One and a Half

In light of this total invention of a holiday, let me do what I can to update the Barnaby.

At this point, the most difficult thing I have to deal with is the nagging sense that I didn’t really buy into fatherhood until quite late. There were months and months when I looked at Barnaby as the project I had to deal with In spite of the fact that I had no time to deal with him, and it took me a long time before waking up to the fact that Barno was the life I’d chosen, and the myriad other projects were the things I didn’t have time for.

It isn’t exactly a choice you can make consciously, it’s a situation that allows for no other choice, and when you finally change your mindset about the whole thing, it hits you like an adrenaline rush of relief. You can’t live your life for your own singular pursuits, and that actually removes a lot of pressure. I have become a Dad, and pretty much only a Dad, and committing to that has made me feel more centered than I have ever felt before.

In a way, it sucks. Because if I had been able to have this kind of focus for any of the other things I’ve tried to achieve, I probably would have been more successful. As a musician, I just couldn’t tolerate the amount of practice I had to put in to be a passable instrumentalist, and I look back on that now and GAPE. I mean, I could have practiced, say, an hour and a half a day, maybe two hours, and had the ENTIRE REST OF THE DAY… and I probably could have been a pretty good guitarist or violinist or pianist. Maybe not violinist…

And for acting? I mean, Jesus, had I spent two hours a day working on my career, reading scripts and learning music… honestly, I would have run out of things to do. It would have taken me a month of two hours a day, and then it would be an hour or a half hour a day of maintenance.

So why didn’t I do it? My sister Tessa has said (and I’ve quoted it here a number of times) that she doesn’t believe in laziness, she thinks it’s just a mask for fear, and I think, for me, that is pretty applicable. Like most other people who’ve alway been told they were smart and secretly knew they weren’t *all that* smart, I’ve been scared to death once I got in a position where I wasn’t sure what the next step was.

In music, I could have practiced and practiced, but then what? You’re never sure. You get a seat in the second violin section, you start to teach, and… I don’t know, I guess you start drinking. A lot. Every violinist I’ve ever known has had this life. As an actor, you fight like crazy for the honor of doing shows you think are total shit.

I just got scared and I froze up. It started as a sort of over-all ennui, a sense that I couldn’t control my eventual destination as an artist, and then it started to get smaller and smaller. Finally, a year or two before I quit, I was paralyzed about actually auditioning. I didn’t have stage fright, and I wasn’t scared of the folks behind the table, but I was terrified of what it all meant, and I just couldn’t get a handle on what it would eventually all mean.

As a Dad, that’s totally gone. I know as little, or as much, as I did about music and acting… I have a sense that I probably have as much talent as a Dad as I have in either of those arts… but I have a really firm understanding of what the end-game is, and every one of the smaller moments I’m absorbed in feels like it is heading somewhere really important.

I’m talking a lot about what it means for me to be Barnaby’s dad, and I should probably talk more about him, but I’ve found that these Blogs have a way of creating themselves, and I’ve tried not to edit myself too much. Suffice it to say, I’m really enjoying being a husband and a father now, to a degree that I almost feel indulgent by pursuing only these two things. As difficult as it is, I seem to be feeding the same part of me that used to be filled only with live performance, and my need for public affirmation is, honestly, becoming almost foreign to me. I love performing, and I’m still very comfortable being up in front of people, but this side of me actually feels like my best side, and I feel insanely comfortable in this role.

This is Barnaby’s professional couch shot, by which I mean, I took this picture on my mom’s couch when Barnaby thought it was funny to sit by his ridiculous bear.

For some reason, he thinks “sitting” is hilarious, maybe because he can’t understand why grownups do it when they could be running around all day like crazy people…

Barnaby has a pretty tightly scheduled day, and as such, is extremely into using the time he has to investigate everything he can get his hands on. He loves being in motion, moving from one room to the other, moving from one project to the other, and figuring out how far he can push something.

He really wants to up-end boxes, he really wants to take machines apart, and he REALLY wants to press every single button he can get his hands on. If there’s a vacuum or a fan or a flashlight or a remote, he wants to know how to turn it on, he wants to hear the sound and he wants to push the thing around the room. He is annoyed by stasis, he’s constantly itching to change his surroundings in any way he can.

But he’s not at all chaotic, and doesn’t appreciate mess or noise for its own sake. He likes the sound of the coffee grinder, but he doesn’t ask for it once the coffee is made, if that makes sense. He really loves singing, but he doesn’t like music to be on in the background. He dances to music, or he wants to move on. And when the room gets messy, he cleans up, if he’s upended his box of legos he will turn around and pick them up and put them back in the box.

I guess I should detail some of the developmental stuff. He’s walking and running really well and is extremely good with his hands. Other kids in the park will be kicking balls and Barnaby is willing to kick once or twice, but then he really wants to pick up the ball and run with it.

He also loves anything with wheels, and while that does include bikes and trucks and cars, his greatest love is his stroller. I tried to find one that wasn’t pink, and then I got annoyed at myself for caring, especially since he loves it so much.

His first two syllable word was “Stro… LER!” and he pushes this thing all over the house and all over the park when he gets a chance.

He talks all the time and has a decipherable vocabulary of around 40 or 50 words, with another hundred that we don’t understand at all. He’s starting to put sentences together, mostly requests. For instance, if he wants a cookie, he’ll say “Sna! Sna! Sna!” and I’ll say, “You want a snack? Do you want toast or a cookie?” and he’ll say, “TOOK! TOOK!” which actually means cookie (he’s still having trouble with the ‘K’ sound at the beginning of words) and later, if he wants more, he’ll say “Mo. Mo? Mo? Took! Mo Took! PU LEEEE!”

His invocation of “please” is just hilarious. He does say please, which comes out as the two syllable “pu lee”, but he says it like he’s calling you an asshole. So, he’ll say “Ju Ju Ju!” and if I have his juice, I’ll say, “What do you say, sweetie” and he hollers “pu LEEEEEEEE”, like it’s exhausting to have to go through this charade.

He is just about the most even-tempered kid I know, and as a stay-at-home dad, I know a lot of kids. When he
cries out, we know he’s actually hurt himself somehow, banged his head or caught his finger in something. When he falls down, he’ll give us a pouty face, but he’s basically already moving on to the next thing he wants to get done. He doesn’t cry very much, he really doesn’t, and he’s very amenable to having his plans changed as long as we provide a pretty good other option from the thing he wants to do.

If we don’t, though, then there is no swerving him from his plan. If he wants to play with the phone, let’s say, and your solution is to take the phone away from him and hide it, he’ll remember where it is and make a move for it even an hour later. If you put it out of his reach, he’ll start trying to figure out how he can drag some chairs together or push his truck over to get up and get it.

He’s crazy for his crazy ass mom. I suppose if I didn’t *know* that I spend every possible second with him I can, it might make me a little sorry for myself, him being obsessed with his mom, but… I mean, she’s amazing, she’s amazing with him, and she doesn’t get to spend nearly as much time with him as they both want. I find myself wishing she was here all the time, I can’t blame him for wanting the same

He sleeps every day for a couple of hours, usually from around 1 to around 3, and he sleeps all night, from around 8:30 until around 7, although sometimes earlier. It would be great if he slept more, but his brain is just exploding right now, and his curiosity and love of his family drives him to wake up as early as possible. It’s exciting, even if we wish we were all sleeping more, he doesn’t wake up miserable.

I think it’s a metaphor for his entire life, he’s simply too excited to take it easy. And, a fitting metaphor for my life, I’ve had so much to take care of that it has taken me the full complement of his nap just to write this blog, and right now he’s calling out to me from his crib. It makes sense that, on father’s day, I would have to stop talking about my kid before I’ve said all I want to, because I have to go get him and play with him, so I’ll just have to finish this later…