March 30 2003: my second child, Ryan Nicholas came into the world, peeing and pooping all over my insides. He has not stopped surprising me from that moment on. I have been reflecting on his pronounced antics and came up a few highlights. Thirteen years would not seem enough time to procure a ‘greatest hits’, but this kid has such a range of tricks, there are enough to share for now.
The Cake Burglar
This moment stands out so clearly because it was one of the first time there would be no doubting the wheels were turning in his head. (This is straight from my book, but it took a long time to craft those words, so why reinvent?) Upon giving him chocolate cake for the first time…
“Ryan’s expression was one of pure astonishment. I could almost read his mind: What the hell have you kept this from me? I laughed, knowing he was amazed at how delicious cake was….and he absolutely inhaled his piece…I set him on the chair….he hovered on his knees, looking intently at his grandma’s plate. Grandma is a dainty, polite eater—completely opposite of my children and me….Ryan tapped Grandma on the shoulder and said, “Gama—wook,” as he pointed over her shoulder toward the television. She turned around to see what he was pointing at, and in one fast motion, he swiped her cake and shoved it into his mouth…He just grinned sideways and began to look to other plates.”
When he was almost five, he was intrigued with watching us in the kitchen, and pouring all types of liquid. His language had slowly returned and one morning he was right by my side as I walked around the kitchen. He sat himself up on the counter looked me in the eye (which was a rarity at that time) and asked: “Mom, wine or coffee?” I had him repeat the question, because I wanted to be sure what he was asking, and was relishing in interaction and didn’t want it to end. I looked at my watch and in a reluctant stoic voice I said, “well…it’s morning, so probably coffee.” He shrugged and helped me make the coffee-well at least pour the water in. The remarkable part of this (aside from me turning down wine) is he was perceptive enough to know those were/are my two favorite beverages; and he had learned to be considerate and ask which I wanted to partake in.
When he was in first grade (the first time) his dear teacher tried so hard to make him successful with good behaviors. After many days of receiving a red card (which those not familiar with the ‘behavior card system’ red indicates a bad day) he had finally earned a green card. I unknowingly arrived at the moment she announced this to the class, perhaps hoping the support of his peers would encourage further good behavior. The entire class cheered loudly; I would have thought this ruckus would have been upsetting to him. But he stood there soaking in the cheers, grinning widely. Slowly he put his hands up to quiet the crowd and said, “Childrens, childrens, that’s enut (enough).” Of course this way to address a crowd came from a movie, but how surprisingly appropriate for the moment.
As he grew, he began to like dressing up for Halloween. After three years in a row of being Sponge Bob, we asked what he wanted to be for Halloween. Not really expecting a different answer, Ryan replied he wanted to be Charlie Brown. Thrilled for a change, we searched for the trademark yellow striped shirt and brown shorts. But as he was watching “The Great Pumpkin” one evening, I pointed to Charlie Browns sad, too many-holed, ghost costume; and said “Do you want to wear this for Halloween?” He replied with an emphatic ‘yes’. Jenna was kind enough to volunteer to paint black circles all over a white bed sheet—in mimic of Charlie’s costume (which said black circles are still present on my garage floor today). We measured his real eyeholes and his costume was ready. Halloween evening we placed the sheet over his head, and he ran outside to the flower planter, grabbed something we couldn’t see and then strode over to our then-teenage neighbor and said: “I got a rock.” For Ryan to remember the line that Charlie Brown uses after each disappointing house in “The Great Pumpkin”, and then act it out so suavely, was quite simply, hysterical.
Not the Donald
When I was laid up after surgery two years ago, my younger sister came to help me with the kids. Upon my instruction, she took Ryan to his favorite place to eat: In and Out Burger. After spending the morning with her in my car, he apparently had enough. He refused to eat his cheeseburger and then loudly told her in the middle of the restaurant she wasn’t his mom, stop driving his mom’s car and added for effect (in a very Trump-esque way) “you are fired!” I’m not entirely sure where he got that reference, and as horribly humiliating it was to my sister, it is lasting comedy to us. He then decided when my older sister came for her shift a few days later that whatever she would say to him he would reply sternly “Not you!” and look away from her. At least she didn’t’ get fired.
I have a Ryan-montage in my head, acting out his favorite scenes that I wish I could put on a screen: from Bruce Almighty (“Excuse me, do you have a spoon?”); or from Antz (“Who the hell is that?”); or Dumb and Dumber (“It’s okay, I’m a limo driver!); or Austin Powers (“Yeah Baby!”). The show could go on and on…and if you could see it, you too would hold your sides in hilarity.
There will undoubtedly be many more moments Ryan surprises us and the rest of the world with his wit and humor. I can only marvel at where he’s come from and continue wishing for the wonder of where he is going.
Happy 13th, little man.