husband to his mother.  And the “what ifs” were there again.

This Saturday, somehow, I will graduate with my Masters degree and I can’t help but reflect on where I was when I started this journey.  I’m no longer the father of an infant…I am a father of two little boys who, yes, I love so dearly and run in these hyper little circles around Andrea at the center of my world.

There was a moment, this past fall, when I was working on my final homework assignment in the office with Benjamin working on his homework for kindergarten, just behind me.  It struck me so strongly, that it moves me in such a strange way.  He was so little when I started and here he was, doing his homework with his daddy.  I feel like that will be the lasting memory I will have of working on my Masters.  For some reason, in that moment, I felt so calm and secure in the life that Andrea and I built around ourself.  The questions are there, but they can wait to be answered.  The what ifs simply don’t matter (you know, if you throw away the “w” and rearrange the other letters in “what if”, you get “faith”…I’m just saying).   Benjamin may have been trying to figure out what color he should make the turtle on his homework paper while I was trying to solve a matrix Algebra problem, but there was a perfect symmetry there that stretched back not just the five years it took to complete this journey, but all the way back to the very beginnings of the journey that brought me to where I am today.  And while one journey will end this Saturday, the bigger journey is laid out beautifully ahead of us.

All Clean

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

On Friday night, we had Pizza/Movie night, so we had our dinner in the family room in front of the TV, where our new couch is that we bought when we moved here and have been doing our best to protect from dirty little fingers.

So, as Matthew finished up his dinner, he turned from his spot on the floor to join us on the couch where I told him he couldn’t sit with me until he washed his hands.  He proceeded to turn slightly away from me, wiped his hands on his shirt and then made a running water sound while make the motions of washing his hands.  He then turned back to me with a giant grin while presenting his hands and said, “All clean!”

Why Are Blueberries Blue?

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The other night at dinner, Matthew asked why blueberries are blue.  Andrea and I both kinda admitted to not knowing.

Benjamin decides to take over, turns to Matt and says, “When you are in heaven, you can ask God that!”

Now, the question is, will Benjamin accept that as an answer to his questions.