Spike-ito is in the House

We got a dog.

We’re in day three of dogdom.

I can’t believe it.

Momita has bad allergies to all creatures with dander so the fact that a dog has been in our home for three days is still amazing to me. Momita has been promising M-ito he could get a dog for a few years – though I’ve had no idea how this would occur. Then by chance a couple of months ago we found a friend with a dog called a Havanese that has hair, not fur and is hypoallergenic. We tried hypoallergenic before with cats when we first got together – Momita loves cats. But even the naked cat (appropriately called the sphinx) caused a bad reaction. I had given up any hope of dogdom (other than being “in the dog house” myself many times) a long time ago so these promises – well, I didn’t take them too seriously because I didn’t think it possible. Momita and her health is much more important than any pet.

Then she chanced upon this dog and two months later, a number of emails to a dog trainer we know, lots of internet time logged studying the breed and looking at recommended breeders, a date to get a dog was arrived upon – September.  Then a connection to another dog trainer who just happened to have an 8 month old Havanese looking for a home occurred and September became July 18th.

We have a dog.

We’re all getting used to each other. One thing I’ll tell you having a dog is a lot of work and it’s very challenging. Even when the dog comes trained and housebroken. As a family we have to work together to integrate Spike-ito (he came named and we decided to stick with the moniker) into our daily life. I have the morning shift before everyone gets up. M-ito and Momita have the afternoon until I come home from work. Then M-ito and I have the evening.

I’ve had dogs before but as a kid. My dad always had them. But that doesn’t mean I know much about how to care for them or what makes them tick.

I read three books, My Smart Puppy, The Perfect Dog, and The Art of Raising a Puppy. My Smart Puppy was the recommended book and the style used to train Spike-ito. But he’s an adolescent and we’re new owners and so we’re off to the races. We have so many things to get used to.

There are crates, poop bags, leashes, collars (three different types), treats, compressed rawhide bones, dog food, food and water bowls, a dog proofing of the apartment (it forced us to clean up better than ever!), a co-op advisement of  “dog-entering-the building” to be sent to the board, pictures to be taken, commands to be learned (was that down, sit, come, or wait?), whining to be heard (only from the dog), and general anxiety about the new responsibility of a 10lb creature to be dealt with (that’s from all parties including the dog).

And how is M-ito about all this? Walking on air at first. But building a long-term relationship with any creature takes time. This will be a big challenge. And I’ll get to watch and help (I hope) along the way. Oh yeah, Momita and I have relationships to build with Spike-ito also – I’d almost forgotten.

Visibility from the 102nd Floor of the Empire State Building

9am – Visibility from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 50 miles.

M-ito came with me to work today. He did yesterday also. Yesterday he worked for three hours on two journal entries (he has to do ten this summer) on two books he’s read . He’s a voracious reader so this shouldn’t be a problem -but it is. He spent almost two hours this morning on one entry, then did some math problems and called it a day. I had to leave the office for a meeting at NYU for two hours so Momita looked in on him while I was gone. The rain storm hit about noon.

12 noon – Visibility from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 0 miles; thunderstorm closes the observatories.

I got soaked on the way back to my office. I was wearing sandals so it could have been worse. I didn’t have an umbrella. It’s a good thing I brought a change of clothes. I took a half day off so at 1:30pm M-ito and I went to lunch. The rain was still coming down, almost sideways with the wind. By the time we came out of Rickshaw Dumplings on 23rd the rain had almost stopped and there was a little bit of sun.

2pm – visibility from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 10 miles; the observatory is open again.

We walked up to the 34th and 5th avenue entrance. There was no line. We walked past empty red velvet ropes and brass stanchions in room after room. Men and women in red suits and caps directed us onward. There were only three elevators going up. We got off at the 80th floor, went up another elevator to the 86th and out onto the observatory there.

2:22pm – Visibility from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 2 miles.

Clouds came in quickly. We could see down and a little ways out, maybe twenty blocks or so in all directions but the clouds were moving in quickly. We circled the observatory once then headed up to the 102nd floor. We had to pay $15 each extra for the trip.

2:35pm – Visibility from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 0 miles.

Getting off the elevator the man in the red suit shook his head with a smile. The world was white around us, It was dizzying and disorienting. “Another storm,” he said. M-ito pressed his nose against the glass and said, “This is so cool!” It was like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and we were in Olympus in the middle of the clouds. We took pictures of each other and the man in the red suit took a picture of the two of us together with the white clouds as background. We walked around about fifteen feet to the other side and watched the clouds. They looked like thick cotton.

2:41pm – Visibility from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is 0 -10 miles

After about three minutes of watching the white shift and spin, then press up against the glass in front of us, a dark shadow appeared and the cloud thinned and M-ito and my mouth’s dropped open. We looked at each other as a hole in the clouds opened up and showed us the city below. The Flat Iron building and my office at the Mason’s Building stood out eleven blocks away. It was like hands had parted the white and made a special view just for us. The man in red called out to us, “Do you see it!” “Yes,” we called back looking at each other, then out at the city again. The clouds closed up as quickly as they had opened. We waited a few more minutes and it happened again. When the clouds closed up we headed for the elevator and down back to earth our feet floating off the ground.

2:58 – Visibility from inside M-ito and Dad-dito’s heads is unlimited.

Snack Bar Chatter

Baseball Camp Snack Bar Break:

“Can I get candy?” – M-ito

“No.” – me

“Can I get a blowpop?” – M-to

“No.” – me

“Can I get popcorn?” – M-ito

“No.” – me

“What can I get?” – M-ito

“Gatorade and an italian ice.” – me

“Can I have an extra dollar?” – M-ito

Baseball Dialog

I’m on the phone. Mom-ita is describing our son playing ball.

“You have to see this. He’s at second base and J-ito (one of his friends) is behind him in right field. They’re throwing their gloves to each other. The boy at shortstop has just yelled at them to pay attention because the batter is up.”

M-ito on his friend playing right field. “I told him he had to move out. He was too close to me at second base. He said he was in the right field. ‘The grass is the outfield and I’m on the grass,’ he said. But he was just on the edge. He needed to move out!”

I’m watching M-ito play left field. He’s got his glove in his mouth and he’s chewing on the edge. He stays that way through three batters. A butterfly passes by and his gaze wanders towards it. He follows it with his eyes while another batter comes and goes.

Batter Up!

Second week of sports camp – baseball is in and lacrosse is out. I watched the lacrosse players, much fewer this week, maybe two-thirds of the number they had the week before, maybe half. They’re in one group and not two anymore but they still have three coaches.

On the other side of the field, where M-ito, Momita and I went was filled with kids from 6 years old to 14. There were four age groups and M-ito was with two friends and about 18 other 8-year olds. He had three coaches. They warmed up. The coaches coached and kept discipline. One kid pushed another and the head coach for the group pulled him aside and, within my hearing (I had to listen carefully) told the kid the two rules of play. 1) Don’t push anyone ever again. 2) If a kids calls you a name you come to him (the coach) and he’ll take care of it. Then the head coach pulled the other kid aside and told him the same thing. There were no more problems the whole day. They broke up into three groups, one with each coach and they did 8 minute drills moving from one station to the next every 8 minutes. They learned how to throw a ball, how to pick off a runner, how to do a “4” slide, and then went to the batting cage for practice hitting. It looked like so much fun I wanted to join in. After another cycle of drills and the snack station where nutritious snacks like seventeen kinds of candy and popcorn in addition to Gatorade and ices were served – they played a game for the last hour putting all that they learned into practice. The coaches said, “good try” to every kid who made a mistake and there was a ton of individual attention.

Every morning I packed a cooler for M-ito with ice, water, cut oranges, and a snack. By the end of the week both of his friends were sending their water bottles home with the cooler and I had to put extra money in the side pocket for them too. Cold water and ice was at a premium.

It was like night and day compared to the lacrosse.

Don’t get me wrong there were some low points.

  • The hardest part was watching M-ito strike out each time he was up at bat. I know he hit the ball the day before but it was hard to watch him walk off with his head down. The coaches all gave him “good trys” and I have to say he did a good job of shaking it off.
  • On the last day a kid on the other team threw his helmet onto the ground after striking out every time also and the coaches only told him to stop it one time (I thinnk they didn’t see the other times – perhaps because of the heat haze). I would have benched him (even if that would have left them with only 6 players).
  • A really good player on M-ito’s team kept playing M-it’s position for him. M-ito was playing third and the boy was at second. He kept wandering the field because he was good and he knew where to go – but this didn’t help M-ito to learn what to do or get him the ball. The coaches missed that.
  • I’m ashamed to say this but it’s true. The same good player is a great hitter who had a home run and a double and single. The last time he got up he struck out and the other team cheered. The boy laughed it off – his ego strong enough to survive with ease. He took it as a compliment. Me, I gave him a silent cheer. I was glad he struck out. I told M-ito later, “You see, even the kid who was really good – he struck out too at the end!” It was all I could come up with.

M-ito gave it a 10 – both the coaches and the playing.

I watched him play most of the first morning and all of the fourth and last.

His team won the last game on the last day – billed as the world series of the games and like the kid he is, he jumped up and down with the rest of his teammates, happy to have been a part of the game and winning regardless of how big or small a part he’d played.

Final outcome – I didn’t have to coach. I just watched.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I took out my camera and took some pictures. What else is a Dad-dito to do?

M-ito said he wants to play on both a lacrosse and baseball team. But… he’s had enough of sport camp for a while and is glad to be done for the summer. We think he lost five pounds sweating in the polyester baseball pants. He also has a wicked tan from all that time in the sun, even with sunscreen. When he got home he picked up the first of the Harry Potter books and started to read.