Titus and Zooey are nearly inseparable. Part of this is pragmatism — it’s just easier to keep them together. Part of it is affinity for one another, though that comes and goes at the speed of a mishandled Champagne cork. Lately, however, I’ve realized they also tend to be tied together in my head, in my thoughts, prayers, dreams, and ideas about the present and the future alike. And one unfortunate byproduct of this unity, I’m finding, is that I often think of Titus first when I think about the future. He arrived first. He’s older. He has made a basket and caught a ball and thrown a ball. He has more words. He enjoys longer bedtime stories. He’s twice her age. So when I dream about doing things like going to Disney World, taking swim lessons, going to Husker games, going running together, well, I’m usually dreaming about him because, after all, he’ll be able to do those things before she will. It’s something I’m glad that I became aware of, because as much as I love my little girl, I know I’m going to make mistakes along the way and I want to limit them as much as I am able.
My little Zo-Zo is amazing. She has started speaking in complete sentences and she loves to do everything Titus does. She is the fiercest, most stubborn, most headstrong woman I’ve ever met in my life (and for those of you who have met my wife or my mother, that’s saying something), and I often joke that she’ll be president one day, but only long enough to abolish the office and make herself queen. Queen Zooey. My little girl is amazing, and the notion that I have sometimes sold her short because she isn’t “old enough” yet saddens me. The truth is, I love her at this age and I wouldn’t wish away a moment of it.
I think one of my favorite things about Zooey is how intelligent she seems to be. I know that every parent thinks their kid is amazing and smart and wonderful, and in truth I suspect this is because all people truly are amazing and smart and wonderful in their own ways, and that when you love someone you see in them those traces of divinity which we all regard differently yet cannot deny are present. There is something in the human eye, the window to the soul, that can lock onto another eye like something out of a Star Trek film, drawing the owner in, connecting not only the gaze but their very thoughts, their very humanity. My little girl’s eyes are intense, her gaze is strong, her furrowed brow so stern you would think she was in the habit of disciplining her parents. She cannot be forced to do anything — a fact that regularly confounds and frustrates her mother and I. Her keen intellect and sheer force of will combine to make her, at just over the age of two, one of the most formidable people I have ever met. I love her dearly, and while I am excited to see what she does with all of this raw power she has at her disposal, I’m in no hurry. I am enjoying her very much as a toddler.
Part of parenting, of course, is sacrifice. I had to tell my friend Jean that we wouldn’t be coming to Napa this summer because our daycare was closed the week we planned to go and so we were staying here with the kids. A father himself, he simply replied “That’s more important anyway.” He’s right of course, and as much as I missed going to Napa, the additional time with Titus and Zooey was terrific. In place of visiting Jean at his winery, we drank a few of his wines this weekend. The first, pictured above, was II or “Two” (pronounced the same regardless). The 2016 iteration of this gorgeous red blend is exciting. There’s a hint of wood smoke that dissipates rapidly, and an undeniable smoothness to the wine that is part the product of oak, part of time, part of quality fruit, and part the skillful winemaker. Alpha Omega reds typically run $100 and up, so for this one to cost something like $40 makes it a heck of a deal. We paired it on Friday night with cheeseburgers and relaxation with friends after a long week.
Then last night, we had friends over for dinner and I chose all Spanish wines (until we got to the port for dessert). Jean’s Priorat project, Perinet, is a renowned wine, and fortunately for all of us he recently released “Merit”, which is the same winery and winemaker, but comes in at about half the cost of the original Perinet. I’ve had both, and while I love the original, for my money Merit is a killer bottle. We paired it with a filet last night, along with caramelized carrots, crispy kale, and risotto, which Zooey called “Bazozo” (pronounced “buh-zo-zo”). It was delightful.
I am grateful to have recognized, before she was grown and out of the house, that my daughter is her own amazing little person right now, always will be, and that while I love Titus dearly and always will, he and I cannot be waiting around for her to be his age because she obviously never will. Right now, we can enjoy the things that all of us can do and, later, when those are different things, we can enjoy those as well. She and her brother are so different that I know there will soon come a day when finding something they both want to do may be difficult — and God forbid their boring old dad might want to do it with them. For now, I realize I need to be eating up every moment, enjoying the individuality of my spirited children and not waiting for anything else to come. What is here right now is more than special enough.
Cheers to individuality, our own and that of our children, and to living in each and every moment,
“More bazozo, daddy!”