Some big life steps have been taking place in my house, and they couldn't be at once more different and yet alike. I speak, of course, of my schizophrenic wicks burning at both ends--13-year-old Jackson, ye of the smart-ass remarks, ridiculous taste for junk food and smelly torso, and Max, the 9-month-old package of poop, drool and cuteness.
As it has turned out, I have found myself in the past few days simultaneously helping to coax the first tentative crawls Max has made across a rug, while also coaching Jackson (or, more appropriately, having my coaching ignored by him) as he navigates the treacherous waters of his first girlfriend. That's right, my oldest boy is in puppy love, and let me tell ya, it's amazing to think that any of us were ever so incompetent around girls as a 13-year-old boy.
Case in point: A couple of days ago, I suggested he take a shower before seeing his "girlfriend" later in the day, to which he might as well have been suggesting I consider committing myself. I should probably note that at this point he had gone 2-3 days, a soccer practice and a soccer game since his last shower. He simply put on deodorant (maybe) and changed his clothes. Anyone whose nose has shared close quarters with a teenage boy will understand when I declare that a collective "ewwwwww" is in order.
Meanwhile, Max has been slowly discovering the joy of locomotion. This is a relief, because just as Jackson is reluctant to shower, Max has, for weeks, been hesitant to move forward. Instead, he would just keep rocking back and forth before pushing back up into sitting position. Only each time he did so, he would land a few inches back from where he started, meaning that he eventually found himself trying to sit on a dresser or a wall, or if he really miscalculated, he'd get himself trapped underneath his crib or the living room couch, with only his head poking out.
But all that changed today when he began making forward movements toward the toys we were tempting him with from across the rug. Naturally, he found great joy in his new discovery, and soon he was making consistent runs at the dog in an effort to give him a baby's idea of affection, or what the rest of us might characterize as horrifying abuse in the form of hair grabbing, eye scratching and right crosses.
Of course, this totally changes everything in our household. Baby-proofing efforts must begin in earnest, alertness must shift into high gear, and the days of leaving Max sitting innocently playing with a toy while I get a snack are over. It's now 100 percent hands-on care, all the time.
Similarly, Jackson's newfound puppy love changes everything. Suddenly his voice sounds less aggravated, something is now more important than his skateboard and Xbox, and this hopefully means an end to the over-the-top affection he sometimes seeks from me. Who knows, maybe he'll even stop calling me "daddy" and graduate to "dad" before Max does.
Now if only we could do something about the smart-alecky mouth, junk food Jones, and funky B.O.