Saturday, March 28, 2009

Riding The Richter Waves

Pablo writing on the chalkboard-covered TV doors in the play room. We've been so preoccupied that we forgot to turn him onto this super cool feature of his play room. He's giddy+stoked.

Another happy play moment: Pablo rediscovers the simple joy of a baseball. The kid has an arm like his grandpa—my dad was an insane pitcher and was THIS close to getting drafted onto the Milwaukee Braves in the late '50s.

I wrote this post Saturday morning and forgot to upload it.... So, here you go....

I went into P's room this morning to help him choose clothes and get dressed. I've done this for nearly six years. This time something was different. Pablo chose his jeans, then his shirt. Without counsel, he went to his top drawer, pulled it open, and began holding up a succession of underwear. One after another, he'd hold up a pair, look at it for a second, and place the striped or polka-dotted garment in a 'B' pile—until he found the pair he was looking for. I sat on his bed watching in amazement. The grin on my face felt as good as the simplicity of the moment. The thought running through my head was something like, 'My son is his own person, on his own path, and is having his own experience in life, and all I can do is sit on his bed and observe.' I've known this 'own path' thing for a long time. Still, it's been tough to accept that P doesn't want or need my help all the time, in every situation anymore.

When the selection process was complete, Pablo walked over to me. But only because he'd laid his clothes out on the bed next to me. He pulled his undies up. Then chose a specific pair of blue jeans from the middle of a pile of seemingly identical jeans. 'These are my new ones that Mommy got me,' he proclaimed. He pulled the jeans on, after being sure the zipper was up and the button was closed. Pablo has a technique where he just yanks his closed pants over his butt until the mission is accomplished. So cute.

I could not stand the observer's role any longer. I grabbed his 'Amazing Spiderman' tee and got it into position over his head, as I have since he was born. His eyes popped out, his arms went up above his head, and he stepped back. 'You don't have to help me anymore Papa.'
All I could say was 'Oh—OK sweetie. Here you go,' as I handed him the grey tee.

Nothing has defined the past year of our lives more than interdependence. An intricate, highly detailed fabric of us needing help and receiving help from countless friends in countless ways. In rapid succession. We expect Grady, who turns 15 in 18 days, to be busting out of the nest and fighting for his independence. But Pablo, like, not needing my help to put on his shirt—that knocked the breath out of me.

There is a part of me that wants Pablo to need me in the same way he did one year ago. There is a part of me that wants the physical 5.8-year-old Pablo and the developmental 4.8-year-old Pablo. I don't spend much time wanting anything these days. But yesterday it was clear that I wanted Pablo to want his Papa in a way that he no longer needs.
The year of front line triage has been so acute and intense. It made the simple joy of helping P get dressed not register. The past year has been about cresting the big waves on the Richter Scale. To a large degree, we were desensitized to the little ones, such as dressing Pablo. Didn't even feel them. We lost of year of gradual weaning off of that OG parental dependency. Nothing in the past year has been gradual. So, yeah, I was a little hurt and a little crestfallen that P waved off my presumptuous offer of assistance.

As I typed that last sentence, Pablo scurried into the play room and snuggled up under my right arm. In an instant, all is right in our world.

Grady, Jo Ann and I are getting ready to head out. The memorial for our friend Thomas from CHLA is this morning in Camarillo. We're elated that G wants to go.

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