Late one morning, long before children, I sat on the edge of a New Orleans hotel bed and exhaled audibly. Inside my skull, a spicy Jazz Fest bisque of bourbon and psychotropics simmered from the night before. I bent down and tied my first shoe, and it wasn’t until I’d finished tying my second that I realized I wasn’t wearing pants. Laissez bon temps rouler! In the brilliant documentary, The Other F Word, aging punk rockers like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers “transition
My eldest stepped out of the car yesterday in a brand new lemon-yellow school shirt and khaki shorts, holding a bag full of pencils, gummy erasers, round-end scissors, Elmers glue, etc. Before I could even catch him for a kiss, Kai was up the stairs and gone to his first day of first grade. At least he was smiling, which is more than I can say for my wife and me. As we drove away, Jodi told me she felt nervous and out of sorts. About what exactly, she could not say. Today is
“Did you ever get divorced?” 6-yo Kai recently asked my wife, as we three sat on the couch munching white-cheddar popcorn.
“No, that was Daddy. He was married once before.” Jodi glanced over at me, smiled and continued,”I’ve only been married to one person.”
My son turned his earnest gaze my way. “Who did you marry, Daddy?”
“Her name was Kim,” I told him. Kai grabbed a fistful of popcorn and asked no more questions. My divorce was a dark and sad chapter of my life, as it is f
“Daddy, do babies have tiny nipples?” my 4-yo, Bodhi, asked me, lounging in a fresh pair of PJs. “Yes,” I answered from the couch, flipping through a magazine.
His thumb hovered just above his full lips, as he continued, “Do 2-yr-olds have bigger nipples than babies?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Do 3-yr-olds have bigger nipples than 2-yr-olds?”
“Do 4-yr-olds have bigger nipples than 3-yd-olds?” This earnest line of inquiry continued through 11-yr-olds, at which point, I belie
Do your parents construct your soul at that climactic moment? Or does it pre-exist, only to be reactivated in that surge of passion? Given all the loveless and wanton sex taking place, I find it hard to believe that this act is the source of all the souls of the universe. It seems our music was composed elsewhere, long ago, by something more profound than a couple of sweating primates knocking boots. One of the most exhilarating aspects of parenting is discovering the essence
Goodbye Old Friend, 20″X23″ Acrylic, paper, antique book pages and cardboard on panel with original poetry, 2005, Stuart Sheldon “Speak to me in your dreams. I am listening.” Henry Miller A friend of mine was a teenager when he lost his dad. In his early thirties, my friend told me, “I dreamed of my dad last night. It doesn’t happen often, but I always love when he visits me in my dreams. I get to see him and talk to him and catch up.” I’d never thought about a dream as such
Demure Becomes You, acrylic, antique cookbook, cardboard on canvas, 60″x60″, 2007, Stuart Sheldon We all have ex lovers. Encountering them later in life, when the wheel has turned, takes us to strange places. My wife’s ex-boyfriend and his wife had us over for brunch one sunny Sunday when Kai was 10 months. Jodi dated this charming, barrel-chested man for quite some time. And his quick wit, passionate eyes and clear love for his own 10-month-old boy induced a kinship in me. S
“What’s fate, Daddy?” my 5-year-old asked last week. Whoah. I was still reeling from last month’s one-two punch: “Is God real?” followed by, “Where is heaven?” Apparently, I have a fellow seeker on my hands. Not all his questions are this lofty. “What is the highest number you have ever counted to?” is a favorite the past few months. But then, a fews days ago, he hit me with, “What’s doubt?” YOU’RE FIVE! Go out and play in the dirt … and leave the human condition issues to th
Stop waiting to see who watches No one watches At least not for long Everyone’s far too busy Looking in mirrors of their own ~ image courtesy of Black Country Museums ~ Vanity is tricky. I loathe it yet, as an artist, it is the fuel that stokes the flames of self-relection which, in turn, morph into paintings and poems and songs and Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim. Vanity’s blade cuts deep. Festering self-absorption and neediness. My children salved my wounds. And proved to m
photo by Jenny Kaczorowski from WANA Commons We just finished bottle number two. Took us nearly ten years. Each drop another meal, another conversation, another spicy moment in the all-you-can-eat life buffet we opted to tackle together. And we’re talking the big bottles … not the little skinny ones you find in virtually any restaurant anywhere. BTW – I’m convinced Tabasco sauce is the single most successful product on earth, and the Mcilhennys who make it in Avery Island, Lo
Stuart Sheldon, The Name On Everyone’s Lips, acrylic and collage on panel, 2003 “If you smile at me I will understand. That is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.” This opening lyric from Crosby Stills & Nash’s Wooden Ships is one of the reasons I wanted kids. To get back to fundamental human connection. To truly see and be seen by another. Without the ambiguity and nuisance of words. Kids know a real smile when they see it. And they respond in kind 999
When did you last receive a hand written letter? When did you last write one? Is it a lost art? My mother’s mother and father loved each other with an unbending intensity that started when they were handsome high school kids in Queens, New York. They never went with anyone but each other, and when he asked for her hand, my grandfather bestowed upon his beloved a simple elegant diamond solitaire which cost all his money and which she cherished and wore always. Theirs was a sto
Stuart Sheldon, Whirled Wide Whimsy, typewriter on paper, collage, poetry, 11-1/2″x8-1/4″, 2003 We embarked on a proper family brunch outing Sunday … just the four of us. En route, we bought assorted cupcakes for a friend with a new baby and grabbed a strawberry one with a mountain of vanilla frosting for us. I ambled ahead with Kai on my shoulders, grasping his piston-like ankles in a vain attempt to keep his sneakers from repeatedly banging me in the face. Swinging from his
Okaaaay, Chad. That’s certainly a measurable goal. For me, the goal wasn’t quite so dramatic. Coming on fifty, it’s about time to add more try to my tricep. And return the six-pack that’s inside my stomach to the outside. The only thing I’ve been lifting regularly the past few years is my young kids and forks filled with meatballs, both of which I very much love. Thing is, my kids keep getting heavier while my gluttony regimen does not seem to be making me any stronger. Which
The purest thought you’ll hear all day from my friend’s 5 yr old daughter, Sula. “Sweet Sula – during our nighttime snuggle, she asked if she could listen to my heart. She put her ear to my chest and then said joyfully, “I hear Harley.” She listened to my heart again and said, “I hear GrandMyron.” On the next listen, she said, “I hear GrandMary” whom she never met in this life. Then as I left her room, she said, “Mommy, when you talk to Harley in your heart tell him I love hi
The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Author unknown Let me be clear. Being a father is by far my greatest achievement, and my two sons are the yardstick by which I measure my value as a person. My love for them transcends any emotion I have ever known. It is love that hurts and tickles deep in my solar plexus. This is not an indictment of fatherhood. Fatherhood is my essence. No, this is a celebration of motherhood. I did it for m