Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, My Boy!

My Pal Cal was born a decade ago today!

If memory serves, he came onto the scene at about 9:30 on a Friday evening. He took the emergency C-section option because he gave the docs the impression that he had a distressed heart rate, most likely due to his clutching the umbilical cord. Given that he was so well formed (I remember the doc saying, "This one's a Gerber baby!"), I like to think that he was just letting everyone know he was ready despite what the calendar said.

Of course he cried as a baby, but he honestly didn't cry a whole lot... although I have a picture of him during his first Halloween with a big, fat tear on his cheek. I had put a few wrappings on him, you know, so he could be a baby mummy for the holiday. I don't remember him wailing during that time, so I'm guessing the tear is evidence of his quietly enduring this weird seasonal humiliation. Selfish, I know: I was dying to share my own childhood passions with my kid as soon as possible.

I've slept poorly since 1993 and fatherhood didn't help things there but, although this is not a blessing for anyone and is a curse proper for the highly reflective, it did yield a gift once. Lying in bed late one night when Cal was not quite a year old, I heard him from his crib across the hall, in a baby's sing-song, say "Da-da." It sounded like total happiness! I got up to check on him and discovered that he was still asleep. Maybe he was dreaming, but I like to think that it was his way of saying, "The big guy is okay in my book." Anyway, it was his first recognizable word.

I think our first conversation, when he was maybe a year and a half old, was something like this:

Cal (pointing to a drink on the table): Dat yours?

Me: Yes it is, Cal.

Cal (pointing to his drink): Dat mine?

Me: It sure is.

And one of his other early questions was, "You got gas?" It's par for the course, but Cal and Mac still talk about gas a lot. I suspect it'll continue for, oh, 70 or 80 years.

I said to Katie the other day, "Despite how things turned out, I do have really good memories of those early years with Cal as a baby."

Some of the memories are very simple. Like standing out in the yard in Framingham on a cold autumn evening and showing him the full moon and stars. He cried out, "Moooooooon" and pronounced the sparklers "shtars." Maybe he was trying out a Sean Connery impression.

A year or two later, sitting on the porch up in Campton, New Hampshire, I pointed west and said, "Those are the White Mountains, Cal."

A small look of confusion. "But they're blue, Dad." The kid has always had a good grip on reality!

Sometimes on the weekends I had the kids after the divorce, I would wake up to have Cal standing there and giggling. He was only five years old, so his face would be at about the same height as my head on the pillow. Maybe he'd be poking my face or making goofy noises. At the time I probably thought the kid was being pesky, but the memories age really well.
Then there was the adventure in America back in 2007. Cal loves the fact that he was born there and he's gracious enough to let me know this all the time. You know... he really does make an effort to say things that will please me. I know he's doing this, and I often tell him, "Cal, you don't have to say that just to be nice to Dad."

"I know that, Dad."

What can I say... he's been a great kid and I like to think he's made the world a better place just by being a good kid in a world that's full of not-so-good kids and not-so-good adults. I know I'm awfully biased and I'm not going to make any apologies for that.

Enjoy your day, My Boy! And thank you.  


  1. Happy Birthday, Callum! Greg, remember when I visited up in NH and then, after I returned home, you guys had to call me because Cal wanted to talk to Auntie Meggie? That's a really fond memory for me. And my little one-on-one adventures with Cal when you guys visited in 07.

  2. He is a heck of a good kid, (both he and Mac), I really enjoyed my short visit with those guys "Heaps" of laughs...and all the Sasquatch talk and drawings...great stuff!