There’s nothing quite like having a child to remind you that what you decided was true yesterday has no bearing on what is true right now.
Most mornings, I take Declan to the coffee shop. What started out as just coffee for Dad became coffee and sometimes breakfast for Dad which turned into sometimes sharing breakfast with Declan which turned into maybe-I’ll-get-half-of-what-I-ordered-but-probably-not-because-the-miniature-version-of-me-has-a-voracious-appetite-for-anything-I-claim-as-my-own. For months, the delicacy of choice has been banana bread. We all existed happily in the banana bread and coffee universe until recently when Declan developed a taste for the bialys Colleen and I would sometimes order on weekends. We’d order him his own piece of banana bread only to have him pointing and pleading for our bialys. So this morning, I decided it was time to change the routine. I ordered my usual coffee and (instead of banana bread) one bialy to share with Declan. We sat down. Declan did his usual business of pointing to me and saying “buh” for bread. I handed him a piece of bialy. He looked at it. He looked confused. He looked back at me. And then he said “Nana buh.” Declan-speak for banana bread. That’s a story about how no one really knows anything about anything…
Changes and transitions just keep happening. Sometimes by the month, sometimes by the hour.
Declan used to love black beans. Won’t touch ’em now. So much for the Costco cart load of canned black beans we bought.
He used to be obsessed with ceiling fans. Now they’re old news.
The microwave? Seen it. The beeps coming from the microwave? Fascinating.
Cars? Meh. Planes? Drop-everything-and-hyperventilate awesome.
Declan used to give our dog the food from his own dinner tray. We told him not to feed the dog. Now that Declan is moving around so much, he toddles over to the pantry where we keep Watson’s bones, pulls them out one by one, gestures toward Watson, then puts them back in the box while shaking his head no. Basically doggie torture. Today’s solution is tomorrow’s problem.
All is flux, they say. And kids, I think, are the primary entropic force. They steer us unwittingly toward chaos and disorder. And maybe, if we pay attention, toward an ego that isn’t quite so sure of everything, isn’t quite so obsessed with dividing things into this and that, is at peace with the end of one thing and the start of another.
If I’m asked, I’ll tell people right now that Declan is a carb-hungry, toddling ball of smiles. A bookworm trapped in a kamikaze body. A dexterous monkey with the attention span of a goldfish. A strong-willed, squeaky and shriek-y ambassador for an imagined world free of diaper changes, bedtime, and attempts at misdirection.
And it’s all true until it’s irrelevant. Which might be in 5 seconds.
The stories we tell about ourselves are so much a part of who we are. They can be funny, insightful, sad, strange, exaggerated or understated, tender or harsh. They’re important. But they’re not the full picture. How could they be? Whatever we are, whatever our kids are–it’s right in front of us. A moving target if we grasp at it. At rest and available if we don’t.