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Henry The First: A Year In The Life

Hank The Tank

Looking back at someone’s first year of life is sort of a tricky business.

If the person isn’t your kid, well, let’s face it: you might die of boredom, there is no one on Earth who loves to write or read about a kid more than the ones who helped create them.

Then, coming in a very distant second, are the rest of the people in the world who basically could care less about your baby pictures and your verbal coo’s.

Still, it has to be done, huh? It’s almost like some kind of grown-up right of passage, to gloat about your little one’s first this and that.

So, here’s me. Here’s mine.

Here’s my sweeping mega-chronicle of my son Henry’s very first year. His first year of the down and dirty, his first days and weeks of oxygen and bear hugs and eating the dark dirt right from the flower pot of life down here on Earth.

Henry turned one year old this past week and so, like any other dad worth his weight in swampy diapers, I’m so proud of how far my little buddy has come that I am gonna throw caution to the wind here and force-feed you yet another first chapter of a little boy’s life.

Except, that it’s my son.

Henry.

The greatest Super Hero mankind has ever known.


  • The On-Time Kid 1 of 25
    The On-Time Kid
    Henry, you arrived pretty much on schedule on the 23rd of February, 2011. Your mommy did a super-awesome job at helping you get here. She was brave and strong while I was over-caffeinated and pacing around the room. Still, when you got here we were both so excited, man. Then you seemed to be having trouble breathing after awhile and so I hit a bunch of buttons and started hollering and I think I called in doctors and nurses and maybe even a SWAT team, but in the end you were okay.
  • Safe In The Arms Of Love 2 of 25
    Safe In The Arms Of Love
    I have to be honest, Henry. Watching your mom bring you into the world, I was totally in awe of her once you were safe in our room. I was so happy that the three of us were together finally. Still, though, I didn't want to share you with her right away. I wanted to hold you and keep holding you until finally your mom said that if I didn't give you up to her for a while that she was going to get out of that bed and I'd be sorry. And I know that tone of voice when I hear it, so reluctantly, I handed you over.
  • And The Beet Goes On 3 of 25
    And The Beet Goes On
    One of the things I remember so vividly about your first day with us, Henry, was how beet red your baby skin was. I remember trying to figure out on my own whether that was okay or if maybe there was something wrong. Then, I remembered that your mom had been hooked on these fish burritos from the local Mexican place all throughout her pregnancy with you. So I started thinking that maybe all that hot sauce she'd used had stained you in the womb. Luckily, though, I kept that foolish notion to myself, bud. Because after a day or so, the red began to fade away.
  • Bigfoot! 4 of 25
    Bigfoot!
    In the evening of the day you were born, your mom and and I wheeled you down to the baby bath area. There, the nurses took the time to pop your tiny feet in some ink and press your footprints onto a special card for us. Next came your first hot bath, which you didn't exactly love, but which, in all honesty, you needed after 9 months all cooped up in your Mama's oven. That night was one my two best nights ever, along with the night your sister came to us. What a great feeling it was knowing you were in our world, in your world at last.
  • It’s A Family Affair 5 of 25
    It's A Family Affair
    The next day after you were born, I went and picked up your sister, Violet, who had just turned two years old. She wasn't sure what to make of things, of course, but she seemed very interested in you for an hour or so. Then, just like that, she lost interest, little man. But recently she has taken up a new found intrigue with all things Henry and so, when that doesn't include bonking you on the head for playing with her toys, it's actually pretty cool noticing her being kind and interested in her baby brother. Enjoy it while it lasts, Hank.
  • All Dressed Up Like A Chevy Bumper 6 of 25
    All Dressed Up Like A Chevy Bumper
    Henry, right when we were getting ready to leave the hospital and take you home for the first time, I took you into the bathroom with me and presented you with the very first gift of your lifetime. It was a small metal Utah license plate that I had made by a guy on Ebay. I was so proud of the fact that I had it there with me, that I had had the forethought to have actually had it made to begin with. When your mom found the pics in the camera later on, I thought she was going to choke on her own laughter. Not because she found them all that funny, really, but more because she thinks your dad is such a dork.
  • The Godfather 7 of 25
    The Godfather
    So, the year began to move forward, Henry, as they always find a way to do. And soon enough your mom and I stumbled into our first excuse to get you all dressed up. Easter! Someday, if you have kids of your own, you'll get to know the strange and thrilling sensation of putting small living things in costumes and outfits that make them look like hysterical versions of grown-ups or bumble bees or Buzz Lightyear. So, on that first Easter we received a really sharp get-up for you from your Gran. Man, I was literally trembling as I buttoned you up in the tiny tie and vest because you looked so killer. For an hour or two there, you were our very own little Henry Soprano, Baby Mob Boss. It was magic, dude. Magic.
  • The Godfather, Part II 8 of 25
    The Godfather, Part II
    Then, on Easter morning after the egg hunt out in the yard, your sister started to lose her marbles a bit. I think all of the holiday excitement and all of the marshmallow Peeps and the peanut butter eggs just caught up with her and she slammed into that Mid-Morning Wall of Temporary Insanity. Looking back, you handled it just like any mob boss would handle family drama after a big plate of afternoon sausage and peppers. You passed out on the couch.
  • The Sunshine Kid 9 of 25
    The Sunshine Kid
    Well, being born in the wintertime like you and your sister both were (and me too!) sometimes left your mom and I wishing we could get outside more, and drench you in more fresh air than you were getting. So, the arrival of spring a few months after you jet landed was especially sweet. Our home in Utah had a big grassy yard and as soon as I spotted a little green coming back, your mom had you and your sister out there. It was so cool seeing you rolling around in the dirt for the first time. It's funny, bud: there are so many firsts that come along when a new person shows up in your life. Your first word, your first crawl, the first time I catch you with a mouthful of April mud. Each first is incredible too. Each one is just like getting a cool gift in the mail that you never saw coming. Getting you outside everyday was chock full of great firsts.
  • The Kid Who Was A Medallion 10 of 25
    The Kid Who Was A Medallion
    Early on in your sister's life, I started wearing her around a lot in one of those baby chest carriers. I honestly never stopped to wonder if it looked cool or not. (Btw: it looks probably as cool as anything any dude is ever gonna find himself wearing). It just felt so wicked being able to take her out with me on long hikes in the summertime, with two grown labs in tow and two hands free to chuck frisbees and pick up dog turds. So, by the time you arrived, your Mom and me were both serious veterans of tiny-people-wearing out in parks and in the grocery store. We carried you around a lot in there, Henry. And even at one year old, we're still stuffing you inside that thing some days, trying to run from the fact that you've damn near outgrown it.
  • Away We Go 11 of 25
    Away We Go
    Well, spring rolled by and soon it was June and time for us to say goodbye to the state where you and your sister and your Mommy were all born. Utah is a beautiful place and I am always going to be glad we were all there when we were. But life is life and for a million different reasons we found ourselves out on the front lawn one summer morning, standing in the sunshine and preparing to leave one place for another.
  • Eastbound And Down 12 of 25
    Eastbound And Down
    And so that was that, Henry. I loaded our dogs, Max and Milo, into the high cab of the really big moving truck and revved her up and set out on our journey. Your mom had Violet and you back in the Honda with her and a ton of powdered formula and like 20 Dora dvds and plastic toys galore. It really was an adventure, driving across this vast country of ours with two little ones, but your mom did an awesome job with you two. Each afternoon, we'd all meet up for lunch somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I'll never forget holding you in my lap on the big green lawn of a McDonald's somewhere in Nebraska, rubbing your little lips with cheeseburger while the prairie winds blew wild through your sister's Shirley Temple curls.
  • American Hotel Party People 13 of 25
    American Hotel Party People
    Each night of our journey across the country would find us in a motel somewhere. And we had a lot of fun too. Right around dinner time we would find a place to hang our hats and herd all the humans and the beasts into whatever little room we were given. Then we'd take you and your sister down to the pool and your mom would have a blast dragging you around in the water while I stared out the window scouting for a place to score us some pizza and beer.
  • Home 14 of 25
    Home
    By the Fourth Of July, we had done it, Henry. We had moved from Utah to Pennsylvania and were all set up in our new home. We loved the house we had found to live in, it was so grand and old, and it was in such a cool little town in the country. Quickly, we went about setting up your bedroom and Violet's, too. Then, mom started tearing some wallpaper off a wall and the next thing you know we were doing all sorts of home improvement projects all over the house. We were really really happy there. And you seemed to be, too.
  • Country Smiles 15 of 25
    Country Smiles
    Your first summer was a hot one, which is how summer should be if you ask me. We all ended up doing a lot of porch sitting in the evening when things cooled off just a little. By this time, you were about six months old, man, and one of the things that everyone definitely noticed about you was that you had one of the greatest smiles any of us had ever seen. And you were not shy at all about flashing that thing either. All an old lady in the supermarket had to do was dare to peer over the edge of the shopping cart at you and SHAZAAM: you would wallop her right in the granny-heart with your beaming grin! You still do it too. And I hope you do forever.
  • Mama’s Boy 16 of 25
    Mama's Boy
    Henry, your mom was the happiest I think I've ever seen her when she had you and Violet with her out on the porch or over at the lake down the road. She really digs you, kid. So many nights, when I was making some dinner in the kitchen, I'd hear a Frank Sinatra record start playing in the other room and then I knew what your mom was up to. I'd sneak out to the front windows and sure enough, there was the three of you, out on our porch. Most times, you'd be perched there in your mom's lap as the sun began to set below the farms across the road. And your sister would be walking all over the porch singing and talking to plants and butterflies. Those were beautiful evenings, huh, bud. There probably isn't a nicer way in this whole wide world to end a long day than the way you three were ending them your first summer.
  • The Kid With The Heart Of A Dog 17 of 25
    The Kid With The Heart Of A Dog
    There wasn't much time between when we brought you home from the hospital and the moment you seemed to have stolen old Max's heart. Our other black lab, Milo, liked you just fine too, but it seemed to be the older fellow, the gentle and loving Max, who took a real shine to you. I can't tell you how many times I have watched you crawl over to your furry buddy and pull yourself up by his dangling ears in the middle of his nap. I just watch in awe as he makes certain that he never flinches either, although it has to smart a little when you've got two baby fists of his hair going. But you never ever fall as long as your leaning on him, he makes certain of that. And when we're out in the yard together, Max is the one that makes certain that you are okay, coming over to sniff at you in the grass and give you a big sloppy kiss. You two became fast friends and it's still going strong.
  • A Brown-Eyed Handsome Man 18 of 25
    A Brown-Eyed Handsome Man
    Henry, by the time we ended up in Pennsylvania, you were starting to shed a little of that 'baby-look' that most kids have when they first soar down to Earth. It was so cool to see your little face start to take on so much personality and distinction. I can't even explain to you how superb it is for a mom and dad to watch their little boy to continue to appear, more and more, day after day, long after he's been born.
  • Henry Crockett 19 of 25
    Henry Crockett
    One of the things I love so much about where we live now buddy is that that there are so many gorgeous places to enjoy the things I like to do, things like fly fishing for trout or hunting for wild turkeys. There are endless forests and clean mountain streams and rolling farm valleys. You seem to enjoy the outdoors, too, at least as far as I can tell, like when we are all out on one of our hikes together. Or even if it's just mom pushing you down to the general store in your stroller, you hardly ever make a peep; you just love to sit there and soak in the sky and the birds and whatever else is around. But once we try and strap you back into your car seat or take you back into the house: Uh-Oh. You hate it. You wanna stay outside, and I can totally dig that.
  • It’s A Duck! 20 of 25
    It's A Duck!
    I'm not gonna lie to you, Hank. I spend an awful lot of my time doing just one thing in this world these days, and that is trying to get you to say your first word over and over again. The word is DUCK and it's a great first word that seemed to just pop into your galaxy one afternoon when we took a ride down into town to feed the ducks at a local park. It's something your sister loves to do, and you seemed just as enamored with all of that Mallard attention too. By the time we got home you had clearly uttered the word DUCK about fifty times. The way you say it is awesome too, with a lot of gusto and a little bit of intro, so it kind of sounds like you're saying: "ITZADUCK!" Priceless, I tell ya. Price. Less.
  • The Seaside Kid 21 of 25
    The Seaside Kid
    In the fall, we all managed to go down to the Jersey Shore for a weekend. This was fantastic for a million different reasons, of course, but not the least of which was the fact that, as Utah kids, neither you or your big sister had ever yet seen the ocean. It was such a big thing to your mom and I that we had barely pulled into town, in the middle of a cold and windy October afternoon, when we decided that we were going to have to go straight to the beach. And so we did just that. No bathing suits or beach wear. Heck, we didn't even take you out of your footie pajamas, Henry. We just waltzed right out there and had what seemed to be the entire Atlantic seaboard reserved just for our party of four. Violet was amazed and couldn't decide between collecting shells or dodging ripple waves. You, though, seemed thrilled to have mom walk you along through the ankle deep water on such a windy day.
  • The First Noel 22 of 25
    The First Noel
    Christmas is a big thing for your dad. I get sort of goofy about it, over-decorating the house and playing holiday records non-stop from Thanksgiving through New Years. Your mom has been very cool putting up with it all. She's even getting into it now that you and your sister have come along. This year, for your very first trip to meet Santa, we decked you out in a suit just like his. It was really a moment to behold too when we walked into the small-town Santa Hut on the town square and Santa himself seemed pretty confused at how to react to a young buck dressed just like him! Our first Christmas in our new house was memorable, little guy. You and your sister were up at the crack of dawn, and although you weren't even sure what was going on, you were damn certain that whatever it was: it was really really fun.
  • Easy Come/Easy Go 23 of 25
    Easy Come/Easy Go
    A few days after New Years, we were blindsided by life, little buddy, when our home caught fire. Just like that: our lives were shaken up and we had to move in with your Grammy and Pop-Pop in a town a few valleys over. Of course, the main thing was that we were all okay. Within a few hours of our loss, a lot of really great people from all over the world started sending help our way and someday, man, I will tell you about the real honest-to-goodness magic that was brought to your mom and I when we really needed it. Anyway, your Grammy and Pop-Pop helped us a lot and you loved hanging out with them for a few days while mom and dad tried to pull some pieces back together.
  • Moving On 24 of 25
    Moving On
    So here we are, Henry. You turned a year old yesterday and we celebrated with Grammy and Pop-Pop and Mom and Violet and me: all of us sharing some pizza in the kitchen of the new house we have found to live in. The highlight of the evening was you getting the chocolate cake that mom made you set right under your nose. You were relentless, little guy. You were drumming on that thing and taking such big sticky handfuls of icing that you couldn't even open your hands after awhile. It was a fantastic first birthday party for a super kid, I think. It's been a heck of a year for any fellow to experience, let alone someone without any other years behind them yet. And I think you've handled it all like a champ, Henry. I really do.
  • Don’t Change 25 of 25
    Don't Change
    One last thing and I'll let you go, son. If you can, if you think about, try your best to hang on to who you are for as long as you possibly can. Keep smiling at the drop of a hat. Keep laughing at the whole shebang. Keep saying "duck" first thing in the morning, before I even turn the lights on, when it's just you and me and the dogs standing there in the dark.

You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.

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