Yesterday we met my parents at Great Lakes Crossing for a slightly belated celebration of my son’s first birthday. (I had to teach last Tuesday evening, when his true birthday was, but I’m told he was taken out to dinner and given some cheesecake that he did not like at all.) My daughter’s idea was to take my son out onto the play area (that giant fake food) for the first time. This actually turned out to be a better plan than we could have hoped for. In the past week and a half, he’s become an all-terrain crawler and climber.
At first he just went to the nearest fake ice cube and climbed up and down and around, in short making himself the king of the ice cube. Eventually he explored and climbed more and more of the area, evidently having an amazing time. What impressed me most was the little guy’s bravery. I was concerned because there were so many much bigger kids running, jumping, and falling all over the place, but he seemed totally unfazed. He’d crawl, pause until the stampede passed, and then keep going. I guess when your big sister’s primary form of interaction with you is to run up to you screaming, pick you up, whirl you around, set you somewhere else, and vanish, you toughen up fast.
It really bothered me that I wasn’t going to be able to get home from Ann Arbor on Tuesday before everyone was asleep, so I took a nonstandard approach. I decided to take him out to the Cafe Aroma (aka my Fenton office, aka my northern command center) for an hour of father-son time before running him to day care and going to work.
When I announced this plan to my wife, and again when I announced it to my sister some time later, each said something like “He’s too young for coffee!” Give me a little credit here, I never intended to get him coffee. He had steamed milk, with a smidgeon of vanilla. He tried to steal my coffee until he finally actually tried his own drink and realized, apparently, that it was the drink of the gods.
He was actually a very good coffee buddy. He sat still on my lap, drank his steamed milk, took little bites of the bagel we were sharing. He set the mouth most full of bagel, cheeks chipmunked out and everything. I was warned by the other patrons that I’d end up wearing that bagel, but in fact he got it all down. He seemed to understand from the other groups of people that when people go out to coffee together, they converse, and whenever I wasn’t talking to him he’d babble at me.
The comic high point of the visit? The oldest of the resident coffeeshop geezerettes told me that, “Well, he sure looks like a creepy kid!” I didn’t know how to respond. A creepy kid? Really? Usually he gets called “adorable” or “handsome” or (yesterday at the mall, in line at Wetzel’s Pretzels) “dangerously attractive”. So I looked back at her, hoping for a cue for how to proceed? Was this some form of old lady humor? She seemed kind and smiling, not looking at me at all in the way of someone who had just insulted my firstborn son.
Then a slightly less old geezerette came to the rescue and explained that “creepy” was slang from a long time ago, that she meant “He sure looks like he loves to crawl.”
Like any parent, I think, I can’t believe that it’s been a whole year of having him already. It’s gone by so fast. But more than that, I’m noticing how fast he’s growing up right now, every day. In the five days I was gone for the Joint Meetings, his development kicked into overdrive. His first haircut’s around the corner. His speech is coming along every day. He plays with toys and interacts with objects in much more complicated ways. As of the night before his birthday, he suddenly, without obvious reason, sleeps peacefully through the night after a year of keeping Susie up all night! He has six teeth now, four on top and two below. Yesterday around lunchtime he discovered that he likes carrots. Around dinnertime, macaroni and cheese.
Just think how much bigger, in relative terms, his world gets every day! There is nothing comparable in my present or future. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through. And going through it smiling!
As his Uncle Scott so aptly says, “he smiles relentlessly”.