Jack

Jan 23 2013

It’s a cold night and the air is still and feels frozen sol­id, no longer flow­ing unno­ticed. The sky is very clear and the moon is flash-light bright. For some rea­son, the cold­er the night, the more apt I am to take Jack out for a walk. Jack nev­er objects to being out­side and Scar­lett joins in; she joins in, because some­one is doing some­thing she is not. Scar­lett does not abide.

Where we are right now the sky is not blud­geoned into a schmear of grey, lit up street-light yel­low from the city below. The sky is an inky black-blue which lets the stars stand out pre­cise­ly and pristine­ly. We stare up at the white-bright moon and Jack tells me, ‘I see the moon, dad­dy.’ Scar­lett then tells me the same thing. We stroll down the side­walk next to our house, clear­ing the walk of small branch­es and bram­bles blown down by the recent, strong winds from the West.

This is about Jack, final­ly.

Jack enjoys these walks. He should; his feet are built for it. Large for his size, they stick out like planks and fur­ther accen­tu­ate his reed­i­ness which Arnæzs’s are not known for. His feet look tougher and more weath­ered than our cir­cum­stances would indi­cate: We are not holler-ed in hill coun­try nor dust-bowled on the Plains. His life is not hard-scrab­bled to explain the lack of excess in body and action he exhibits. Unlike Mac and Scar­lett who’ve devel­oped a propen­si­ty for flour­ish­es in body and mind, Jack’s acts are effi­cient and clear. His body is already ath­let­i­cal­ly lean and his move­ments are steadi­ly prac­ticed. If he wants that cook­ie, he acts only toward that end with­out fail. Be it a cook­ie in a cab­i­net or fifty feet up on a ledge.

It is this phys­i­cal self-depen­den­cy that I think explains Jack’s lack of speech. Until very recent­ly Jack was mute. I’d like to believe it’s because he had noth­ing to say. If he need­ed some­thing and he could see it, then phys­i­cal­ly he could do what­ev­er nec­es­sary to get it. The times he couldn’t act but need­ed to com­mu­ni­cate some men­tal-state, his per­spic­u­ous grunts and ges­tures demon­strat­ed to me1 how cave­man got along dur­ing most of the Holocene until true speech evolved. But I’m glad to say that in the past few months sur­round­ing his third birth­day, his speech has improved immense­ly and he is quick­ly com­ing up to par with his sibling’s ver­bosi­ty and while it’s still hard to under­stand him, if his speech devel­ops any­where near his phys­i­cal abil­i­ties, I will be a bit scared about get­ting into argu­ments with him. Also, I’m afraid he’ll just beat me up.

Some more about Jack.

Jack is cau­tious and adven­ture­some. I’ve yet to see him repeat the same mis­take or be fooled twice. How­ev­er, this doesn’t mean he is ret­i­cent; he’s the least timid of our kids. At parks, he has climbed high­er than a little-kid’s par­ent ought to let him. It’s nerve-wrack­ing to watch. Fre­quent­ly, anoth­er par­ent will move in and hov­er around him, until I tell them not to mind and that it took me a while to relax and get used to see­ing Jack tee­ter­ing on the edge, up high and look­ing down at the rest us and usu­al­ly smil­ing because he knew he was mak­ing us ner­vous. But this boy is not rash. He knows he’s up high and knows it will hurt if he falls. He’s fall­en and cried, but unlike Mac and Scar­lett who will make sure we know they’ve fall­en, he will brush him­self off, espe­cial­ly his hands, wip­ing them—surprisingly fas­tid­i­ous­ly on his pants—and get back up and go at it again, know­ing full well what made him fall.

He is unceas­ing motion from the moment he gets up: climb­ing, jump­ing, run­ning, inde­fati­ga­ble until about 6:30 pm when he will ask for his pooh-bear and his binky. Being only min­utes from falling aseep, he will climb into your lap and nes­tle his head into your left shoul­der. You will take him up, put him in bed and say ‘go to sleep, Jack’ and he will reply, ‘Oo-kay’ and then pass out, the on-switch final­ly being switched off.

Feb 3, 2013 6:08pm gea

  1. see Ges­tur­al the­o­ry on the ori­gin of lan­guage []

Jan 6th, 2013

With the dog, I am jog­ging and now pause at the cor­ner of Mar­ket and Church street which is the meta­phys­i­cal break­point in this town: fur­ther West is the city park where I will be jog­ging for the next 45 min­utes or so, to the North and uphill is the ele­men­tary school that the kids will have returned to school on Mon­day (whew), direct­ly South is the cen­ter of down­town with the Reeves The­ater on Main street, and onward to the East our house sits where I’ll be back after fin­ish­ing the run.

Ear­li­er this morn­ing, Scar­lett will have come into our room and climbed into bed qui­et­ly and pro­ceed to yell into my right ear “Hap­py Birth­day!” at which point it will have been time to get out of bed and start the day and this run. Lat­er after the run, I will get back and Jack will have said “Ha Ba, Dad!,” and I would have replied, “Hap­py Birth­day, Jack” because in two days Jack will be three and this will be the last birth­day where he won’t object to shar­ing his day with mine.

Mac hasn’t decid­ed to wish me a hap­py birth­day yet. This morn­ing he is sit­ting qui­et­ly on the com­put­er, research­ing the lat­est mer­chan­dise from Ben-10. I’ve mixed feel­ings on this. Yes, he is using his words and spelling and devel­op­ing his facil­i­ty with com­put­ers and google but on the oth­er hand, it’s only going to be a mat­ter of time before he fig­ures out pass­words, birth­dates, SSNs and cred­it card num­bers.

Ever since the kids have been born, birth­days are both anti­cli­mac­tic and re-affirm­ing. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: there is noth­ing like hav­ing kids to pull your head out of your ***—if that is what you need and you won’t know until you do— which I did sore­ly need and now know. And so while noth­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly spe­cial is going to hap­pen today, hear­ing “Hap­py Birth­day, Dad­dy,” will be about as good as it gets and it is hard to think of what could be bet­ter; every­thing else is icing. It also tends to tie all the loose ends and the could-of-beens of life in a neat pack­age, because when you are look­ing at your kids, it’s very hard to think of any pos­si­bil­i­ties in which you would switch this even­tu­al­i­ty for any oth­er time­line. Kids val­i­date you in ways that noth­ing else can; Your kids are both explana­to­ry and excul­pa­to­ry, if you need that sort of thing—which I do.

Of course, your job and every­thing else you do shows what you’ve done (duh) but those kids are and will be a sum­ma­tion of what you are. I heard that writ­ing books, run­ning your busi­ness, etc., are your “babies,” but those are things under your con­trol entire­ly and your kids are not. It’s the times when they demon­strate they are sep­a­rate and unique that are the most impress­ing on me. It’s why I think those-with-kids are entire­ly dif­fer­ent than those-with­out-kids. I know this state­ment is spe­cious and sophist and maybe just says I’ve nev­er fin­ished that book.

Of course, no one is where they thought they would be, whether they are look­ing at their old­er or younger self. There are now stud­ies to show this is true.1 So, if you think you are, you’re not think­ing hard enough.

I am now 42 and will re-read Dou­glas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy.

Jan­u­ary 6, 2013

  1. The End of His­to­ry Illu­sion
    Nytimes arti­cle on sci­ence arti­cle []

New Year’s Day

Head­ing home from Indi­ana, we are on a long trip and a 70’s sta­tion is on and the kids are in the back all asleep. We’ve been on the road for hours and still have hours to go and the mrs is asleep. I’ve picked the 70’s sta­tion because you can feel that peo­ple were just try­ing to relax after those 60’s and some­how knew the 80’s were com­ing and so it’s son­i­cal­ly a warm, fuzzy place for me to hang out and relax and dri­ve and then I imag­ine for a moment I’m Every­man on that long ride. I have this expe­ri­ence of actu­al being—it’s tran­scen­dent: I know I’m not the only one who’s been here in this moment nor will I be the last and just for those few min­utes that the Eagle’s ‘Already Gone’ plays on radio, I am exact­ly where I want and was meant to be.

And ABBA, I play a lot of ABBA and hope that it soaks into every­one while they are asleep.