TMLFYI… | Sleepless

World, if you’re reading this, I’ve got a question? How jealous are you of me in this picture?

Sleep

Let’s talk about origin, Anaiya.

Maybe it’s because your teething. Maybe it’s because we woke you up early. Maybe it’s because we pushed you past your normal limits on the sleep front. But on Saturday afternoon, at your brother Hukam’s first birthday party, you were not going to be put to bed the normal way.

Your mom is much more gracious about all of this. She’s got an amazing calm with you. You can read older posts if you’re curious. But we all know that the fact that she’s home and with you is the reason you are the amazing child that you are.

I’m different. I get anxious. I hear you squeal and I want to fix something. I see you squirm and I get anxious when whoever’s holding you doesn’t accommodate. I’m sure I do a better job than not of masking my instinctive reaction. I’m also sure your mom has the same impulses. But this isn’t about her. Look at that picture. I’m fine with saying it. This post? Totally about me.

See, I’m a Dad. What I don’t have in the way of biological connections to you I compensate for in as many ways as possible.

So on Saturday afternoon, when I spent an hour trying to put you to down for your afternoon nap, you and I knew three things quickly:

  • You were exhausted
  • You weren’t going to make it easy on us (we deserved it)
  • I wasn’t going to give up (it’s my job, and I won’t, ever, on you)

I fed you. I massaged you. I burped you. We read Where the Wild Things Are on my phone. We listened to lullabies. We listened to Billy Joel (I have no idea why you were so into Allentown this weekend, by the way.) I tried to let you cry it out. I sat up and held you. I tried laying you down and patting you in the crib. Everything.

An hour. A whole hour. And every time you would get close to sleeping, in my arms, I’d lean over to put you into your crib and you’d grab a hold of my shirt for dear life. The greatest feeling ever, mind you (and my first memory of a baby is a similar one, of your Sohum Kaka.)

But we found a happy place. On the floor. On my back. You on my chest. Any attempts to alter this position resulted in you simply not having it. So we slept there. With a birthday party going on around us, and with neither one of us wanting to be anywhere else. At some point soon, that’s going to change for you. Just know, it never will for me.

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TMLFYI… | Wilder

As in Matthew.

Today you had the strangest dream. You sailed away to China, in a little rowboat to find us, and you said you had to get your laundry cleaned. Didn’t want no one to hold you, what does that mean, and you said…

Don’t worry, munchkin, we’re never gonna hold you back or break your stride. But you will have a curfew and you will obey the speed limit.

Note: I miss me some Marilyn McCoo and some Solid Gold like I miss the ability to eat PB&J and Grilled Cheese without regret.

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TMLFYI… | Fitful

I feel like we have to share this video with the world because everyone thinks you’re always happy. They don’t realize that you are capable of getting angry. For about 5-10 minutes every day. When we feed you solids, but don’t move at the speed of light in doing so.

It’s adorable now. It’s especially adorable because you do it for everything. Oatmeal? Sure. Carrots? Yup. Peas? Mmmhmmm. Squash? You betcha.

What’s going to happen when we get you stuff that actually tastes good?

But your Mom is also concerned with sharing this video, at least a little, because your reaction makes it seem like we never feed you. Ever. Like this meal was the first time you’ve eaten in 7.5 months. So before I share the video I have to make a Public Service Announcement and let the world know that you are, actually, quite well fed. (Your legs serve as evidence.)

So today my love for you is fitful. Just like your love for food. Amen.

 

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TMLFYI… | Intuitive

People are jealous. Our friends with kids are jealous. And I’m not ashamed to say it whatsoever. Everyone with a kid is jealous of us because of you.

Because you tear every time you poop.

That’s right. You don’t cry. You don’t get uncomfortable. You just get really quiet. And your eyes well up with tears. It’s like an old cartoon watching your eyes actually fill with water. And then a single tear rolls finds its way past your lower lid and we know that the pooping is complete.

Other parents have to guess. Sometimes there’s even a finger wipe required. Not with our baby.

When your Mom and I see it, we know instantly what’s next. To everyone else, it looks like we’re the most intuitive parents in the world. But in the end, it’s just you, making us look good, all over again.

Poop

And we’ll take it.

That’s us. About you.

Intuitive.

Note: Only a diaper and my nostrils were harmed during this photo shoot. You, as evidenced by this picture, remained happy as ever the whole way through your change.

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TMLFYI… | Joy

Pure. Joy. ‘Nuff said, munchkin.

Anaiya Joy

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TMLFYI… | Dogged

Dogged is a word I don’t use nearly enough. To describe me. To describe the people I’m with or around. To describe anyone. I haven’t formally reserved the word for very committed uses but I think the nature of the word itself makes it so.

I can say that I’ve been socialized to say something like “dogged pursuit”, treating the word dogged more as the kickoff to a compound word. What and where have I seen dogged? Embodied? No place better than this.

Maybe one better place. Maybe one more powerful place. Maybe one place I need to tell you about now, and will take so much time to tell you about in the future. You are dogged. In your pursuit of everything. And I love it. It’s inspiring. And it’s a reminder.

Your great grandmother, your Ba, was similar. A week ago we celebrated what would have been her 100th birthday (albeit a little early, but that’s not the point.) You have a connection to your Ba. In so many ways it’s uncanny. In my head I still think you have a third middle name — Bhanu, or “Ba + Nu” or, “of Ba.” It’s my own play on words.

You see, your Ba was an extraordinary spirit. She lived a fuller life through age 40 than most live ever. So when she, tragically, lost her ability to walk in the latter quarter of her life, she embraced her challenge and role in life with grace. At least that’s what I saw, as a grandson. And I allow myself a little bit of time to reflect on her experience as an adult but stop myself at the risk of going down a near infinite number of rabbit holes that would call so many things into question.

What I remember, with strength and conviction, is how she lived for most of the time I knew her. How she fought her way to subsist. When people watch this video, they’ll be hopeful and optimistic and even congratulatory about what your future holds. When you’re able to move your hands in front of you. When you’re able to get traction and crawl. When your push ups lead you to stand up, and not just to a standstill. Just about everyone who looks at this video is going to smile wide at your effort. That’s the benefit of youth, my love.

When I look at this video, know that my mind will live in two very different places. I’ll always find happiness in your every effort. Every effort. I promise you. But there’s a strong part of me that will watch this video and think of your Ba. And how she faced similar challenges often without hope. A more painful way to live. On the other side of the bell curve. Where knowledge isn’t about seeking what is next and pushing your body forward, but where knowledge is a painful reflection of what was and what could have been.

And where, like your Ba, with all of that history, pain, and legacy hung around your shoulders, having broken your legs and shattered your ability to even walk — you still fight, and crawl, and scramble, and make do.

Today, my love, you were dogged. In you, I saw a reflection of your Ba. There are few greater compliments you will receive.

Today my love for you is dogged. In honor and appreciation.

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TMLFYI… | Tito

Tita Fai

Hi Foi,

Tito. Tito. Tito. It’s said more like “teeeeeee, toeeeeee” than like “Jackson” which makes it so much more fun for kids to say. It makes sense, doesn’t it? That you would have such a fun name to say. Because kids love to say your name so much and so often. I know my older sister, Raina Ben, does. I’m still finding my words, but I expect to be able to say it soon too. And my guess is that it’s going to be one of my favorite words when I do.

Happy Birthday Tito Foi. You and I formed a bond very early. I remember when you took two weeks off of work when I was born to stay in the house and stay at home with me and Mommy when Daddy had to go back to work. It’s those little things you do that I’ll always remember.

I love that you sing to me. Music is one of my favorite things. You know that because on your first birthday with me, you took me to music class. I had to get my sense of music from someone, and everyone knows that Daddy is tone deaf. (I love him anyway.)

More than anything, I love to see you happy. Mommy and Daddy always talk about your heart. How it can sometimes get hurt. How it can sometimes feel pain. But how it always overflows. You have so much love to give, and that excites the heck out of me. Mostly because I know I’m going to be spoiled.

Totally ok with that, by the way.

Today’s your birthday, but I feel like it’s mine. Because you took the day off to spend it with me. Because you took me to music class while my Mommy gets a much needed vacation in Mexico. Because you soothe me when you sing, both when you’re here and when I listen to your CD. (Remember when we sang together at Ba’s party earlier this week? Let’s do more of that.)

So Happy Birthday, my lovely Tito Foi. I can’t wait to grow up with you by my side. And I hope I grow up with a heart that’s half as big as yours. If I do, I think I’ll end up a pretty good person. Maybe that’s your gift to me? Or maybe our gift to each other is knowing that winter, spring, summer or fall, all we’ll have to do is call…

Love you,

Munchkin

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TMLFYI… | Promise Full

Mommy,

I’m excited that you’re actually going to take a vacation. You’ve earned it. For 6.5 months you’ve never been more than a few minutes away from me for more than a few hours. That’s extraordinary. That’s commitment. That’s who you are. That’s one of the things I know Daddy hopes I get from you (as well as your stunning and timeless good looks.)

I know you have some anxiety, also. Maybe I’ll start crawling? Or maybe I’ll say my first word? Or maybe I’ll start freestyling over a wicked beat laid down by none other than Eric B? Maybe I would have, but I want to take the pressure off of you and make sure you focus on you while you’re in Mexico. So here are some of the promises I’m making to you before you leave:

  • I promise not to crawl. If I do, you’ll never know. Because we won’t talk about it. We won’t photograph it. We won’t acknowledge it. So it won’t happen. But even if it does, it never happened.
  • I promise not to say my first word. Now, that means that there’s a high likelihood that my first word will be Daddy instead of Mommy, but I think you’re happy with that trade-off, right?
  • I promise not to immerse myself too much in hip hop culture. It’s a promise I’m making but I can’t be held responsible for Daddy and his desire to start playing those hip hop lullabies he got from his friend at work last night.
  • I promise not to walk. Mostly because you have to crawl before you can stand, and you have to stand before you can walk. Those lessons apply to me but apparently, they also apply to businesses looking to pursue hypergrowth — like where Daddy works.
  • I basically promise not to do anything new until you get back. I got you, Mommy. I totally got you.

The one thing I promise to do is miss you like hell when you’re gone, dream about you until you get back, and smile like hell the second I see you. I know it’s going to be the best and biggest smile you’ve ever seen, because it’s going to be driven by how I’ll feel when that moment arrives.

So go have a blast, Mommy. Have the time of your life in Mexico and squeeze every bit of fun and relaxation out of every moment. Because we’re going to have a lot of firsts happening the moment you get back.

Love you,

Anaiya

Mommy and Anaiya PNG

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TMLFYI… | Microphone Fiendish

Today my love for you is…well look at the picture, feel the words, and hear the beat. ‘Nuff said.

Celebrating Life - Anaiya at Mike_edited-1 (1)

 

I was a fiend before I became a teen
I melted microphone instead of cones of ice cream
Music orientated so when hip-hop was originated
Fitted like pieces of puzzles, complicated
Cause I grabbed the mic and try to say, “yes, y’all”
They tried to take it, and say that I’m too small
Cool, cause I don’t get upset
I kick a hole in the speaker, pull the plug, then I jet
Back to the lab, without a mic to grab
So then I add all the rhymes I had
One after the other one, then I make another one
To diss the opposite then ask if the brother’s done
I get a craving like I fiend for nicotine
But I don’t need a cigarette, know what I mean?
I’m raging, ripping up the stage and
Don’t it sound amazing cause every rhyme is made and
Thought of, cause it’s sort of, an addiction
Magnetized by the mixing
Vocals, vocabulary, your verses, you’re stuck in
The mic is a Drano, volcanoes erupting
Rhymes overflowing, gradually growing
Everything is written in a code, so it can coincide
My thought’s a guide
48 tracks to slide
The invincible, microphone fiend Rakim
Spread the word, cause I’m in
E-F-F-E-C-T
A smooth operator operating correctly

But back to the problem, I gotta habit
You can’t solve it, silly rabbit
The prescription is a hypertone that’s thorough when
I fiend for a microphone like heroin
Soon as the bass kicks, I need a fix

Gimme a stage and a mic and a mix
And I’ll put you in a mood or is it a state of
Unawareness?
 Beware, it’s the re-animator

A menace to a microphone, a lethal weapon
An assassinator, if the people ain’t stepping
You see a part of me that you never seen
When I’m fiending for a microphone, I’m the microphone fiend

After 12, I’m worse than a Gremlin
Feed me hip-hop and I start trembling
The thrill of suspense is intense, you’re horrified
But this ain’t the cinemas or Tales From the Dark Side
By any means necessary, this is what has to be done
Make way cause here I come
My DJ cuts material
Grand imperial
It’s a must that I bust any mic you hand to me
It’s inherited, it runs in the family
I wrote the rhyme that broke the bull’s back
If that don’t slow ‘em up, I carry a full pack
Now I don’t want to have to let off, you should have kept off
You didn’t keep the stage warm, step off
Ladies and gentleman, you’re about to see
A pastime, hobby about to be
Taken to the maximum, I can’t relax see, I’m
Hype as a hypochondriac cause the rap be one
Hell of a antidote, something you can’t smoke
More than dope, you’re trying to move away but you can’t, you’re broke
More than cracked up, you should have backed up
For those that act up need to be more than smacked up
Any entertainer, I got a torture chamber
One on one and I’m the remainder
So close your eyes and hold your breath
And I’mma hit ya with the blow of death
Before you go, you’ll remember the scene
The fiend of a microphone, I’m the microphone fiend
The microphone fiend

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TMLFYI… | Awesome

IMAG0377Less in the amazing and extraordinary connotation, and more in the humbling vein. The past few weeks have seen you in the hospital for your 6 month shots and for a mysterious scrape on your head that just appeared — we’ve gone from calling it massive head trauma, to a flesh wound, to a scratch, to a light scrape. But it existed. And you could feel it. And that’s what matters.

But watching you on the hospital bed, sometimes ignorant to what was about to happen, sometimes immediately reacting to what had just happened, and just as quickly. forgetful of all that pain, was awesome.IMAG0376 Because these pains are just the beginning. More bumps and bruises. More heartaches. More pain — physical, emotional, or otherwise.

To think of how unbearable these two circumstances were for us already, makes thinking about how we’re going to raise you and be there for you in future situations (note: in ALL future situations) awesome. In the words of Billy Ocean, simply awesome. (Pay attention at the :12 mark, and ignore everything else in the song.)

 

 

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