The Ruark Kids

All we have left to do


Siena has been learning stuff like crazy recently. She’s learned how to crouch; she’s nearly standing on her own for several seconds at a time; she’s mastered some more toys; and she hands things to you when you ask her to. She really has come a long way in the past month or two.

Watching this happen, and knowing what is still to come, brings to mind one of my favorite TV shows from a few years ago. (Yes, we used to watch TV in a bygone era.) But first, a digression. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I go through these cycles where for a time, there is something that is my favorite thing (in a particular domain, like TV), and–here’s the part that might be odd–in some ways I measure my life by the enumeration and duration of these entities. For two years as I was finishing my dissertationXena, I relaxed and proof-read my thesis to the battle ululations of Xena: Warrior Princess. (Did I just admit that? Oh dear… In my defense, this was during the 2nd and 3rd seasons, probably the funniest seasons and before they went to India and Gabrielle got all mystical on them… I should just stop now.) Recently we have been using that wonderful gift from the gods that mere mortals name Tivo to watch a slew of sci-fi escapism shows, like Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and The 4400. It’s not exactly the History Channel, but there is some progress here, right?

In any event, a few years ago, while Siena’s mom was getting geared up for the vet school journey by taking all the prerequisites that she had not had in college (which is to say, almost all of them), I was on a really hard-core Monster Garage addiction.

Monster Garage

For those who don’t know about this marvel of television production, the basic premise was that a Californian custom motorcycle maker, Jesse James, each week would host, reality-TV-style, a group of mechanics who had to turn a beat-up old clunker into a vehicle that did something completely random. For example: A Chrysler PT Cruiser into a wood chipper. Sure there followed similar shows on Discovery Channel and other stations (like Pimp My Ride), but Monster Garage was special to me, largely because of the attitude of its host, and the amusing sequences, sound bites, and images that resulted. Siena’s mom will happily recall with a roll of the eyes all the times I’d come running into the kitchen and try to explain the hilarious thing I’d just seen, like Jesse and the gang roasting a turkey with a jet engine mounted to the back of a car, or how Jesse got pulled over by the one cop in California who didn’t know who he was.

Now, if you have read this far, you are asking yourself, and this has what to do with Siena?

Part of Jesse’s snarky attitude would shine through when he would meet up with the crew several days into the job and discuss how they were doing, and what their chances were for completing the project successfully. These were almost always full rebuilds of dead or dying cars, including sectioning, installing new engines, transmissions, glass, getting the thing running, etc., in addition to whatever the wacky challenge of the week is. Jesse would listen to the crew describe all that they had accomplished, and then he would go through what was still missing, and usually end with the line that would always crush spirits, “So, all we have left to do is everything.”

SienaAs I look back over the past year, and everything Siena has learned, yet think about everything she still has to learn, I’m reminded of this line. All we have left to do is everything. One year seems such a small drop in the bucket. She still hasn’t learned how to lie back down from a sitting position. She wants to climb steps but can’t stand free of any support. She will need to learn to drink from a glass, eat with utensils, chew with her mouth closed, dress herself, use the toilet, run, kick, throw, read, write, add, drive, calculate Mersenne primes, everything! It’s overwhelming.

Yet, one year is already more than 5% of the way to college; likely almost 2% of the total time we’ll have to share with her. Yes she has everything still to learn, but she’s already learned so much, and given so much to our lives, and I know that, just as almost every week the Monster Garage crew was successful down to the wire, she’ll learn what she needs to in time.

Battle on, Siena!

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