Archive for October, 2011

Dear Evan: Your First Birthday

October 28th, 2011

[Written yesterday, and published a day late.]

Dear Evan:

Happy birthday! It’s your first ever, and boy did you start it early. You’ve been sleeping through the night lately, so I was surprised to hear you crying at just after 2 a.m. Your mommy brought you into our bed, and fed you for a little bit. I’m afraid I ruined that, though, by popping my head up. That seemed to be the signal for “crawl to Daddy and honk his nose.” After some play time, your mommy took you back to your room, and managed to get you to sleep until 5. She brought you back to our bed, where you slept until I left for work at 6. Not a bad start to the morning! Too bad your fur-brother Lil’ Bit woke you as I was leaving.

As your mommy tells it, you got a nice long nap after a trip with her to the doctor (she has a sinus infection that became bronchitis) and flirted with all the nurses. Oh, and while she was on the phone with your Aunt Kiki, you demonstrated your latest trick, waving bye-bye when someone says, well, “wave bye-bye.” That may not sound like much when you read this, but it’s only recently that you actively started reacting to your name, though you do seem to know what “hug” means, even if your version is more of a head-butt. I’m still trying to get you to understand “come here.”

Another first today: your first cottage cheese, mixed with applesauce. You’re still unhappy with textured food, especially chunks, but your mommy says that after some initial hesitation, you wolfed down an entire bowl of the mixture.

By the time I got home, you were already in your pajamas. Your mommy had already feed you a birthday dinner of pumpkin, squash and other assorted blended vegetables. (She makes most of it herself; only Daddy is lazy enough to feed you pre-packaged food.) We played for an hour — you danced, you babbled to yourself as you paged through books, you stood and fell down, and I tried (and failed) to take pictures of it all. Then you and I sat on the thick brown shag rug in your room, your back against my chest, and we read your favorite bedtime book, Goodnight Moon.

Sometimes when we read you’ll concentrate, touch the pages, babble under your breath. This was one of the other times. You looked up at me a few times, a wide semi-toothed grin on your face, and toward “Goodnight mush” began climbing my legs and shoulders to see what else might be happening.

Then it was mommy’s turn to cuddle you. Without¬†protest,¬†you slipped into sleep.

That was your first birthday. No cake yet, and the presents were mostly in the form of cards (including one from my late friend Doug’s parents, who sent you Goodnight Moon a year ago) and contributions to your college fund. I meant to sing Happy Birthday to you, and forgot, but we have many years ahead for that.

I love you,

Daddy

Dear Evan: Almost a Year

October 26th, 2011

Dear Evan:

It’s almost your first birthday! Tomorrow, you’ll be one year old. I am unable to compare you now with pictures of the tiny, thin almost alien boy I saw that scary day last October.

You may be walking by your birthday. Already you stand, feet spread cartoonishly wide, toes pointed outward, balancing on your upper legs and hips. You push up, look around with a huge grin, accept the adulation (“Good job, Evan! Good standing!”) we heap on you, then lower yourself, push back up, repeat. After two or three stands, you slowly fall backward onto your diaper-cushioned bum.

Have I mentioned how much you love to dance? Any snatch of music from the television or the radio, and you’ll be bopping along, bouncing from your knees up whether you’re sitting or standing or being held. And the grin on your face! I’ll be honest, I hate to dance, but only because we didn’t have much rhythm in our house growing up. (I remember hearing lots of easy-listening, but that’s it. Hard to learn to keep a beat to that.) I’m so glad you love to dance.

You have rhythm, too. You’ll stand with one hand on the ottoman for our couch or the footrest to your old glider and with the other hand smack perfectly in time: smack-smack-smack-smack. Sometimes you dance along to your own beat, and definitely you dance along when your mommy or I join in.

Yesterday, you and I had bonding time while your Mommy napped. (She’s got a nasty sinus infection, but you seem not to have caught it, and I don’t often get sick.) I was worried about taking you into a Halloween store, but instead of being frightened, you just goggled open-mouthed at the life-size zombies and skeletons. Not even the spooky noises got to you. I know, you’re probably too young to even think about being scared, but I hope you inherit my love of haunted houses and ghost stories. When I say Halloween is my favorite holiday, it’s not Goth or anything; I just like the otherwordliness that goes along with it. The sense that there’s something still left to discover. Something beyond what we know. Maybe I’m putting too much on a night that’s more about candy than anything else. And maybe I can explain better when you’re older.

One more bit of news: Last week, I started your college fund. As bad as the economy is, I hope it grows alongside you, as tall and as broad as I think you’ll be. I hope that by the time you’re ready to use it, that money has given you the freedom to choose where you go and what you study. But I also hope you won’t stop working even with the cushion there. You may fall on your bum a few times, but if you push back up and keep at it, you’ll get where you need to go.

I love you,

Daddy

Dear Evan: Learning to Dance

October 6th, 2011

Dear Evan:

A quick, heartwarming story to begin: We were playing this past weekend, you sitting with me cross-legged behind you on the thick brown shag rug in your room. You reached for a block, and overcorrected or something, and landed gently headfirst on the rug. Not enough to hurt you, but enough to surprise you. You squeaked indignantly and then — my heart hurts to type this — turned and laid your head gently on my knee. That was it; a quick hug, and you were ready to play again.

I don’t see you enough, so those little moments that remind me I’m your daddy are moments I cherish.

I’ve written it before, and will again, but I hope that someday, reading these letters, you have a sense of how difficult that can be. Especially now, when you’re mobile and interested in everything and learning every day, I wish we had more time together. But the more I work now, the better your life — all of our lives — will be down the road.

Over the past week or so, you’ve learned to dance. You already laughed and snorted when we danced together, me holding you, bouncing up and down while your mommy waved her arms and shook her head. Now you join in, bouncing while you sit or stand, shaking your own head, grinning from ear to ear.

Sometimes, you dance when we dance. Sometimes, you dance to music from the television. And sometimes, as your mommy witnessed two days ago, you dance to some internal music, when there’s nothing else around to hear.

That’s even more impressive when compared to the way you came into this world. La brought home copies of some older pictures yesterday, one of which was taken right after your birth. There’s almost no resemblance between that long, thin, jaundiced almost alien creature, wrapped as it is in wires but otherwise naked, and the tall, big-bellied, smiling boy you are now.

When I sat next to your incubator crib in the hospital, I whispered to you about the healthy Grieser genes, about how infrequently we get sick and how long we live. I told you, willed into your sleeping ears, how strong you were and would be. And here you are, just three weeks from being one year old, strong and healthy and happy and smart.

I love you,

Daddy