Well it’s been a while, so we have quite a bit of news to report (not really, but I’ll try and stretch it out).
First of all, Tenzin’s teeth are still invading his gums with shock-and-awe strength. His two bottom teeth are completely exposed, with four additional top teeth jockeying for position. Needless to say, he is gnawing on anything and everything he comes in contact with, including but not limited to, his mother.
Yes, Rachel’s arms look like she walked into the middle of a miniature horseshoe game, with little purple half moons adorning her side, from tricep to lower neck. Only a year-and-half to go until we can (properly) yell at him. Our little hyena.*
In other news, we actually (holy s*&@!!!) had some spare time this weekend, so we headed down to Grandma F’s for a visit.
[Odd times and puppets at the "Old Time Clifton Days" on the way down]
Smoking camel puppets?
Cookin' with Alf dolls?
Where are we?
Over the last year, we’ve had a lot of good family time, but it always seems like it’s conditional of the event at hand - we’re either at somebody else’s house celebrating a holiday, at our house staying in, at somebody else’s house with their child, etc. We never really have/had time to sit back and just take everything in. Maybe it’s just because Tenzin is growing so fast, but this time really made me pause and reflect.
My grandmother recently celebrated her 91st birthday (clapping is OK, go ahead) and although she’s getting older, she doesn’t age for me. Grandmas are always Grandmas. Grandma’s house is Grandma’s house. Same linear sounds, smells and looks since I was a kid, regardless of Jim or Vicki’s branch of the tree. It’s a fixed combination of sites and smells, a mathematical amalgamation of ham, fresh cut grass (summer), burning wood (winter), short-hair carpet, fresh baked bread/pies, fuzzy couches, old wooden chairs, light perfume, smiles, pictures…definitely pictures…over the last 30 years, I can’t count the number of times I’ve checked out the picture walls for hours on end, amazed at where we are and where we’ve been. Grandpa Marx in a kilt [correction: Great Grandpa Winn], dad in his Guard uniform, Mom’s senior year in high school, Grandpa Fleming holding me, Uncle Tim with an afro, Uncle Ron in his Navy duds: it’s all of this, bundled up into some weird feel/thought/memory I can’t explain.
Maybe Sunday was just another picture wall…
As I stared out onto the back sunroom --the same sunroom that cost me a toenail at the ripe age of three-- I couldn’t help but smile as Tenzin (at about DEFCON 4 on the teething scale) meticulously taste-tested each individual clothes pin within reach. These are the same clothes pins I played with as a child, stored in the same apple bucket, in the very same sun room I once played in.
Considering I can’t go a day without someone reminding me that I had the exact same curls/shape/hair color/expressions as Tenzin (it’s unfortunate buddy, but I am your future), it was an odd mirror-like reflection that afternoon: Grandma was still Grandma, talking to Tenzin like I remember her talking to me, Uncle Don was still unavoidable in the tickle department, and the house still smelled of ham, pie and Windsong.
Oddly enough, while my son had “technically” done a-whole-lot-of-nothing (other than check the moisture content of 30 year-old clothes pins), I couldn’t have beamed any prouder. It was an amazing moment, one of the amazing moments where you need absolutely nothing to happen as a parent --nor understand what’s going on your head-- but you still, for some reason, sit back and know that something amazing just occurred. It is a moment of sober, smiling calm I will never forget.
On a sidenote, a bit of advice for you parents out there: If you ever want to keep a toddler busy for hours on end, give them a bucket of water and a paintbrush. They will have your driveway covered in no time, then cover it again, and again, and again…
If the day in the sunroom lit me up, you can imagine how I felt last night when Tenzin stood on his own for 8 seconds straight. You should have heard me…by the sound of my voice you would have thought that he was about to fall down a flight stairs, like a prepubescent boy on a hilly rollercoaster.
Rachel was out running errands while Tenzin and I played on the rug. We’ve tried this standing thing plenty of times, but Tenzin’s version of standing looks like Daddy at his bachelor party in Vegas (thanks, Jared!).
Picture Elvis dancing on rough seas….older, chubbier Elvis….on pills...with poopy pants.
He’s got a bit of stuntman in him, because he’s perfected “the fall.” He knows where to put his bracing if he’s falling forward (usually), and how far to stick his butt out if he’s sitting down (almost always), but like most things, there’s the variable for BOOM! For instance, the last 6 seconds of this video:
Back to the story at hand…
It was sooooooo odd seeing him standing. It’s kind of like seeing a woman driving: you know they’re capable of doing it, but I’ll be damned if it ever looks natural. For what seemed like hours he just looked at me, wobbling at the waist and gasping deeply. I think he was as excited as I was. And funny enough, he didn’t fall because he lost his balance. He just politely sat down as if to say, “Show’s over.” That’s a baby’s way of saying “break out a camera…go ahead…try as you might, you know I’ll never do this again.”
And so the story goes. After a frantic call to Rachel extolling the virtues of our genius archanthropus, we practiced…and practiced…and practiced, awaiting Rachel’s return. We were going to do a little song and dance, maybe a high-kick New York Broadway number, followed by some soccer juggling, clogging, rollerblading and tightrope walking (on stilts).
But alas, as she walked through the door, his body returned to its Las Vegas Daddy state; limp at the knees and drooling. Try as we might, he was done for the day and the show was over.
I’ll do my best to get some of this on video, but I’ve already explained Murphy’s parenting laws.
Hopefully there will be more to come!!!
*Fun Fact: The hyena tops all in jaw strength. This animal has an ability to digest bone and extract nutrients where no other predator can, and to do this nature gave it incredible strength to get into even the largest of bones, like the femur of an elephant!