October 18, 2010

Give Birth To a Smile

Pink Floyd, Music from The Body 1970

Saturday marked a milestone, of sorts.  On that day, five years ago, one of my greatest lifelong dreams came true.  I gave birth to a baby boy and things were never the same again.

I love this picture because it reminds me of those first few days with him.  I would get up in the morning, pull the bassinet close to the bathroom and quickly take a shower. The water takes forever to heat up on that side of the house, so I would go back and forth to check in on him.  I distinctly remember peering into this bassinet and quite simply, in the purest of form, I was in awe. It was unfathomable that I had given birth to this little being.  This sweet bundle of boy was mine.

When he was five days old, he did the Newborn Noodle Neck Flop in the car.  I was sure his neck was going to break and I drove white-knuckled the rest of the way home.  When I finally got home, Manoj was there and I broke out in tears, sobbing uncontrollably on his shoulder.

In a heart wrenching flash, I had realized how intertwined this little boy's well-being was with my own.

This is a boy who loves the Pink Panther, Woody Woodpecker, the Natural History Museum at KU, Super Mario Brothers, apples, Spiderman, candy corn, Curious George, the Overland Park Botanical Gardnes, raw broccoli, sushi, The Ernie Miller Nature Center, dinosaurs, lizards, the Kansas City Zoo, crocodiles, snakes, bats and just about anything else that can scamper or skitter.  Yes, above all things that require a power source, he loves anything and everything related to animals and nature.  Nature reigns supreme here and he is constantly digging in our yard.  When we are out and about, he is always on the hunt for things to add to his collection of bugs, leaves, acorns, rocks and berries.  I keep empty plastic containers in a certain spot in our cupboards for him.  Often, I will hear him run inside, scramble for a container, then dash back outside.  Later, I am not surprised when I find a dead bumblebee or a spider lurking in one of those containers.

He has a friendly and adventuresome spirit. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but I cannot think of another way to describe his excitement at new things - he loves meeting new people and exploring new places. In the mornings, he asks where we are going for the day.  Staying home is not an option and when we are out and about, he will talk to anybody.  When we go to the dog park, we often spy him hanging out with other adults and talking their ears off.  The other night, we overheard him tell someone the names of his entire family (including the pets) and then declare that his birthday was coming.  "I am going to be FIVE and then I get my LIBRARY card!!" he exclaimed proudly.

I have often joked that all I did for Arun's first year was hold him.  He was a pretty fussy baby and somewhat serious for that first 12 months.  If he was in our arms, he was happiest.  And so, that is all we did for the first year. Now,  I forget how solemn he could be because he grew into a laid back, very goofy kid.  I can safely say without impunity that he is laid back because even his teacher has commented on it.  A serious baby growing into a goofy preschooler makes for some fun times and when Arun tries to pull lame, practical jokes on me, I can't help but laugh.  Besides, I tell Manoj that since our scrawny, duck-footed boy will probably not be a jock, we need to hone his sense of humor so that he can gun for the position of Class Clown, right?

God,  I love having a 5 year old in the house.  Seriously, I love Five.

Sometimes,  I wonder if folks think he is stuttering.  Nope, no worries.  He is currently obsessed with phonetics and is carefully trying to sound out words.  D...D....D....O..G.  He wants to read so badly.  He is always pointing to words on signs, TV, books, where ever.  "MAMA, tells me what the WORDS say."  Over the summer, he finally learned how to write his name and then from there, the alphabet was his oyster.  "Lists" are one of his favorites things to do now - he comes to me, recites a list of words for me to write, then he copiously copies each word down.  For all of the fancy gadgets out there to inspire a child to read and write, I have found a washable marker and plain printer paper to be the most effective tool. Also, I get a lot of questions from this boy.  How AND why.  If I do not know the answer, he tells me we can look it up on the Internet when we get home.  If he simply wants more information on something, he tells me we need to go the library.  Some of his questions knock me hard.  "Are humans going to go extinct like the dinosaurs?", he asked the other day.

Arun is still not a happy guy when he wakes up in the morning.  Downright GRUMPY is a better adjective, actually.  When he was a baby, it was so frustrating to deal with this crabby little guy who slept like a rock at night, but resisted his much-needed naps. Good grief, so many days I begged him to just wake up and be happy.   Now, I know better. This boy needs some time to wake up and face the day. These days, I ask him if he wants me to hold him and invariably, he blearily nods his head.   I sit in my chair and he climbs into my lap.  He can curl his legs under and still fit perfectly in my lap.  I relish these moments now because I have that knowledge that comes with time passing so quickly.  That clarity which mothers are not often granted in the early years. I pat his head, hold him close and ignore his bony, skinny butt poking me.   I sneak in deep whiffs of his hair.  And kisses.  The boy who loves hugs does NOT like kisses. 

And I remember that soft, pudgy baby with dimples in his wrists who only wanted to be held.

I remember.


Average Jane said...

Happy Birthday, Arun!

MLE said...

Aw! What a lovely post! Happy birthday, Arun!

kristen said...

Happy birthday Arun!

Beautiful writing Kelli! I am routinely late for work because we just needed a few more minutes of morning snuggles in the chair. It makes getting up so much better.

Dee said...

Happy Birthday, Arun! I have loved watching him grow through your words and pictures. Even though it has its struggles, Five is just so wonderful. I love five.

D. Jain said...

That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Happy birthday to Arun, and happy anniversary of becoming a mom to you!

The Gori Wife said...

Aw, what a beautiful tribute. Let me tell you that when I was starting the having a baby process, I would stare and stare at pictures of your gorgeous baby boy because it was the ONLY peak I had into what a half-desi, half-white baby would look like and I was just so curious. So thanks for getting started on that one year earlier than me! And also thanks for kind of looking like me too, it made the visualizations that much easier :)

Happy Birthday Arun!

Christine said...

Happy birthday!

Five is wonderful.

Amira said...

This was a lovely post. Happy fifth birthday Arun!

aibee said...

Happy birthday, Arun.

And happy Arun's birthday to you, cagey. What a wonderful day it was, five lightening fast years ago!


Melanie said...

Happy birthday Arun! My son turned 5 end of April and I have to say I love 5.... he has gone from not being able to read really at all this summer, and the other day he read his dad a 24 page book with nearly 10 words per page. I am so shocked at how fast knowledge is getting into his head these days! Enjoy this year!

LuAnn said...

Happy Birhtday, Arun!

D. said...

What a wonderful post for an amazing five-year old. Happy birthday, Arun; and happy birth day to you, Mama!

Me said...

Happy Birthday Arun! What a beautiful gift this post is for him, mom.