Wednesday, January 27, 2010


For the last two nights, Simon and I have gone to bed in a room that is not in our house. Both nights, while laying him down, I've had to do battle with the cords that are attached to him, being careful not to get us bound up in a hopeless tangle. One cord carries the fluids into his system that he refused to take through the normal route. The other keeps the be-smocked ladies at the desk outside our door informed of his heart rate. He hates both of these new appendages with the fury of a cheated child, and has tried repeatedly to yank them both out.

We've passed two difficult nights in this hospital and are now on our third day. On the first morning, they took his tonsils out. That part was planned, as was the first overnight stay. What was not planned was the allergic reaction he had to one of the pain meds used during surgery. This was the same med for which they had given us a prescription to manage his pain throughout the week following surgery so he could do things like eat and drink. Benadryl cleared that up, but then we were left with the question of what to do about his pain so that he wouldn't dehydrate and end up back in the hospital. He ate and drank fine the day of surgery, but hardly ingested a thing the following day. An allergy specialist was brought in, and he suggested we run some test doses of some other pain meds to see if he could handle them. The plan was to give him incrementally larger doses every half hour, all adding up to what would be a full dose, and monitor the outcome. Unfortunately, the nursing staff fucked up the timing on the doses, which fucked up the test, which meant it needed to be repeated the next day. We'd be staying another night. They had already taken his IV out, so it had to be replaced. I got the honor of holding him still while the nurses did the deed. One shitty surprise after another.

That brings me to the present. At the moment, he's asleep in my arms and I'm typing this on my phone. We're in the middle of the med test and so far all is well. He's drinking and eating again in small amounts. He'll get the full dose a few minutes from now, and if he's still in good shape, then we can blow on out of here. Having the family co-located like this has been difficult to say the least, sucked balls to say a little more. I have a newfound sympathy for folks that have to do this shit long term. I've seen a few kids here that look like they'll probably be here a while.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, we'll all be together again.

--Posted from phone, so forgive typos or formatting weirdness. Thanks, you're the best.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chess with a four year old

I played chess with my four year old son last night. Not checkers. Chess. Playing chess with my four year old son was not my idea, it was my four year old son’s idea. I was pretty dead set against it, and had in fact told him no on numerous occasions. It wasn’t so much that he wanted to play chess because he’s curious about chess, it’s just that the chess set happens to be stacked right underneath Candy Land and The Ladybug Game. Finally last night, it occurred to me: why the hell not play chess with my four year old son? Besides the obvious fact that it sounds like a ride on an expressway to Aggravation Central? I considered the excuses I’d been using: he’s too young. It’s too complicated. I’ll have to repeat myself 10 to 23rd power times. And suddenly my excuses sounded like a poorly aimed stream of piss landing on the tile next to the toilet, and I hated them. Of all the voices that he’ll hear over the course of his life telling him he can’t do something, why should I add my own to the throng?

So out came the chess set.

I’m not much a chess player. I’ve had two freaky brilliant friends in my life who were excellent chess players, one of whom was a national champion who could play with his back to the board and have somebody call out his opponent’s moves to him, and then he’d call out his desired move. And he didn’t just play that way, he won. Consistently. Like I said, freaky. Brilliant.

Getting the name of the game right was the first challenge. Chess, not chest. Chess. Chesssssss. There’s no “t” at the end, just hiss it out. Sssssssssss.

Then there was the process of getting the pieces on the board. Their names, their placement, their movements. All of which had to be repeated over and over and over. In some other dimension, I’m telling him for the 700,023rd time that it’s called a knight, not a horsey. Who decided how knights should move? The knight’s movement on the board has always seemed so arbitrary to me, like anytime they were in a position to take another piece had to be an accident. Oh, and try explaining check and checkmate. Or the gender politics of a game where winning involves trapping the male leader whose limited movements make him all but useless, even though the female leader is the most powerful piece on the board.

And right there in the middle of a chess game with my four year old son, it occurs to me: this is a metaphor for something. This, what we’re doing right now, it’s something else. It just has to be. But what? Think, Holmes, think! Playing chess with a four year old is ________. Or more precisely, ________ is playing chess with a four year old. I’m not talking about things that are like playing chess with a four year old. Fuck similes. I’m looking for the thing that is. But that something eluded me, so much so that I started to wonder if I really know what a metaphor is. Like when people started making fun of Alanis Morrissette for her misuse of the term “ironic” and she looked at herself real hard in the bathroom mirror and asked, “do I really know what irony is?” At least I imagine she did.

What is playing chess with a four year old?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s its own thing. Somehow, none of the other answers that I came up with seemed to do it for me, probably because the feelings that arose while playing chess with my four year old were as varied and complicated as the game of chess itself.

It’s going to make our next bout of Candy Land look pretty weak.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two (weeks late)

I’ve never been a big fan of those letters that people write to their children in their blogs. Sure, I’ve read some that were written very well and weren’t just chock full of schmaltz and Hallmark sentimentality, but most of the time I don’t find them all that interesting. They just seem like a boring ass literary device. A B.A.L.D. if you will. Having said that, I’ve an occasion to attempt to employ this very B.A.L.D. and write just such a letter today.

Dear Simon,

This thing you’re reading is called a blog, which is short for weblog. People used to keep blogs to write about any number of subjects. There were movie blogs, TV blogs, technology blogs, political blogs, music blogs, science fiction blogs, sports blogs, dog blogs, cat blogs, reptile blogs, ferret blogs, celebrity blogs, blogs about name it, somebody was blogging about it.

As you can see, the blog before you is not nearly so topic oriented. You see, a lot of people like your good old dad kept blogs to write about pretty much whatever the hell. Their lives. Their families. Random thoughts. Stuuuuuuuff.

I doubt that many people are writing them in the future when you’ll be reading this, hence all the explanation. If they are, well, never mind.

I’m writing this on January 10th, 2010. I can hear you and your brother in the other room playing with your trains, and for the moment, you’re not trying to beat the snot out of one another. Give it another minute and you probably will be. You are our New Year’s Eve baby, so your second birthday was just a week and half ago. I gotta tell ya, that was some nice work on your part coming in under the wire and scoring that 2007 tax credit for your mom and I. Very smooth. Sadly though, your birthday ends up being just a wee bit overshadowed by all the end of year festivities that fall under the banner of “The Holidays.” For example, here it is the second week of January, and I’m just now getting around to jotting something down in this here blog (see definition above) to commemorate the fact that you’re now two years old, that it’s becoming more obvious every day that you’re not really a baby anymore, that it’s been two years since we brought that 9 pound 11 ounce bundle home from the midwife’s to that tiny little house that we were renting. You may have noticed already, depending on what order you’re reading this, but if you go back into the archives of the previous October, you’ll see that I managed to throw up a quick something for your brother’s fourth birthday.

Which is why I’m writing you this letter. I have no idea if you and/or your brother will ever feel the need to sift through your old man’s writings that he tossed up on the internet. Maybe I’m dead and you’re missing me, and reading this is a way to feel close to me again. Maybe you’re curious what kind of guy your dad was outside of just being Dad. Whatever the reason, should you ever find your way into these pages, don’t interpret anything you find or don’t find here to mean that we cherish one of you more than the other. This little weblog is kept up sporadically at best. I’m gonna miss stuff, that’s just how it goes. And even if you don’t remember it now, trust me when I say we had a party for your birthday and it was awesome. There was a cake with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater on it. And pizza. And chips. And salsa. Oh, and that spinach dip from HEB that must have crack in it because you can’t stop eating it. Like I said, awesome.

Beyond that son, the fact is that your Mom and I haven’t yet decided on which of you is our favorite kid. You’re both pretty great in some ways, and big pains in the ass in other ways. But that’s okay. Should we ever make a decision, we’ll let you guys know.

Happy late birthday blog post, Simie.