The year of living dangerously


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It might surprise you with how little I've shared about him, but the boy turned a year old this month. I know, it surprised the boy and me, too.

Like me, he doesn't get worked up about birthdays, and wouldn't have minded if the day passed by without anyone finding out. He hadn't said a word about it all month, and he would've gotten away with it, but my wife keeps these things written down somewhere.

She went the whole nine yards — pinning up banners and scattering confetti. I had to beat it out of the house and stay out while she got things ready. I didn't get the OK to come back until the afternoon. She even put together a smash cake for the boy — the new trend for first birthdays.

Now, my wife would win the gold in the Rocky Mountain Bake-Off if they gave out medals for effort, but they might award that prize to someone else if judging on taste and appearance. Most contest-bakers are professionals in disguise anyway, smearing flour on their cheeks and making a mess on purpose, and they know tricks with ingredients to adjust for high altitude. But the idea of a smash cake is exactly what it sounds like, so we skipped the pretty store-bought cakes we normally set out for guests and went with the homemade variety.

I like to think our son is looking a little more like me every day, although people tell me otherwise. No, they say, he looks more like my wife. He is good-looking. I thank them for the compliment anyway, but when I look at him I see pieces of me. He has thick feet, almost squares, that he catches on corners. My wife sees me in him, too, and does her best to correct it. She's always telling me I stand with my legs too wide apart and am difficult to get around. I explain to her it is a result of my days as a high school all-star. I have a low center of gravity. I am difficult to push over, which is a quality all fathers of young boys should have.

He still clings to walls to get around the place, but I know it won't be long before he is running around with a slingshot in his back pocket. We have a lot of rocks in the backyard, and all our big windows face south. I will have to teach him to pull the slingshot straight back.

A few things happened this first year. He outgrew the sink, so we moved to kneeling at the tub for his baths. A homebuilder could save parents a bit of back pain if they installed tubs at waist level, though I can see the difficulty an adult might have so close to the ceiling. 

We found out what kind of a son he is shaping up to be. He has a conscience. He pulls his hands away from curtains and vases when you tell him to. He knocks the books off the shelf one at a time, looking for a reaction after each one. A bad boy would take one big, heavy swipe across the titles and move on to the next target.

I found out what kind of dad I might turn out to be, what kind of teacher I am. There is no topic I will shy away from, and I practiced all the difficult father-son life discussions early. I thought a rehearsal might make it easy when the real performance comes around. He didn't say much, making it an awkward conversation anyway.

I also found out what kind of mother my wife is. Both loving and doting, she brings it all to the table. She speaks with a sweet voice even in frustrating moments. Above all, she puts forth untouchable effort. She wins the gold medal for that.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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