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25 Things About My Son, Henry

Henry Bielanko...down on the farm.

The day Henry was born he started smiling and he hasn’t really stopped since.

Oh sure, he has his moments, his little tirades of crying and flopping down on the kitchen floor and rolling around as if I’d just told him that the world had run out of milk and it was gonna be cranberry juice from here on out.

But that stuff usually only goes down when I take away something sharp he has managed to find himself, some new deadly toy weapon he thinks is cool.

Mostly, our son Henry is what you would call ‘happy-go-lucky’.

And that’s not a term I like to bandy about all that much either because to me it sort of conjures up an image of a slightly drunken Leprechaun whistling some Pogues tune aloud while he stops at the end of the village/not a care in the world, and has an afternoon pee at the base of a giant mushroom.

Actually come to think of it…that’s kind of eerily similar to some stuff that Henry actually does do.

Ahem.

Well now, whatever the true meaning of the phrase, my son seems to fit it. He’s a really happy roguish lad and his excitement/effervescence/daredevilness is so contagious that I find myself really looking forward to his appearance each and every morning. Truth be told, if he isn’t smiling or laughing when I see him first thing, I know in my guts that he’s more than likely sick with a bug or something.

That’s how cheerful the tiny dude is.

So here we are. Henry, along with his big sister, Violet, have made my life way way better than I ever dreamed life could be.

So, if it’s alright by you, I’m gonna brag on the boy here just a little bit.

Thanks.

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  • The Name Henry 1 of 25
    The Name Henry
    We were close to naming our boy a few different names. But in the end, we decided on Henry for a lot of reasons. It's a strong name for one. And there are a lot of Henrys peppered throughout history that we admire, from Henry Aaron to Hank Williams to a fleet of Kings who were called that. Still, when our good friend and fellow writer, Katie Granju's son Henry passed away right when we were getting ready to welcome a new lad to the world, we decided that we'd call him Henry mostly in tribute to that young man. And I'm really glad we did.
  • Rascal Boy 2 of 25
    Rascal Boy
    Henry is what you'd call a lovable rascal. He can't go more than a minute or so of his day without managing to climb up on a table or fill his mouth with a handful of dog food! I never dreamed that a little boy could actually act just like they say little boys act. But Henry has proven me wrong every wobbly step of the way.
  • To Climb Dog Mountain 3 of 25
    To Climb Dog Mountain
    We have two big black labs in our house, Max and Milo, and each of them is extremely gentle and cool with our kids. And Henry just loves them so much. But lately he has taken to using Max as a ladder. If Max is lying by the couch or at the foot of the picnic table in the yard, it doesn't take long before Hank comes rambling along and just starts climbing aboard Max's back to get up on whatever he can climb to. It's actually a beautiful thing watching how patient and understanding Max is with the kid. I've never seen him try to stand and leave even once.
  • Can Man 4 of 25
    Can Man
    There are a lot of toys laying around our joint. Like a lot of parents with two kids, we have accumulated more than our share of plastic dinosaurs and trucks and xylophones. But, Henry could pretty much care less. You see, he's a can man. He loves to fetch a tuna can out of the cupboard and carry it around with him like it's a Tonka Tuna. Things got so serious that I had to move all the recycling out to the yard because I kept finding the kid walking around with a beer can in his mitts, happy as a clam.
  • That Face 5 of 25
    That Face
    We all love our kids. Every parent loves to stare at their child's face and bathe in the flood of recognition that pours over them when they see their grandparents or their spouse's features in the very face they created themselves. It's astounding to me to look at my boy and to see my Pop-Pop one second and then my wife the next. It's nothing short of magic, really, and looking at Henry I see a whole lot of our family's history.
  • Keep On Truckin’ 6 of 25
    Keep On Truckin'
    Trying to get ol' Hank to settle into one spot for more than two or three seconds is no small feat. We have way less pictures of him than we do of his sister at his age, largely because the guy just will not stop trucking around. This photo here is as rare as a decent Sasquatch shot. We probably had to dangle something shiny and attractive to him above the lens just to get him to sit still with Grammy and Dad for a second.
  • Rocky & Apollo Creed 7 of 25
    Rocky & Apollo Creed
    Lately, it's been a real pleasure to watch Henry start to sprout up because for a while there I was worried that his big sister was gonna knock him silly. Violet took to Henry starting to walk much the same way Rocky Balboa took to Apollo Creed's little annoying sing-songy patter. She went after him with a real vengeance. Now though, things are changing fast, and on more than one occasion my wife or I have come in to a room to see why Violet is crying only to find a handful of her goldilocks hanging out of Henry's fist. Oy vey.
  • Mama’s Boy 8 of 25
    Mama's Boy
    My wife Monica was upset for a while when Hank started talking a little because he seemed to really favor the word 'Da-Da' over 'Ma-Ma'. But those days are over now and he is making up for all that by saying his mama's name all the time and perking up whenever he hears her voice from another room. I'm glad too, because I was starting to feel a little bad there for a while (but secretly: no I wasn't!).
  • Little Growler 9 of 25
    Little Growler
    One of the millions of things that I really love about Henry is his affinity for growling. He can take one of his eight or ten words that he knows and completely transform it by growling it in a way that is both cute and awesome. In the morning, when he is just waking up and I hear him moving around up in his crib, I will sneak up to the door just so I can hear him letting out his animated calls for his morning milk. Instead of a simple,"Ba-ba!, its always "Ba-baaaaaaaaaaarrgh!", that he growls low and steady. It's really funny. I think he picked it up from me making dinosaur sounds when we play with our plastic prehistoric friends.
  • Outside! 10 of 25
    Outside!
    Most kids love to get out into the sunshine and blow off some steam and Henry is no different. There are some times when I have to open the backdoor to the yard for a second to toss something in the trash and he comes barreling toward the open doorway with gusto. Then, when he realizes that we aren't heading out there into the world, he really loses his mind, crying and flopping down on the floor as if his whole life's meaning has just been yanked out from under him. Of course, the remedy for this is always," Okay, Henry...let's go outside!" Then, his tears seem to simply roll back up into his eyeballs and his smile breaks through and he's off to the races, cutting across the yard and loving life again.
  • Ramblin’ Man 11 of 25
    Ramblin' Man
    No matter where we are, in the car driving down the road or taking a stroller stroll or going on a hike with the kids in their packs, Henry is cool as a cucumber until we stop. Then, he goes bananas....flailing his arms and legs and sobbing until we start to roll forward once again. And as soon as we are moving again, he doesn't make a peep.
  • DUCK! 12 of 25
    DUCK!
    Henry's first word was 'Duck', which he continues to say a whole lot, even when there are absolutely no ducks or pictures of ducks around for miles. But it all stems from this park where we take the kids, where there are ducks galore to feed. Usually, i start out our park trips by putting him up on my shoulders and walking towards the birds just so I can hear him start to machine-gun the word. "Duck! Duck! DuckDuckDuckDuckDuck!" he'll belt out, until I put him down on the grass where he proceeds to chase and terrorize every last mallard in the park.
  • The Look 13 of 25
    The Look
    Henry has this look he gives me, this moment of wondering that reveals itself in his eyes whenever he is about to embark on some new kind of mischief. He'll look up at me as if to say," I'm gonna do this Dadddy, no matter what, but do you think it's gonna be okay?" This works to his advantage, I guess, because even though I am forewarned that he is about to pull a whole family of bananas down off the counter top, I usually can't help but let him do it because that look just gets to me so much.
  • Sharp-Dressed Mini-Man 14 of 25
    Sharp-Dressed Mini-Man
    We've only managed to deck Henry out in some Sunday best clothing maybe a half dozen times, but man-oh-man, each time we do, its so cool. I think he senses that his Mom and I are both really impressed with how dapper he looks, too. He seems to want to show us how good he is at doing kid stuff when dressed to the nines! He'll be dressed up like he's headed to a Mafia wedding and head straight toward the local mud pit. And the collision of those two worlds always melts our parental hearts.
  • When The Rooster Crows 15 of 25
    When The Rooster Crows
    We have some books for the kids that feature farm animals (I know/who doesn't?) and I never get tired of the fact that Henry thinks the name of the rooster is actually," Cock-a-doodle-doo!" It just makes me break out in smiles when we get to the page with the rooster staring back at us and I point at it and say, "Who's that, buddy?" He takes his nubby finger then, and points right at the bird and does his best rooster crow, which kind of sounds like a rooster in a burlap sack. It is probably my favorite sound on Earth these days.
  • To The Rescue 16 of 25
    To The Rescue
    The way I see it, since Hank was born, I have probably spent about forty percent of my life sweeping in from across the yard or the living room or the park to scoop him up in my arms and rescue him for the imminent destruction that he was heading for. And for all his rambunctiousness and fervor, he really never seems to mind dear old dad ruining his perfect plan to fall in a creek or get eaten by a cow. Usually, all I have to do is take him about ten steps in a safer direction, set him down on a new path, and he follows it without any protest at all. (I wonder how long that will last, huh?)
  • Guy Smiley 17 of 25
    Guy Smiley
    In all my years on this planet so far, I don't think anything could have ever prepared me for the feeling I get when I watch my kids smile. I know that sounds hokey and all, but dammit it's true. And Henry, from the time he was about two hours old, has been the grinning-est fella I have ever known. As soon as I poke my face around the doorjamb to his room, after a nap or first thing in the morning, he sees me and his smile just blows up across his cheeks like a drought fire. It's such a fantastic part of my everyday, to be able to know, in the back of my mind that no matter how crappy my day might get, I can be sure of a smile on demand from my kid. He's always got one ready to roll out and I really appreciate that.
  • The Big Bang 18 of 25
    The Big Bang
    A few seconds after this photo was taken by my wife on Easter Sunday, Henry promptly stood up and fell flat on his face. The result was his first real boo-boo, a pretty nasty cut right across his forehead. Poor little dude, he was crying up a storm for a bit there. But then, after maybe ten minutes, he completely forgot that it had ever even happened. So, for the next two weeks it was strangely cute to watch the bugger going about his daily shenanigans, smiling his golden smile up at us with a big old Red Badge Of Courage strapped across his noodle.
  • The Cold Milk Kid 19 of 25
    The Cold Milk Kid
    It would have been wise for us to buy a dairy cow or two before we had Hank, but how were we to know? I mean, how could we have known that we would welcome a kid into the world who never stops saying the words 'Ba-Ba!' and who would likely be really happy to spend his days in a vat of milk. He drinks a lot of the stuff. I mean a lot. Watching him walk around the house with his bottle of the white stuff has become sort of iconic around these parts. It's like seeing Keith Richards strolling around with his bottle of Jack Daniels, you know? It's just the way he does things.
  • Easy Rider 20 of 25
    Easy Rider
    Unlike his sister, who never really seemed that keen to right up on Dad's shoulder's too much, Henry sort of digs it. And I'm glad too, because it has saved me a few times when he had been chasing ducks or going full tilt on the sliding board and it came time to leave. He isn't a big fan of ending the fun. Luckily, by swooping him up and letting him ride up high, he pretty much considers himself involved in another great and dangerous adventure and immediately forgets about whatever activity he was so hesitant to leave behind.
  • Barefoot Country Boy 21 of 25
    Barefoot Country Boy
    Although he looks awesome in his different kicks that his Mom and I have bought him, Henry, like his big sis, always seems to prefer to go barefoot. Half the time, taking the time to put shoes on him just proves to be a lost cause. We'll pull up to our destination and I will go to get him out of his car seat only to find that he's managed to strip his sneakers off and is actually sucking on one of his tube socks. I guess that will all change when he hits high school though and he wants me to drop 200 clams on whatever the hot shoe is.
  • Tub Time 22 of 25
    Tub Time
    Henry loves getting in the bathtub and splashing water all over the place. Sometimes we will get him in there with his big sister and the two of them will have a time making Mr. Bubble beards on each other. Recently, he's got a new bathroom stunt. He has taken a real shine to the very first toothbrush in his his life. So much so, that he can often be found still wielding the the thing like a tiny plastic sword hours after he was allowed to brush his choppers (i.e. press his palm up against the spigot and spray water everywhere.)
  • Beach Bum 23 of 25
    Beach Bum
    My son loves sand and surf and driftwood and dead seaweed and fish bones and old plastic mystery waste that has washed ashore. What can I say, the kid loves the beach. Mostly, it's the lakes around here where he hangs, but he never complains. He just loves to truck across the sand as fast as his little legs will take him. But as I've come to learn the hard way, he doesn't slow up once he hits the water. Oh no. He just guns the gas and keeps on going, like that final scene in Thelma and Louise, never even tapping the brakes at all!
  • Beach Bum, Part 2 24 of 25
    Beach Bum, Part 2
    The other thing Henry loves to do at the beach is throw sand. Not a little bit either. My boy is a boy who could stand at the waters edge and throw sand into the lapping waves until there was no more sand left or until the lake just filled up and disappeared, whichever came first. This isn't usually a problem except when maybe there are other people around (his aim isn't the best just yet) or when he manages to hurl a heaping handful into his own face (like I said about his aim.)
  • Nothing But Awesomeness 25 of 25
    Nothing But Awesomeness
    Henry, our son, is almost a year and a half now and he has brought such a massive amount of joy into my life that I have a hard time trying to find the words, really. To have a little buddy who loves to smile all the time, who likes to crawl up in your lap at the end of the live long day and rest his sleepy head on your chest in front of the TV, these are the things that make life worth living. There are a lot of things I reckon I did wrong in this world, a lot of ways I suppose I messed up. But Henry and his sister Violet aren't one of 'em.

 

 

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More from Serge:

Picnic In The Raindrops: A Daddy’s Best Meal Ever

Sky Child!: 20 Crazy Cool Pictures Of Kids Flying

No Neckties, No Cologne: 20 Father’s Day Gifts I Really Want

25 Things About My Daughter, Violet

 

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