Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Happy 2004 Holidays from Sidd, Paul, Mollly and Santhosh

Dear family and friends,

We wanted to send a quick note along with the handwritten hellos in the card. While it may seem to carry an impersonal image, this note will include thoughts that simply would not be included in the card itself, thoughts that reflect notable points from the year.

Family

Our boys are still so young that they grow with the speed of bean sprouts. By Christmas of 2004, Paul will be nearly 32 months old and Sidd will be 16 months old. The two of them are now able to play together fairly successfully, and look forward to each other’s company. However, the older one is still probably twice the strength of the younger, with better balance, and more sustainable energy level. The younger is clearly tougher for his age, however, as the older brother one inevitably beats on him in some manner as part of the play. While Paul still struggles with playing gently with Sidd, and can get so excited that he will engulf and overpower Sidd, he will look out for the younger one’s well being too. On some evenings when Sidd is tired and crying, Paul will look at me with concern and say, “Dad, Sidd, carry” as in, I need to carry the younger brother at this point. Molly gets credit for the vast bulk of the guidance these guys get, for instilling such good habits as a real love for fruits and for putting up with their high maintenance ways. (They may be charming to guests, but they seem to be a handful after a while.)

Travels

This was the year that we put our minivan through some road trips, akin to the Chevy Chase movie “Vacation”. It has few similarities actually: the vehicle is protected with air bags, anti-roll mechanisms, AC in the back, and the kids are now in these five point harnesses with no freedom to roam around and play. We made trips to:
  • Cleveland, and the Journey Back. This was a great driving trip visiting family and friends in PA, MD, NJ & NY. The fabulous reunion in Cleveland introduced the boys to the extended family concept and its sometimes overwhelming dynamics, where there is a get together of, say 50 people who all want to see you at the same time
  • Quebec City. For anyone in the northeast, you must roadtrip to QC. The old area is like walking into a small town in Germany or France. If you can splurge, stay at the Auberge St. Antoinne
  • Michigan/Chicago. Just as the layoffs were occurring at Digitas, we flew to Michigan to meander around the state, visiting old friends and Cindy’s Ann Arbor digs, and an incredibly overdue visit with my god-daughter Fluff, and then took a train to Chicago for more carousing at Susan’s place
  • Atlanta: Two relaxing visits to ATL had the effect of getting the cousins (Paul / Ava / Sidd) to finally notice each other & start what should be a life long experience of goofing around together
  • Murphysboro: We will be flying up to M’boro for the Christmas break which should be superb. The boys have essentially gone through metamorphosis since their visit last year Thanksgiving
  • Kerala, India: We will cap the year by heading out to Kerala on Dec. 28th. It will be the first visit for the boys, and we are keen on broadening their experiences through such travels
Other Events
  • Baptism. Some of our family got together for Sidd’s baptism. The event itself was incredibly warm, inviting and prayerful in its execution, thanks to the expert guidance of Father Kevin O’Leary. If you want to have a remarkable baptism ritual, you can get no better than this gifted man, who is a consummate example of someone who has found his calling. Of note: we did not explicitly invite all the uncles and aunts who, in our estimation, were too far away to make the journey. That was a lesson we’ll learn from, as the point was not to dis-invite anyone or decide for them.
  • Layoff. One my return from the relaxing trip to Michigan and Chicago, Digitas laid me off. It was a great 7 year run with such experiences as living in London, visiting Norway and Morocco, and working in Chicago. The action was akin to being pushed out of a nest and being forced to open one’s wings; now I am in search of the next great assignment
What We Have Learned From Them
Having kids has brought its own lessons. Here are a few, which you may have learned from your journeys:
  • Be addicted to progress: There is nothing more remarkable than a child who falls down a hundred times in a day, but knows in their DNA that walking is better than crawling, despite the near term price. What would all of us achieve if we view our aspirations in that same manner?
  • Confidence does not require expertise: Watch a child walk. It looks like a confident drunk person, careening to the left and right by sharp corners, and to my worry, not slowing down. He is certain this is a good thing and there is no room for being timid. Embrace a vivacious posture.
  • Don’t wait until you have it all figured out try new things: Whether it is about walking down the stairway without holding the railing, or telling stories before you know any prepositions, the upside in terms of productivity and exhilaration is worth it. No wonder these 2 guys seem to be in such a good mood so often, they keep trying new and crazy stuff all the time.
  • Acknowledge your own accomplishments: First we saw it with Paul. Now it is commonplace with Sidd. Each time they achieve something, ranging from sliding off the bed feet first and feeling the solid floor under their toes, or handing you their sippy cup, it is always concluded with a small clapping of their hands and a smile. Nothing pompous about this. Just positive self-reinforcement.
  • Bad habits spread as fast as good habits: My old boss Dennis Reilly first shared this observation and it is so true. There is nothing better than seeing Sidd sit down to browse through books simply because Paul is doing so. However, on the other end of the spectrum, it is incredibly vexing to see Sidd try to crawl on top of the kitchen table because Paul is standing on it all of a sudden.
  • Friendships start incredibly early, no matter how crude the social skills: If Sidd has a choice to join mom and dad in the kitchen, or Paul in the living room, he will gladly and enthusiastically take the latter, even though it is sure to include some roughhousing from Paul that may get Sidd squashed, or thrashed, or have each toy he plays with methodically swiped out of his hands. He knows that the intention is play, that there will be camaraderie and it is the better option, hands down
  • Siblings are remarkably different from day one: These two are brothers? They are already displaying stark differences. Paul likes his food cooled down in the refriderator, Sidd will pop piping hot pieces of pancake in his mouth and simply make a blowing sound. Paul likes spinning the wheels on his toy trucks, is enthralled by the way vases in the furniture stores spin on their base, and routinely traces the indentations around lug nuts. Sidd will lie on his back on the floor, nodding his head to world music.
The Coming Year
Until the job situation is ironed out, it is hard to know where we will be. It could be in the Boston area, or out to DC, or other locales. In the meanwhile, let us know if you are in the area. The boys will be sure to entertain you as best as they can. We hope you the best in the coming year. God bless.

Siddhartha, Paul, Molly and Abe…