For Cohen, like Keaton before him, walking came (or more accurately, is still coming) late.
His first purposeful unaided steps happened at my parents' place the day before Thanksgiving. Maybe three or four little tentative ones, which I luckily captured on video below, not something really aimed at mobility... more testing the nets. Even now, spending Christmas in Florida at the other parents' house (no, not a divorce thing, happy to say Sharaun and I are the product of two long-married couples), he's just finally getting to the point where he's doing more walking than crawling.
His steps are still fairly straight-legged and deliberate, he ends up on his rear a lot, and he's mostly walking between two things he can grab onto and cruise around - but with each passing day I see him take more steps and appear more coordinated. It's actually pretty fascinating to watch and I'm thankful that it's happening when I'm not at work all day and would miss the subtlety. I still clap and cheer for him in my high-pitched "good job little kid" voice, I hope he doesn't find it patronizing... his enthusiasm would seem to indicate he does not, unless he's far more sophisticated at cloaking his emotions for my sake than I give him credit towards.
I took him down to the park today, where Keaton and I went yesterday, and watched in awe as he behaved almost the polar opposite of Keaton at the same age. I set him down and he climbed the green-rubber coated stairs of the play structure, crawled right over to the slide where he situated himself and pushed off. The first time I guided him with a helping hand, but after he'd walked around to the stairs again and get himself poised for a second go, I let him do it solo. He loved it, slid on his belly right to the end, scooted himself off and onto his feet and toddled over to do it again.
Anyway, below are his first little steps that day in Oregon. I love that little boy.
Yesterday Keaton and I decided to walk down to the little "old town" area.
Not too far from the in-laws' place, the walk there is an enjoyable one flanked on the right by the Indian River and the left by a row of riverside houses which are always fun to ogle and envy. The weather was inviting, too, and is part of the reason I proposed the trip. We'd walk down to the little park (the same park where the Santa incident occurred three years ago), kick rocks on the playground a bit and then stroll through the gentrified shopfronts and maybe get some stocking-stuffers for mom.
On the way down Keaton was being Keaton. "The wind feels so refreshing in my hair, dad," she said as she tossed her (somewhat tangled) locks. "You know, I think I was meant to live in Florida. Do you think we could live in Florida sometime?" "Meant to live in Florida?," I asked, "What do you mean?" She explained that, since both mom and I were from Florida that it was like she was supposed to live here. The concept of destiny may be above her, but that's pretty much what she was describing. I told Sharaun's mom about the conversation and she was encouraged.
We picked flowers and dodged fire-ants (currently Keaton's #1 fear in the sunshine state) and even made a stop at the local magic store to nose around. And once again this morning Sharaun's left me with the kids to go shopping (her perpetual pre-Christmas Florida activity, not that it bothers me - being that it relieves me of having to do the same), so I'm thinking we might make a return-trip but this time with Cohen in tow.
Until later then.
Just the other day I learned there's a word in German which is defined as the "vicarious embarrassment" a person can feel whilst watching another party doing something embarrassing The word is fremdschämen, and I'd like to get it integrated into my vocabulary as I'm very prone to experiencing this embarrassed-by-proxy emotion. In fact, I seem to be somewhat inclined to the "transfer" of other emotions, as well... let me expand.
Last week I took Keaton up to her school to watch the third-through-fifth grade spelling bee. Not just some rinky-dink thing, this was an "official" Scripps Howard rules bee, complete with fee paid to the aforementioned governing body to both use their rules and qualify winners for advancement to the state and national level (you know, the one they show on ESPN2?). She wasn't in the spelling bee, mind you, they don't let the K-through-2 kids participate, but she had been talking about the thing so much that I decided we'd do a daddy-daughter date night centered around it. Nevermind that, once getting there, the glam and seduction of the spelling bee seemed to dissipate quickly under the reality of the event and she was complaining of being "bored" within the first half-hour, for that's not where this story is going.
We were talking about "emotions by proxy," recall? What I came here to remark on was the sense of pride I found myself feeling watching children who weren't even my own. Pride that these kids were getting the words right, pride in the way they handled being on stage and mic'd in front of a crowd of adults, pride at their aplomb even after misspelling and having to leave the stage. Proud-by-proxy; it happens, at least to me. That fourth-grade kid named Pinder, the tall slender one who just spelled "dramaturgical," a word I'd never even heard, that kid's smile and triumphant walk back to his seat after the judge's "correct" was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes.
Is that odd? I get it too sometimes when I see a local kid sing the national anthem in their hometown before a pro ballgame. For real.
Today Cohen finally stuck a pea so far up his nose that it was irrecoverable.
Backing up a bit, he was in the (bad) habit of putting food in his nose and ears a few weeks back. The phase came and went quickly, waxing and seemingly waning away to zero within the span of a couple weeks. We thought we were past it, thought it was just a funny bit of growing up kid-stuff. Until lunch today, when he got one pushed up just high enough that it's only partially visible with a flashlight at the right angle. Sharaun, in fact, was only somewhat sure there even was a pea up there until I got home from work and was able to confirm it by restraining the poor little man while I peered down his nose.
So, I consulted the internet for medical help. There's plenty of help out there for foreign objects in nose, even specifically peas for that matter - but most of it seems to assume that the pea is completely blocking airway in the offending nostril and as such relies air pressure (sucking, blowing, sneezing, etc.) to dislodge it. Cohen's pea, though, isn't completely blocking his nostril. He can breathe right around it so suction or blowing simply moves air past the not-going-anywhere pea.
Poor little guy just doesn't get why mom and dad have him pinned-down to the bed, holding his arms and legs and shining a bright light into his face. To him it's torture.
Sharaun's on the phone with the doctor now. Poor Cohen got too tired of me sticking the suction bulb in his nose or blowing through his mouth or having pepper shoved at him in an effort to invoke a sneeze and just dropped into bed. He's sleeping peacefully and we don't plan on waking him to deal further with the pea problem. But to be safe we wanted to make and vet our executive parental decision with an actual M.D. I don't think even the doctor will be able to convince me that waiting hours in the emergency room or urgent care is the better than an early morning pediatrician appointment, anyway.
This Friday afternoon I'll slip out of work a little early and head home.
Once there I'll double-check that I've got all my gear in order: Backpack, tent, sleeping bag, food, fire, water, bugspray, sunscreen, fishing pole & tackle, pistol. Keaton will be in the garage as I do this last-minute sanity-check to ensure we're ready and I'll use that time to foster more excitement about our trip. I'll cinch up the pack and chuck it in the back of the GMC. I'll ask Keaton if she's gone over her pack, made sure she's rightly-provisioned and is ready to go, I'll get her emotionally involved and also be giving her a lesson on what to bring for a successful overnight backpacking trip. I'm hoping she'll be full of anticipation and excitement and anxious to get on the road and on the trail.
We'll head up the mountain around 4pm so we can park and put feet to earth by 6:30pm. We'll race the sunset to try and get to camp, 2mi in from our starting point, by dusk. After setup and a late dinner we'll have a small permit-be-damned fire and roast marshmallows and bundle up against the nighttime chill. Come morning we'll wake with the sun and eat a backwoods breakfast, I'll ask her to help me get it ready and be part of the team, while contemplating the beauty of God's creation and the benefits of solitude. No Saturday morning cartoons, no couch to lounge on. In the heat of the day we'll go bug-catching, try fishing in the creek, throw a Frisbee, hunt for some Geocaches. We'll take a light lunch wherever we are around 1pm. Around 4pm we'll pack it in and I'll again require her assistance - she's going to walk away knowing she was an integral part of our camping success story.
We'll be back home again by nightfall Saturday, a short 24hrs later and returned to the comforts of home - don't want to overdue the "fun" on our first daddy/daughter sojourn.
I can't wait.
Seems I've traded writing for something else. Not sure what it is yet, but pretty certain the swap came on the RV trip. Sharaun suggested perhaps it's a better sex life. If so, I made the right choice and the writing will come back eventually, it's all about the balance. No but really, being on that trip made me think about how the folks of old and how they lived in much closer quarters than do we today - coexisting in a one-room cabin in relative isolation from other humans aside from your spouse; no wonder they had bigger litters in the old days.
Wait; where was I... oh, yeah.
To put it simply: writing has been hard. I sit down almost every night with the best intentions and end up with nothing. I feel surprisingly little guilt about it, which I think means that it's not something I've "given up" but rather something that's not coming easy these days. I've been writing so long that I don't think it's something I can just quit. Until I get back on the horse though, I'm going to be unashamed about how long I go between posts here. I just don't care enough to force it when it's not right. Like other "healthy" habits I've let go the way of the dodo, writing will return and return strong... I'm just going to have to wait it out.
Let's see... what's going on...
Oh, Coco is crawling now - crawling all over the place, no need to call the developmental people with their slide rules and pocket protectors and physical training. In fact, in the past week Cohen's been all about what they call "cruising," which is where he pulls up and "walks" by aid of his hands on tabletops, couches, or anything else. He spends more time on his feet now than crawling, which I consider a clear signal that he's wanting to be walking, and likely will be here shortly. Like Keaton, he'll be late gauged against "the norm" or other kids his age, but like with Keaton I couldn't care less.
Don't know if I wrote about it, but he can talk too. His first word was "uh-oh," and now he's got "mama," "daddy," "sister," "Keaton," and "kitty" too. He also recently got an award from President Obama for being the "Cutest Baby on the West Coast." OK that last part is bunk; but he can talk and crawl and is almost walking. In fact I told Sharaun I think he'll be walking on his own by month's end. She says I'm optimistic, but it's true so I didn't punch her or anything for sullying my good name.
Things at home are normal: Sharaun let me get a flagpole and an American flag. I fly it most days, putting it up in the morning and taking it down again at night. She bought a UF flag and we fly that on Saturdays instead. I tried to do laundary and threw in some orange leggings at the bottom of Keaton's hamper and they bled all over everything and ruined stuff. Sharaun said they were dyed for Keaton's Halloween costume last year and she had purposely been avoiding them down there at the bottom of the hamper. Last Halloween?, I asked incredulously. One year in the bottom of a hamper. Keaton's doing well in kindergarten and playing soccer on the weekends and dancing too - I believe we've got our yuppie-parent dance card all filled.
See, first time I've written in weeks where it felt good. It'll come; just give me time. Goodnight.
Just a little short thing tonight.
Two evenings sacrificed rebuilding and and lovingly re-configuring my HTPC just so it can play old Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Genesis, and Playstation games. Two evenings where I monopolized the television doing so, frustrating my wife. Two evenings where I was able to forsake actual work, as in sawmill stuff, in favor of a "fun" kind of work. Two evenings where I went to bed too late because I'm OCD and have to have things working perfectly or all figured out before calling it a night. Two evenings just spent nerding-out for hours on end, painstakingly configuring something I don't really have the free time to indulge in all that much.
So what did I get? In the end what was I after?
That's my five year old daughter just whomping-up on Mario 64.
That's right. She picked up the controller and started directing Mario like she'd been doing it forever. I sat and watched her play, giving her tips on how to avoid the Bob-Ombs and Goombas, showing her how to do the slam-jump thing using two fingers at once, and in general just enjoying her enjoying something new.
So maybe Sharaun wasn't entirely bought-into the "need" for another source of entertainment... but man we sure had a blast racing in Mario Kart.
Tomorrow maybe I'll show her the 8-bit Little Mermaid game... goodnight.