First Day

I’d wanted to give myself time to let the idea sink in — that you were going to start Kindergarten the next day.  I think it happened a bit for Mommy and I the night before you went.  We suddenly realized you were going to get on a bus and the doors were going to close and the bus was going to pull away — without any of us along for the ride!  We didn’t have much time to dwell on it the night before because of our concern over you having everything you needed for that first day, then off to bed we went for the early morning ahead.  And, it did come early!

We got you dressed.  Eating breakfast was a challenge for you — never one to eat right when you wake up, you were also just way too excited to go.  You wanted to go NOW!  I found myself looking and listening to you, wondering what it was like when I was your age, going to Kindergarten.  Was I ever as eager as you were?  The same confidence that you have?  Ready to ride a bus at 5 years old — transferring to a second bus, no less, before your final destination?  I smiled proudly to myself.  No, I think you have more confidence than I did!

We drove out to the end of Southview Ct, just down the hill from the house I so desperately wished we would have been in for your first day of school (that’s another story!)  You about flew out of the van, still with the white clam-shell on top, full of vacation stuff, the back still filled with toys and God-knows-what.  And, you started walking to the corner of the road.  No worries.

Waiting for the Bus

When we caught up with you, the wait was on.  You posed for a few pics for Mommy and then scanned Noxon Rd. for the sight of flashing bus stop lights.  At 7:44AM on the button, your bus driver Joe pulled up and opened the door.  Mommy and I, smiling from ear to ear for you, feeling your excitement, hugged you hurriedly and reminded you to hug your sister before you left.  With that you climbed those steps without hesitation.  You never looked back.  My confident boy.  Joe introduced himself yelling and waving, “I’m Joe, and I’ll be his bus driver.”  I think Mommy and I grew a lot closer to Joe as soon as those doors shut.

Climbing the Bus

In that instant, your world expanded and Mommy and I couldn’t be with you to share it. You had just begun a major part of your life, of which the bulk of the time, we will not be witness to.  At the time it happened, I realized it, but it hadn’t sunk in.  As I write here now, my eyes are a little wetter than they were — as if I were writing about 20 year old nostalgia — though it only happened 3 days ago, on Wednesday.  I scanned the windows in the bus as it started to pull away, looking to see if you found seat, looking for one last chance to wave good bye to you, to see your smiling face and most of all to let you know that I was proud of you.  But, I couldn’t see you.  Apparently, bus windows have now all been tinted since the 21+ years ago that I was last on one.

Mommy and I suddenly realized that we had planned to follow your bus  (yeah, we didn’t tell you) — I remember feeling that morning, as I saw the taillights of your bus move on down the road, like my feet were planted.  It all happened so fast, there was a sort of shock to the whole thing, I guess.  We hurried back to the van, carrying Kyra, hopped in and took off, and had no idea where your bus went!  We tried to sneak a peek of you transferring from one bus to the next, but we couldn’t get close to the middle school where you do your “Arlington Transfer”.  I have only what I imagine you looked like doing that — your trademark serious face, on a mission, going from one bus to the next, getting to school and doing it excellently!  And, again, I smile.

Off the Bus SmilesInstead, we drove to St. Martin’s School to meet you there and to snap a couple of pictures of you going into school.  Of course, your Arlington Transfer bus arrived later than expected, as Mommy and Kyra and I waited.  Finally, a bus pulled up a little after 8:30AM, the doors opened and off you marched with some of your friends, new and old.  You looked just as when we had left you.  You gave us a smile and a wave and sat with your classmates on the step of the school until your teacher came to lead you inside.

I got to tell you quickly how proud I was of you, give you hug and tell you to have a good day.  Then, off you went.  I thought about you a lot that day: Wondered what you said when the teacher spoke to you at the start of class that day.  Wondered what time you ate lunch.  Wondered if you were EATING your lunch.  Wondered if you were thirsty or hungry, in general.  Wondered if you were having fun.  And, lots of things like that.

We drove back to Southview Ct to pick you up that afternoon.  We were there in plenty of time, expecting your bus around 3:50PM, which came and went … then 4:00PM, 4:15PM, 4:30PM — getting worried now.  I called to get the number of Arlington School’s Transportation Department.  (Yeah, we didn’t have the number on us … or your route number.  Bad Mommy and Daddy!) When we finally go a hold of them, they told us not to worry — the buses got out late.  Finally, just shy of 5PM, a bus pulled up on the other side of the road and Mommy ran over to get you off.  A little mix-up on the first day — Mommy and I were worried about you — were you going to hate the bus now, were you scared, were you worried?  Of course, you took the whole thing in stride.  I don’t know if you were worried, you simply got off that bus walked across the street with Mommy like you were a commuter coming home on Metro North from a day’s work in the City — obviously tired, obviously hungry, both of which we expected.

You’re initial summary of the day: “it was kinda boring!”  Excellent.  Boring.  I guess that shows us that, once again, you’re a smart guy, ready to hit the ground running — get down to brass tacks.  As the week went on, the days became more interesting and I trust the next full week — yep, 5 WHOLE DAYS — will be even better.

Mommy and I got a glimpse of your new little life at the parent orientation on the evening of your second day of school.  We got to see where you sit, look at some of your pictures you drew, and generally check out your room and hear from Mrs. Christie, your teacher.  Now when I wonder what you’re doing, at least I can see you in that room, at your table, being your charming self.  Now I know what Grammy felt like when I started living that new little life almost 35 years ago — I had no idea then, but now I understand the stories she told me in a very different light.

I realize that this is the first of many stages of letting you go out into the big world.  It’s hard.  There’s a real sappy, goofy song I don’t really like called “Time in a Bottle” — but there’s one phrase in the song: “If I could save time in a bottle…”  That’s exactly what I’d like to do whenever I think about you spreading wings and expanding your world.  But, at the same time, I want you to go.  I love to see you experience things and learn and grow.  I love to see that Brendan Meyer brand of confidence, curiosity and willingness to experience new things.  I love to watch you shine.  You’ve yet to cease to amaze me and I doubt you ever will.  Congratulations, buddy!  Welcome to a bigger world.

First Day Cookie



Catching up on posts I meant to do a long time ago.  Now that that the 2008-2009 football season is almost upon us, I figured I’d start with the a post I meant to do after the last Super Bowl.

Biding our time until we went to my brother’s house for the big game between the Giants and Patriots, Brendan and I decided to play a little football ourselves.  The fun we had that morning, along with our smiles, laughter and the quiet confidence we had as Giant’s fans, is what helped those guys pull off the big upset over the Pats.  I’m convinced of it.

We had fun and had faith in our team that day — nothing to lose!

Manning to Umenyiora in the back-field?  Why not!

Lead block!



He did it.

He did it.
He got it!

I told Brendan tonight as I was putting him to bed how proud I was of him. We were laying there in the dark after reading the last chapter of Stuart Little.

“Hey, Brenie? I am so proud of you! You are a two-wheeler bike rider now!” I told him.

“Yeah, Daddy, I am almost a two-wheeler bike rider, right?”

“What do you mean, almost? No, you ride all over — ”

“But Daddy. I fall off some times.”

“Oh no! Everybody falls off every now and then — especially when they’re learning. You are officially a two-wheeler bike rider!”

Officially? …. For real?

Though it was dark, in the sound of his voice I could see his chest puff out. His world had just expanded.

And, at the same time I feel so much pride, I feel a bit sad as it’s the first of many steps he’ll take that move him farther away from me.

Ride on, Brendan! I love to watch you go!


The latest Happy Meal toys from McDonald’s, have you seen them?brilliant-goblin.pngBrilliant. Absolutely brilliant.So there’s no confusion, that’s sarcasm. The toys are part of the McDonald’s-Hollywood promotion machine supporting the new movie The Spiderwick Chronicles.

First of all, the little characters are completely ugly and ridiculous, but to be fair, that’s the voice of a 37 year old man. Kids love this stuff.

If that was all there was to it, this post would be done, but that’s not the problem. No, the problem is what these toys do.Each toy has a red LED embedded in it — the particular creature above has it embedded in its eye (the right one, I think.) The toy also includes a circular plastic disc that resembles a sort of monocle. Children are supposed to look through this eyepiece directly into the shining red LED on the toy. The somehow-modified plastic lens of the eye piece causes little images of Spiderwick creatures to dance around in the field of view while staring into this light.

That’s right, you read correctly. You are supposed to shine a bright red light into your eye! This cracked me up the moment I saw it. Look at the instructions they give you. What I like is that they specify that the toy be held 12 inches from your eye.


This is amazing. By the way, there are no warnings or disclaimers anywhere on the paper. What were the marketing folks thinking?

“What’s great is that you shine the light from this toy into your eye and you see these holographic-like images!”

“Shine the light into your eye?”

“Yeah! It’s not a big deal. It’s a little light”

Come on! This is like Dan Akroyd’s sketch on Saturday Night Live as Mr. Mainway selling the Bag O’ Glass.


Left Over French Fries

The Man said, “How are you today?” as he stood before our booth at McDonald’s.

At the time, I didn’t even know he was homeless. “Good,” I said, pleasantly returning his inquiry. The Man was polite enough, albeit his clothes a bit dirty and worn. Why would I have thought he was homeless as I sat there in my own ripped blue jeans, spattered with paint?

“Would you happen to have any change so that I might buy something to eat?” asked The Man.

Jesus! I should have seen this coming a mile away, I thought to myself.

“No, sorry, I don’t have any change.” I said sheepishly shrugging my shoulders, hands out, palms up, arms slightly raised to just below shoulder height. Completely and obviously lying. Who the hell doesn’t have change when your eating at McDonald’s? I know they take credit and debit cards now, but most, I would think, still use cash. Yup. No change here, bum. Beat it. I’ve been conditioned to respond like this from countless solicitations on New York City subway platforms and streets by clearly insane people, stinking of urine and cradling what was left of their 5th of whiskey. Don’t talk to strangers, right?

The place wasn’t busy. I sat there with my son on my lap waiting for him to finish the late lunch we started well past the rush an hour ago. A 4-year old can spend an eternity eating lunch at McDonald’s and 5 minutes doing the same at home. He can also ignore everything you say, and utter the most inappropriate things at other times. I was certain this was one of those times, and I had no way of preventing it. To my surprise, Brendan said nothing. He whispered a few things to me about The Man — about, what, specifically, I have no idea. I was too busy trying to redirect his attention.

The Man had on dress shoes, multiple layers of unmatched clothing and carried a small duffel bag. The Man clutched a dollar bill and stared blankly out across the restaurant. I couldn’t look at him, but stole glances. He looked to have a black and blue left eye and was missing some front teeth. An unsettled feeling washed over me as I sat there unable to remove myself from the situation. My son returned to playing with his Happy Meal toy and slowly picked at his french-fries.

A woman approached The Man and spoke to him in a kind manner, her voice lowered so as to respect his privacy and dignity. I realized she was probably telling him where he could find shelter or a soup kitchen as I heard street directions and landmarks being mentioned. The look on her face was clearly one of compassion and not pity. Guilt and shame washed over me as I watched The Man look up at this woman, clearly taking in this information.

As she left, The Man saw me looking in his direction. “I used to live with my mother,” he began. “But she was evicted. Kenya, where I am from, turned violent after the elections. Now I have nowhere. I don’t know if I will see my mother again. I thought she would return. I used to live with her, you see.”

His rambling was incoherent, and what all of it was true or not true, I have no idea. The story didn’t matter. I sat there pinned by my son, still on my lap, forced to consider this situation that so many of us would rather ignore and pretend doesn’t exist. “I’m sorry,” I replied sincerely, but having no idea what to say, “that’s a difficult situation.”

“It is,” he said.

I didn’t know whether or not he was surprised that I was speaking to him in a rather conversational tone. As I felt the 30 or so guilty dollars bulging in my pocket, I figured that he knew my line about having no change was complete bullshit.

The Man and I sat there for an eternal minute, maybe two, maybe more, in awkward silence, as my son happily enjoyed his All-American McDonald’s experience. Glancing at he Man every now and then, my guilt of not engaging him lifted when Brendan ask me to play with his Happy Meal toy with him.

I started floating the idea that we should get going soon — both for sake of my 4-year old, who needs notice that we’re going to leave, and the Man, lest he think we were going to be available for conversation any longer. When I finally told Brendan it was time to go, I was glad he was agreeable. What the hell was my problem? Why did I really care if the Man talked to me — or to us? Why did I want to remove myself from this situation so badly? Why are some of us, like the lady who had just talked to the man, able to deal with situations like this while most of us cannot.

Then I realized I had a dilemma.

“Brendan. Are you going to eat the rest of your french fries? Do want to bring them with you?”

“No,” no he quickly responded.

“Are you sure?” I asked.


I had no choice. I had to offer the left over french fries to The Man. Telling a lie about having extra change was apparently not beneath me, but at least I wasn’t as low as throwing out food in front him. How ridiculously noble of me.

“Excuse me, sir?” I approached him.

“Yes?” He looked up.

“Would you like the rest of these french fries?” Then I realized they were not mine to offer. “Brendan, that’s OK if give the rest of your french fries to this man, right?” Oh, please, please, say “yes.” 4-year olds have a way of being possessive of their things — even their garbage.

“Yes,” said Brendan to my relief.

The expression of gratitude on The Man’s face as he looked directly at Brendan was worth a thousand words. “Thank you” he said, “Thank you.” Smiling at him, he took a bite of a french fry. “These are good, aren’t they?”

Brendan nodded and smiled shyly.

“Come on buddy,” I said, ushering him to the exit. “Good luck to you,” I said to the man.

He smiled and nodded gratefully. We left McDonald’s and Brendan’s questions began.

“Why we give that man my old french fries?”

“Because he was hungry and has nothing to eat.”

I took the opportunity to tell him that The Man had no place to go. No family. No home. That there were people in this world like that. And, that it was very, very nice that he gave him the french fries he wasn’t going to eat.

Brendan understood completely. A 4-year old identifies with those most basic of human needs.

Me, I drove us to our warm home and thought about The Man. I thought about how far from being a decent fellow human I felt. I knew what I should have done. I should have at least bought him some damn lunch! Would it kill me to spend five bucks on a #4 with a Coke or maybe a warm coffee? No. Instead of that, I had to leave it up to my 4-year old son to leave the man left over french fries.

Grand Central Terminal, NYC

The hub of Manhattan. 

Grand Central Terminal, NYC

So, a shot of GCT — probably the millionth one on Flickr, but I couldn’t help myself.

Something about NYC — a fascination with it … an intangible I can’t quite put into words. The enormity of the city — population and architecturally — is never lost on me.

When you take a Metro-North train (the commuter train that services NYC from the north) you begin to get a sense of the city and hugeness when you cross the Harlem river — or is it called the East river at that point — from The Bronx into Manhattan.  You ride a short distance and eventually disappear beneath the concrete and steel as you approach GCT.  If you look out the window into the barely lit underworld, you see an unimaginable number of tracks all fanning out from your entry point.  As you almost arrive at the platform, you can see sets of tracks that go down to the lower level.

Just think about it…  Already underground.  Additional sets of track below you.  Tons upon tons of buildings and roads above you.  At this point I think, “How is this all possible?!”  I mean it’s borderline unreal!

Then you walk from the train platform and enter the main lobby of Grand Central Terminal and it’s just magnificent.  Stunning.  Huge.  Yet, somehow inviting as well.

If you’re going to meet someone here, you meet them at “The Clock” — the information booth with the clock over it in the center of the terminal lobby.  That’s where everyone decides to meet up when arriving at GCT from different origins.  And somehow, it’s never too crowded at The Clock that you don’t find who you’re looking for.

I Don’t Understand

So, who’s seen the video clip aired by NBC from a few weeks ago showing the reunion between a 6 year old boy and his dad, a sailor that had been in Iraq for 7 months?

I saw it when it originally aired.  It got to me then and got to me all over again after arriving in my inbox at work.  Must be making its way around the internet and is readily found on YouTube in various forms, as shown below.  If you haven’t seen it; play it below before going on.

I can’t recall being so affected by something in quite a long time.  Every time I see the little boy running to his daddy’s arms and the look on his little face, my whole soul is affected.

Am I being overly dramatic?  Most would certainly agree that this is a very touching moment. But, there’s something deeper there affecting me — tugging at me.

Look at that child’s face.  Look at his emotion spilling over.  Look at his unconditional love for his dad, made self-evident in a way that only a child can.  See how he fits so perfectly into his father’s arms?  Listen to him.  Sobbing on Daddy’s shoulder. 

The moment is so simple, so innocent, so natural and right

It brings overwhelming joy knowing the two are reunited, but at this same moment I can’t help but be filled with sorrow, too.

To me this little boy exhibits the innocence, beauty and love of basic human nature, but the reality is that the world we live in today is responsible for this reunion occurring in the first place.  This tearful moment should never have happened.  And, indeed, for other little boys — American and Iraqi alike — this moment will never happen for the same wrong reasons.

Where did our human race stray from the essence of humanity that is so evident in this child?  I know it’s naive, but I don’t understand why so many others don’t see this.