Fear

I’m sure all parents have a little bit of fear about how their child might turn out as an adult- or just as worse- an adolescent. I mean, could I really still love Arlo if he turned out to be a dickwad like Justin Bieber? I know I am supposed to say I will- and I will- but will I?

I remember seeing Justin Bieber on The Today Show when he was really young. His mom was his chaperone and she did most of the talking for him. Honestly, Justin seemed like a sweet little boy with an amazing voice. Excuse me while my embarrassment fades following my admission of watching The Today Show one time ten years ago. Hey, Matt Lauer was still cool then… No he wasn’t.

Anyway, back to the point- Justin Bieber is a dickwad. So, Arlo, if you ever come home with any haircut resembling Justin Bieber’s, I will punch it off your head.

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Well, except for maybe this one- you can slide with this one.

Sorry folks, sometimes I digress. But lucky for us, I started with my digression today- I have a more serious type of fear to tell you about. I don’t even know what to name it- I don’t think anxiety would be correct- I’m not walking around feeling anxious all the time- it’s deeper than that, like way inside of me and most of the time it’s hard for me to recognize. It’s not necessarily worry either. I don’t know what it is- I know it’s there though- and it first started happening in conjunction with fatherhood.

I’ve never been one to live with much fear- being who I am I have always been overly cautious- meaning why should I be scared if I’m so careful. Ever since I was a kid, I have always taken too much time to analyze a situation before taking action- I think that’s why I could never learn to ollie. Instead of actually trying to ollie with the skateboard, I would sit and stare at the board and try to figure it out in my head- I mean why fall over and over when I could just figure it out in my head first- that approach probably ended my professional skateboarding career.

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(Actual footage of me in 1983- well, of what I was doing in my head)

I can’t say that I have never really avoided dangerous things either- I mean, minus the ollie- that was just a case where the cost/benefit of ollie(ing) for the admiration of friends did not outweigh the possibility of broken bones (which I still have never had to this day).

I have done semi-dangerous things though. I motorcycled for a while- once even back and forth across the country. On a separate occasion however, I did have an accident with a pickup truck- it ran a red light- and I ran into it (that was five minutes from home though)- it totaled my bike and I got pretty banged up- but I bought another one and rode again. But I don’t ride anymore though- I traded that in for a welder (which can be dangerous if you look at the light).

I also fought forest fires for six seasons. While doing that I did not have an incessant fear like the one I have now. For the most part I felt safe while doing that job with the exception of a couple occasions. But there was never a wiggling seed of fear buried deep within me like there is now.

Here, I’ll give you an example by telling you what happened a few days ago…

ArloAcai.jpegOn Wednesdays during the summer in Missoula there is an event called Out to Lunch. Arlo and I check it out about every other Wednesday. We like to dress up in bright outfits, ride our bike there, listen to whatever live music is going on, and split an açaí bowl while we people watch. Yes, we both like açaí bowls- we eat more than just sardines together.

Well, this story is not about the event itself, but what happened on the way there. We ride the bike path from our house to downtown- it’s probably three miles- it cuts straight through town at a diagonal and we have to cross many busy intersections and end up on the riverwalk. This particular day we were riding we came upon a transient- he was middle-aged and scrubby with sun leathered skin. He was sitting on a bench looking through his bag and talking to himself over the blasting music from his transistor radio.

I remember all these details because when I’m with Arlo I have a tendency to analyze potentially dangerous situations- I usually (always) overanalyze and imagine every possible horrific outcome. (Like I said, I’ve never broken a bone)

Well, as we passed this man he looked up at us and gave me a bit of a crazed straggle toothed smile and said “Hey.” I looked over my shoulder and said “Hey” back and that was that. But then he yelled “Hey!” as if he wanted me to stop- I was ten feet past him now and thought about his crazed smile- nope, not stopping– instead I yelled back “Hey!” again and kept going. And then guess what happened? He yelled “HEY!!” again! I turned to look over my shoulder and he was running after us!

WTF!!!?

Yeah! With that brief glance I saw he was holding onto his lived-in filthy baggy blue jeans with one hand and his other hand was outstretched reaching toward us- running- not jogging- RUNNING!

I didn’t know what to do except pedal faster- and it’s hard to get some speed going when you are dragging a trailer with a kid in it who likes to collect rocks. Somehow (newfound dad strength) I gathered speed but I had to cross a road up ahead- but there was no way he would/could run that far that fast right? WRONG! He was still running after us- not yelling hey anymore, but screaming unintelligible words! And he was fast! Like former olympic athlete fast!

I readied myself for the road crossing- I either had to cross full bore and dodge a car or two- or slam on the brakes last second- Hopefully it would just be simple and there would be no cars coming and we could glide straight through to safety.

As I was about to hit the road I glanced back- he was still chasing after us and actually closing the gap. I turned back to the road and there were multiple cars coming each way- I slammed the brakes- well, squeezed them- it’s a bike- and there’s not much drama when saying I squeezed the brakes real hard. Anyway-

I jumped off my bike and let it fall- before it hit the ground I lounged for the bear spray I keep in the front of Arlo’s trailer- I stood up while pulling the pin ready to face my attacker who was just upon us.

“Hey man, I think this hat fell out of your bike trailer.”

He had a gasping but soft and reassuring voice. I looked at his outstretched hand that held Arlo’s blue hat. Arlo must have thrown it out when we were passing him.

I looked at the man. I looked at Arlo. I looked at the bear spray in my hand. I looked back at the man. He looked at the bear spray in my hand, “Don’t worry man, I’m an undercover cop- I used to run track.”

I sheepishly took the hat from his hand and put it in the bike trailer. I put the pin back on the bear spray and tucked it away. “Thank you,” I said, “You would never believe what I thought was happening.”

“Yes I can, I’m a father too.” He turned around and started walking back to his bench.


So, that was the happy ending that I just imagined right now while I was writing.

But the ending that kept going over and over in my head that day that I actually passed this guy was him chasing Arlo and I all the way to the river where the only way to get away from him was to plunge ourselves straight into the river where we were swept away to die tragically.

So, yeah, none of that happened except for riding by a strange transient sitting on a bench on the bike path on the way to lunch.

Sorry to take you all the way through that- BUT THAT’S WHAT IT’S LIKE FOR ME NOW IN MY HEAD! And that was truly the only way to make you understand.

 

 

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I feel a tiny bit slimy and deceitful now. Sorry. Oh- and that’s actually Cate Blanchett, not a picture of the guy I was talking about.

I don’t know where this fear comes from. Maybe it’s biological. It obviously has to do with our new family sect and me not wanting to lose it. Before Arlo, I was fine walking down the street- now when I’m walking down the street I wonder if the next car is going to barrel right over me for no reason whatsoever. Maybe I’m not so crazy to be thinking this way though with all the random acts of violence happening everywhere.

Growing up in California we used to have earthquake drills at school all the time- alarm goes off, everyone under their desks. I’ve heard it’s changed- now it’s active shooter drills- lock the doors and hide. It’s scary to think I’m going to have send Arlo off to school in a few years and he’s going to grow up with these safety precautions as normal. Is he going to come home and ask me, “Papa, why do people want to shoot other people?” Or does/will our culture already have that answer ingrained in a five year old’s head?

Geez, I really just bummed myself out- I didn’t think I would actually feel what it might be like in a few years when Arlo asks me those kinds of questions- but I do. Maybe I’ll explore this topic at a later date, but for now I need a lighter ending…

Dear Arlo,

I know at the beginning of this writing I said I would punch your Justin Bieber hair right off your head. I guess I just meant I don’t want you to become like Justin Bieber- you can still have a similar hairstyle as him. Also, it would be hypocritical of me to tell you that you couldn’t have a haircut like him, because I too, have had a Justin Bieber haircut. In my defense, it was sixteen years before he had it. I’m pretty sure he copied me…

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Also Arlo, your Nana made me retake this Senior yearbook photo- don’t know why, but she did.

 

One last thing- this is how you are sleeping this very moment- it looks like you were struck down by a lighting bolt, and then it just decided to take a snooze on you. 

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Sweet dreams kid.

 

Ugly

We have hit the third trimester mark. Now we are counting how many weeks we have left (13) rather than how many weeks we are into pregnancy. I say we- but Kylie is the beautiful one with a basketball jutting from her abdomen. Scout’s little jabs have turned into horse kicks and we know he’s going to have the same powerful soccer player thighs both Ky and I have.

It is getting to the point that I am starting to wonder what he is going to look like. Is he going to have the same potato shaped birthmark on his side that Kylie has? Will he get the small useless crooked pinkies that I got from my Nana? He’ll most likely have a small nose like both Kylie and I unless some random big nose gene intrudes from my family.

I have never been the type of person to fawn over how cute a baby is. Newborns are wrinkly and creepy and look like they have an undercover agenda. I’m told that I will think mine is beautiful no matter what. I’m leery of this and I kinda don’t want this switch to flip in me. I think I’d be okay with thinking it’s not the cutest baby in the world. In fact, is it okay to say that I would even be happy to have an ugly baby?

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! WHOA! Okay, I said that. Now let’s set things straight. First and foremost I want a healthy baby- that is the most important thing. When I say “ugly” I’m not hoping for an ugly baby. I don’t secretly want Kylie to give birth to Sloth from The Goonies.  (I can make that joke because Sloth is not real- no matter how much I thought he was when I was a kid).

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I guess what I’m saying is I’d be perfectly happy with an Ugly Duckling. Of course I wouldn’t want my kid to go through his whole life being a very unfortunate looking person with a small nose and thunder thighs. But as a baby, if he’s not the cutest thing, I would love to see adults meet him for the first time and watch them come up with a lying compliment. “Um, he’s cute….. Where’d you get that onesie?”

I imagine the tone to be similar to that of the person at the bar who asks me to make them something different- what do they say?

“Make me anything you want- something different- anything- I love everything- Make me something YOU would drink.” I then make them something that I like and would love to drink… “Wow… That’s in – ter – est – ing”. “Interesting” is drawn out across thirty seconds while they stare at it and avoid eye contact with me.

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I used to take this very personally. But after a couple years of bartending I now take great joy in this response because it is usually a person who is trying to flaunt their adventurousness to their friends. His/her drink will sit there getting warm while his/her friends finish their round. As I get everyone another drink the adventurous one will point to their lukewarm drink, “This is really good, but I think I’m just not in the mood for it- Can I get a vodka-soda?” 

Wow, that makes me look like a bad bartender but- OH MY! This is my baby blog- sorry- but that was really cathartic. So anyway- that tone- “Um, cute”. I love watching bad liars lie.

I do have some worries though. They usually surface when I look at the local mugshots. Our newspaper posts them online. Here are some of my favorites…

 

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All these guys were babies once. Somehow, some way, they grew up and lost their innocence. They have all done some fucked up shit. This is what scares me- and I don’t even know what about it scares me. I used to just look at these and think nothing of them- it would just remind me that there are some really fucked up people in Missoula County. But now, with a kid on the way, these faces affect me differently. They put me on edge. They make me want to protect Scout from all the other people like them. I want to keep whatever influenced them as far away as possible from my unborn child. I don’t even want him to see these people. This is a brand new feeling inside that I can only describe as some sort of carnal protectiveness. I didn’t even know it was inside me until I saw these mugshots today. It makes me want to hide every single person like this from Scout. It makes me want to protect him from the truth of what some people truly are… ugly.

Twenty-five

We are twenty-five weeks pregnant today! I probably didn’t have to punctuate that with an exclamation mark but I’m pretty excited about it- and surprised. Where is the time going? It doesn’t feel like very long ago that Kylie and I were waiting for her to have a little baby bump- and now she’s bumpin’ like a smooth R. Kelly song. Ew. No. Not R. Kelly. I can’t believe I even mentioned that guy in this blog. If you wanna learn more about R. Kelly, here is an exposé written last year on his grossness at Spin Magazine.

How about bumpin’ more like MC Hammer style- Pumps and a Bump, Pumps and a Bump, We like the girls with the– never mind- let’s just keep it as Kylie’s bump. Hammer, don’t touch this.

Kick it MC!

Sorry for the digression, let’s get back to the real topic of twenty-five weeks. The pregnancy app says Scout is the size of a papaya now- last week he was the size of an eggplant. Without ever seeing the two things side by side I’d have to say I thought an eggplant was a little bigger- maybe the app considers density in the size evaluation. But really, I probably shouldn’t invest so much thought into this comparison. I mean who knows who writes these apps, for all we know it could be some 400 lb. guy sitting on his bed at home who got bored of hacking into the DNC and decided that writing a pregnancy app would be more lucrative.

No offense to 400 lb. guys- I didn’t make him up- somebody else colluded on that idea- but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s move on to Kylie’s birthday. She had a birthday on Wednesday- and it was a wonderful day. In the morning she opened a pile (enormous pile) of presents that friends and family had sent. A slew of things ranging from a hilarious pregnancy activity book to strapless stomach bras (?) to a pregnancy pillow the size and shape of two elephant’s trunks and a pregnancy back brace and and some earrings and just a whole bunch of fun cool stuff- thank you everybody.

Her family bought her an Osprey I don’t even know what you call them baby carrier backpack thing. This thing is legit with an aluminum frame and a drool pad. It also has a sunshade and a perfectly shaped bottom zippered storage area for a six pack of beer. Up until now I’ve been a little afraid that I wouldn’t really get excited about baby stuff but this thing flipped that worry upside down. I studied all the directions and and messed with all the special features. I got lost in it blowing all the bells and dinging all the whistles- it was like hanging out with a new motorcycle- well, almost. Oh yeah, Kylie liked it too.

Pumps and a Bump, Pumps and a Bump, We like the girls with the Pumps and a Bump.

That song is stuck way up in my head now. I should not have researched it so heavily. Click here if you want to get the full effect of this blogpost…

In all seriousness though, Kylie and Scout are doing well. Actually, great. He’s been kicking like an octopus and giving me high fives all the time (not true, but that’s what I like to believe- and I’m not even a high-fiver). It’s crazy that there’s just over three months left. It’s odd though- the closer it gets, the more real it gets- and the more I realize I have no idea what I’m in for. It was all fun and games romanticizing about it when Scout didn’t have a face or gender or a room, but now that it’s all coming together and getting closer to actually happening it’s getting harder and harder for me to actually get a clear picture it. Marty McFly
It’s like when when Marty McFly looks at his hand while he’s playing the guitar at his parent’s dance in Back to the Future- I am Marty Mcfly and Scout is my hand. I know it’s there- it has been for a long time- but now it’s getting harder and harder to see.  Whoa. I think I just got way deeper than I meant to.

Never mind. You know what’s wrong with me right now? I’ve got that damn song stuck in my head!

Pumps and a Bump, Pumps and a Bump, We like the girls with the Pumps and a Bump

Pregaroonies

Kylie is twenty-three weeks pregnant today. Scout is purring all curled up in the wooly of his little womb. His lungs are tidying up so he can breath air when he comes out to meet us. June 8th is just around the corner now- well, it will be- so Kylie and I are signing up for birth classes and figuring out other stuff like the diaper situation- poop- there will be lots of it- cribs and rock-n-plays and carseats and slings and changing tables and this and that. It’s not overwhelming, it’s just a whole new world. It’s a lot different from when we used to abstractly think about babies in the past- when it was just fun and inconsequential…

 

So we’ve been busy with planning and thinking about things like names and to snip or not to snip. For now, Scout has one name- Scout- until he is born, and then we will share his human name with everyone. We haven’t settled on a name yet anyway. At the beginning, when it was fun to just come up with names, it was nice to share with friends and family. But we also found that positive or negative reactions really did have some influence as to whether or not we kept a name kicking around. So as we narrow it down we decided it’s really best if we just keep it to ourselves. (It’s just another thing I’ve never thought about until actually going through it.)

Another preparation that began in the last month is the baby room. My spare bedroom (yeah, I know, how posh of me) will be Scout’s room. Some time in January I started the mural. It got bigger than expected and I still have A LOT of work to do- like probably another month or two at the rate I’m working- but here are some details of what has happened so far…

 

That’s all I got today- I gotta put the computer away and pick up a paint brush. Hope your February is going well- and Happy Black History Month!

Kicks

Scout’s astir! Kylie started feeling some kicks on Tuesday night. At first she only felt them inside her belly- like little flutters, but by Thursday she was feeling them from the outside with her hand. With Scout only consistently kicking at bedtime and with my annoying work schedule, I had to wait until Saturday night for my turn to feel.

On Saturday night I took a break from painting to put my hand on Kylie’s belly when she went to lay down for bed. I waited for three minutes when I started thinking the little guy was gonna leave me hanging. Kylie told me to hold on because it usually takes him a few minutes. Another minute or two went by and then I felt one… and then two… and then three. I don’t know what he was doing but he was kickin’ or punchin’. I have never felt a kick from the womb before (I’ve never really hung around a lot of pregnant women). It was an amazing feeling though.

Tonight I was painting and Kylie was lounging on a cushion in the room reading and keeping me company. She whispered for me to come over and she placed my hand on her belly. He kicked a couple of times. Right now he’s small but I can feel his stronger jabs pretty good. There’s no consistent rhythm or spot so I imagine a guy in there holding a pencil with the eraser end out searching for a letter on a keyboard that resides just inside Kylie’s belly. He’s having a hard time finding the key he wants to hit but when he does he makes it known with a frustrated pencil jab at that key. That’s what it feels like.

As magical as it is however, my mind can’t ever leave it as is. It reminds me of that scene in Alien– you know the old one with Sigourney Weaver from 1979? Kylie, this is where you should stop reading this post- don’t worry, there’s nothing to see here…

 

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This is your last chance Kylie, stop scrolling…

 

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And then the cute little bugger breaks his way out…

 

Born with Teeth

 

*SIGH* I just hope Scout’s not born with teeth.