Letters to Holly

Monday, August 23

On the Road

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the public wedding, we met up with Travis and Kathy at one of the ice cream stands outside the national forest.

Quick sidebar: Lauren's bachelorette party was almost exactly five years after she helped us throw our wingding.

Bizarre combinations of creams were devoured. Their children were delighted, and we could tell that their parenting styles had loosened with the second daughter. The first child sat on the bench, eating from a cone without spilling a drop. Neat as a pin. The youngest, newest child sat on the table and plastered in chocolate ice cream. Our man-cub stayed in his baby seat atop the table and slept, much to our relief. We met some former students who cooed over him and caught us up on their college plans.

The next morning, we drove to Spartanburg so My Mom could show off the deputy. And she did. The neighbor lady rushed over and didn't even acknowledge me as she scooped him out of my arms. I was a conduit for old-lady glee. We took a bottle with us so Mom could feed him, and she observed my diapering skills. She showed off her new pool, but lingering rain kept us of it. I'm not sure the deputy could handle chlorinated water anyway. We drove home in the afternoon and stopped by the pub for dinner. The car seat does not breathe, and any ride leaves him sweaty and cranky. We soothe him the best we can. Wipes cool him down a bit. Before we got out of the parking garage, we were semi-swarmed by students eager to view the baby. Once inside, the wait staff swarmed to see the baby. Fellow teachers came by and took in the baby. He's quite the conversation piece. I again see why motherhood is an attractive notion to outcast teenage girls: Babies bring the people to you.

We carried him to the store the next day, and his growth was made clear. He's a totally different body in that front carrier now. It's comforting to him to get that proximity, where he usually fidgets and chirps when otherwise held. That contraption is soothing somehow. I talk to him in it constantly so he can feel my conversation through my ribs. I sound like a moron as I move through the store. Again, people set a low orbit around him. He slept as we ate brunch downtown. Even before we began trying for a baby, we agreed that we'd drag a crying child out of a public venue. We see -- and hear, oy -- too many kids allowed to bur themselves out in stores and restaurants, and we shan't have that. Twice he made noise this weekend at restaurants, and we thankfully calmed him down before we needed to remove him. We could finish our meals in peace. Sunday night, he sat on the table again under a tree canopy and dozed while we scarfed bar food. He loves watching outdoor movements. He's also noticing the TV, and who can blame him? It's five times as big as him, and its hi-def. I think our neighbors can watch our TV.

We gave him his first tag team bath that night. We first washed his head at the kitchen sink and then bathed him in a tub seat in her bathroom. He managed it fine until he was out of the water and getting cold. He got lots of parent face time this weekend, and we felt more like adoring parents and less like caretakers and nurses. I'm growing to love him more as he develops a personality. Your Concerned Sister is a mite fearful of his long-off days of riding schoolbuses and facing bullies. I assured her we'll raise him differently than I was; he'll be taught to punch back and shown where to hit when he cannot avoid a bully. If he must go down, he'll go down singing, and I'll gladly tell any tut-tutting principal that he'll do so if no teacher or bus driver can prevent the bullying.

Also Your Squeamish Sister continually asserts that I will talk to the boy about sex, and I contend that getting the female POV will do him good too. I certainly could have used it in my clueless teen years.

Lots of hypotheticals fly around in our house. We hope to prepare ourselves as much as him. But we know we'll get blindsided by something. We gird. We joke. I quietly continue to think I do too little.

Picture of the Day
Oh, hi, America. Welcome to PBS's new show, Freakish Delights of the Netherworld. I'm your host, Donovan Alleyskulker. I'm a wereshark.

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