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Slow Down, Gabriel

You are growing up too fast. You are holding your head too steadily. You swivel it about just too easily to look at the shiny lights of the TV reflected in the window at night. Because now you look at the bright lights of the TV and I hate that. I turn you around and hold you so your head doesn't face the screen. It used to work perfectly. But now you just turn your head in the other direction. You had your first avocado two weeks ago. And banana. And sweet potato. You eat food now! You're a healthy baby, by the way. Good job, us. Look at me, proud that I'm not feeding a baby Doritos.

You can crawl forward now! You were crawling backwards, in circles, nearly side-shuffling, but now, you can go forward.

You are gripping things steadily, even though you drop your favorite toy often, your tiny little baby arms (which are no longer so tiny) swing wildly, like an ax falling clumsily, life one of those wind-up toys, as you try to reach it when it falls.

You are laughing now. Sharp, small bursts of laughter that occasionally turn into peals of joy. Your mouth opened wide, your eyes squinting shut, just like mine do. I´m so glad you have Korean eyes like me. That you are Korean as well as Icelandic, that it is in your DNA even though I live in this country, that it wasn´t all erased in the immigrant´s dash to assimilate. You can now ride the dog with my help. I can place you on my shoulders and your small hands grab my hair in a bunch and you lean into my head, my hands on your back, and we amble about the house how I´ve always imagined a Dad at a zoo should. I´ve only bumped your head on low lights twice. You barely made a sound, I was so full of dumb machismo pride. You try to stand straight when we hold you. No longer are your legs like jello. My understanding of the human body seems to be built on a house of jello. You´ll want better for your life. Go with stone or concrete. Sand´s not great either. I've been told, anyway, and am now obligated to tell you. What other phrases and morsels of wisdom encapsulated neatly into a sentence am I obliged to pass on? Who knows.

When you couldn't crawl, you would try to push and you scramble forward in some kind of rushed and instinctual attempt to create inertia. I put my hands behind your feet to help you I must admit that I felt like we were cheating a bit, but what are parents for? Do you need me if you can crawl forward on your own now?

I wish you would stop growing at this pace. I wish I could soak you in more. A part of me wishes I hadn't gotten hired to write some pieces for a website and that it didn't take so much time for me to learn how to do it. That it wasn't just your Mom putting you to sleep at night, singing lullabies and reading to you. Another part of me wishes I wasn't in mountaineering school and away so often. I wish I didn't work online for a school in New York that has me miss your bath times.

But, Kiwoo, I'm also so grateful for the work. We're in what's called a "recession." It's when something called the "economy" suffers and lots of people are out of work and struggling. I don't fully understand it, you can ask your Mom about it one day. She's very smart. Your Dad's friends have helped him earn some money so that he can pay for gas and groceries sometimes. It's some kind of biological need that you'll feel one day, the need to provide something. But, back to you. I wish time would slow down just a little. That I could preserve these memories, these moments, like that memory birdbath made of stone in Dumbledore´s office, that exist beyond the realm of expression that you provide every day. How you so easily expand our preconceptions of how much I could love anything. I hate that I already feel this. That I know I will feel this until the day I die, that time moves too quickly and that I could never fully appreciate how wonderful you are. That I will miss moments because of work and trips and what we feel we need to do to make our life as family better.

I wish you would give your Mom and I a chance to catch up. I can never be as wonderful as you are, we're only trying to comprehend and soak it in, and I feel like I'm not even close. It's like watching a true musician perform, I'm just trying to bob my head and feel the magic. We should listen to Mos Def (now Yasin Bey) soon. You'll dig him.

Everything you do strikes us dumb. All I can manage are incredulous smiles. And yes, sometimes I am tired and sad because you seem tired and sad and I don´t always know why. And sometimes I kind of forget to adore you completely when I have to reply to emails or a youtube video especially funny. I'm a little ashamed to admit that.

But, when you are so astounding and perplexingly, so easily joyful, my attention snaps back to the marvel that you are...I´m drowning in awe and it´s impossible for me to catch my breath.

Trying to stay above an ocean of joy and failing. You dunk our bodies in happiness. Each wave hits me in the face with the force of a furious sea. I am reeling, free-floating underwater, caught in a delirium of love like the most delightful riptide. And when I finally find that our gobsmacked brains are able to focus and our limbs can carry us to the surface, another wall of powerful adoration drags us underneath to swim within this unending body of water. I could live in that forever.

So, please, Gabriel Kiwoo Roh Danielsson. Slow it down, please. Take it easy. Loll about a bit more. Forget the almighty development curve. Which you are on track with, which is a relief if I'm being totally honest. There is no rush.

Up until three months old or so, we thought you were mostly defined by your calm spirit and sense of peace. But as you've grown, your curiosity, excitement and nearly doubtful looks of inquiry have filled out your personality more. Should we have named you something more in line with that? How were we supposed to know how you would turn out? We're just guessing, baby! I love your name, anyway. Gabriel was a name that shows strength in kindness and vulnerability. You still have that too. You have your moments of zen. But your moments of legs flailing, chortling laughter and annoyed and quizzical glances are becoming more and more. What will you be like a month from now? Who knows. Maybe you'll be mysterious. Maybe you'll fart a lot. That'd be funny.

Anyway, Gabriel. I love you. Slow it down, man. You are too much wonderful in too little time.


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