we’re still learning about you, little boy

five months

Two weekends ago, A. and I took an early morning flight from Baltimore through Albuquerque to Los Angeles where we stayed with family friends. We flew cross-country for the Beaver Cup — an ice hockey match between Caltech alum and MIT alum — that A. plays in every year. (I call it Nerd Cup.)

C. was a champion on the planes — one woman even approached A. to say how impressed she was with our chill little boy. But when we walked into the gorgeous house in Alhambra — that’s when we learned lesson no. 208: C. is already sensitive to language. When we walked through the front door, A. handed our hostess the car seat with C. in it and said, “Take him — he’s all yours.” That was when C. had a panic attack — sobs that shook his whole body — even though A. and I were standing right there.

The next night, after the game (A. scored three goals, and I missed all three gabbing away in the stands), we went to dinner at Amigos in Pasadena knowing full well that C. was tired. After we shoved food in our mouths and paid, we learned lesson no. 209: When C. is on edge, it’s not a good time to pass him off to a friend, especially a friend that C. found scary earlier in the day. Sometimes we actually have to say no, even if the friend is giving us pathetic puppy-dog “please let me hold your baby” eyes. As soon as we handed him over, C. started screaming bloody murder and we were like, damn, we better get out of here. We hurriedly put him in the car seat — oh, everything is a blur when he’s panicking — and out the door, into the back seat where he fell asleep about 10 minutes into the drive.

Last weekend, in Redbank, N.J., before A.’s high school alumni hockey game, I laced on some figure ice skates and shakily got on the ice for the pre-game family skate. I hadn’t skated in 25 years. I did a few laps holding A.’s hand, not remembering how to stop. Toe pick? I imagined myself tumbling face first. But once I got more comfortable and was able to lift my eyes, I saw a screaming baby — my screaming baby — through the glass. He was having another panic attack — lungs exposed and face beet red — because A. and I were too far away. C. was in the very capable hands of his grandparents, whom he’s spent a lot of time with, but as soon as he looked around and realized A. and I were gone, all hell broke loose. Lesson 210: In the same vicinity does not compute with C.

This week, A. is in Denver for work and I’m single mom-ing it. C. is cracking me up — yesterday he grabbed his weaner when he was naked, his frog legs moving side to side. He smiles big when I say, “Hiiii!” from a place he doesn’t expect me (through the trunk). He thinks I’m hilarious and I think he’s hilarious. I’m waiting for lesson no. 211.

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