Sunday, June 17, 2012

Eight Arms and a Smile

“Spiderman, Spiderman, Does whatever a spider can.”

From day one, David, we described you as “Eight Arms and a Smile”, a whirling dervish of cheerful activity.  

And that’s certainly as true today as it was 18 years, 5 months, and 30 days ago when you made your first splash into our collective laps.

Literally…a splash.

In fact, Aquaman might have been a better Superhero meme for you if your bursting-forth-still-in-your-bag-of-water birth was any indication of your future.  

That was quite a show…even the Doctor laughed.

We couldn’t know at the time what you had in store for us, but that memorable birth certainly gave fair warning that whatever you were going to do, you were going to do it with panache…and splash, and a smile.

Born without an ounce of fat – which most of the people in this room secretly envy you for, by the way - you always loved jumping in the water, but you were so thin that the water made you cold.  Did you ever finish that half-mile swim at Camp Kaybeyn?  I don’t think so.  No, for you, the joy was in the jump and splash, swimming was just a means to get to the ladder so you could climb out and jump in again, and again, and again.

“Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead.”

Ah...climbing…climbing out of the crib, climbing up the stairs, climbing out on the roof of the house, climbing up on the roof of the school…make that school(s)…

You scared us half to death.  We tried everything to hold you on the ground, but nothing worked.  Growing up you must have thought your name was “DAVID!...Get Down From There This Minute!”

And when you weren’t climbing, you were consumed with puzzles.  As an infant, you solved simple jigsaw puzzles with amazing speed, then bigger ones with hundreds of pieces, and finally 1000s of piece puzzles would lay on the dining room table for days.  So, it wasn’t actually too surprising to us anyway, that you earned the Physics Achievement award from Wayland High.

(We’ll talk about that final Calculus Grade later…)

From jigsaws, you moved onto video games – a more complex multi-dimensional set of puzzles.  You and I played together for a time.  We had so much fun saving princesses and fighting dragons.  At first, you followed me down through caves and up mountains in search of weapons and treasure.  When we came to a monster, I would yell instructions, telling you how and when to fight. 

Then a funny thing happened.  You jumped ahead, finding caves I never saw, figuring out how to kill impossibly powerful dragons, I could not.  Soon, you were yelling at me to hurry up and fight.
At first, I suppose I resisted…wanting to be the leader, wanting to protect you…but I soon realized you were not only right, you were far more skilled and wise, and courageous than I. 

I realized rather than protecting you, I was holding you back. 

So I let go, and you climbed…

With all eight arms and a smile.

"SpiderMan, SpiderMan.  To him, life is a great big bang up.  Whenever there's a hang up, you'll find the SpiderMan."

And, yes sure, you fell a few times. The dragon got you once or twice.  You fell off your bicycle a few times, and you stubbed your proverbial toe now and then.

As we all do.

But no matter what brings you down in a game or in life, you always pick yourself up, dust yourself off, flash that trademark smile, and happily drag around whatever arm, leg, toe, or finger is bandaged, plastered or splinted at the moment - proudly displaying your boo-boo’s for all to see.  Cut, bruise, bump, fever, gash, break, pull, tear, sprain – we saved all your emergency room and hospital records up in the attic, in big boxes, lots of them.
And maybe there is a police report or two in there as well?

“Hello, Mrs. Wadsworth?  This is Sargent O’Malley, down at the station.  Yes, Ma’am…David’s…ah… visiting with us…again, Ma’am.  He’ll have to go home.  Please come by pick him up.”

Seriously, that’s an old joke – we started telling it when you were about 8 years old.  Thank God, it’s still just a joke. And let’s keep it that way, Bub.

Because - apologies to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson - Ladies Decidedly Do Not Love Outlaws…

And above all, you, David, love, love, love, LOVE the ladies. 

When you were five, we’d get calls from frazzled preschool teachers, “Mrs. Wadsworth, David was found hiding in a closet with Mary Anne MacGillicudy Again! This time he’ll have to go home.  Please come and pick him up.”

At ten, it was, “Mrs. Wadsworth, this is Ken up at Camp Kabeyun.  David and a friend snuck out of their tent, walked a mile through the woods in the dark, and were found hiding in a girl’s tent at our sister camp…NowIwannalaya.  Again. This time he will have to go home, please come and pick him up.”

At 15, we got, “Mrs. Wadsworth, this is Marcie from the Schenectady Curling Club.  Last night, David unscrewed the screens in his hotel room, crawled out on the roof, and was found hiding in Mary Anne MacGillicudy’s room. Again. This time he really will have to go home. Please come and pick him up.”

But no matter what, no one can stay mad at you for long, Wavy Davey in the Navy. 

From your whoopee cushions, to your whopping stories, to your infamous full-moons, you know how to make people laugh. 

Last summer, as some of you know, we had a bit of localized ‘family tension’ at our house.  In the midst of one particularly loud and gnarly disagreement, David came downstairs, buck naked except for a pair of boxers he had strategically rolled up into a makeshift thong, wearing a white Michael Jackson glove on one hand, holding a phone to his ear in the other.  He dances in to the middle of the argument, twirled around, moonwalked, and shimmied across the family room.  Then smiled, slapped his naked butt-cheek, and disappeared back upstairs. 

We all fell on the floor laughing. 

Which pretty much put an end to the argument…that day at least...

And, which pretty much sums it up, now.

David is a sprite,
A joy,
A love,
A spider,
 A splash,
 A wiggling, naked, butt-cheek, just begging to be slapped.
We love him.  We worry about him. 
We love him.  We laugh at him.
We love him. We want to hold him back.
But we love him, 
So now, we let him go.

And we pray he climbs.

With Eight Arms and That (big beautiful) Smile.

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