Wednesday, September 23, 2009

20 Months (part two)

Watching my two little ones interact and become best of friends is so incredibly heart-warming that I start to drown in bliss. They hold hands when we walk home from the park. They chase each other's tails whenever we find open space for them to run. Quinn wants to stay with Lucas when we drop him off at school in the morning. Lucas won't spend the night at Nanna & Nonno's or Grandma LaLa's unless Quinn is staying with him. They have the same laugh. They scream at the world together. They want the same toys and fight each other for them. It's very obvious that they love each other.

Don't get me wrong, it's not always a complete joy when they do some of these things. A shared toy can easily erupt into wailing of extreme decibels and they often get on each other's nerve. But I am so happy that they have each other.

I guess it's only natural to compare Quinn's developments along with our recollection of Lucas. Even though she is unique in her own way, she also is, and always will be, Lucas' little sister. We are way more lackadaisical over certain accomplishments, fewer pictures, less time devoted to her needs. She is falling into the classic second child syndrome, though she hardly seems affected by it. Her strong independent spirit and her vociferous nature has a way of overcoming some of these setbacks that life has handed her. I have a feeling that she's going to grow up having no difficulty expressing herself.

She has a personality that doesn't hide itself. It's out there and forceful and ambitious, the complete opposite of Lucas at her age. He's more reserved and holds onto his feelings and ideas until he feels comfortable in the room. It's probably going to work out naturally that he came before her. She's more equipped with handling second duties, though we are going to try our best to allow them equal access.

I started to think about the way humans affect each other. We are so interconnected that we are bound to adopt one another's behaviors. When I chose to be with Xtimu, I didn't consciously think about how I was going to change and be more like her or the other way around. I was just really in love with her and didn't want to be out of her presence. But then you have to create a life together. You become partners and in order for that to work you end up giving up certain habits or activities that don't fit in the new space that you share with that person. For the most part it works and I imagine that a lot of relationships that fall apart can be blamed on one person (or both) not compromising enough.

In my case the thing that I've recently given up is fantasy baseball. I've played fantasy baseball since I was eighteen and could probably go back even further than that because I used to play it when I was a kid with my baseball card obsession. It was something I always imagined doing because it's so easy to do nowadays and it doesn't really invade into other aspects of your life, unless you're crazy about it, which I'm not.

Well, even though she's an ex-cheerleader, Xtimu doesn't like organized professional sports for all of the typical reasons, with the ungodly amount of money wasted on them in general being the most glaringly obvious one. She tolerated my fantasy baseball addiction because I wasn't totally obsessive about it, though I'm sure she raised an eyebrow or two in my direction when my statistic analysis got out of hand. But for some reason, as my years wane on, I find that I lose interest in this pursuit very quickly as the season progresses. I simply can find no other meaning in it than wasting as much free time as possible and since I'm having difficulty with using my time as efficiently as possible already, it seemed very easy giving up fantasy baseball.

I grew up with baseball, played it my entire life and love the nuances of it. I always thought that it would be an eventful part of my life and when we had kids, I always thought that it would be in their lives. But as I look at the structure that I want to instill as a parent into their lives, the bones of their development, I find that many of the activities that I thought provided value in my own life when I was a kid aren't really so precious. I'm sure that both Quinn and Lucas would enjoy little league baseball if they ever played it but is it something that will be incredibly valuable for their human development?

I was talking to a friend of the family and he was asking me about the sports that I indulged in when I was a youth. Baseball was obviously at the top of the list and he immediately started pestering me about getting our kids involved right away and pushing them so that they can excel in the sport, possibly even enough to become a professional. First of all I was wondering why someone who hardly knows me is trying to guide my hand as a parent in such a domineering way and secondly I totally realized that I don't want to make any of those decisions for my children. I want to give them as much awareness and development with many aspects of this human condition and when they're ready they can decide what they want to do with that knowledge. So I'm sure that I'll teach Quinn and Lucas all about certain athletic endeavors that I support and they'll continue to advance with their music training and scholastically I want every advantage for them but all of that is in place so that they can develop on their own terms.

We bring our own prejudices and awareness to everything that we give to them in this life. There will be certain aspects of their behavior and personality that reminds us so much of ourselves. That's the karmic residue that becomes part of our character. Sometimes we choose it, like Xtimu and I deciding that we couldn't ever be apart from one another, and sometimes we're stuck with it, a familial burden if you will. I guess some of us are luckier than others.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

10 Years

Sometimes whne I look at the flowers on the side of the road, they're not quite in focus. I don't know if it's the way that the petals are arranged or if the dpi isn't set right or if the blur that flashes across my vision is from the movement of the car or if it's the way the wind makes their tiny stems shudder, but it seems like I can't see the defined structure of such a natural beauty. And they are beautiful, dotting the landscape with their splash of colour, each one a little sun brightening the mundane environment that consumes us all. Yet, the heart of that beauty forever eludes us because we cannot stop and appreciate each individual blossom as it bursts forth with life.

When I look back at the man I was ten years ago today, that's the elusive vision that springs forth in my mind. It was a wonderful and beautiful day that exploded around us, full of life, anxious to breathe each feeling as if we would never feel that way again. I have such a strong emotional response to this memory but I don't see my younger self as someone who was defined, who was willing to show off the colour of his petals with briskness and boldness. I see someone who was unsure about embracing the life-giving qualities of the sun, yearning to find something that would give him definition and hoping with a big heart that moments such as these would come to mean something valuable someday.

It's weird because I've always been someone whose heart was always more hopeful than his head. I'm intelligent enough but my racing manipulations always seemed to get in the way. I was completely in love with this woman who stood next to me and shook the foundation of my soul. I knew that I wanted to share this defining moment with her and only her. She was the person that I wished to give of myself and share my life with. My heart had already done all of these things so many times over the previous three years. We were already married that day and now we were about to make it official. But inside my head I heard a lot and I was thinking about the omniscient design that controls our actions when we perform these social rituals. I was delving into the broader mind of our social construct and wondering if there was a bigger purpose to all of it and if so, what my greater purpose was because I had yet to discover that within myself.

Well, It's taken some time and I've learned over the years about the man I always wanted to become. I hope that today I have caught up to the romantic visions that forever yearned within my heart. Today, I find it easier to discover that each moment in our lives may carry such deep and everlasting importance as our wedding day. We have children now and new responsibilities and new hopes and dreams, but our hearts have never left that moment when we said "I do." A decade of love and searching and defining and embracing one another to reach this moment, and now I have vision, I can see the flower in my heart.

Over the years I have come to see my lovely wife in a whole new way but it's just as wonderful and endearing as ever. Last night we spent a beautiful evening listening to two classically trained guitarists play a jazz-classical-flamenco-gypsy infused show. When you listen to such an amazing soundscape as the one that they created, it takes you into an entirely new space, a realm where each and every nuance lifts you into a most pleasant place. I've always cherished music for the transcendental powers that it gives to each person depending on each unique perspective that they bring. Wallowing in each musical landscape has given me new insight into myself, delving deep so that I may understand this great life that I've been blessed with. Sitting next to Christina, cherishing her touch as the beauty of each song enveloped us, I realized that sharing my life with her has created such a transcendental composition as well.

She's so amazing and beautiful and intelligent and compassionate and demanding and loving and caring and imaginative and lovely and soft and strict and artistic and professional and hopeful and caressing. She has become more of a partner than I ever thought at the time, ten years ago today. My heart was right all along but in such a profound and unique way that traveling through the decade has provided a lens with immense focus and vision. I am so happy to discover this bright and clear vision of what we have become.

Today, I feel love in my heart and I feel loved. I have two wonderful children who give me value and pleasure every day. I embrace my wife of ten years more now than ever and I can't wait for the next ten years. And through it all, I have discovered a beautiful and encompassing world that provides so much for own.

I also have another mix of music for this momentous occasion. A letter of song to my love, starting with our wedding song.

1. Camper Van Beethoven-One of The Days
2. Bob Marley-Natural Mystic
3. Norah Jones-Thinking About You
4. Melody Gardot-If the Stars Were Mine
5. Gregory Page-I'll See You In My Dreams
6. The Eels-The Longing
7. Sade-Lover's Rock
8. Yolanda Aranda-El Punete de los Suspiros
9. Gui Boratto-No Turning Back
10. Micah P. Hinson-Sunrise Over the Olympus Mons
11. Jocelyn Pook-Saffron
12. Emiliana Torrini-Bleeder

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

59 Months

So Lucas is going to school. Kindergarten beckons and he does not want to go. For most of the summer Xtimu and I have been trying to prepare him for the big day, without alarming him or causing too much pressure. We just wanted him to understand what was going to happen so that he wouldn't be surprised when we dropped him off in front of the school with, "see ya in six hours!" We even sent him to an extensive half-day camp at the YMCA to get him comfortable with the type of environment that he would be facing day in and day out. Up until that point he hadn't been in anything like that, spending all of his time at home or with relatives. No preschool. Nothing.

And the thing about it was that whenever we spoke about our plans with him, Lucas always seemed okay with them, saying that he was ready and pretty dismissive of most of our concerns. He asked interesting questions and accepted our answers with quiet resolve. Like most things with our boy, he acted like it wasn't such a big deal.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, the truth began to come out. He started saying that he didn't want to go or that he wasn't going to go. He began making his own plans for the type of school that he wanted to attend and no matter how hard I tried to find it, there was nothing out there in the district that fit his description, not even a charter school. These were our first warnings but like two parents who are completely confident in the power of their own children (aka ostrich parents), we went forward assuredly saying to ourselves that he always has adjusted before so it'll be okay this time.

Well, apparently Lucas was beginning to feel the mounting pressure because as the day grew near, he began to act out more and more. He stopped eating, started talking back with ever-more frequency, moaning and complaining about every little thing, was aggressive with Quinn, manic and hyper all the time and didn't want to do anything except watch teevee. He even had lost weight since his doctor's appointment from a year ago. The day came for his orientation and Xtimu called me three times to tell me that he was throwing up all morning but it was nothing but water because he hadn't put anything in his stomach. By the time we went that afternoon, we were seriously concerned but he met his teacher and saw his desk and ran around with some of the other kids so we were hoping that would be the proper ice-breaker.

Well, the shit had yet to hit the fan, as they say and Lucas completely went over the edge causing an incredible meltdown here at casawex. He destroyed a bunch of plants in the garden, ones that had been growing all summer and were blooming toward harvest. It was heartbreaking and devastating. Needless to say, we all succumbed to enormous depression and anxiety over the incident resulting in a loss of many toys and a probation period for Lucas. This is the fifty-ninth time I've written about parenting Lucas and sixty would mean that he just turned five. He may not have a birthday because of what happened. We'll see.

This is all terrible and we are very concerned about our little guy. The love in our heart toward him is enormous but there is another part of us that understands how important it is for him to be responsible and have some sort of discipline in his life. Both Xtimu and I have had to deal with the reality of those who do not have these two factors in their lives and the results are even more devastating. We want Lucas to overcome anything and he most certainly won't be able to do that if we cannot guide him firmly and resolutely nor if we simply do everything for him. This school preparation fiasco has been the most trying time with us as Lucas' parents.

Like I said last month, there's a part of me that aches when I see the fragile child in his eyes. I was so scared for so long when I was his age and I don't want him to feel that way. When I remember those deep feelings in my own heart, I'm really able to have an incredible amount of compassion for him. I can sit down and talk with him closely and warmly. I can connect with him, heart to heart. I never had that with my own father and I don't want to close myself off to Lucas, no matter that other side of me that wants him to just buck up because I know that he has nothing to fear, no matter that part that wishes I could just give him confidence, infuse it into his soul so that there's nothing to worry about. But it's a long, long road to maturity and Lucas has to gain that knowledge for himself. Besides, he isn't even five after all.

Tonight I was able to get him to open up to me and I saw clearly some of his fears. He told me that he misses me and Xtimu, that he wants to stay with us and that's why he doesn't want to go to school. It makes total sense, having never been apart from us and We miss him too. My heart wrenched when he told me how he felt but what can I do? We've put him upon the path and now we have to let him go out into the world, no matter how much we want to pull him back. He's almost five so we can still do so much to be there for him; hold his hand and envelop him with our wide wing-span and we can still tell him how much that we love him and we can help him to feel comfortable so that he'll be reminded that he has nothing to fear when he wants to let us know what he's feeling inside, no matter how confusing or terrifying or desperate those feelings may be.

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