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Growing, One and All

How has it been almost two weeks since I've written? But looking back over my archives, it seems I have a not-so-good track record with May. The weather's begun to approach "more than barely tolerable," and I'd rather be outside watching Sam ride on his tricycle or taking long walks than lurking inside. Soon it will be too hot to stay outdoors for long; better appreciate the Big Blue Room while I can.

So we've been playing. Gabe, after a brief period of complaining whenever he was placed on his stomach, has begin to lunge forward onto his belly whenever he's sitting. He pushes way up onto his hands and tip-toes, rocking his bottom from side to side in a manner that reminds me of our old guinea pigs when they would start getting "feisty." He lunges at objects, too, especially my lap; he's not content to sit next to me, but must be grabbing onto me with at least one hand. Separation anxiety is in full-throttle; I hope it's as short-lived as it was with Sam.

And he's begun to pull up on furniture. He dances from foot to foot and keeps forgetting to hold on when he's standing, but he's getting better and better at it. It's a bit frightening, but I realize how much more fun he and Sam will have together when he gets the hang of all this locomotion, so I'm refraining from begging him to just stay a blanket-baby, for Pete's sake.

It keeps the days interesting, I'll say that. "Mom, how did he get over - Mom! He's getting my trains!"

Sam has no room to complain, though. Little Beanstalk won't quit growing, either, and if Gabe wears me out, Sam's the one who keeps making me feel ancient, as though decades must be flying past whenever I take a break to blink my eyes. I mean, look at this:

That's Sam, in his blue dress shirt, playing in a freaking handbell choir at church. A handbell choir! When did he get big enough to play in a musical ensemble, I ask you? I mean, sure, he had only one note in the song (one of the "let" instances in "This Little Light of Mine"), but he grinned when he played, and he did it. He was actually a little disappointed in the fact that he had to be prompted to play at the first service's performance: "I almost forgot, but someone tapped me, and the teacher touched the purple square and I ringed the purple bell! It was okay! I remembered the next time."

Not only is he playing bells, but he's going to do sports this summer. The Recreation Department of Milwaukee runs a ton of summer activities, so we wrote down everything he could do at his age and discussed it with him. After careful consideration, he decided he wanted to take "ka-wotty!" Eric asked him if he knew what karate was, and he responded "Chopping and kicking things." Well then, I guess he knows what he's doing. He'll also be doing a week of "Pee-Wee Sports Club," wherein they'll be doing soccer, basketball, and T-ball; and also a "Math, the Fun Way" class. I think it's going to be a fun summer, and he shouldn't be so overloaded that we won't also have plenty of time for bike rides and playgrounds.

Oh, the bike thing was a bit of a surprise. He's had a bike, if you'll recall, for a couple of years now, and he's been unable to ride it all that time because it brakes when he pedals backwards. He'd push the pedals three-quarters of the way around, then brake; three-quarters, brake. He'd get frustrated with his inability to move more than a foot, and he'd hop of the bike and push it instead. At school, though, there's a tricycle, and his teacher informed me that he loves riding it. We thought about it, and then, based on the idea that even if he outgrows it in a month, Gabe will grow into it, we got him a trike last week.

Now he begs for "bike rides" every day, pedaling his tricycle down the sidewalk with me following behind him. I am proactively teaching him good bike safety, even if he's not technically on a bike yet; he wears a helmet, he stops at corners, and he pushes his trike across streets instead of riding. There's a bike trail that runs right by our street, and we're working up to that, but riding on gravel is much harder than on a sidewalk and his little legs get tired quickly.

He's got a real birthday surprise coming, though. Eric's parents are getting him the Kettcar that he adores when he visits the toy store. I don't think anything else is going to compare to that; no other gift is going to catch his eye for quite some time, or at least not until it's raining too hard to go out.

About three weeks, and my firstborn will be four years old. I can't make myself believe it. Surely the infant sitting on the floor behind me, chewing on a rubber ball and drumming his heels on the floor - that's my Sam, isn't it? Who on earth is that big kid over there building train track layouts all over my living room floor without help or company? I love him, yet I can barely recognize him sometimes.

And speaking of people who elude recognition, there's been this strange man in my house for the past two days. I don't know who he is, but he's certainly a head-turner:


That's right, folks; the ponytail he's had for twelve years - the one I've never seen him without - is now gone. He woke up Saturday morning an said, "I'm thinking about getting my hair cut and beard shaved today." He's been thinking about it for a while, so I wasn't too shocked, and we began to talk about what he'd do. He was nervous about finding a style that suited him, so we tried to search online for men's cuts, but after a fruitless hour of looking at horrible or way-too-trendy styles, Eric decided that he'd lost his nerve again.

Sam needed a cut, though, so we went down to his barber shop - a real, old-fashioned, "hang out and shoot the breeze" kind of place. While he was in the chair, Eric asked an older barber if anybody was waiting, and then asked him if he could trim up his beard. Once he was seated and draped, though, talk of more drastic changes reensued, and...well, here we are.

He looks great. I'm not kidding when I say that he looks at least five years younger. The barber had said that when we first came in, he initially thought Eric looked way too old to have two kids as young as Sam and Gabe, and now he looks much more his own age. Both Eric and I agree. Eric's still getting used to not having the hair, but he likes it a lot. I can't stop touching the back of his neck.

We're not telling his family, though, until we see them at the beach in a few weeks. His mom is going to lose her mind; she's been begging for this for years. I can't wait to see her face.

And the may leave, too. He's not rushing it, though; this is a big enough change for now! I don't know what I'll do when he does shave; I've never seen his face without it. I'll have a whole new husband!

previous one year ago:
I swear, for me, this is one of the hardest parts about not being in the paid workforce; nobody really ever sees the work you do, so you get very little feedback.
two years ago:
Whoever started the rumor that babies improve marriages must have been smoking some high-quality crack; Sam's wonderful, but he sure was hard on the unit that was "EricandCarrie."
three years ago:
When I disappeared into the bathroom for a minute, they organized a new game of pushing Sam down ramps and letting him careen across the floor at breakneck speeds between the two of them.
four years ago:
Yes, Mr. Pediatrician, it turns out that a back that doesn't bend is indeed a problem.
five years ago:
The fat lady may not have begun to sing, but I think I can hear her warming up backstage.
In the ears:
Gabe banging on his toy piano

On the Bookshelf:
Life of Pi

Gratuitous Sam

Sleeping face



Extra Gabe

Wet face




©1999-2003 C. Richmond.