The Great Plotnik

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear Desmond

Dear Desmond:

We missed your first month, but we got to Brooklyn for your fourth, fifth and sixth week birthdays. Week four, you weren't doing much, barely opening your eyes, but somewhere between week five and six a switch got flipped on. And yesterday you smiled.

Your mom shouted and we all ran into her bedroom, where you were lying on your back on the bed. "I got a smile!" she shouted. "He smiled! Didn't you! Didn't you! You little widdle woopsy shmloooooo," she added, burying her face in your belly. And then you did it again.

I'll tell you the truth: I've seen huger grins. But you worked so hard to do it. First you straightened out your mouth and then you turned up one corner, followed a few seconds later by the other. Your eyes might have twinkled. Anyway, it's about the smiler, not the smile. We broke into applause.

Your big sister Isabella clapped her hands together and shouted "Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!" Grandma Bobo and I started laughing with delight. You will never know how beautiful your first little smiles were.

We are making a big fuss about this because, frankly, you've been a little bit of a lump. We are impatient. With us, it's all about speed, faster and faster, warp speed, nano speed, 3G, 4G, 5G. But you -- you're about eating, sleeping, pooping, eating, sleeping, pooping, over and over. Practice makes perfect.

In your defense, you've had a lot of people staring at you. Before yesterday, when you broke out your inaugural smile, you could only screw up your face when you were unhappy. You couldn't tell us why, so we had to guess. "He wants food." "He is tired." "He is pooping."

By contrast, your sister Isabella, by your age, had already learned how to smile and laugh and probably dance and do quadratic equations. We were there the night she was born, and on her very first night on this earth, in the UCLA hospital, she was looking around and taking it all in. Maybe girls just get it faster than boys do. Your Auntie B. hit the ground running too, her little mind already computing possibilities, calculating in which direction the earth would be spinning and where her flight plan might direct her. Right now she's in Singapore.

With you it's been eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep, poop. You'll get to Singapore too, but you might just take your time, like your daddy did. By kindergarten he still couldn't grip a pencil, but he could take apart his scooter, put it back together again, and set my digital watch.

The truth is, it's about heart, not speed. If you end up with half your daddy's heart you'll have more than enough. He knows how to make other people feel good, no, more than that. He makes them feel treasured. It's nothing for him to drive all the way to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, to pick up a couple pizzas and a box of cannoli for his folks' last night in Brooklyn, just because the other day he heard his dad wondering about it. I hope you get all of that. You've definitely got his chin. 

You've got your mom's eyes. You think you can smile? Guess again. When Anastasia smiles, everyone's lights go on. It is very likely impossible not to be in love with her. Of course, you know that already. You and your mom, you've got this thing going, this smell thing, this touch thing, this nuzzle thing. She is life to you, and you're the same to her. So give her a break. Smile some more. She could also use some sleep. And try to hit your diaper.

Your mom is almost as funny as your big sister, who used to be the Queen of Terrible Jokes, but unfortunately doesn't bother with them anymore, preferring instead to recite the entire plot of any Harry Potter book, in one breath, talking so fast that the only word I ever get is "Voldemar."

Isabella is still funny, but she can be sassy now. Yesterday she had a cold, so she got to stay home and watch as much TV as she wanted until noon, which meant five (5) hour-long episodes of "I, Carly," which stars two (2) sassy thirteen year old girls, so no surprise on the sass.

But her heart's not in it. She's only six. She's got no angst. You can't have sass without angst. And she can't stop smiling when she does something she shouldn't, like throw the cat into the bath water. The cat jumps out and Isabella gives herself away by smiling so much. Like I said, she's only six, which probably seems like a lot to you, but to us, not so much.

Bobo and I got a lot of Isabella Time this trip, walking her to school, picking her up after chorus and at her friend Lucy's house, making her breakfast, packing her lunch. We read Fantastic Mr. Fox. Bobo braided her hair.

A lot of this was necessary because you've got your mom on a tight schedule. You're one hungry li'l dude. You want to eat every two hours. God bless the I-Phone, which must be every nursing mother's new best friend. Your mom can keep in touch with the outside world, talk to her friends, set up real estate photo shoots, coordinate school dropoffs, playdates and sleep overs, shop for diapers and surf the web, all while hoisting you from one side to the other. So three cheers for high tech, on the one hand, and no-tech, on the other, for which another word is "instinct."

Desmond Miles, my boy, you don't know goo from Google but you know how to eat, sleep and poop, eat, sleep and poop, and now you can smile. God knows what you'll be able to do a few weeks or months from now, when we see you next.

I am writing this on an airplane heading home. It was great fun to spend weeks four, five and six of your life with you and your family. You won't remember any of this and I won't either unless I write it down. 


At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Blond Bombshell said...


At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Cousin Seattle said...

I get to spend a few days of week 9(ish) with him! :D Glad you guys were able to have so much quality time with everyone in Brooklyn. Love you!

At 9:43 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

beautiful writing and photos, Dougo...

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Where's the Like button on this thing?

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous HankyGirl said...

You made me cry at work. Good thing I had a hanky.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger notthatlucas said...

This was awesome! THanks for sharing it all!


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