Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

Doctors often refer to my father as the "bionic man." It's an apt definition; he has more plastic, titanium, swine parts, silicone, alloys, and granite in his body than Lee Majors and Pamela Anderson combined. The surgeries he's undergone are, really, an extension of both his personality and his profession.

Despite the fact that we're both ranchers, I'd always thought that I was just a tiny-sliver more cautious than Dad. Dad hops on any horse, trained or not, and rides the buck out of him. I work with young horses for hours on the ground before I'm confident enough to climb aboard. Dad balances precariously on the back of a moving hay truck, one hand clinging to a little piece of twine that could snap at any second, the other hand pulling off hay for the cattle; I gingerly climb to the top and kick the hay off from the center of the load. Every nut Dad tries to loosen is a probable self-inflicted wound with a wrench; I spray WD-40 on rusted bolts until they shine like they've just been purchased at the hardware store.

But it's catching up with me, as the hazards of this job often do. When Regina was seven months pregnant with Dylan I took a horse to Anderson for surgery. On the way home I rolled the ranch truck on I-5. Fortunately Grant, who was with me, wasn't hurt, and we'd left the horse at the vet's, but my right ear was nearly torn off and for a few weeks it stuck straight out. Regina called me Shrek. I preferred "White Barack."

I'd made it eight and a half months through this pregnancy without incident. Then I decided enough of this stupid caution and got on a horse I'd been training. Apparently, this horse only likes people on the ground, admiring his towering beauty and feeding him grain. On his back, he thought, people weren't so cool. It wasn't getting bucked off that hurt (although it did), it was the little tap-dance he did on
my face that inflicted the most pain. If you can take your eyes off our beautiful baby boy's photos in Regina's Facebook account, you'll see that the white-legged goiter-necked freak holding Grady is not some deformed cousin from Chernobyl, but me, at the peak of swelling.
This, I realize, is no way to introduce you to our new baby (but you already knew we had a boy, right?), and it certainly isn't giving Grady Jay, or Regina, the props they deserve ... but more will come later. I promise.
It's what I think about, though: raising a son who will, most likely, be a little like me, whether he embraces it or not. And, despite the crooked shoulders, giant ear, and asymmetrical face, I keep telling myself, being a little like your old man, that's not really a bad thing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Final Countdown

We can count the days until the baby comes on one hand, that is, if it's a five-fingered hand.  If you've lost a digit in a terrible lawnmower accident, you can start counting down the days tomorrow.  Regina is, of course, tired of the heat, tired of bumping her belly into everything, and tired of being tired (not that another baby is really going to help the latter).  I'm frightened and thrilled, like most expectant fathers, and am really looking forward to our hospital stay (room service! chair-beds! mini-vacation!).

Dylan, for her part, is blissfully indifferent.  She will acknowledge that, yes, Mommy is having a baby and that she will be a big sister soon, but any inquiries beyond, "Are you going to be a good big sister?" get ignored.  When we ask Dylan the baby's name she responds, "Sister" (Hint: that's not his name).  

Recently, we cleaned out Dylan's old room and made way for the baby.  Dylan thought we were reincarnating all her old toys and reverted to playing with rattles and breast pump cups.  It was hard explaining that her toys are no longer her toys.  I'm sure that rationale will get easier to comprehend as the baby gets old enough to physically take her toys on his own.  It'll be a hard lesson in sharing, that's for sure.

As we did when Regina was pregnant with Dylan, we are keeping the baby's name a secret.  I'm not exactly sure why, except we've noticed that people -- friends, family, total strangers -- tend to have no qualms about offering opinions about the names you've chosen.  If we were to say, "We're trying to decide between Adolph or Hiroshima.  (Hint: we've chosen neither)  We really like both and can't decide," the correct response is, "They're both great (or interesting, or fun, or ... names)."  It's not a poll or an opportunity to tell us about the dog named Hiro that bit you when you were three.  It's also not an appropriate time to make a face and say, "Yuk."  Our theory is that once the baby is born, it's hard to say to his face that you had a classmate in jr. high with the same name who ate his boogers and couldn't operate his pants' zipper on his own.  If you do, the baby can retaliate (vomit, poo throwing, hair pulling).

Our friends have told us that having two kids isn't twice as time consuming as one kid.  It seems that there is some universally weird mathematical formula that adding one more child causes the hours in a day to shrink by 2/3s.  We'll see.  We're as ready as we can be, though.  We have the baby's room set up, I have a fresh bottle of Bulleit Bourbon, and Dylan has hidden and put her name on all her toys.