Perfect Birthday

Wake up 5:30am.

Practice yoga and seated meditation (listen to my body speak to me in a chorus of creaking sounds).

Take out dogs (Spike, who knows the sound of my meditation timer jumps on me and licks my face when it rings its ending zen tone).

Make M-ito’s breakfast (challah bread with peanut butter, strawberries, glass of milk) while Mom-ita tries to wake him up and get him out of bed (I have the easier job by far – but then it is my birthday).

My son gives me a birthday hug. Ahhhhh…

Make my tea (English breakfast with honey and milk) and take first sip.

Drive M-ito to  school while talking about books for half the trip (Mom-ita told him he had to talk to me – sigh – for half of the trip before he started to read which is what he usually does on the car ride in).

Realize I forgot M-ito’s cleats at home. Plan return trip in my head and call Mom-ita to prepare her for early journey back.

Come home.

Drive back with Mom-ita to M-ito’s school to drop off cleats.

Go to Dolphin Bookstore and order the perfect latte.

Order Andrew Smith’s new book, Passenger (arrival in two days) for me.

Write two new pages of WIP (I am Nobody).

Pick up M-ito early at school so we can watch him practice lacrosse. He is awesome. The coach speaks and my son listens. It never works that way with me. Ahhhhhh.

Drive to Starbucks. M-ito does homework. I shop for new messenger bag… and order it from Timbuk2. Ahhhhh…

Take M-ito to Tae Kwon Do and write while he kicks and punches his way towards his black belt.

Drive home.

Feed and take out very appreciative dogs.

Order in from Louies Pizza (Margarita with chicken).

Read Andrew Smith’s King of Marbury (absolutely awesome).

Check Facebook birthday wishes. Overwhelmingly sweet.

Watch presidential debates and try not to scream or throw things at the TV (Go Obama!).

Sleep.

Time

It has been eight months since my last post. Time passes differently for adults and children. What is eight months for me is a lifetime for my son. M-ito has finished third grade and will begin fourth next week. We have passed through most of a summer. The weather has changed three times with each of the seasons and it is just starting to change again.

I haven’t written on this blog because of the time it has taken to market my novel, write the blog for that website, and keep more balls floating in the air in front of me. But this season of school I don’t want to miss recording. I don’t want my son to miss out on a year when he looks back at this. Really this is a record for him more than me.

What has happened in the last 8 months? Everything.

M-ito is now nine. For his ninth birthday he saved the world with a group of close friends from the infamous Ratzso – once again.

My debut novel Open Wounds has been published.

M-ito has read all the Harry Potter books, seen all the movies, and as of last week experienced most of Universal’s Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida. He loves them. We just watched The Sorcerer’s Stone … again… last night.

This summer M-ito figured out that baseball camp was the same as school only you learned only about baseball all day. He would like not to do baseball camp next year. He wants to be free.

We have two dogs now – Spike and Gracie, both Havanese. They wake me up at 6am to be taken out. Ugh.

Being a father is still the hardest job I have and the hardest job I know. And I still love every minute of it.

DS i XL Grenade

Sometimes you just have to jump on the grenade. If you’ve been reading along with this blog you know my opinion of the DS and it’s not very high. I like people games instead of computer games. It’s not that I dislike computer games – I love them – but not to the extent that kids play them today. There is a disconnect occurring between children today and other children. They’re playing games too much by themselves and with a computer and not interacting with others. We’re social animals and this can’t be good for the upcoming generation. So that’s the set-up.

The camera zooms in on my face. It’s Sunday morning and it’s my birthday. No wait. Rewind. Go back to Saturday afternoon. The day before. I’m home after yoga class (a good day with 19 people and good pranic energy in the room). Mom-ita and M-ito are out shopping for various things including my birthday gift. The phone rings. It’s Mom-ita.

“M-ito has a gift all picked out for you,” she says cagily.

“Okay… ” I say, waiting for what sounds like is coming after. I’m picturing some Warhammer figures (a new game we’re playing together at a shop in Manhattan), or something yoga-like, maybe a cool stuffed animal that he will get soon after he gives it to me.

“It’s a DS,” she says quietly and waits.

“A what?” I ask.

“A DS i XL. He says you’ve always wanted one and that if you get one – you and he can play the game together at the same time.” She waits again. “He said you need the DS i XL version because it’s a bigger screen and you can’t see the small screen very well.” I think she’s trying to hold back laughter now but I can’t tell.”

I rack my brain. Have I ever told him I wanted a DS? Have I ever told him how much that would mean to me? If I did, and it’s possible, it was only to make him feel better because I would never in my life think that I would get one without someone forcing me to play with a gun to my head. Perhaps I have overstated that a little.  I took a deep breath and exhaled. We have only M-ito. “Of course,” I said. “That’s very sweet. I’ll take the XL and I’ll jump on the grenade. It’s my turn. You’ve been playing Harry Potter on the Wii all summer (and loving it I should say because Mom-ita loves to play the Lego games) so it’s my turn.”

Now she laughs. “This is your iPad, you know,” she says when she gets her breath back.

“Thanks,” I say. An iPad. Oh that hurts. She did that on purpose.

M-ito couldn’t wait so I opened my gift that night.

Fast forward to the next morning, October 3, birthday morning.

I sleep until almost 7:30am and it’s wonderful. The bed is so warm beneath the comforter. The wind is blowing outside and making the shades move back and forth. M-ito is staring at me from a few inches away. “Happy birthday,” he says, eyes full of mischief. “Let’s play your DS.”

And with a hug, a heartfelt sigh, and a smile, I say, “Yes. Let’s play with my DS. I’ll need your help setting it up.”

Forty-nine  years on this planet and still counting.

8th Birthday: A Save-the-World Party

I find my son’s birthday to be a number of things: sad, anxiety provoking, challenging, tiring, and at some point, hopefully just a little happy. This year we did a home party again. Mom-ita took care of all the arrangements like, food, who was coming, invitations, speaking to M-ito about everything, and helping him to make his birthday list. At 8, my son is still very much into birthdays. I hope he stays that way for a while.

My job as the Dad-dito was, as it has been in the past, to take care of the entertainment (I have been the entertainment the last three years as the yoga teacher for a personalized class two years in a row, and this year as the designer of the save-the-world from Ratzo treasure hunt), pick up the food the morning of the party, order the cake from Cupcake bakery, then pick it up, call my family and make sure they know the date and can come, buy the gifts on M-ito’s list, and help out the day of the party as opposed to getting in the way.

This year my father came with Jocelita, Max’s grandmother (my father’s girlfriend who has taken on the role of a grandmother – it’s a long story but that’s how it works some days) and they arrived with her in tears and him in a grouchy, angry mood. They were the first to arrive. Mom-ita was stressed. I was stressed. Four out of five people in the apartment were stressed. Oh joy. People were coming over, and M-ito was hanging out waiting, playing and already enjoying being the birthday boy even with this madness in the background. I think he didn’t notice what was going on and as his friends arrived (six in all – a small group this year and that was a blessing) he got wrapped up in them. I got wrapped up in occupying my father and listening to Jocelyn and cutting up the fruit salad and regular salad. I put my father to work on drawing characters for the save-the-world game and hoped, hoped, hoped, he would be nice to Max, whom I also asked to draw some characters for the game. My father tends to critique rather than help when it comes to drawing and M-ito is a good artist in his own right but needs to be encouraged not critiqued.

The save-the-world treasure hunt had the evil Ratzo trying to rule the world through the kid’s parents with hand sanitizer – vaporizing spray. I’d hidden  clues around the apartment and throughout the building (laundry, garden, mailbox bulletin board) all written in code with tricks and traps everywhere (every other step of the stairs to the garden was poison to the touch, green paper was poison and some clues were written on green paper, a puzzle of paper pieces was inside a green paper folder). I gave them antidote cards for when they were poisoned so they could keep playing the game, broke then into two teams, girls and boys, code books to be able to crack my code, a storyline to work from and 30 minutes to find Ratzo’s switch that would turn all parents armed with hand sanitizer into child vaporizing machines. I was up until 1:30am the night before setting it all up.

It’s easy to understand the feelings of anxiety, challenge, exhaustion and a little happiness. But why would I be sad? Well, my son is getting older and so am I. It is both wonderful and sad at the same time. I want him to grow up and be a man but I also want him to stay my little boy. Such a simple statement and filled with, for me so much emotion. But that is the nature of birthdays. They make me review life, both my son’s and my own and many times that is painful. So, given that, I try to find some happiness in the story of my son’s birthday, day. The smile on his face as his friends race across the apartment building trying to outrun the clock to find Ratzo’s switch that’s in the refrigerator, of course, dodging parents trying to sanitize their hands (I gave everybody hand sanitizer and they kept asking the kids if they wanted to clean their hands – the kids all ran away screaming NOONONONONONONO!). And watching him open his gifts, blow out the candles on his cake. All the things that make up a birthday celebration of turning a year older and a year wiser. And my son is both. Birthdays need to be celebrated as small rites of passage along the way of life. I need to remember how wonderful it is that he is growing up and learning about this wonderful and challenging world that we live in as human beings.

And also remember, that I  now have a full year to go before I have to do it all again. Whew.