On Monday, a co-worker asked how my Thanksgiving was.
“Horrible,” I said. “I slept on the floor because my son wouldn’t sleep in the Pack ‘n Play. How was yours?”
“It was pretty sweet,” he said. “My wife and I spent a week at this remote village in Mexico. Walked to the beach every day, drank cocktails. You know.”
NO I DO NOT KNOW. I USED TO KNOW BUT I DO NOT KNOW ANY MORE. A GOOD VACATION FOR ME NOW IS WHEN SOMEONE WATCHES MY CHILD LONG ENOUGH I CAN WASH MY BODY WITH SOAP AND WATER.
My son, currently known as Destructibaby or Garopolis (his sister’s longstanding name for his evil alter ego), is 16 months old. He is the cutest baby who ever lived. He has learned the signs for “all done” THANK THE FUCKING LORD NO MORE THROWING FOOD ON THE FLOOR TO INDICATE HE WOULD LIKE TO BE RELEASED FROM HIS HIGH CHAIR and “more,” although sometimes he uses “more” to mean “food,” but we get what he means. Two days ago he sat up at dawn in the dark of the bedroom, waved his little arms, and cried, “Done!” to let me know he was done sleeping. IT WAS SO FUCKING CUTE.
He eats all my toast at breakfast. He is addicted to tangerines. He pulls out all the dental floss. He points to the toilet and says, “Poo poo.” He can tell the difference between an illustration of a cat and a dog. He knows what the cow says (“Boo!”), what the monkey says (“Ooh, ooh, ah, ah!”), and what the owl says (“Owl!”). He pets the dog and our friend’s cat very gently. He points to balls everywhere, because–who knew!–balls are everywhere. He does downward dog and giggles at us through his legs. He demands to dance with us by standing on the tops of our shoes. He carries his step stool all over the house. He thinks we have a game where he climbs up on the kitchen bench and puts one foot on the table and opens his mouth in delight and expectation and that the next step is for me to say, “No. Put your foot back on the bench or I’ll dig your eyes out with a spoon,” and then he puts his foot back on the bench and I cry, “Thank you!”
He climbs into my laundry basket or drags a cookie sheet into the hallway and sits on it and says, “Go?” and I lean over and say, “Ready? Set? Goooooo!” and pull him up and down the carpet again and again until I remember I’M 42 WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO HAVE A KID AT AN ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE. He plays peek-a-boo in the dark at 5:30 a.m. because he doesn’t know I can’t see him, and he lies beside me and gives me kiss after kiss on my mouth so I will wake up and play with him. He grabs my tits and screams “BOOT” when he wants to nurse and has a heart attack if it doesn’t happen within his ideal time frame. He punches me in the face when I’m buckling him into his car seat and can’t get away. When we play airplane he signs “more” each time his feet hit the ground. Last night in the bath I told him to lie down so I could wash the soap out of his hair, and HE DID IT because he understood what I said because he is brilliant. He giggles when I poke him in the belly button and say, “Bee bo!”
He puts my socks in the diaper pail and screams in indignation when I lock the top so he can’t do this anymore. He puts dog food in the cabinets. He wedges his pink sippy cup into the baby gate and then closes the back door so I can’t find the sippy cup. He drags the wastebasket from the office across the hall into the bedroom and loads it up with his pajamas. He asks in all seriousness that anyone reading him a book please hold him on their lap please. He “brushes” his hair with his sister’s brush. He can point to his teeth and his ears and his hair and sometimes his nose and he can wiggle his toes and wiggle his fingers and he blinks his eyes when you ask him where his eyes are. He laughs and laughs and laughs, especially when his sister wraps her arms around his big belly and lugs him around the living room, and when he laughs I can see the gaps beyond his eight little teeth, four up, four down.
I love his teeth. They are little and round and perfect.
He is the smartest baby who ever lived. When I see another baby around my son’s age, I think, That baby is so dumb. My baby is so much smarter than that baby. He just started playacting. Last week, when I put his Tweety Bird in his high chair after dinner, he ran to the counter and pulled down the dirty bib I’d just taken off him. When he thrust it at me, I realized he was insisting I put it on Tweety. So I did, and then we used his spork and bowl to feed Tweety, and then my son toddled across the kitchen, reached high up over his head, and threw his spork and bowl INTO THE SINK.
So that makes two of us who put our dishes in the sink when we’re done with them AHEM.
My baby is developing so quickly that when I pull my head up for air and realize two months have passed since I’ve been able to write a blog post, I have to check my notes. And so much time has passed that I don’t know what to focus on for a theme. Options: I’m starting to understand how I might be ready to wean (but will still try to make it to two years). I miss hiking. I’m fantasizing about my son’s first international trip, which I would like to be to Mexico City, although a weekend out of town in our own country is already a fucking nightmare so I don’t know what I’m thinking. I’m reading a good book. I’m getting more sleep. Sometimes I have time to read Real Simple, which SJ, my sweet, sweet husband, bought me for my birthday. I fantasize about home projects. I drink wine at night and listen to Billie Holiday and make new things for dinner.
But mostly I’m as committed as ever to staying as present as possible with this baby. It’s my policy that, whenever he waddles over to me holding a book and says, “Book?,” I stop what I’m doing and read it to him. I kiss him all the fucking time. I take days off work to spend with him. I take him to our local park, on a deserted spit in southeast San Francisco where no one else ever goes, and I put him on my lap and swing with him, watch him slide down the slides, nurse him on a cement bench yards from the shore facing the East Bay and watch container ships and Mount Diablo, take his little shoes and socks off and let him splash in the water and walk in the sand, and pick blackberries from the scraggly bushes falling into the bay and feed us both.
So maybe that’s my subject: my preoccupation with the fact that, one day, all this will be gone. As I’ve written before, ever since my son was born, I’ve been obsessed with death. Mostly mine and his. Someday, no matter how many whole grains I eat or bad habits I abstain from, we will not both be alive at the same time. And eventually we both will have been dead for so long no one will remember us. And the sadness that opens up in me when I think about this is so vast I don’t have words.
Still, I know this sadness is in direct proportion to the obscene amount of joy that has exploded in my life like a million Christmas crackers, and the even more obscene amount of love that radiates from my core all day and night like a fucking flux capacitor, and that I can’t have one without the other, and that one in fact causes the other. I think of Oliver Sacks and his intense sadness to die because of his intense joy for living (and his gift at expressing this).
So what I’ve been thinking about recently is, I want to teach my son about death. Not to tell him some bromide about where we “go” after we die, and certainly not to tell him some crap about “heaven” and “hell.” And not to frighten him but in fact to do the opposite (or attempt to). When he asks, to talk with him about death–how it’s simply an unknown, the greatest we have–and to talk without fear so maybe he won’t fear it. To teach him acceptance of it, engagement with it, curiosity about it.
So that maybe in the end–and by that I mean The End–we both will cheat not death but fear–the fear that comes from the knowledge that all these adorable things my baby does, and my baby himself, and me, will one day be gone. And knowing my only responsibility now–my only choice–is to participate fully in the time I have, with my heart blown open every day.
Wouldn’t you like a nice, warm turmeric latte to go with your fear of death? I have been seeing recipes for these for a while and have been meaning to attempt one, and we finally got a little bullet blender that makes mixing the ingredients easy (and cleaning up so easy), and we finally had all the ingredients. To make this anti-inflammatory latte that will help you live a little longer before the cold hand of death taps you on the shoulder, you need:
- Fresh turmeric, or 3/4 tsp. turmeric powder
- Fresh ginger, or 1/4–1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. nut butter
- 1 1/2 cups water (or milk ARE YOU KIDDING ME USE MILK)
- 1/2–3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
You need to:
- Blend all the ingredients until that shit is smooth and frothy.
- Warm it up in a small pot and pour it into mugs. Sprinkle over more cinnamon to serve. Hmm. I skipped the cinnamon. It would have been nice for the picture. Oh, well! Guess I’m going to die and my picture of a turmeric latte won’t have sprinkled cinnamon on it! #regrets