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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

If you ask the doctors, on Friday, December 2, 2011, my first/best/favorite/cutest nephew, Max Louis Sparer, was born about four weeks early. But if you ask anyone else, even those with intimate knowledge of human gestation, they will tell you that Max was born not a moment too soon.

We were told to prepare for a Christmas Baby, or perhaps a Chanukah Baby, or maybe even the “First Baby of 2012” that local news stations insists on covering (and donating diapers to). In the end, though standard American calendars do not arrive pre-printed with December 2nd in bold lettering (I guess International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is too much of a snoozefest to be considered worthy of embolden status), the date suddenly seems more notable than any other.

The moment Max was born, husband and wife became mother and father, mother and father became grandma and grandpa, and grandma and grandpa were finally bestowed the prefix they had been pining for and so richly deserve: “great.”  Cousins, incidentally, remain cousins.

As for me, I need to get used to saying “uncle.”

So far, Max knows a few things. He knows how to sleep, how to cry, fidget, look like a burrito, grab disproportionately large adult fingers, and is slowly learning – and I’m sure will quite soon master – the art of eating food. Most enjoyably, Max knows how to coo like a pigeon, which is especially impressive once you consider the fact that he has never even seen a bird.

My brother, his nervously smiling father, can’t help but to repeat one single word when he is asked to describe his son:

perfect!

He’s perfect.

A perfect baby boy.

Everything is perfect.

Truthfully, it’s hard to blame my brother, and it is quite easy to admire his position in life.  Max has done nothing wrong, and at this rate, he never will.  He will be a perfect infant, a perfect kid, a perfect tween, teen, young adult, and man before he’s elected the first King of the Moon or is the first to fly a rocketpack around Mars or whatever we’ll be impressed by in the impossibly-distant future.  Whatever Max does in his lifetime, right now we have every reason to believe that he will do it perfectly because there has been no evidence to suggests otherwise.

But while our hearts bet on perfection, our intuition unapologetically paints a wholly different picture.  There will be mistakes, intentional and otherwise.  There will be mishaps, misunderstandings, and heartache belonging both to parent and child.  There will be times when the tears will not be of joy as they were on Friday, but because we were wronged, or have wronged another.  There will be times when our voices will be raised not because of the overwhelming need to share, but because of the overwhelming need to be right.  There will be sadness, words uttered out of spite, and times when we simply fail to say “I love you,” even though it’s the only thing on our mind.

There will be all kinds of times.

And though Max may grow up in a world without knowing the pleasure of a dial-tone, he will be allowed — like all of us — to learn for himself what it is to be human.

He will learn what it is like to fail spectacularly, and to be better for it.  He will learn that in his days of deep, dark sadness, there are those who cannot help but to be there for him.  He will learn that the more he tries to separate himself from a past that he has no choice but to be a part, the more he will recognize that his footprints pushed into the dirt behind him are possible because of the trails that have already been blazed.  He will learn — as we all do — that what seems like destiny can also be understood as the result of a series of non-accidents expertly placed like rungs on a ladder enabling us to reach previously impossible heights.

The more I think about Max, the more I begin to understand that I am just as excited about his unfortunate brushes with imperfection as I am about his unflinching triumphs.  I want to see him learn, to grow, and for him to learn what it means to be growing.  I want him to know that it is okay to fail, a lot, because our initial failures are so often the first steps to a better understanding of the world around us.

In any event, I have a sneaking suspicion that above all, Max will be just fine.  He has two wonderful parents, four wonderful grandparents, and a huge network of friends and family who will be there to help pick him up when he falls.  He will be standing on the shoulders of giants, just as we all were and continue to be.

Though I believe Max’s first word will probably be “mama” or “dada,” selfishly, I cannot wait for the day when he finally gives in and says, “Uncle!”

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