First, let’s talk about this picture. That look on my face. I worry this is what Jeffrey Dahmer looked like before putting on a bib. Or John Wayne Gacy without the makeup. Or Genghis Khan as he prepared to impale a head on a spike. Yikes. That distant glare. That straight mouth. This person doesn’t look inviting. Or, frankly, well.

But take a look at the diapered little guy on his lap! Sharing a bowl of goldfish. Or are those Cheeze-Its? I’ve consumed copious amounts of both with my children. So there’s no way of knowing for sure. Copious is a fun word.

Solomon and I are sitting in Katie’s parents’ living room in this picture. It’s about a month before we would leave Minneapolis for the wilds of Central Pennsylvania. So this would have been June of 2015, maybe? I was thirty-five. Solomon was one.

My distant glare had less to do with the rage of Achilles and more to do with lack of sleep. If I remember, and I try not to, I went about five years without sleep after Solomon was born. Samson came less than two years after his older brother. So we were up at all hours of the night. Changing diapers. Breastfeeding. Well, I didn’t breastfeed. And, if I’m being honest, I probably changed 10 percent of the diapers. But I still didn’t sleep. Instead, I developed a distant stare. Like Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell had seen some things.

I’ve seen some things too, friends.


Solomon turned eight! On December 17th, 2021. Can you believe he’s eight? Well, maybe you can. Because, depending on who is reading this, you might not know him all that well. Or maybe you don’t even know me all that well. Or maybe you do. Regardless, I can’t believe my child is eight!

But I also can. Time moves both fast and slow. Talk about seeing some things.

The last eight years have been something. The Tanners migrated to State College, Pennsylvania. Well, Pennsylvania Furnace, actually. A rural community just on the edge of State College. Solomon has lived through an ongoing pandemic. 2021. Who knows what the next eight years will bring? This world seems fraught. I suppose things always seem fraught. But things seems especially fraught to me right now. Just read the news.

Fraught is a fun word. Rhymes with taught and caught. One syllable, but it looks like it would be more. And there’s a free grammar lesson for you. Not a very good one. But I’m a literacy professor. So you’re welcome.

I was eight in 1988. A lifetime ago. Mom and Dad were getting divorced. The Twins were coming off winning their first World Series. There’s a picture of me around the dining room table in our house on Mt. Curve Boulevard. 519 if memory serves. A group of my friends are there in the picture. All of us were members of the Silly Octopus club. We were more like a gang. A third-grade gang. And I was our president. A very tough group of third graders. My first experience with leadership. The cake had an octopus on it. A silly one.

I’d say that memory recalls more innocent times. But I don’t know. Mom and Dad’s marriage was falling apart. My home life was chaotic. Read about it in this best-selling memoir. And by best-selling I mean not best-selling.

My life at eight was probably fraught too. Look, we’re human beings. Our lives are always fraught. So fragile. We know so little about what we are and what we ought to be doing. Whether we’re eight or 41. Or one or 35.



This blog took a turn. My writing always does. Impossible to tame. I’ve tried. That might be why I’m not a best-selling anything yet.

To the point: Solomon is eight! We celebrated with cake. And presents. The boys were loud and raucous. Because they are always loud and raucous. And stared into the distance like Clint Eastwood. Because that’s what I do at 41.

I’m just kidding, you know. I’m nothing like Clint Eastwood. More like Lucille Ball. There’s an interesting comparison.

I’m so proud of my son Solomon. Sure he can drive me crazy. But there’s so much life in him. And he’s so damned smart. I feel lucky to be here. Watching him grow up. Giving whatever it is he lets me give.

Eight-years old! Mazel tov!

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