Monday, April 21, 2014

The Mop Top's First Crop


On the list of “firsts” parents have singled out for their child’s development, the haircut is a biggie.

Last week, the Blackwell clan found out why.

It turns out that when you give a kid who’s about two-years old his or her first hair cut it automatically ages them by about 15 years.

Mrs. Blackwell and I were a bit caught off guard by this result but our little guy went in as a toddler and came out looking, well, older.

He was sitting behind the wheel of a barber’s chair designed to look like a racecar, so maybe it was unavoidable that he’d look older. (Then again maybe it was the aviator sunglasses or the cigarette he was smoking, either way, he looked more grown up.) 

Minus the liver spots, this is the boy's scalp.
And while we might not have been thrilled with this result, we had no choice. The boy’s hair needed a trim — desperately.

Babies are perfect but, for many, their hair isn’t. There are long patches here, and shorter strands there and it can get looking pretty ratty before you know it.

In Master Blackwell’s case, his hair grew in a pattern reminiscent of C. Montgomery Burns. Very little on top, and a rim of long, wispiness that ran ear to ear around the back of his head.

I’d make the Monty Burns reference to friends and family when the subject of junior’s hair arose. It was sort of my way of acknowledging that “yes he’ll need a hair cut but he’s still little, so for now this is OK.”

Well, after making the Monty Burns analogy for a while I realized a couple things:

a) it’s stale and probably not as funny as I thought
b) the kid needs a hair cut

In full candor, the little guy could have probably used a cut quite a while ago but Mrs. Blackwell and I resisted and probably me more so than her.

It turns out I was right to procrastinate. With his 2nd birthday just days away, the quest to prevent him from growing up continues and continues to fail. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Simple (Tear-Soaked) Thanks

I was solo parenting last night as Mrs. Blackwell ventured out on one of her many booze-soaked social calls. Honestly, I don't know how much more of this I can take. 

Kidding. 

Mrs. Blackwell is like most parents with a full time job in that she rarely ventures out to do anything that qualifies as fun. And when she does, it frequently comes with the caveat that she's stuck with yours truly.  

So when opportunities arise to be social and go have fun with people in the outside world, we do our best to encourage one another to partake.

So it was that, 15 minutes after my arrival home from my office, my wife departed and I was hanging with the boy. He was already fed so what ensued was about 20 minutes of me trying to keep up with him while simultaneously eating my dinner. 

It's a fun exercise and one that helps keep your wits sharp. One is not easily lost in the flavor of that microwaved pasta dish when strange noises suddenly begin emanating from the family room junior just sauntered into. 

So we spent the minutes before bed time playing with his toys, not ripping the pages out of books, not taking pens from the junk drawer that daddy has yet to childproof and not climbing the bar chairs in the kitchen. It was a ton of fun and I'm sure Master Blackwell enjoyed it. 

What he didn't enjoy was bumping his head on the corner of our wooden cupboards. But, it proved to be the prelude to a moment that was incredibly sweet and one that makes a parent melt. 

So here's the deal. While he's a full-time walker and runner now, the little guy also has a habit of taking steps backward without really looking where he's going. On this occasion, he did so and bumped the back of his head into a protruding corner with a thud. I picked him up and hugged him. 

Through this, he didn't make a sound, which of course means he's just drawing in the necessary breath to scream bloody murder. 

And he did. 

He let out one shrill howl and then another. But, it was pretty clear that he was more upset than in pain. (Amazing how you can discern a difference in screams but, boy, they sure are different.) I lightly patted the point of impact on his head and patted his bottom, while reassuring him that he was going to be alright and he laid his head on my shoulder. 

He must have understood me because he got quiet quickly. I gave the back of his head a couple of light kisses. And then he turned, pulled his head back, paused, and gave me a good look before giving me a light kiss. He then turned, put his head back on my shoulder and took a deep breath. 

As a parent we project all kinds of meaning onto our kids' actions. It can be tough to tell what their actions mean sometimes. But this, it was clear to me, was my son saying "Thanks, Dad."

And with that, I was the one looking for the Kleenex. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Soundtrack of Your Life

A few mornings back I was doing what I often do for the boy, make breakfast. I'll slice up some banana, make scrambled eggs with cheese or maybe a waffle with apple butter. 

While I work on that, he prepares the coffee and we talk about politics, we're really developing a productive give and take — kidding. He's 17 months old folks. He just sits there and eats whatever I put in front of him. 

Mrs. Blackwell gets ready — and helps get the boy prepared for his day — while I make the breakfast. It's actually a calm way to ease into the day as the chatter of my son, or the sounds of his lips smacking, fills the air. For whatever reason on this particular morning I became a little wistful, thinking that these moments are few, far between and diminishing.

There are specifics that accompany this chain of thought but, suffice it to say, they amount to an overall sense of impending loss. My little guy will soon no longer be little and there is a great deal of dread attached to that reality. However, as we've discussed in this space before, there is no point dwelling on this. 

Growth is life. It's going to happen and stunting it is not a legal option — yet. (I'm working on that little detail though.)

Until those plans reach fruition I intend to follow Mrs. Blackwell's lead by being "glad that it happened, not sad because it's over."

However on this particular day, reality conspired to thwart these efforts and instead fuel my anguish. 

No sooner did I begin setting aside the sad thoughts than did the little guy start saying "Dah-dee. Dah-dee." 

Sure, he might have been sitting in his high chair, idly thumbing his way through a pile of strawberries while staring at the floor but I know, deep down, he was talking to me. 

It could have been anyone, but it was you Harry.
OK. So perhaps that's not a biggie. But, as I  continued shuffling about and getting ready he continued to be vocal and cute, making it tougher and tougher to leave.

Finally, as I approached the door and with Mrs. Blackwell at his side, he looked at me and said "Bye-bye. Dah-dee," as he walked toward me. This is movie stuff people. Movie stuff. 

And just like any good movie, it has to be accompanied by just the right song and, as I climbed in my car, it was there — in spades. 

Harry. Frickin. Chapin.

"And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon. Little boy blue and the man on the moon, when you comin' home Dad, I don't know when, but we'll get together then. You know we'll have a good time then."

It was so perfectly awful I had to laugh. It was sad. It was ironic and it was what mom and dads go through every time they walk out the door every day.  

This, is life.