On the first day
we're free to be together,
on a beach that won't be sand
weathered bits of glass
from the scree.
A shadow beside me, you pick
from the last lift
on Whiskey Island.
Your eyes turn into Adam's
at his first sight of Creation-
and you've heard the sound
of the Lord God walking
in the garden.
I bear you toward it
We almost miss the freighter,
but I hoist you
up and we crest
the last hill
to watch a tug struggle
to true the Calumet's bow.
At this moment
you first learn what
her prop begins
to churn and
as she greets the wide lake, you
carried on my shoulders
to the mouth of the Cuyahoga.
This poem has been simmering for nearly a year now, and the day that inspired it will always be special to me. I was very concerned that it not be mawkish or cliché. I’m still not convinced I made it work, and I think it could still use some polish, especially clarification of subjects & objects. Since it has been simmering so long, I figure I’d better publish it before I never publish it. Thanks to Steve Goldberg & Milenko Budimir for the workshop help.
I was chastised today for not writing on this thing frequently enough, so here’s what today was like.
Bram woke up and crawled into bed with me around 7:15 AM and then I got a call from my mom with a computer issue around 7:30. Washed, breakfasted and bored by 10, we headed to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and heard the following jokes while on the heated tram between Northern Trek & the Cathouse:
Q: Where does a kangaroo go for breakfast?
Q: Where does a kangaroo go for dinner?
Q: Why don’t seagulls fly over the bay?
A: Then they’d be bagels.
Q: When an elephant goes on a trip where does he pack his clothes?
A: In his trunk.
Q: How do you stop an elephant from charging?
A: Take away his credit cards.
Incidentally, the zoo is half price admission when the temperature is below freezing, so we both got in for $6 total. We saw a gorilla eating its own feces in the same manner that a oenophile enjoys a nice glass. I told Abraham not to get any ideas. I also ran into my friend Alice, which is always a nice surprise.
Had lunch and sat with Bram until he fell asleep for a long nap, during which time I goofed around on the internet. After naptime we went sledding at Clark Fields, which is perfect for toddlers but exhausting for dads carrying toddlers & sleds back up snowy hills. Since I carried him throughout the zoo as well, I got a pretty good workout today. After dinner we watched the Sylvester Stallone episode of the Muppet Show & put together a big Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle (he’s getting really good with puzzles).
Once he conks out I’m either going to have some hot chocolate with Bailey’s or a bourbon & Dr. Pepper.
Becoming a parent does change things. I’ve heard that nearly my entire life, but no one has been able to successfully explain what the hell the statement means. It just rings a bit hollow as an unexplained truism. However! I think I’ve figured out a couple of ways to explain things; or, at least, explain how becoming a parent changed me.
Watching Bram discover the world allows me to discover it again. I used to boast that I’d never lose a childlike sense of wonder, but watching the little bear wig out over a train or an orange car shows me just how much I’d lost of that amazement. One of the completely unexpected and undeserved benefits of being a parent is the ability to relive those first moments of wonder vicariously. This vicarious feeling is sweetened and enhanced by a nostalgia born of remembering things you’d forgotten you’d known. Being with Bram when he saw a freighter leave the mouth of the Cuyahoga from the Coast Guard Station at Whiskey Island provided me with layers and layers of emotion stretching from my own childhood: nostalgia at that level of enthusiasm, the joy of remembering some moments of my own toddler experiences; and into the present: vicariously experiencing that emotion again, gratitude at being present for your own child’s moment of satori, and pride that you in some way facilitated the process.
Extrapolating from here, I imagine that grandparents feel much of the same; a third chance to experience childhood with the added bonus of a second chance to experience parenting.
I’ve gained a whole new perspective of appreciation for the parenting examples of my parents. When I find myself in a situation where I’m unsure of how to proceed, I can think back to what worked and didn’t work on me, and adapt those lessons to whatever I’m trying to figure out with little bear. If I find myself second-guessing or unsure of my decisions, I know I’m just a phone call away from a total pro.
So, parenting has changed my life by the addition of context; vicarious nostalgia by allowing me to compare my childhood to my son’s & a whole new reference manual of behaviors coming from what I observed about parenting before I became one myself. I understand that some folks don’t get why others would want to be parents, and that’s cool. For me, it’s already provided a wealth of new and old experiences that I never would have expected, and that I expect will never end.
This has been one crazy week. Abraham’s regular babysitter has been in the hospital for over a week now, and he’s been shuttled all over the place (including a new temporary babysitter) until DeeDee is back home. I’ve been baking in every spare moment, and work has been hectic with last-minute high-priority site building. So. I’m gonna sit back and let Bram type the rest of this post.
I had to take the day off of work because Bram has an ear infection. First we had to spend an interminable 2.5 hours at MetroHealth, but getting his $3 prescription one door down from the pediatric clinic was nice. It’s that pink stuff that tastes like bubble gum.
Instead of studying for my Intro to Public Adminstration final, which is tomorrow, I baked. Dark chocolate brownies (so dark they look like coal), 7 layer bars, and chocolate-dipped pretzel rods. So much to do, so little time left before the holidays.