Saturday, January 27, 2007

Finally did it

Well, I finally started my own blog! If you're reading this, thanks for visiting and I hope you feel inspired to contribute, comment, and share this with people you know.

My name's Eric Potruch, I'm married and a father of two boys, I live in Los Angeles, and this year I'll be turning 45. Man, that's a number I still can't get around, but I sure don't feel 45. Well, maybe when I'm chasing after Max and Elijah. In fact, I'm typing this when I'm not trying to separate them from each other. Max, who's four and a half, likes to think he's Tiki Barber and pretend Eli is the defense trying to tackle him. In other words, he likes to mow Eli over whenever and wherever the two of them are together. Eli is nearly two, and he's not sure yet if he enjoys being a tackling dummy or not; sometimes he laughs, usually he cries. The kid's got more bumps and bruises on him than clear skin, it seems.

I started this blog because I wanted to chronicle how I'm navigating through my journey as a dad. I became a dad later in my life than I'd wanted -- at almost 40 -- but I can't say I have a single regret about waiting for the right woman to come along. My wife Lisa is my touchstone, and it's her vision that keeps me on the right path. I just lead the family to that vision, making sure we're all healthy, happy, and safe. Plus, I really want us to be stinking rich! I work in the mortgage business selling construction loans to builders and consumers. I work for a public company and have been a consistent top producer since I started four years ago. I also develop real estate on the side with my partner, David. It's been pretty successful, we're past our two-year mark as a company and we haven't gone under (yet -- we're on the edge right now with a horrible loser of a project that will set us back about $250k).

Today we did our usual stuff as a family. Lisa heads off to boot camp first thing, then comes back after I've fed the boys and gotten them ready for their Saturday morning activities. Eli swims and Max plays soccer. I get to play with them both while I sneak the only workout I get all week in between. Then it's lunch and put Eli to bed while we entertain Max for the afternoon. They're both up right now while Lisa spends a few hours with a girlfriend. Things are a bit quiet at the moment...better take a peek to see that they're still alive...

...amazing... Max is on the floor coloring while Eli sits on the couch watching PBS Kids. Quite a reversal of roles. Usually, it's Max who's the couch potato and Eli who can't stop playing around.

This week we had quite a scare. Last Sunday night we were all gathered in the family room. Max was strumming his little guitar, Eli was playing with cars, and Lisa and I were watching TV, America's Funniest Home Videos. About the most benign show you can watch, right? Well, that's what I thought. A couple of segments in a row had one or two images that really rattled Max. The first was of a couple of guys pouring fuel directly into a tractor engine. When they started it up, the engine blew up, sending fire into the air and knocking the camera person back a few feet. That one started me too, and I let out a shout. Sometimes those videos aren't too funny. The second one showed a bunch of people and animals who'd managed to get their heads or butts stuck in buckets, pails, pipes, whatever. One was a cow with its head in a trash can, walking on the road. It took two guys pulling with all their might to get it off. I looked over at Max, and he looked a little too concerned. Not taking it too seriously, I turned my head. Then I heard Max say "Ow" and put his hand to his forehead. Next thing I know he's stumbling forward towards me. Not putting up his hands to break his fall, he fell face first into our glass coffee table and bounced onto the floor. I leaped up and ran to him. His eyes were open, but he wasn't there. Then he closed his eyes and I think he may have stopped breathing. He had no reaction to hearing me call his name, so I knew he was out cold. I told Lisa to call 911. She started screaming at the top of her lungs, terrifying Eli, who then started bawling himself. I said, "He's not breathing," which just made it worse for Lisa. I opened his mouth and pinched his nose closed, then started blowing into his mouth. After two or three blows, he stirred and took a deep breath, opening his eyes. He saw my face and started crying. He clearly did not remember how he ended up on the floor on his back, which his head hurting. He was bleeding from the corner of his left eye and he had the beginnings of a huge bruise above that.

Relieved, I calmly asked him his name and if he knew where he was. I held up two fingers and he told me two fingers. Good. He knew it was night and he remembered watching TV. He was back, and so was I. I felt clarity, like the clarity I felt the day he was born, the certainty of purpose -- I knew what I needed to do. I stopped feeling scared.

Meanwhile, Lisa was trying to explain to the 911 dispatcher what had happened, but she was handing me the phone because she had been holding Eli, whose crying drowned out the voice on the other end. I told her to take Eli away. I answered the questions from the dispatcher, and before I knew it, paramedics had arrived. This was all about five minutes, tops. They came in, took a look at him, asked some questions, and off we went to the ER. I carried Max to the ambulance and rode with him the 10 minutes to the hospital. After about half an hour, they cleaned up his cut, checked his vitals, did an EKG strip and then a CT scan. All normal. Thank God.

It's times like this that remind me that I'm really a dad. I'm the man. My wife, God love her, was totally useless. With our son out cold and apparently not breathing, I was ready to perform CPR -- and I have no idea how to do that with a child. Lisa is at least certified, as she has to be for her work as a speech therapist. But I asked her later if I could have depended on her to do that if the need arose, and she shook her head. I'm going to get certified as soon as I can. I was reminded of something I remember Justin Sterling saying at my Sterling Men's Weekend nearly 11 years ago: You know you're ready for a long-term committed relationship when you don't need your woman for anything.

That's a fun place to call it quits. Eli needs me. Time to be Daddy.