The Starter Kid

This past Friday, Binky had his nine month check-up (yes at ten months). He is in the 80% for height, 90% for weight and thankfully his head is now on the chart at 90% (I really wanted to high five God when they told me this). I got a good dose of exactly how laid back my pediatrician really is at this visit . She told me that since I'd already given Sam eggs and he was fine, don't worry about allergies. I could forward face the carseat at anytime I saw fit (rather than rear-facing until he heads to college as is suggested these days). Peanut butter wasn't a big deal because babies don't like it. Ideally wait til somewhere around two but don't stress if he gets something with peanuts in it ahead of time. Rubbing alcohol works on cleaning his new Harley Davidson tattoo and the cigar and red wine before bed was generally a great idea for babies.

I'm beginning to wonder if she's even listening to me.

I can't believe how far he's come in 10 months. It, naturally, makes me reminisce about times past. Not about labor, first cries and that four hour drive home from the hospital that is only 8 miles from my house...but about how far we are from when Andy and I first got married. I thought about back to when we had our starter kid. Those were fun times.

Wait, do you not know about our starter kid? Grab some coffee (or some red wine and a cigar).

Picture was late spring of 2005. Andy and I had been married about 8 or 9 months and were living in a 2nd floor apartment conveniently located across the street from a Starbucks (what isn't conveniently located across the street from a Starbucks these days). That Spring we met our downstairs neighbors. It was a father and son, a widower and a bachelor, living below us in an identical apartment that I called the "man cave". The two Dicks...thats what we called them...or Dick and Co...sometimes even Dick squared. We got "Dick" from the fact that it was both of their names and any other words added, were purely for our own amusement. I liked to call them Dick and Dick personally. Unlike our apartment, Dick and Dick had their man cave decorated in boxes of unpacked items (they'd lived there for 9 years), empty fast food containers and ten years worth of phone books stacked right inside their door. It was quite the pad...Mary Poppins would have run screaming.

They were really nice men. Dick Sr. was in his 80's. A war veteran who had become confused of late and was seemingly in the first stages of dementia with doctors leaning toward Alzheimers. His son worked a lot and so as you can got tough to watch out for Dick Sr. Andy and I (like always) were on fairly opposite schedules. Andy was home during the day and I was home at night. One day, Andy came out of our apartment to find Dick with the door open screaming for help. Andy walked in to see what was wrong and found that he had turned his heat up to maximum and was complaining that he was suffocating. He called the front office and was told that Dick had been doing that all week.

That night we talked to Dick Jr. I told him that I had previously worked with seniors and we were happy to look in on his dad when we could. Generously, he offered to pay us. I felt bad for him. He hated seeing his dad like this. Thus began our month with the starter kid. The days looked different for us. During the day, Dick would take a broom and bang on the ceiling of his apartment (Mr. Heckles style) to get Andy to come down and visit with him. Which is an amusing idea since Dick couldn't hear a word we said anyway. At night, I would get dinner or order a pizza for him and make sure he had taken his dementia medication. I even popped open the beer that he chased it with. I was quite the caregiver. I have learned a thing or two since then. These days Sam can only drink a beer if its been 30 minutes since he's taken his medicine. Thank God for starter kids so you can learn something. I would perch on the end of one of the recliners in the living room, a little afraid to touch anything, and listen to him tell stories about the war. Well, when I say listen, what I mean is I let him talk while I wondered what exactly could produce that particular brand of stink I was inhaling and if the burning in my nose would ever go away.

It was both an amusing and sad relationship we forged. I hated that a month into our arrangement, they had to move. They needed to be closer to Little Dick's job (okay, I said know you wanted me to), and his dad was not far from needing around the clock care. It seems like a lifetime ago that we welcomed our starter kid...sometimes I wonder where Dick and Dick ended up.


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