dad from day one: Light Years Away

Twenty-one weeks.

Baby Jack is starting to kick now.  Of course I’m assuming that he’s also simply moving around and turning inside there as well- not just kicking.  So it may not be his foot, but instead his elbow, or even his head that my wife and I are feeling.  This morning in my less-than-conscious-waking-state-of-mind, my wife placed my hand on her stomach, saying, “Do you feel him moving?”  I did.

And as real as this is, that our son is actually inside there, so lively, it’s still engrained in my brain somehow  Baby Jack is light years away, floating around in a heavenly baby universe until November.  Despite feeling him with my own hand, with just centimeters separating the skin of my hand and the skin of his body, despite him literally being a matter of a few feet away (or less, depending on how near I am to my wife), I’m having trouble grasping that in reality, he’s right there.

Jack's body is the length of a banana.

Jack's body is the length of a banana.

Not in another world.  But here.

Here’s what The Bump says this week:

“Baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid every day, both for hydration and nutrition and to practice swallowing and digesting. And, these days, those taste buds actually work! Studies show that after birth, babies are most interested in tastes they’ve already experienced through amniotic fluid. Meaning, think about what you want your future child to eat as you prepare your own lunch.”

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/week-21-banana.aspx?r=0

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

Misadventures in Daycare: Summer of 1987

Three months in the Alabama Slammer.

The smell of burnt scrambled eggs is so distinct. Somehow the cooks at my summer daycare in 1987 managed to consistently make sure breakfast was less than gourmet quality. For me at age six, I treated daycare like prison. I was forced to be there. I was made to sleep on a cot for an hour even though I wasn’t tired. I had to watch TV shows I didn’t want to see, like Reading Rainbow marathons. For the most part, I kept my head down and stayed out of everybody’s business. I wasn’t there to make friends. I was there to serve my time and move on.

At least my partner in crime was there with me. My sister Dana, being 3 years younger than me, was with a different age group for most of the day. But from 2 to 3 o’clock all the kids were in the same room for nap time. The entire floor was covered with grungy green army cots we had to balance on and pretend like we were all sleeping. Baffled by all these strange kids around me who for some reason actually seemed to enjoy being there, the only person I would talk to was my sister. Not only was she easy to talk to (she was 3 at the time) but she thought I was funny.

One day during nap time on the cot next to hers, I held up my hand near her face, waving hello. Then I pulled in three of my fingers to my palm to make a gun. Next I pulled in my thumb and pointer finger to make a fist. She was impressed with my ability to wave, make a gun, then a fist with the same hand in a matter of seconds. A woman in charge saw me do it and said in front of everyone, “Nick, put your hand down and stop bothering your sister.” I didn’t care enough to explain that she liked it and so stood convicted of my new crime.

By the end of the summer though, a wonderful event occurred. A prospective parent brought their child in to visit the place, all dressed up like they were from Connecticut or something. While giving the tour, one of the ladies in charge of the place showed the parent and child where the restroom was.

She opened the door only to find there was a boy sitting down on the toilet with his shorts around his ankles. He didn’t lock the door and therefore was exposed to the parent, child, and everyone facing that side of the room. It was great. That made my summer at Lad & Lassie Day Care worth the while.

Classic.

Classic Home Videos

Where were you on Labor Day of 1990?Before there were reality shows starring idiots for us to pity/make fun of every week, or a phenomenon called YouTube where any fool can upload their tomfoolery for the entire world to see, there were two decades (the ‘80’s and ‘90’s) where we filmed opportune moments of our own lives and kept them to ourselves to laugh at.  And they became classic VHS gold, forever saved in our memories; ready material for reminiscing with those involved, in an instant’s notice.

The most honored tape of cherished memories still at my parents’ house is labeled “Labor Day ‘90”.  It had just been a few months earlier that my parents finally sacrificed a thousand dollars for the behemoth black-and-white-view-finder-equipped video recorder.  On that lazy afternoon at my Italian grandfather’s house with the whole family there, our lazy vacation day became a personal collection of gems. 

So maybe those moments aren’t funny to the rest of the world (not YouTube material), but to our family, the tape is hilarious every time we throw it in the now antique VHS player.  These moments include, but are not limited to the following:

“Is this thing gonna be that thang?”- My sister holds up to the camera in one hand a dandelion in which the wind had blown off the seeds, and in the other hand, a dandelion still with all its seeds in tact.  Then in her (at the time) Southern-fried accent asked the camera operator (my mom), “Is this thing gonna be that thang?”

“Can you figure it out?”-Sitting sideways on a plastic ribbon braided lawn chair with my arms behind my back, I faced the camera while my dad hid behind me, putting his arms out as my own.  As my mom asked me basic questions, none of which I seemed to know the answer, my dad used his arms to make motions to indicate it (he used his arms to scratch my head like I was thinking, etc.). 

It was pretty obvious he was behind me, not only for the fact that his arms were much bigger and darker than mine, but also because his mullet was showing in the shot.  Finally my mom (as the cameraman) asks the viewers at home, “Can you figure it out?”

“Nick and Dana… back up now!”-  My grandfather lived on five acres which he was very proud of and which was prone to appearances of wildlife.  In the front yard that day, he found a baby bird in nest in a small tree (only about five feet tall).  My mom walked the camera over to the tree, attempting to zoom in on the bird.  In the meantime, my sister and I (respectively ages 6 and 9) ran over to see if we could get a closer look at the bird. 

For fear of us scaring the bird away (like a baby bird is going to fly way…), my mom warned us, through clenched teeth (to keeping from scaring the baby bird away) “Nick and Dana… back up now!”  The hilarious part is that the whole time the camera was on the tree, the bird was barely visible up in the top corner of the shot. 

“I’m a winner!”- My dad, who a year later won 2nd place in the Northeast Alabama karate sparring tournament, was “play fighting” me.  Doing my best to ward off his slow-motion kicks and punches, he finally got me in a headlock.  He growled to me, “Say ‘I’m a winner’!  Say it!  Say it!”  I struggled to escape as he took me to the ground.  I gave in, with a clever twist.  I declared, “I’m a winner!” in a wimpy, Southern, nine year-old voice that in no way indicated what I was saying was true. 

We were the original comedians of comedy in our own worlds.  And even if we never get around to converting those video clips from VHS to digital format and eventually to YouTube, those classic hilarious moments in our minds are still better than any reality TV shows we’ll ever know.

Just Be

 To be?  That is the question.

Like a baby discovering his hand in front of his face for the first time, sometimes I get these profound revelations that were there all along, but I never really grasped them before.  Yesterday, it hit me: “Be”.  The verb “be”.  While it can be used in so many different ways and instances, it’s a pretty deep word to think of it in its most simple human terms when relating to one’s self.

To be is to exist. 

Take away any adjective or noun that could follow “be”.  To not “be” anything.  Just to be.  What does it mean to just simple be?  To simply exist. 

Is it all the day to day tasks we do each day?  Driving, working, eating, resting?

Is it simply being alive?  Having a heartbeat?  Breathing?

It’s too deep for me.  I don’t know how to “be”.  How exactly do you “be”?

At least, I don’t know how to “be” myself- though I know how to be myself, by not being someone else.  But I can’t “be” alone.  I can sleep in a house by myself but that’s being alone, not “being” alone.  Where this is going is this: “Being” makes a lot more sense when someone else is “being” too. 

It helps to observe the lyrics of a legendary rock song like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2:  “I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields…  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls, these city walls… only to be with you”. 

This is sort of song that stops people in their tracks when they hear it.  So full of passion.  A song everyone can relate to, even if they can’t relate to the major spiritual undertones.  If a person simply just hears this song they will most likely walk away subconsciously agreeing that they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.  And, that they would go through extreme measures, only to “be” with another person.

Whatever “being” is, it’s something that is accomplished with other human being who is also “being.  And that’s what “being together” is.  “Being”.  Together.

I am constantly trying to corner down in my mind what it is to “be”, so that I can “be” with everyone important to me in my life.  There’s that annoying balance of figuring out what are truly life’s distractions (worrying about money, getting stressed over uncontrollable things like future plans, etc.) and still doing the things it takes to be a responsible person (working, providing, supporting, listening, teaching, etc.). 

Sometimes deliberately focusing on something so simple can be the hardest thing to do.

“Now an ambulance screams, while the silliest things are flopping around in my brain.  And I try not to dream up impossible schemes that swim around, wanna drown me insane.  And don’t know how to slow it down.  Oh, my mind’s racing from chasing pirates.”

-“Chasing Pirates” by Norah Jones