Papa’s Guided Tour
Through Imagination

April 2002

April 5:
Enzo's birthday was particularly good to him this year. Since my father and sister were here for Nicky's Baptism on Sunday, Enzo's birthday celebration essentially lasted three days, with birthday cakes on Friday and Sunday, and actually three rounds of "happy birthday" sung to him (two at home and one at the restaurant). His mama made him a delicious chocolate cake designed to look like a pirate ship.

Enzo's birthday celebration began on Friday morning with the opening of several presents that were sent from "California Grandma" and his girlfriend, Ruby, who is quite an artist herself and made her beau a very special card. Grandma had sent him several books, a sock puppet theater making kit, a “lap-top” educational game computer. Ruby and his Aunt Michele each gave him a box of craft supplies; construction paper, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, dancing eyes, stickers, confetti, and glue. Would later use them to make another half dozen stick paper puppets including a frog, rabbit, a carrot, a ducky, turtle and dragonfly.

The visiting Golfing Grandpa got him the telescope as promised. Along with a trumpet, which he loved playing. I tried to teach him revelry a few days later, but he did not take to such structured activity, Nicky seemed to like it, and in fact he seems to bear a certain rhythmic talent, because I’ve heard pound what sounded like a beat on the high-chair table and when he dances (jumps really) on my lap he feels like he is moving to a distinct pattern. Perhaps, it is just the Quija board effect. He also coos almost like he is singing, I swear I do not recall Enzo ever having such talent.

Apart from the creative birthday cake Mama made for the birthday boy, we treated him to the Liberty Hall of Science. Well, actually it ended up being his grandfather that treated him to the science exhibition hall, and endeded buying him a Hoberman sphere and a flying airplane. Enzo‘s favorite exhibit of the entire four floors of display was the one where a giant cockroach fro the Amazon was allowed to crawl up his bare arm. He also mesmerized by the IMAX film at the end of the day, Ocean Oasis, but so was everyone else. The experience was awesome, the picture literally surrounds you or at least extends beyond your normal peripheral vision.

When we returned and had cake for Enzo, he was allowed to open more presents from us including a special toy chest which I created for him the evening before, cutting and pasting a good two dozen photos of the IBM astronauts. It was supposed to go along with a certain theme we had going which included two sets of space pajamas, a Tescher robot and spaceship picture book, and the telescope. Other gifts form us included a kaleidoscope, a pair of roller-skates, a box of bugs (plastic of course), his very own office supplies and another book, Explosions, and incredible book of illustrations which you just have to see to believe.

April 11:
Domenica called me at work to tell me that Enzo has a new friend, "baby bug." Apparently he woke up and the imaginary baby bug had to participate in all the days activities, which he did so from the comfort of its plastic eggshell home which Enzo carried around with him. Enzo shamelessly informed everyone of his new companion, later asking his Grandmother, who had come by to pick him to spend a few hours with him and his cousin Scott, if there was room in her car for babybug. Neither Enzo's mama nor I have an inkling as to how he conjured up this buddy. Could it be the Value Book Series that I read to him from on occasion, which presents biographies of various scientists, heroes, and creative thinkers, allotting each figure an inspiration fictional companion? For example, Will Roger's is a talking lasso, Thomas Edison has his trusty canine “Sparkey” and Helen Keller...

April 12:
April is proving to be a particularly stimulating month for the boys. Today Enzo and I created a plaster of Paris concave hand imprint. I personally was quite excited about the project because I still have one of two that I made as a child (the white convex hand from Ms. Cummings kindergarten class hangs in my workshop, I've lost the concave yellow one from first grade) and wanted to see similar ones of my boys.

Today, we also began to take apart a rusted electric lawn edger which the previous home owner left behind. Enzo got to have an inside look to the motor and all the copper wires and helped me unscrew the casket in which it was held.

April 13
We finished cleaning the edger and putting it back together and proceeded to do some yard work. We tried to match weeds to those in our yard (we have many) as well as digging up bugs and placing them in baby food jars for observation. The insects we found included worms, millipedes, ants, nightmarish white grubs, potato bugs, and clover mites. All the bug handling must have spurred something because baby bug suddenly had companions, including a baby bug girl, who also had a mama with “boobies” who tagged along specifically to “nurse her.”

April 16
There is a magic word Enzo employs to destroy any chastise i might care to cast upon him- he calls it Org.

Oh, have I told you of
my little org boy?
The source of overwhelming paternal joy.

He has his way with me
Whenever he does find
that Org! can get him out of trouble
and strike his father blind
For reprimand has absolutely no defense
against this tiny prodigy's word immense.

Org! so gentle it can pin me down
with the grand magnanomous
force that does abound.

Org! takes me from the rut I'm in
and makes anger into madness,
my parental deed into sin.

Org! oh, you three letter cry,
how can I bare to deny
You such an affordable pardon?

Org! please spare me the guilt
and allow me to extol this
fatherly wisdom I have built

Org! oh, don't make me laugh again
For poor little Enzo
will not learn discipline

Org! really now, what have i
done to you? can't you see
that you and I are through?
Org! Org! Org! Okay, I give in
You can sink this Papa Poseiden-
...you win.

April 27
At 6:45 AM this morning, Mama had just gone off to work and I was lying next to Nicky, adoring him, when all of the sudden he made me melt. While holding on to my arm and looking straight into my eyes, he said "Papa." And then he said it-again. Then again.

I also noticed something else when I was changing Nicky's diaper. He starred at it and the colorful characters imprinted on the waistband. This was significant because he usually just bites into it immediately after I had hand him the clean one to hold for me. I do believe this indicates that there was some pattern recognition forming on his part.

Enzo's newest fascination has been with the block construction set that his Godfather "Nino" Danny (my brother) sent him for his birthday. It consists of colored sticks which attach to pinwheels and double-sided pin connections.

I came home to discover a wonderfully well built tower as tall as Enzo standing in the center of our Sunroom. I was quite impressed. I asked Enzo "Did you build that?" Enzo smiled and replied, "No, mama did!" Oh.

When Enzo woke up this morning the first thing he asked me was "Papa, what are we going to build today?" So far, as per his specific request, we've made a construction paper scarecrow with strips of shredded paper hanging out as his hands and feet, as well as jetting out from under his hat. Enzo wants to "stick him in the garden to scare away the crows." For some odd reason though he has consistently referred to him as "The Snowman" throughout the day.

After the "snowman," we made another plaster or Paris mold and stuck Enzo and Nicky's right feet in it. We then decorated it with blue, orange and purple fabric glue.

Later on this afternoon Enzo and I were sitting in the den reading Dr. Seuss's "I Can Read with My Eyes Shut," which he had been read at least a hundred times, along with the rest of the good doctor's work. Upon closing the book Enzo surprised me with "book-cook, that rhymes!" I took his cue and told him "Okay I'll say a word and you tell me one that rhymes." His proficiency with mono-syllabic ryhming surprised me, sampling of which follows:
black "back"
blue "shoe"
cat "bat"
chair "bear"
eye "bye"
green "bean"
mouse "house"
pen "ben"
phone "bone"
red "bed"
rug "bug"
white "bite"

Of course, there were a few were also a number words made up along the way:

ant "bant"
desk "beck"
gentle "bentle"

April 28:
First thing Enzo said to me this morning was "R is for Rubber, Papa" We tried to extend this to other letters, but all I got was his trademark "I don't know, tell me."

A few minutes later:
"Papa, what day is today?"
"Does that mean you don't work today?"
"So, what are we going to make today then?"

"Oh, I'm not sure there will be time to make anything today."
"Then what are we going to do special (today)?"

After releasing the window shades from their nocturnal slumber, Nicky, Enzo and I sat in the sunroom and watched the birds play in the rain amongst the evergreen branches perched outside our window. I brought my pocket version of Rimbaud and recited poems out loud. I was pleased to see both listened attentively. Enzo asked for explanations at every turn.

Rimbauld's Dawn was particularly spurring:

I have kissed the summer dawn.

Before the palaces, nothing moved. The water lay dead.
Battalions of shadows still kept the forest road.

I walked, waking warm and vital breath,
While stones watched, and wings rose soundlessly.

Almost every word and phrase and peer of sunlight through Rimbauld's venture prompted a question. The last sentence was particularly fruitful however.

"What means 'while stones watched, Papa?"
I explained, "It is a metaphor, as we talked about yesterday. This boy Rimbauld, barely 19 years old, is saying that he walks alone, and that only the rocks in the road are his witness. As you know stones do not talk, so what he means is that there was no one around, he was gloriuosly alone to enjoy nature and its beauty. He was happy to have this opportunity to just go into the woods by himself and write poetry.

It is quite like the phrase for the song "El Rey" I have explained to you before: "Una pierda del camino, me dijo que mi destino, era a rodar y rodar." A stone in the road told me that my destiny, my purpose in life, was to roll and to roll. That is to be alone, his own. To live by his own rules, just like Rimbauld.

I continued to read:
My first adventure, in a path already gleaming
With a clear pale light,
Was a flower who told me its name.

I laughed at the blond Wasserfall
That threw its hair across the pines:
On the silvered summit, I came upon the goddess.

Then, one by one, I lifted her viels.
In the long walk, waving my arms.

Another round of curious inquiry followed, ending with a request. "Papa, can you get me something to write with and write on? I want to write."

I was quite pleased to oblige.

Enzo was scribbling furiously when Mama, like the shades, would likewise rise from her slumber, and when she came into the room to greet us good morning, Enzo boldly said "Now, go somewhere, by yourself, because I'm wriitng."

He then again curled up in the corner of the couch and asked me "Papa, what do you think I'm writing?"
"Poetry," I answered with a smile.
"I am. I am writing poetry," he replied affirmatively.


Later that afternoon Nicky, Enzo and I would ourselves take a refreshing walk in the woods. Upon our return from mass and lunch, a voice in the mist on this foggy day was calling us into Brookdale Park which opens at the end of our block. Enzo slept through most of this hour-long promenade, while Nicky and I explored the textures of the the dew on leaves, the rivers of tentacles sprouting out from each leaf's stem, the rough bark sighing with relief as it was soothed by the clinging moisture.

Towards the end of our walk, Enzo awoke. I placed Nicky back in the jogger stroller, where he would take his turn at slumber, while Enzo took my hand. We came to a fork in the path and I leaned down to tell Enzo "See how the path splits? It reminds me of my favorite passage in a poem. It's called 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost." I repeated the title and its poet, so that he could repeat it after me and then proceeded to recite (twice):

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


As joyous it was to take this opportunity to share these words with these two tabula rasa, I was equally ecstatic simply to have an excuse to read (poetry) aloud, something I rarely get to do.


While at mass I tried to stimulate Enzo's senses with a brief discussion on sound. I told him "Listen...there are a number of sounds that you can tell what they are just by listening." The church bell rang noon and I said, "See that is the ring of church calling us, there is no other sound like it. And how about the whoosh of wheels whirling water against wet pavement? Or the one and only scrunch of velcro parting on your jacket?" Inside I whispered, "Listen mijo, that's the mumble of the crowd. And soon you will hear the song of the choir rolling over us, as if God's people were receiveing His Word from on high, like angels singing to us whilst perched in their clouds."

Admittedly, encouraging him to be aware of the environment, at times was just a way to keep myself awake. For the whole going to church thing is such a paradox of experience for me. On one hand, I tear up when conveying to Enzo the Message of the Lord, to Love. And on the other, I resist. Because the pain of the process, irks when i have to deal with the anxiety "getting to church on time" spurs in some.

But it really is the message that keeps me coming back. Loving, giving, sacrifice of oneself all cumulatively worthy of the effort when played against a world that often asks for the opposite.

Lately, Enzo likes to talk about "guns." And even though I try hard to steer his thoughts to other things, I have to believe that to a certain point my diversions are futile. A parent cannot control everything, he can only do his best to enlighten and illuminate alternative paths.


One of my favorite monologues from Edmond's Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac bears worth repeating here:

But to sing,
To laugh,
To dream,
To walk in my own way,
With an eye to see things as they are.
A voice which means manhood.
To cock my head where I choose.
Not a word,
A yes,
A no.
To fight...
Or write,
But never to make a line I have not heard in my own heart.
To travel any road under the sun,
Under the stars.
Nor care a thing or fortune lie beyond the born.
Yet, with all modesty to say,
My soul be satisfied with flowers,
With weeds,
With thorns even.
But gather them in the garden you may call your own.
I'm, in a word,
Too proud to be a parasite.
And if my word is the vine which grows towering into the heaven,
Like the mountain pine,
I stand high it may not be,
But alone.