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.

A Perfect Day

They don’t happen too often but when they do they tend to be simple, just like this past Saturday.

  • Wake up at 6am to do yoga practice and prepare for morning class. Asana and seated meditation then shower and get dressed for class.
  • 7:15am take Spike-ito out for a walk.
  • 8:30am leave to teach morning yoga class. M-ito and Mom-ita are still asleep.
  • 9:15-10:45am teach class – students are back from vacations, class is packed, and life is good.
  • 11:30am back home for brunch with Mom-ita and M-ito.
  • 12:30pm take Spike-ito out for walk with M-ito. We talk about Warhammer games (our newest father son obsession), school, life in general.
  • 1:30-4:30pm lazing around on couch with M-ito, him watching Saturday afternoon TV shows, me napping on and off, Mom-ita reading, napping, cleaning.
  • 5pm head out with M-ito to the dog run for the first time. Mom-ita is napping.
  • 6-6:45pm Watch Spike-ito make friends and play at the dog run. M-ito at first watches from the bench trying to read his book. Then after five minutes of watching Spike-ito run, wrestle, crash into cement pylons, run, run, and run some more with his new pals, M-ito gets up and joins in. He chases Spike-ito then meets the other dogs, moves our stuff next to the other owners on the other bench, and starts up conversations with the other owners like, “What kind of dog is yours? How old is he? Where did you get him?” It’s hard not to smile while you’re at the dog run. It’s a pretty happy place and the happiness is infectious. I marvel at my son and how he, as an eight year old boy holds himself and interacts with adults. As the dogs start to get tired we collar Spike-ito up and walk him home. All the way home we talk about the experience, what we learned about Spike-ito (he’s a high energy dog, loves to run, is faster than the average dog, gets knocked over a lot but like the energizer bunny keeps on going, loves, loves, loves to play, and how much he needs a bath after all the slobbering from all the other dogs and the dirt and dust) and what we’d like to do when we get home.
  • 8pm our pizza from Louie’s arrives. M-ito loves their pizza.
  • 8:15-10pm we watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all three of us and sometimes four of us (Spike-ito included) seated across the couch, laughing. Ice cream included as dessert.
  • 10pm Mom-ita takes Spike-ito out for his final walk and M-ito and I head to bed. We read for a few minutes then its lights out.
  • 11pm Mom-ita joins us.

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.

The End of the School Year is here!

M-ito graduated from 2nd grade today. When the headmaster told the lower school that the 2009-10 school year was officially over and added, “you can yell as loud as you want to, now – ” the room exploded with K-4th graders going crazy – including M-ito. I watched him from a few rows back with Mom-ita. He yelled as loud as he could with his friends. It was a whole body yell. An exhalation of all the work he put into his education this year. So many evenings of push and pull over homework assignments. My son has his first real understanding of what summer vacation is about.

In Kindergarten he was too young to understand the rhythms of school and summer. Last year he was starting to understand the process but with the changing over from one school to another it was all still new to him. But this year… well, he yelled and screamed with the rest of his friends, his sneakers ready to run on grass, his ears listening to waves washing up on a beach, electrical impulses in his brain ready to encounter summer camp of three different types, and his psyche ready – almost longing for long endless days in the heat.

I can still feel those feelings in my bones, like it was just yesterday. The dry wind outside my window whispering… Summer.

Breakfast Talk

My son’s writing poetry and it’s beautiful. I know, I’m his Dad-dito so I’m biased but this is the greatest.

Breakfast

By M-ito

sizzle! ding! I get out of bed.

what’s all the noise? I go to the

kitchen and… whistle! bump! crack! my mom

made everything! I race to the table.

gulp, gulp, gulp. I am out the door.

Mom-ita told M-ito – after she told him how much she loved the poem – “But that’s not the truth. Dad-dito makes breakfast.”

M-ito replied, “No, Mom-ita, you don’t have to tell the truth in a poem.”

Momita: “And you don’t have any capital letters either.”

M-ito: “Poetry is about breaking the rules, Mommy.”

If only I could use the same rules at work.

I’m singing in the rain …

Okay, I’m not singing – mostly groaning. Why me? Why me? Giving my son a shower is not my favorite thing to do. I’m just putting that out there so you know where I’m coming from. It never really has been. Back when he took baths it wasn’t my favorite thing to do either – mostly because my son doesn’t like to take either a shower or a bath. But… these days it’s showers he takes and in the last couple of months I’ve noticed some changes. It’s not like it used to be.

Old days for a bath: I chase my son around the apartment and try to get him to take a bath. He won’t do it. I plead. I insist. He eventually goes in, complaining the whole time, sometimes kicking and screaming. “The water’s too hot. The water’s too cold. I don’t want to get my head wet. You’re pulling my hair. Ouch.” Then, I can’t get him out. He plays and plays and plays. I get splashed. It’s exhausting.

Old days for a shower: The same thing for starters. Arguments, and explaining why a shower is important (smelling bad is bad, smelling good is good) begins things, then half an hour later entrance into the bathroom. I shower him and he complains the whole way through. “The water’s too cold. The water’s too hot. Don’t splash me. I don’t like it when you splash me. I’m cacacacacacooold. I’m hahahahot.” Then it’s time to get out and he wants to stay in. The water is like rain and he’s singing. He laughs. I cry. It’s exhausting.

New days for a shower: Mom-ita says, “Shower night,” and both M-ito and I sigh and say, “NO!” at the same time. Mom-ita laughs. It takes a half an hour to get him into the bathroom – another ten minutes to get him undressed. I sit on the toilet seat (seat down) because there’s no where else to sit and watch as he slowly, slowly, slowly washes himself. To do his feet he puts the washcloth on the floor, steps on it and moves his feet back and forth – a big smile on his face. It’s genius. He doesn’t actually step under the water until he has finished dabbing and touching each of the areas he’s supposed to wash with a washcloth that has just a little bit of soap on it. Then I wash his hair and he laughs through most of it. Every once in a while he complains about the water being too hot or cold. Then I tell him to wash his face. This whole procedure from beginning to end can take another twenty minutes with me constantly prodding, “Come on M-ito. Wash yourself.”

I don’t get as wet as I used to so that’s something. I’m still just as tired when he finishes. He cleans himself more often than not. And he does laugh a lot. He likes to wash himself, even if he doesn’t do the best of jobs. I’m trying to let it go at that. Because when he’s finished, he smells good and that’s what Mom-ita checks for when he comes out.

One Meatball

It’s Sunday evening dinner. Mom-ita made pasta (my sauce, M-ito’s and my meatballs – true teamwork).

“How many meatballs do you want, one or two?” Mom-ita asks from the kitchen.

“One,” M-ito says from the living room. He’s packing his DS into his new Pokemon case. We just bought it on our way back from Tae Kwon Do practice.

Mom-ita asks again. “One or two?

“One,” M-ito says louder.

Twenty minutes later…

We sit down to eat. M-ito, standing, picks up his fork while swaying back and forth (ah for the days when he sat down and sat still for meals).

“Sit down, please,” I say.

“Sit down, M-ito,” Mom-ita echoes.

M-ito sits. His knees are six inches from the table edge. I reach over and slowly draw his chair in towards the table so his “drop-zone” is smaller.

“You should have changed your pants,” Mom-ita says. He’s still wearing his white Tae Kwon Do pants. “They’re never last until Wednesday.”

M-ito smiles as a pea rolls off his fork, unnoticed. I wonder if it hit his pants on the way down. He puts a whole meatball into his mouth and starts to chew.

“Don’t do that!” Mom-ita says, exasperated. “You could choke on that. I told you not to do that!”

“It’s small,” M-ito says around the disappearing meatball.

I shrug. He swallows.

M-ito reaches into his bowl with his fork and starts moving the pasta and peas around. He looks up at us. “Where’s the other meatball?”

“You only asked for two,” Mom-ita says.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes. Yes, you did.”

“No I didn’t!”

I take my second meatball and place it into his bowl. M-ito smiles.

“What are you doing?” Mom-ita asks. “How’s he going to learn to accept the consequences of his actions if you do that? He said he wanted only one.”

I shrug again and give her the what can I do, he’s my son look.

She’s not buying it and looks down and away from me, exasperated again with another male in the family.

We eat quietly for a while. M-ito’s meatball disappears, one half at a time. I drop a pea on the floor. It rolls under M-ito’s chair and remind myself to pick it up after we’re finished eating.

Then half a meatball falls off a fork, Mom-ita’s fork, and onto my plate, like manna from heaven. I stare at it for moment, then pick it up with my fork and eat it, smiling at my wife. She rolls her eyes.

The circle is complete.