Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dear Cadence, Month 16

Dear Cadence,

As usual, I can hardly believe that another month has gone by already. This has been an extremely busy month, full of yard sales and your first trick-or-treating adventure, and of course lots and lots of growing.

I love watching you figure things out. You've been doing so on a more and more tangible level every day...picking up new signs faster and faster, for example, although you still just get very sad, frown and tear up [without crying] whenever we ask you to say you're sorry, and then you go off and sit quietly by yourself until we come and ask you for a hug. I'm not sure where this self-imposed time out comes from, since we've only ever used that with you once, and it really seems like you're more upset with yourself for having done something hurtful than at anyone else for being hurt, or pointing it out. You do seem to be increasingly aware of how others are perceiving the world - like when Baba's bandana gets stuck over his eyes, and when he starts to call for help, you know just what to do! Or how, when he loses control of the ball you two are playing with and it hits Mama in the head, you come over to make sure she's ok, and kiss it better.

It also takes you only a single lesson to pick up most things we may decide to teach you these days, which is actually somewhat disastrous for us as parents, since sometimes a single weak or sleep-deprived moment can lead to a dangerous new hobby. {Case in point of this is happening as I write this; Baba just showed you how to duck under and step over the railings on the clothes-drying rack, and you are now running around in circles, ducking and stepping each time while he watches, anxiously hoping that you won't topple the whole thing over, breaking it and yourself in one fell swoop.}

You've developed an affinity for rearranging chairs. We have several good, wooden, child-sized chairs that Nana Marianna had when she was your size, and you love to drag them all over the house, and sometimes outside, too. But you certainly don't limit yourself, any chair that you're strong enough to move is fair game. And we keep finding our family video DVDs stashed in strange places-stacked in semi-circles in the middle of the floor, filling the cat condo, in our bed.

You are also now bigger than the big pilates balls that you've always had such a profound interest in. I remember when it was a big deal that you were almost as tall as the ball! You take great pleasure in picking them up and carrying them around, just because you can.

Just because you can seems to be a pretty ubiquitous reason for a lot of your newer quirks. You've made it a nightly routine to go into your grandparents' bedroom and sit on Papa Scott's stomach and ask for a drink. and more. And a drink. And more. You could go on for hours, delighting in the fact of this fluid communication.

You have also graduated to sitting at the table with the rest of us at mealtime, thanks to the fancy new high chair we ordered, ironically, from the very same baby store on 86th street in NY that we used to visit in person so often. You still use your old booster seat on days when we decide to hang out in the living room for meals, but being able to have you really join us instead of being held at a tray's distance is simply wonderful.

There are a lot of things that we miss about New York City, all three of us, I think, though you are quickly growing beyond your definitive memories of it, but every day brings more evidence that it was a good idea to bring you and the cats down here. Now that Baba is applying for Law school, we're faced with the possibility (more like a probability, really) of us returning to an urban environment, and while it is exciting and thrilling to be moving on in our lives, I am also beginning to fear what such a reality could mean for you. You thrive so well within this extended family environment, and having the land with the dry riverbed, benches, pond, hammock, tree swing, open space, little red wagons to ride in, dogs to play fetch with and get kisses from, hoops to toss basketballs at, gardens to raid, leaves to play in, having a long interior space for rainy-day energy's hard to imagine taking it all away and replacing it once more with a tiny one bedroom apartment with no yard. Hard to imagine, even if we found a place near a park, taking away the three season porch and room to roam the cats have here. Being back in New York, or even some other large metropolitan area would definitely be the best thing for my career, and for Baba's, but it is an extremely hard decision to make when it would mean taking so much from you.

What we have to keep in mind though, the thing that we can't let ourselves forget as we make these hard choices, is that you are above all, resilient, and as long as we are with you, loving you, protecting you, and listening to you, you will do fine no matter where we are. And if we stay here, unemployed and prospect-less, waiting on jobs with benefits because anything less would mean forfeiting our healthcare, we won't be doing right by you in the long run. We need to be healthy and whole ourselves in order to best protect and teach you, which also means not entirely killing off our own ambitions. So perhaps returning to the city for a few years will be the best choice.

I guess why I'm saying this is because I want you to know, no matter what we end up doing, staying or going, being wage-an-hour factory workers or being high risk business dealers, it was a decision we will have made with your best interest in mind. I want you to grow up healthy in body & soul, with clean air and plenty of stimulation, both physical and intellectual.
We have a lot of stuff on the table right now, and I want to choose the option that will allow you to have the best start that we as parents can possibly give you. And you can bet your little baby butt that whichever one will let us do that, whatever it means, little bug, is exactly the option we're going to take.

Speaking of these big changes, there is one major change taking place in this country right now bringing monumental moments in history with it at nearly every turn. I want to document this time and how you fit into it all, so you'll have a record of these important events, no matter what your personal politics end up being when you're grown. When you're older and people ask you, where were you that day, here is your answer:

Just three days ago, on November 4, 2008, you came with your Mama and Baba as they cast their votes in the 2008 presidential election. Kelly came too, annoyed that she was still too young to vote this time around. The two of you played with another kid there while you waited for us to emerge, and we all went to buckhead for a delicious lunch. We saw the judge there with his family, and countless folks of all shapes, sizes, classes, and colors, all proudly wearing their stickers, and you fought for control of the "I voted" sticker Mama was wearing on her shirt. After lunch we went home for a nap, and then to return a bunch of stuff to hobby lobby and JC penny, Baba won an ipod nano (I'll betcha that seems dated by the time you're reading this, huh?) from an arcade game, and then we came home to a good dinner of homemade chili. Nanna Marianna and Papa Scott invited us to come to a party they were going to, and so when the winner was announced, you were having the time of your life, surrounded by family and new friends, and a big black tomcat who seemed just as enamored of you as you were of him, eating good food and playing with other kids. You clapped and squealed and giggled and cheered...ultimately it was a day that was huge with a quiet excitement.

The election of senator Barack Obama to the office of the President of the United States of America has a lot to say about the people of this country. And while many people are declaring that this day will go down in history because of the victory it claims in terms of race relations, I can't bring myself to make that statement. Because to declare this appointment important simply because of the color of the man's skin seems to be a somewhat self-fulfilling hypocrisy. Yes, we had to have a first, and given the nature of change in human society, it is of course going to be a big deal. But if the only thing we look at in this 'victory' is the fact that 'there is a black man in the office', we're missing the point: that the color doesn't matter. It's the mind, actions, experiences, beliefs, how we relate to our peers, how we think, our understandings, our feelings, our ability to learn, to love, to fear, to trust. This day is important because it brought an intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic, careful, and yes, inspiring leader to a people who were largely consumed with fear, distrust, and depression, offering even those who disagree with his policies a reason to engage in their own lives.

And how the next four years play out will say a lot, too. Because as much as it takes a leader to inspire people, it takes the masses to actually accomplish anything. If people have the attitude that 'we elected him, now our job is done and he can fix everything', then we are in for a huge disappointment. He is just one man, he can only do so much without the help of every last person who cast their votes on tuesday. He is also human, and he is going to make mistakes. And he is going to make decisions that many of us will not like or agree with. His acceptance speech was exactly right...nothing earth shattering actually took place on tuesday. We just got the go-ahead to embark on a new adventure - we've been given a chance. It's up to us to rise to the occasion, or to let it slip away.

I hope that your generation will be the one to forget to notice the color distinctions your ancestors lived by. And that you will all live by what you believe in, but will be willing to listen to those who may not agree, and will be incredulous when confronted with the idea of complacency towards your lives and futures. What I hope this day means, overall, beyond the basic things like the state of the economy or healthcare, or any of the immediate policies and changes that are to come, is that there is a new era dawning in the life of US politics, in which people are willing an unafraid to hope, but more importantly, to act upon that hope, and each person will act without thinking to make this world the best place it can possibly be.

But no matter what happens from here, Ladie B, personally or politically, I am beyond happy to continue to thrive along with you, sharing small satisfactions that mean so much, watching you dance along while watching Dancing with the Stars with Nanna Marianna, watching you follow the puppy to figure out what she wants, watching you demand that Papa Scott should play his guitar for you, listening to you figure out how to call the cats by name, and most of all feeling the intense love in those amazing hugs of yours. We love you too, Cadence.

Love Always,