Harper in action.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

#1 Mommy!

Everybody asks me the same question: Are you getting any sleep? The answer is yes. I'm getting plenty of sleep. The reason is because McCall is the best mother and wife in the world. She definitely takes the brunt of the blow when it comes to losing sleep. And it's not because I'm unwilling or incapable of helping. She's just faster at responding and doesn't wake me up for assistance very much. But she's not a great mom simply because I sleep undisturbed most nights.

McCall is a bookworm. But in a very funny way. She actually does not enjoy reading very much. She certainly isn't looking for any book of the month clubs to join or anything. But when a topic is very important to her (e.g. pregnancy or baby's first year), she'll buy as many books as she can find and read them all (or at least parts of them all). She'll go online and read any article she comes across. She'll sign up for newsletters and email announcements. She is the most informed mother I know. When we were in our Bradley Method classes (if you don't know what Bradley is, just pretend I wrote Lamaze) she knew as much as our instructor did, and sometimes I think she knew more. When we went to the hospital she had more current information than the attending resident. She impressed the Lactation Nurse with ingenuity in trying to help Harper figure the correct way to latch onto her breast.

Right now McCall is battling a pretty severe bout of post partum depression. In addition, she has some sort of ligament damage in her wrist which forces her to wear a splint. It also means she's in great pain anytime she picks up Harper, something she only has to do about a million times a day. She had to take off her wedding rings because her fingers are still too swollen. And on top of it all, she may be getting a flare up of very rare immunity disorder she has called Behcet's Syndrome, which basically causes her body to attack its own mucus membranes. Not very pleasant. Yet through it all, she seems to have endless energy to invest in our baby girl.

McCall is extremely smart too and figured out how to procure a ton of very valuable coupons for diapers, wipes, formulas, you name it. I normally wouldn't describe her as the most frugal person I know. The first time I ever visited her apartment she offered me a slice of her $45 pizza. That's right, she bought a single large pizza for $45. I believe the toppings were gold, oil, and the cure for cancer. But as we are really starting to feel the financial pinch that accompanies a newborn, she has been very active in seeking out bargains.

However, her unending love and devotion also carry some subtle side affects. I can see in her the beginnings of Overprotective Mom. This is the mom who makes their kid wear floatees in the bathtub or a helmet on a trampoline. Me? I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I told McCall that child proofing our home meant putting a mattress at the bottom of the stairs. The other day I accidentally bonked Harper's head against an open door while carrying her back to her room for a diaper change. These things happen. We definitely try to minimize any pain that Harper may experience, but sooner or later everybody hurts. That's why R.E.M. wrote that song.

McCall came rushing back asking if I'd hurt one of her soft spots. Then Harper spit up a bit. Something she does about as often as McCall picks her up. (Though, I don't want to imply a correlation. It's simply a matter of ratio, you understand.) McCall asked if we should take her to the hospital, "Nausea is one of the classic symptoms of a concussion!" I told you she knows EVERYthing. As if I didn't feel bad enough already, now my wife thinks I concussed our daughter and crushed her little fontinels.

Or at church on Sunday, we put Harper in the nursery for the first time. McCall hoped to enjoy the service without having to deal with a fussy baby or a diaper change. When you drop off your kid, they give you a number. Then if your kid falls down and starts bleeding uncontrollably or something, they flash the number on the large projection screen above the stage. We were assigned number 237. About halfway through the service, 227 appeared on the screen. McCall turned to me frantically, "What number do we have?" I showed her our laminated card with 237 on it. "What if it's a typo? Should I go get Harper?" She was halfway out of her seat before I was able to stop her and reassure her that they meant 227 not 237. That's why it said 227 not 237.

But even her mother hen instincts are merely the manifestations of her unconditional love. And that's why there's two of us; to balance each other. Last week Harper was standing on my lap looking into my eyes and I thought about how amazing and beautiful she was. I knew that God had given her to us. That of all possible combinations of chromosomes, He had decided Harper was the right one. And not just that she's the right one for us. But we're the right ones for her. Nobody else could raise her. And while I sometimes even make me nervous, I really believe that McCall is the perfect Mommy for Harper.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Working Girl


Harper's first run-in with the paparazzi. Thankfully, her playmate, Jackson, was able to hold her back.


I believe it is every parent's right to live vicariously through their children. To encourage them toward their own unfulfilled dreams and desires. If it weren't for such hard driving parents as Earl Woods, Emmanuel Agassi, and Christopher Culkin we would've never known such amazing talents as Tiger, Andre or Macaulay. Thus, it is my turn to reflect on my life, consider what might have been and force it on little Harper Jo.
Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I dreamed of one thing: to be a movie star. I think I can pinpoint the time to somewhere around the first grade that I decided it was my calling. Two films in particular heavily influenced my passion for being in front of the camera. The Steven Spielberg classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the only slightly less noteworthy Neverending Story.
My dad took my brothers and I to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when it came out in 1981. I was four years old and as the story goes, although it may be more family legend than true, my mother was out of town and was none too pleased that my father had taken us to such a violent movie (let's not forget the climax of the film when the Heavenly Host descend on the evil Nazis and unleash the fury of the Lord in ways that include spontaneous combustion and melting). But for years I imagined myself outracing massive boulders, shooting bad guys, and flying around the world, my travels represented by red lines marked on faded maps.
Only three years later I entered the world of Fantasia and watched Atreyu and Falcor battle the Morque (that scary wolf creature that runs 100 mph unless it's about to catch Atreyu). I nearly wept when Artax sank in the Swamp of Sadness and there was something exciting about the twin Sphinxes and their stone bossoms. But there was also something very disturbing about the Nothing. It raised questions in my mind that eventually linked with thoughts about eternity since both were concepts I couldn't comprehend. To this day I don't like to consider these thoughts very much.
But now it's Harper's turn. After being told by everybody who's ever seen her how beautiful she is, we've decided to try and make some money off her. Actually, we just want to see if maybe she can contribute to her education. Eighteen years from now when she's paying for her own college tuition she won't remember having done the work. How sweet is that? I wish I had thousands of dollars in an account from work that I can't remember doing!
Now it's entirely possible that Harper won't book any jobs. And while I'm fine with that, McCall told her we'd sell her on eBay if she didn't start working within six months. I reassured her that we'd set the reserve price at, like, $20,000 or something. However, I really do think that she can get some print work or maybe a commercial (generally speaking, TV or film gigs are reserved for twins and triplets). But that leads me to a different conundrum. Do I really want her to be in that environment?
I've been on enough sets and in enough studios to know what goes on. It may be a shoot for Pampers, or a commercial for Johnson & Johnson, but it's still a business in the real world. And the advertising and entertainment industries are ones where the sexual harrassment laws only pack a punch as punchlines. I'm reminded of a scene in Fletch Lives where Fletch travels to Louisiana to take ownership of a decrepit antebellum estate he's inherited from a distant relative. Upon his arrival he finds an African-American servant living on the premises and asks if he's heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. Scratching his head, the servant replies, "It didn't get too much publicity around these parts."
So if she's actually able to fulfill my childhood dreams, do I let her? I suppose I'm putting the cart before the horse. Indeed, I may be putting a pile of lumber before a foal. But I still think we should consider some of these questions. When do we say enough? The first time I hear a dirty joke in her presence? The first time she tells me a dirty joke? The first time she tells me a dirty joke while asking for a cigarette? We have to know what our boundaries are for our daughter now. And ultimately that decision has to be made regardless of financial consequences and parental fantasies. Perhaps Kyle Lawrence will never be added to the list of overbearing fathers of celebrities. I guess I'll just have to settle for "World's Greatest Dad". I've always envied their grand prize coffee mug.