In 2005, during an ultrasound, B and I cross-examined our technician, with hopes of unequivocally confirming, that yes, we were pregnant with a boy. Blas was afraid to hope and felt more than just “a little afraid” of a life without a male counterpart to balance out all the estrogen under one roof. But really, who can blame him for that?
Picking a name for Ryder was difficult. B, inexplicably, wanted to name our son “Seth,” the name of an obscure motocross rider from his youth, and I, having grown up with a thousand “Seths” was as indisposed to that name as I was to naming one of our daughters “Jennifer.” Seth was the least likely moniker for the little boy I envisioned but had yet to meet.
Anyway, we settled on Ryder — a homonym of sorts, which paid homage to my writing inclination and Blas’s “riding” hobby. If there is any truth to the concept of manifest destiny, it appears Ryder might in fact be living proof of it. When he was 3 or so, B began the frustrating process of signing Ryder up for baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming — just about every team sport you can imagine. Ryder never participated in these games, and if truth be told, he seemed so ill at ease, it was clear he wasn’t athletically inclined. Umm, the very opposite of Blas. That made for a tense period of time in our home. Blas was annoyed his only begotten son abhorred team activities. Meanwhile, I kept asking him to give Ryder time to acclimate. The thought Ryder might become a handsome intellectual who’d find the cure to cancer while penning the Great American Novel secretly thrilled me.
Alas, what became clear as day was Ryder’s growing obsession with all matters relating to cars: tv shows, movies, cartoons, bikes, motorcycles, etc. Hmm, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all.
B soon realized Ryder might in fact, as his name suggests, have a talent for driving. The very first time Ryder sat in a go-kart at a local track, both Ryder and Blas were hooked. So, did his name influence his nature? Who knows.
With deep trepidation, B and I struck a deal: go karts only; motocross, which is B’s real passion, was out of the question. For nearly a year now, Ryder has been racing competitively in Florida. He’s done quite well despite his age and limited time on the track.
This past weekend, father and son recently headed out to the Homestead-Miami Speedway for practice karting laps. B suited up to race in his class division, but also to show Ryder the “line” and thereby improve his racing technique.
The two did quite well.
What I do know is that B and Ryder are happiest when they’re at the track, fiddling with the go-kart, or watching Top Gear.
You know, like father like son.
I wish I had an ounce of Martha Stewart’s creative capacity, but, where I lack inspiration and instinct, I make up in ideas. I readily admit these so-called ideas are not always good ideas, but, I’d like to think they have some degree of merit.
Anyway, one of the twins, Maya, has the patience of Job, so it occurred to me she might enjoy stitching and sewing and all the other domesticated arts I secretly admire. I asked Sophie to stitch a patch alongside her sister, but she looked at me with such incredulity, I thought perhaps she thought I was insane.
Maya sat down and gave it a whirl. I guess my instructions were inadequate because twice she asked for the instruction manual to get both a clear visual and exact written instructions on how to correctly sew and stitch. After her second request, I thought it over and handed over the manual, the spool, and the rhinestones. You see? My authority was swiftly usurped in less than a half hour.
I sat beside Maya as she muttered and worked. I wanted to reach over and help her, give her a hint or two, but she was so vested in her project, I let it be. I looked around and spotted Sophie standing in a prickly hedge, carefully turning every leaf, in search for ladybugs. Oh lovely Sophie! Your heart and mind are always filled with soft clouds and pretty dreams.
Unquestionably true: Our children are reflections of ourselves — in our case, the dreamer and the pragmatist.
B hoped for a son who’d share his love of motor sports. He went as far as naming his only begotten son, Ryder. (Be that as it may, I had tossed my heart in the ring and agreed to the name — given my propensity for the written word, his name felt charmingly à propos.) We’ve spent the last year and a half trying to find a sport that would spike his interest. This process has been akin to forcing a square peg into a circle. In fact, the quest to find “Ryder’s sport” has led to great frustration in our household — especially for B.
Before you roll your eyes, while it is true that a 5-year-old is entitled to take his time before “declaring a major,” Ryder’s resistance to any type of organized sport has been disappointing. Telling B that not all boys are cut out for sports and suggesting that perhaps his sturdy son might be a man of letters has done very little to assuage his doubts.
All the while we’ve taken him to soccer, gymnastics, baseball, MMA, tennis and golf — Ryder has amassed a collection of matchbox cars and monster trucks that rivals Imelda Marcos’s shoe fetish. His cars spill out of his pockets, they are stuffed beneath his bed sheets, and they are annoyingly under foot when we walk barefoot in our house.
For some time now, B has built a case, stating Ryder is cut for some sort of racing sport: such as, motocross, go karting, or mountain biking. Really? My five-year-old son is destined to get his kicks on a race track? Why not in the library stacks, knee-high in chemistry books?
The need for speed and the wind in your face seems to be a running theme in B’s life. He stopped only when, ahem, I was pregnant with Ryder and he fractured his back while riding a dirt bike. Apparently the need to grit your teeth against the speed and dirt, coupled by the sound of the exhaust screaming in the wind is a siren’s call to the men in his family. B is addicted to it, his father is a motorcycle lover (in his 70s he purchased a scooter to get around!), and his father’s father pounded the streets of Barcelona on two wheels as well.
Now Ryder has answered the siren’s call. And while I’d once dreamed of a tennis racket wielding boy whose tennis supremacy would rule the courts of Wimbledon is slowly fading away; I am enamored with my son, enclosed in a steel cage and a helmet, just as well. But more than anything else, I’d hoped my son would inherit B’s charisma, fearlessness and intelligence — and that he has.
I pray his life behind the wheel is always safe.
A few weeks ago a friend sent me a friendly reminder that Team FootWorks would soon begin its half marathon and full marathon training in September. Like most other things in my life lately, I tossed the idea of training aside — I lack two important assets: motivation and time.
Anyway, I guess on some level I didn’t shelve the idea completely because I kept her reminder in my inbox and every now and then opened it up, checked the schedule, and set it aside.
Last night, on the eve of the first run meet, I decided to do it. I decided to wilfully assault my body with 6 am call times, for runs that eventually will push me to complete 14 mile distances. I’m not a particularly good runner but I tend to commit to a run once I begin it. So, as I joined the ranks of more or less 400 other runners this morning, I felt intimidated but ever so slightly emboldened by the challenge.
It’s been many months since my last “real” run but I thought muscle memory and adrenalin would sustain me for the first 3 miles. It didn’t quite work out that way. By mile 2 I was seriously falling behind from my pace group and questioning the wisdom of my decision while ignoring the desire to vomit and faint. Our group maintained a brisk pace and a casual conversation, but through it all I kept looking up. The sun was rising, there was no imminent danger of a swooping bird, and I knew, sooner or later, this run would end, and I would pick up my broken pieces and drive home.
Eventually the run did end. And I felt that old feeling of fatigued accomplishment. I was a mess but I finished my run. And for today, that was worth a lot more than I can say.
September 19, 2010
I am afraid to show this picture to my son because if I do, I’ll never live it down. And then I’ll have to move out of the house because of the relentless badgering our 42 pound four-year old can unleash.
Who cares monster trucks aren’t practical for every day use? This picture is evidence that he too can have a Big Foot or Gravedigger parked on our pristine yard. My husband is just one heartfelt soliloquy away from caving in and perusing truck trader magazines for “good deals.” I say this with solid authority because B bought our son a go-cart and a 2 cycle mini atv –all before Ryder could walk! These “toys” are sitting in our garage, patiently waiting for him.
Perhaps it is our fault, or blame it on manifest destiny, his name is Ryder after all and his addiction to anything that goes vroom! vroom! is already legendary in our circle of influence. He is especially enthralled by monster trucks, and the power they wield.
For the time being I am content with the pocketful of Matchbox Hot Wheels he disperses throughout the house like sweet tarts. I can contend with this even when I am barefoot and step on them or when I scoop them out of my bathtub.
I knew what I was getting into when I married my roadster-motorcross-mma-stunt loving husband. I didn’t expect lightning to strike twice.
July 13, 2010
I can’t abide by Kindle, iPad book reader, and other electronic devices currently used for book reading and storage. In my view, a trip to my favorite bookstore, skimming the shelves, feeling the book spine stiffly crack after its first opening … is irreplaceable. I’ve delightedly walked many aisles and lingered over known and unknown authors, completed my purchases and in my quiet time, read my books. Over the years, I’ve stored piles of books in bins, bookshelves and in stacks throughout my house. These faithful companions are in it for the long run. So am I.
It seems as though my children will also be book lovers, and although they will be less reluctant than I to move along with the times, I remain hopeful they will continue to develop a deep respect for the written word in its traditional book form.
Along those lines, I’ve been looking for vintage themed bookplates for our collection. Here are some I admire, courtesy of Etsy.com. Enjoy!