Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tales of the Max

The following is no particular order since I've been AWOL forever. I keep saying I'll try and blog more frequently, yet I never do. Maybe someday...

Time will show how negligent I was in my role as herald for my children, especially in their early years. But by way of penance, I hereby present a list of things Max has done in the past few months. He’s not talking yet, nor is he running despite his best efforts. This list is hardly comprehensive. It is, however, a matter of record now that he can eventually look back on and laugh at.

Or sue me in court for, depending on the path his life eventually takes.

Feeding Max is a bit of a chore. He’s 16-months-old (at the time of this posting) which means getting him to sit still and focus on eating is more of an effort than one might think. He’s also become a bit of a foodie, due in no small part to My Fair Lady’s relentless efforts to expose him to as much variety as possible. He pops green beans and peas like they were candy, knocks back meatloaf with nary a complaint, and devours pork loin, gourmet pizza, and more.

He also has a love for Eggos, all types of fruit, and several ounces of milk each meal. This is probably why we get so frustrated when he doesn’t want to eat. He eats so well so much of the time that when he doesn’t, we immediately think something’s wrong or that he’s just being difficult for the sake of being difficult. It takes some reminding that a) he’s smaller than us and can’t eat as much, and b) sometimes people just don’t feel like eating. So why should he be any different?


Max recently discovered climbing. Shortly thereafter he discovered dancing. Guess what? He likes to climb on top of our coffee table (handmade out of oak by My Fair Lady’s grandfather in the 1920s) and dance. A baby dance is hilarious because it bears an eerie resemblance to Elaine’s dance on “Seinfeld,” best described as “a full body dry heave set to music.” One of his signature moves is to hold on to something then stick his right leg out behind him. He doesn’t do anything else, just sticks that leg out. I keep waiting for him to at least bounce it up and down, but it just stays stuck out.

Naturally, my family decided to continue warping him. We discovered at the July 4th parade that he’s a fan of the Beach Boys, and whenever that hits the rotation at Casa de Skim, sure enough he starts jiving. My mother fired up “The Blues Brothers” soundtrack while she was babysitting him one day, and he never stopped moving. This was followed by me firing up the actual movie and hitting all the musical sequences. He went nuts for James Brown’s number in the church, and it is a showstopper without doubt. The extended cut of the film doesn’t work on the whole (a subject for another post) but the longer musical numbers means more time for baby dancing.

My Fair Lady, a hardcore band geek and music nerd, plays all sorts of tunes for him, then taps the beat on his arm so he can start to understand it. He kind of gets it, but we’re not expecting Mozart given his age. But I did tear up a little knowing I was getting to show “The Blues Brothers” to my son, and can’t wait to show the full thing to him eventually.

When he’s old enough to not shout out, “I hate Illinois Nazi’s!” on the playground that is.


Speaking of which, we’re working on language skills. My Fair Lady was so paranoid about Max’s inability to speak or properly identify items when he was 12 months old, it drove me crazy.

Me: “He’s just discovered he can take his socks off! What more do you want?”
MFL: “I want him to say my name, bitch!”

Funny enough, he has come close with that by saying “Mommom” when he looks at her. His other word thus far is “buh buh” for “bye bye.” He waves when you leave, and Friday he said “buh buh” as I left for work. That high managed to carry me all the way to the office.


“Monsters, Inc” was already a funny movie, but it’s become downright hilarious due to Max. The little girl in it, Boo, is exactly what we’re going through and we can see how the animators had to have drawn on their own experiences as parents. We haven’t led him down the hall with a trail of Cherrios, but that night he did walk down the hall to his bedroom wearing a little plastic fireman’s hat. He fiddled with it the entire length of the hall, and we followed behind him snickering. This was subsequent to an earlier incident when he opted to use a giant stainless steel mixing bowl as a helmet. We called him Private Maxwell and asked him to report for duty. He then tipped over from the weight and cackled.

Good stuff.


Max has started to imitate me and it’s both hilarious and deeply touching. Here are two instances from this weekend alone:

My Fair Lady and I have a tendency to not clean out our refrigerators as frequently as we should. That’s not saying our kitchen is filth-ridden by any means. If anything, our kitchen is pretty damn clean 95% of the time. But the spare fridge we have in the back is where we tend to put things, then forget about them for a while. Such was the case with a plate of lettuce and tomatoes from a cook-out we had a few weeks back.

Sunday morning while My Fair Lady was at church, I decided to get rid of that plate. So I toss the stuff in a bag and set it on the counter. I turn around, and it’s leaked down the counter and onto the floor. No worries. I throw it into another bag, a much thicker one, then use some paper towels on the spill. Dried it right up, then reached for the Fantastic. Max walks up beside me then starts playing with the paper towel holder. I think he’s messing with it just to mess with it so I keep trying to get him to stop. Finally, I threw in the towel (so to speak) and just focused on cleaning up the mess.

He manages to rip off a paper towel, drops the towel on the spot where I’m cleaning, and proceeds to move the towel back and forth exactly like daddy was doing. I felt a little tear forming in one eye.

Later that afternoon, we came inside after an extended period in the yard and I noticed a large spider on the floor. I asked My Fair Lady to bring me my shoe, and after a couple of slams the spider was very dead. I handed my shoe back to her, went into the kitchen to get a paper towel, and began my return journey. While I was en route to the scene of the homicide, Max walked back into the kitchen, picked up my shoe, walked to where the spider’s remains were, then dropped the shoe on the body. He then picked up the shoe, and dropped it on the spider again. Just to finish the job.

I frankly love that he’s emulating me. I get the whole father-son dynamic now. I didn’t at first, beyond the inherent joy males feel when they have a son, but I understand it now. When he’s riding on my shoulders and laughing and squealing with glee, or when he imitates my actions in terms of pest control because he wants to help and be just like me, my heart soars.


He was having difficulty going to sleep tonight, and he'd turned on his mobile. I let him be for a while, then when it sounded like he still wasn't going to sleep, I left the office to go check on him. Outside his room I could hear the mobile going full blast when we normally keep it on the lowest setting. I walk in and the room is pitch black. Fortunately, I can see in the dark. Quite well in fact, thank you for asking.

Max is standing at the edge of his bed as far from his mobile as he can. He looks at me with this expressions of, "I done broke it WTFLOLOMGBBQ!" He was trying to get away from it since he'd been messing with it and cranked the volume to full while successfully turning off the lighting. So for all he knew, this sound system was turning his crib into an kiddie-version of a Van Halen concert and he couldn't turn it down from an 11.

I reset it, then he plopped down and changed expressions again. This one said, "Here we go again." So I picked him up and held him. Immediately he laid his head on my shoulder and snuggled in to get comfortable. I sat down in our rocker, then slid down to turn my chest into as flat a surface as possible. After about five minutes of gentle rocking and rubbing his back, he was snoring.

Who's his daddy?


Parenthood is an absolute beat-down physically and emotionally, but I get now why people go through it. I hope in the end my son (and the new No. 2) will be extremely happy and intelligent people. If we do our jobs correctly as parents, the benefits are significant beyond anything we can imagine. That wasn’t something I understood when we started.

But I get it now.