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This One is for Papa

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Last-Minute Monkey

Yesterday, I was on my way home from the gym, preoccupied with the details of dinner.  Miles was walking beside me, holding my hand and stopping to bounce experimentally on sidewalk cracks, subway vents and gum wrappers.  We were so absorbed in our various ponderings that it took us a few minutes to notice that we were surrounded by zombies. 

Zombies?  Oh crap!  It was Halloween, at 5 p.m., and we had no plans!  

In the few blocks between the gym and home, I began to feel like a) an idiot, b) a jerk, and c) a failed parent.  Why had I taken such a laid-back approach to a holiday universally cherished by children?  What was wrong with me?  Most parents are thrilled to dress their kids up and take billions of pictures of them.  My friend Inder even sewed her child an amazing  shark costume without using a pattern during the busiest work week of her year.  We, however, hadn’t even settled on a costume.  Rewear last year’s monkey costume now that he knows what a monkey is?  Wear his Yoda or Chewbacca costumes from my cousin’s wedding?  I’d taken a meh approach — and what was my excuse? 

He would only be 2 once, and now I would never have a photo of Miles at 2, with his face all smudged with face paint.

Then I checked my phone, and I had a message from Robin: “Are we going to the parade?  Leaving work early.  What’s the plan?”

Of course!  The parade!  We live in an amazing neighborhood that hosts a Children’s Halloween Parade.  And we live steps from a busy commercial block where children trick-or-treat from one storefront to another.  We could do this!

I sprung into action.  By 5:45 my little monkey was fed and dressed, and we were out trick-or-treating.  The first time Miles said, faintly, obediently, “trick or treat,” he stared with incredulous wonder as a complete stranger gave him candy.  His astonishment grew as this method worked again!  And again!  Every time a stranger grinned at him, or I grinned at someone else’s children, I felt the magic of Halloween growing stronger. 

At 6:30, Mommy, Momma and Monkey were on the parade route.  Miles sat atop Robin’s shoulders, marveling at the giant papier mache puppets of ghosts and dragons, pointing, shouting, “Momma look!”  After the dragon puppet passed out of sight he asked eagerly, “Where is she go?”

To think I almost missed this. 

Smudged face: check.

 

Big! Pumpkins!

 

Look, Momma!

Next year: big plans.  A themed family costume (like the family we saw dressed as characters from Wizard of Oz — to die for!!), a stroller overhaul (one was decked out as a taxi), the works.  Now who’s going to hold me to this? 

 

Hat Fabulous

Okay, I owe you blogs about several important events. 

  1. My dad and stepmom visited in September, and there was lots of cuteness.  We visited the Sept. 11 memorial and the NYC Transit Museum.  As you can imagine, I took a million photos, which I will get to … eventually.
  2.   Miles turned 2.  This was kind of major.  Last year, he got a heartfelt letter on his birthday.  This year … nothing.  But, yeah, I have lots of photos, and I (not shockingly) got really emotional about how independent he has become. 
  3. The Me Project continues.  What’s that, you ask?  Well, I’ve been so busy doing it, I haven’t had time to blog about it.  Remember that time when three child-free days produced a revelation about Not Losing Myself?  And I vowed to incorporate more me time into my daily life in order to become happier, funkier, more balanced, and generally a better human being?  I’ve actually been doing it!  For reals for reals!  But more on that at some future, unknown time.

Unfortunately, for the past week or so we have been waging noble battle against a virus that produces symptoms painfully similar to mono (believe me, I know what I’m talking about here).  So instead of writing about any of the aforementioned topics, I will just post a few photos of Miles in a silly hat.  Deal?  Deal!

 

Is it me?

 

Clowning around.

 

Oh, stop! I'm too much!

Morning, Hair

Dear David,

I hope this email finds you well.  I apologize most sincerely for my rudeness in not responding earlier; my mothers are quite adamant about restricting my use of the computer.  “Miles, don’t touch that!” they chide, thinking I simply want to press the buttons and make a disaster of their external hard drive.  How can they fail to understand that I need to keep up on my correspondence?  They ramble about “screen time” and how it is bad for my brain development, yet I think we both know that my brain is developing appropriately.  Perhaps if you, a physician, write to them and ask them to relent, they might reconsider their cruel rationing of the iPhone, the Internet, and Sesame Street. 

But on to other matters.  You asked about the new neighbor downstairs.  I have not yet had an opportunity to make her full acquaintance, but I confess to a deepening affection for her bicycle.  She parks her bicycle on the second-floor landing, and each time my mothers and I come and go I examine it with interest, naming its parts aloud. 

(I’m talking now, by the way.   Sometimes I speak in sentences, as tonight when I was holding my stuffed monkey up to see the moon outside my bedroom window.  “Monkey, see moon,” I instructed it.  But I digress.  My attention span has yet to mature.)

When I pass the pink and lavender bicycle — yes, I know my colors now too — I often say, “Handlebars!  Seat!  Pedals!”  In case my mothers should think I believe the bicycle is mine, I also clarify, “Heather’s bike.”  Sometimes, I admit, I get confused and knock on Heather’s door, asking for you and Min.

Although the bicycle is charming, I am more than ready for you to return.  Please move back in downstairs at once.  I understand that this will be detrimental to your career and that your family might object to your moving so far away from them.  Yet, as I am sure you know, 2-year-olds are famously egocentric.  Everything is about me, of course, and I prefer that you come back. 

If you must know my reasons, they are simple: you played with me so very well, you were kind to my mothers, you saved Luna’s life, and you always pretended not to be bothered by the sound of me throwing wooden toys on the floor at 6 a.m.   Additionally, any place without subways cannot be a good place.  As I have matured, my interest in transportation has grown exponentially (see above discussion of bicycle), and I shudder to think that anyone for whom I care would be deprived of decent public transit.

It sounds as though the short mother is almost done running my bath.  I must close this letter quickly before she realizes I am not in fact cooking imaginary omelets in my play kitchen.  I regret deceiving her, yet I could not allow another day to pass without my responding to your kind inquiries.  I look forward to seeing you and Min very soon as you move your things back in to the apartment.  Please hurry — my birthday is next week, and if you ask very politely my mothers will probably let you take me to the zoo.  They always liked you. 

Warmly,

Miles

P.S. If I need to communicate with you again, I will do so through the blog.  My mothers have cut off service to my cell phone.

P.S. #2 Attached, please find a recent photo of me.    I hope Min will enjoy it.

On Sept. 17, David wrote:

Dear Miles, 

Probably by now you are wondering where we have gone. Don’t worry, we are still around just a little farther away, in a place far away known as Arizona. It’s a strange place unlike the comforts of our walk-up in Brooklyn. People here have golden blonde hair and bronze colored skin. They also drive in big pick-up trucks, and can you believe that they don’t know what a subway is?! Arizona is great though. There are surprising a lot of restaurants to try here, which keeps us busy during the weekends.
 
Anyways, we very much miss New York, especially walking around Park Slope. But most of all we miss you and your family, as well as Violet and hers. We have been keeping up on your blog. Min absolutely loves it, especially the candid pictures of you. Anyways, I know you still have your cellphone, so call me anytime you like. Tell Melissa and Robin we said hello and that we miss them too. Hoping that the new tenant below is friendly.  
David
 

My, what big teeth I have.

Warning: Obstruction Ahead

Sometimes, when Miles is flipping out  — because I won’t let him stop to inspect a pebble covered in dog pee, or because I want to put the stroller away and go upstairs, or because the fridge magnets won’t stick to his kneecaps — I try to imagine what it must feel like to never be in charge and to be at the mercy of rules which seem needlessly arbitrary.

I mean, here he is, realizing he is a separate living being with volition.  And here we are, controlling his every move.  Miles, it’s time to put the train away and eat dinner.  Miles, it’s time to get out of the high chair and onto the potty.  Miles, it’s time to get off the potty and into the bath.  Miles, it’s time to get out of the bath and… you get the idea.  

Do not interrupt. I'm learning here!

He’s trying to learn things, like what fridge magnets will stick to, or how many books he can read on the potty (without peeing, of course!) before his butt falls asleep.  He wants to determine just how long it takes to go down three flights of stairs on one’s bottom, pausing every three of four steps to hum a song or point at a smoke detector.  This is important learning, of course!  And yes, the stairwell experiment must be repeated every time we leave or enter our apartment building.  For statistical accuracy!

"Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall..."

And meanwhile we are trying to make life go.  We’re feeding him, washing him, providing time and space for sleep.  I spend all day coercing him — while he obstructs all forward progress.  I coerce, and he obstructs.  I’ve started calling him my little obstructionist.  (I don’t want to know what he calls me.)

So I understand why sometimes, he has to take a stand and do something himself, on his own time.  And sometimes, whenever I can dig deep and find the patience, I let him.  Sometimes that means sitting in the stairwell for twenty minutes until I feel myself seething with a dull, ridiculous rage. 

Other times, it means standing back at a respectful distance and letting him work something out. 

Can he do it?

The eyes say, "Stay back!"

He did it!

Piece of cake.

I am still waiting for Miles to reveal his artistic side.  He uses sidewalk chalk as a projectile, and his favorite thing to do with water colors is stir vigorously, mixing the orange with the brown and the red with the green.  Yet we are making some progress here.

His early work lacked focus.

Watercolor, untitled.

 

With time (and the addition of markers), his esthetic has gained cohesion.

"The Fountain," watercolor and washable marker

 But is he enough of a tortured soul to be the artistic type?  Maybe…

The thinker.

 

On the other hand… probably not!

 

Happy-go-lucky.