It’s been a long time, maybe years, since just the three of us took a little vacation together. Lia has always wanted to see Philadelphia, so off we went. We stayed in the city, walked almost everywhere, ate ice cream for dinner, rode a double-decker bus, saw severed body parts, and were in bed by 9 each night. Pretty cool.
About a half-hour out of Philly is Sesame Place. We met Elmo and Cookie Monster, and rode some neat rides. I was nervous about the swings – Lia and Joe called me milquetoast, hopped on, and laughed at me each time they went by.
For educational purposes we went to the Franklin Institute and the Mütter Museum. No photos allowed at the Mütter, but darn that place was cool. It’s hard to describe – it’s a serious medical museum with Einstein’s brain, an 18th century mummified Philadelphian, lots of preserved parts and pieces of people, a wall with 139 skulls. Also umlauts, so it’s pretty metal.
This photo is Joe reading over a ledger at the Franklin Institute. The place is sort of the grand-daddy of city science museums. There was an incident there with a key that will become part of our family lore – remind me and I’ll show you a video clip of it sometime.
We did a lot for Joe’s 7th birthday. Here are some pictures. More on Flickr, of course.
Joe turns seven today.
“Give me the child until he’s seven and I’ll give you the man.” Or something like that. So goes an old, maybe Jesuit, maxim,* suggesting that by seven who we are is relatively set, the product of family, friends, teachers and nature.
Hanging out with Joe, I hope that’s true.
Most of us seek some kind of end-state. We can’t just be going, we have to be going somewhere. Attaining Nirvana, finding ourself, becoming one with God. Total consciousness, having the Force with us always. Abiding. Some folks fast, meditate, paint, strum, tai chi, flagellate, introspect, audit, run or read endlessly just trying to find the on-ramp for the trip.
Most of us spend years, or our entire lives, looking for meaning and trying to be something that we think is our best self. Joe was born there.
He could do things better, like feed himself or walk straight or whatever, but he’ll never be a better person. Joe has reached – and only knows – a state more devoid of conflict and ego than most of us can ever imagine. It’s a blissful ignorance to be sure, one that requires a cadre of caretakers (and may always), but I’m so glad to be a part of it.
In him there is peace, and he guilelessly tries to give it away. He doesn’t care who the recipient is, and wants nothing in return. There is no catch. The lunch is free.
My own search for my best self ended about seven years ago. Not because I found it, but because I’d rather hang out with Joe. And I got that going for me, which is nice.
Happy birthday little boy. You’re the best son ever.
A few interesting facts about the Tussing Elementary School 2015 yearbook:
– It exists, and is very cool.
– Joe is fascinated by it. All those familiar faces in a book format? Yes, please!
– Joe is in it 10 times. There’s his regular class photo of course, but he just sort of appears throughout the rest. There’s Joe with his P.E. teacher. Here’s Joe with the music teacher. Look, Joe with his backpack. Who’s that with Mrs. Resnick? Why, it’s Joe.
I was getting a little creeped out thumbing through it. First it was cute in a where’s Waldo way. Then it got a little name-droppy, like when you go into someone’s office and they have photos of themselves with random celebrities or politicians. So you met Al Gore and Jared from the Subway commercials – who cares? Then it started to feel Shining, like the final slow zoom into Jack Nicholson’s face in the old photo.
Don’t tell Joe I said that, he doesn’t like me to talk about the Overlook.
He’s put all the physical pieces together for reading. Posture, grip, book is almost always right-side-up, he chatters like he’s reading, eyes go left-to-right, turns pages like a pro. Very neat to watch years of reading to him pay off.
Lia and I went to a live taping of one of the great radio shows of our time, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, in Durham last week. It was terrific! Anytime Bobcat Goldthwait kicks the night off with an Eric Von Zipper joke, you know you’d better buckle up. Amiright?!
The show was very funny, or course, and it was neat to hear the changes from live show to finished show a day and a half later. It was almost two hours live, edited down to about 50 minutes for the final product. Very cool.
Joe spent the night at his Nana & Papa’s place. It was the first night he’s been away from both of us in years, but we all survived. I probably took it the hardest – my little Anthony Fremont. And any stop in Fayetteville means cousins.