V. No Cosby Star is Safe from a Pizza Thrower

Lisa Bonet Sat.

N: Is a party-trap a

Sin? Taste no basil.

 

 

I think we can all agree it’s been too long since I posted one of these palindrome haikus.

Sorry.

I’ve been busy, you know, rearing a child. Keeping another human alive. Fostering the next generation. No biggie.

Advertisements

Eli the Creative

Or,
The Father Who Is Already Trying to Overstep His Bounds

One of our main focuses in parenting (other than, you know, trying to keep this helpless human alive) is trying to make sure that Eli is an addition to our family, not the sole focus of our family. That is to say, trying to create an accurate world for him where he is not the center of everything that happens.

This means we’ve taken him along on our everyday lives as much as possible while maintaining a healthy nap schedule. Yeah, it gets complicated.

Last week we had a family day, and Allison and I took Eli with us to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher. While there, I attempted to explain to Eli the importance of art for the larger culture and gave him a few of my rules on museum etiquette.

– Modern art has a significant place in our world, so don’t ever look at work and say, “Why is that pile of squiggles art? I could do that and I’m just a baby.” Even if it is a little true.

– As important as it is not to be an art dunce, but don’t be an art bully either. If you’ve said more than four sentences about a piece, you sound like an asshole.

Etc.

Doing this, I wonder if I am overstepping my parental bounds a little bit. Where is the line between teaching Eli to be a productive member of society and brainwashing him to be the kind of person I want him to be? I want him to be an intentional, artful-minded person and not some jock or video-game addict. I want him to think Irish folk songs are cool and that MMA fights are kinda stupid and that poetry is valuable even if not profitable.

But, is that right? Shouldn’t I let him decide how long he wants to play x-box , and what if he really does think that Giacometti sculpture is creepy and steroids are just tools to accomplish a goal?

What if, instead of inheriting what I think are some of his father’s better qualities like art appreciation and creativity, he just inherited my crappy qualities like laziness and mouthing off and ADD?

What if, instead of taking the best parts of his mother and I, he just turns out to be a magnification of our faults as individuals, as a couple, and as parents?

This makes me nervous. My (fairly half-baked) solution is to try and stuff all of these good things into him, in hopes that we can fill him to capacity before he gets old enough to start noticing all of the bad, rotten, and hidden-away parts.

We’ll see.

Silly Eli, you're not a statue!

How does this make me feel? Gassy.

Having fun outside

Hopefully, he has more musical talent than his father. Maybe a lefty too?

Top of the Food Chain

Eli is 3 and a half months old. That is totally insane to me.

It seems like just last week that I was in the hospital telling friends and family that we were expecting. All the nervous/excited talks that Allie and I had, sort of knowing what to expect and also having absolutely no idea. We forced friends to promise to still come hang out with us, and their faces clearly said, “Heck no, I’m not coming over to your house with your screaming baby,” possibly fearing that we might pour them a nice glass of wine and suddenly dart out the house and never return.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and my wife caring for Eli, but I think I’m also learning quite a bit about people in general. Babies are like these little raw humans, with all of the elements of humanity but without the ability to calm themselves down, talk, or avoid hurling their own fist into their eye socket.

The day an elephant is born, it has the ability to run away from lions. It took this kid three months to be able to accidentally roll himself onto his stomach, and even then he just starts screaming because if we don’t roll him back over he could suffocate. This is the animal that conquered the rest of the beasts? If somehow we were to find a panel of aliens and parade in front of them an infant version of every creature on Earth, then ask, “Which of these do you think grows up to control the fate of the rest?” I have a feeling that Eli would be pretty far down on that list.

But, it happens. I can already see his brain working and developing behind those eyes. He recognizes Allie and I just by our voice, and mimics our facial expressions. If one of us makes a vowel sound over and over, I can see him study our mouths and try to get his lips to do the same thing. He’s persistent, somehow managing to wrench his hands out of his swaddle blanket no matter how tight I wrap him up. Centimeter by centimeter, he wiggles and wiggles and wiggles and manages to get his fist into his mouth. Or eye socket. (Close enough, little dude.)

I shouldn’t really make fun. I’m just dexterous enough to feed and clean myself, but not enough to actually put a pair of socks and a long sleeved shirt on a wiggling baby.

Even in this totally non-autonomous state that he’s in, he still tries to do things on his own. He tried to take off his own diaper the other day, loves sitting in his Bumpo seat more than anywhere else in the house, and pretty much won’t eat unless he gets to put one of his hands on the bottle to act like he’s feeding himself.

Silly kid, you’re not able to take care of yourself yet. Just wait until you’re older, until your whole world is under your control. You’ll make your own money, live wherever you want, eat whatever you can afford, and be the lord of your own castle. Your work and abilities will provide for you and yours.

At least, that’s what I used to assume. Watching Eli, though, I don’t think its true. I think more often than not I’m probably just putting my hand on the bottle, pretending that I’m the one in control. Caring for him has showed me how well cared for I am and how dependent on the surrounding community everyone is. Society and the polis, as it turns out, is essential to human nature.

Eli is also pretty easily distracted, and he has a tendency to be much more interested in the spinning fan than his own father’s face. It is disheartening to imagine the potential increase in father/son interaction we would have if only my face spun around and possibly had plastic crap dangling from it.

I wonder how often I do the same thing to him, choosing to play Doodle Jump on my phone rather than being fully present with my wife and son.

Even at this moment, I’m looking up random stuff on the Internet on how to best format HTML from an iPhone.

Here’s to getting back to life, the awkward tango between our distinct natures, one fully capable of mastering the breadth of human emotion and community and the other just looking for a good nap.

20110802-101735.jpg

20110802-102809.jpg

20110802-102827.jpg

20110802-102910.jpg

20110802-102925.jpg

5 Pieces of Music I Like

Here are 5 pieces of music that I very much enjoy right now. You might like them too.

This whole record is ridiculously amazing. I liked them before (“Castaways and Cutouts”), but they’ve cranked the new-wave-Americana up a few notches and added Gillian Welch on a few tracks. It works for them, it works for me.

* This is David Bazan covering one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, but I tried to embed a song from his recent record. If you like this, watch this whole show. *

Listening to David Bazan, formerly of Pedro the Lion, is like getting re-acquainted with an old friend. In high school I liked Pedro the Lion a lot, but since haven’t really thought about it much. He seems to have figured some things out, I’ve changed quite a bit, and again we have new things to talk about. I love that he’s a decent guitarist with a sub-standard voice, but is successful based on the quality and uniqueness of his writing style. “Strange Negotiations”, his latest record, is full of quirky, slow-paced, whiskey-soaked-spirituality. We could all strive to be so good.

For some reason I’ve been heavy on the folky/acousticy stuff lately. It happens. This band has the best name I’ve heard in a long time, “The Devil Makes Three”. They’re everything I like about Old Crow Medicine Show, plus more tattoos and a girl who sings harmony. Cool lyrics, great melody, tight sound. Plus, the line “Cuz’ everybody who is anybody, in my opinion, at one time lived in somebody’s hallway” reminds me of my friend Peter, who technically lived in our hall closet for a period of time. He’s got a chance to be somebody.

I first heard of this band because of this video. Apparently, the band shot some normal footage of them singing the song, then let loose 50+ digital artists to each edit 3 seconds each with minimal guidelines. The result is totally non-sensical and possibly brilliant.

So simple and complicated at the same time. So cool.

 

Thanks for tuning in to the first edition of “Things I Like”.

 

Next time, back to silly baby pictures.

Bathtime!

Parenting is all about compromise.

My wife, Allison, loves taking baths. I get bored in them very quickly.

I think beard-growing is an exceptional hobby and conversation topic. My wife; however, rolls her eyes quite frequently when the subject of men’s facial hair comes up.

But, we have discovered a way to bring these two things together. Eli loves bathtime.

LOVES it.

Mom and Dad love it too.

because eli knows that there are only two kinds of people without beards... women and children. eli wants to be a man!

he is so wise

kinda blurry, but i love his facial expression. he will someday have a mohawk.

eli knows how to work it

could eli lead an evening of contemporary christian worship? this beard says YES!

flock of seagulls maybe?

Little Ranger

family!

One of my favorite outings so far has been taking Eli to his first Texas Ranger game. He was 22 days old, which might seem a little young… and I got nothing to follow that up. It’s early. He was fine. Good times.

We’ve been trying hard to walk the line between not having our entire lives revolve around every blink of Eli’s (so that he grows up with a somewhat realistic perspective of the world and hopefully doesn’t become an over-sharer on twitter) and caring for him well. I honestly have no idea if we’re doing it right.

The game was a good example of this dilemma. My father-in-law had given me two tickets to this game months earlier (when we were all convinced Eli was going to be born in March), and Allie and I wavered beforehand if it was really a good idea to take a three week old to Arlington with 20,000 sweaty strangers. But, on the other hand, he did already have an appropriate outfit.

Parenting involves a lot of small choices that lead to big things.

It did start to rain during the game, but Eli had to eat anyways so we had already gone inside. Dad got a churro while Mom fed Eli, and once everyone was done they had started playing baseball again. The Ballpark in Arlington is actually pretty family friendly, we got smiled at a whole lot and even got him a certificate to commemorate his first MLB experience!

rockin at the gift shop

i can see the field!

what are these people doing to me?

2 Months

It has been a few weeks since I last blogged. No apologies though, for fear of sounding like these people.

Over the next week I’ll post a few posts and pictures from Eli’s first two months in our family. He went to his first MLB game, the aquarium, and found out that he absolutely loves bathtime! It’s sure to be fun!

Here’s a few pictures…

Eli Quinn the Eskimo* Got Here

Now everybody’s gonna jump for joy.

Eli Quinn Harrell
April 18, 2011, 3:23pm
9 lbs, 4.7 oz, 20 in

On April 18, 2011 at 3:23pm, my life changed forever as my family grew from 2 to 3.

Leading up to that time, there were a lot of things that could have been pretty stressful or upsetting, but for some reason Allison and I never felt scared or frustrated. The experience was calm, relaxed, and easy. Our goal was a healthy mom and healthy baby, and we both had full confidence that no matter what the road to get there looked like, our result was going to be two things:

1. A healthy mom
2. A healthy baby

I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but we’re grateful that for us it did. Some combination of good doctors, good spirits, luck, and miracles were at work. Which were what isn’t for me to find out.

After he was born, I rolled him into the hospital room and all of the family oohed and ahhed for a few minutes before they all got shooed out and it was just the 3 of us (Allie, Eli, Me). In that moment, I realized a distinct difference between man and woman.

The first time Allison held our son, she soothed him and gave him his first meal. She told him how excited we were that he was a part of our family, and how much we loved him already.

The first time I held Eli, I just stared at him in a stupor.

Then I cried a little.
Then I prayed.

His first few days in the hospital were full of visitors, family, friends, nurses of all varieties, test (after test after test after test), pediatricians, surgeons, social workers, a crabby lady demanding money, lactation consultants, etc etc. I can’t really remember all of it. Thanks to those of you that came by and called and texted and facebook-ed well wishes. It confirmed what we already knew: we are loved, and our baby is welcome in this world.

Being home has been better. Allison and I have been alternating between exhausted and exhilarated, sometimes feeling both at the same time. Thanks to the support of family we’ve gotten (some) sleep. The phrase “one day at a time” makes a lot more sense now. There’s not really any other way to do this.

I go back to work tomorrow, and while it will be nice to stretch my legs a little I will be sad to leave my new family.

More pictures can be found on my dad’s flickr as well as my facebook.

*Allison told me I had to make it clear that “Eli Quinn the Eskimo” is a totally unauthorized nickname that in no way reflects her approval or and thus the use of which must be limited.