Skylar turned one yesterday.
Where has the time gone?
It doesnt feel like a year has already slipped by. Even when I
look back on all the sleepless nights which seemed so endless then
it feels like he was only born the day before yesterday.
Today we celebrate his birthday. Rebecca and I do the toy store tour,
willing to spend all of our income for the year on our little one.
Nothing is too good for him. Unfortunately, most of the toys are
completely substandard. Except for the old standards, of course.
Look at those! shouts Rebecca, running across the store to the
display of popcorn mowers. Im not sure what their official name
is, but thats what we always called them. And if the name popcorn
mower doesnt describe it to you, then you didnt grow up with one.
Rebecca pulls one off the shelf and begins mowing the tile floor.
Look Skylar, she says. Isnt this fun? Skylar is
trying to fall asleep. However, the Pop Pop Pop gets his attention
and he smiles. See? says Rebecca. He likes it.
She puts the mower in the cart.
I look at my baby. One. I still cant believe he is one.
And how hes changed. His visit to the pediatrician earlier in the
morning scaled him out at 25 pounds, 4 ounces and 31 and a half inches
long. No wonder my shoulder is sore all the time.
I feel old.
When young people talk about dying, they forecast their deaths at
somewhere between eighty and a hundred. But Im a man, one who
likes his potato chips and bacon and who has family history of rapid
bodily disintegration. Seventy is probably more realistic for me.
And Im just about halfway there. Of course, when we get as old as
seventy or eighty, the young people tell us that weve still got years
under our belts. I know. Ive said it myself. And I
can feel the day coming when someone will say it to me.
Wow! says Rebecca as she tears across the store. She hurries
back, a treasure in hand. I used to have one of these.
Mine was red, I say.
So was mine! And into the cart it goes.
Rebecca makes another sighting, but its a false lead. The toy
shes looking for is Dapper Dan, a doll with buttons and zippers and
pockets and ties for you to learn how to dress yourself. Rebecca
holds up the updated version, Suzy something or other. It just
doesnt look right. The face is so fake, she says. And
back on the shelf goes Suzy.
Skylars head leans forward as he completely passes out. I find it
incredible that he can fall asleep in the cart seat. He looks so
uncomfortable. I unlatch the seat strap and lift him to my aching
How odd to think that one-eightieth of his life has passed. And I
try not to think of my own mortality. I never wanted to believe my
father that the years would just start shooting by. I can feel the
edge of fear. But it isnt a fear I can easily name. Is it a
fear of dying? A fear of not doing everything I thought I wanted to
do? A fear of having the wrong priorities and watching my dreams
fade? Or is it a fear as irrational as worrying whether or not the
sun will rise tomorrow?
We finally reach the wagons. I can tell from the look in her eyes
that Rebecca has wonderful memories of wagons, as do I. The same
wagon catches our eye, one made completely out of plastic. One word
comes to mind as soon as I look at it: indestructible. A parents
dream of value and quality. Back when I was growing up, metal served
this role. Skylars generation has rotomolded linear polyethylene.
The environmentalist in me cringes at the thought that this wagon will
stick around in the dump for thousands of years before it finally breaks
down. I dont need an immortal wagon; I just need it to survive a
childhood. But the wagon seems to command a strange respect that it
can live for so much longer than I can.
Rebecca sits in the wagon with Skylar who wakes up for the ride.
Their faces lights up as I pull the wagon through the store. I turn and
look at them, burning the sight into my memory forever. And as I do,
I begin to remember all of the similar memories I have stored away over
the last year, the hundreds, no thousands, no tens of thousands of special
moments. Suddenly a year is tremendous, and I cant believe just
how much life we squeezed into it.
I round the corner as sharp as I can, and the wagon tips on two wheels as
I almost crash into a store employee. I smile mischievously.
Perhaps well get kicked out for having too much fun.