Fat Baby

Today, my family celebrated my eldest son. He goes off to college in Boston this fall, in a matter of days really, and I spent the moments leading up to the quiet celebration thinking up a list of foods that would best express his personality. For me, each child is their own era, containing their own rich history, version of culture, and expression. The world is better, because children sprout on top of it, grow into a full grown life, and leave behind their own impressions and energies wherever they go, changing forever the places they inhabit.

Michael at 2.5 He lived in his turtleneck and carried his dinosaur everywhere. (Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)
Michael at 2.5
He lived in his turtleneck and carried his dinosaur everywhere.
(Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)

For me, Michael, is the fat baby who pounded away at the piano to entertain himself, the toddler who refused to sleep unless Miles Davis or the Gypsy Kings were blaring in the background. He’s the little Catholic school boy who needed coffee in the morning, starting in first grade, in order to fight the grumps that made him tear at his neatly pressed navy blue dress tie and call it, “Stupid!” and “the scarf that old men wear!”

Mike playing baseball. (Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)
Mike playing baseball.
(Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)

He’s the cool-headed middle school student who never complained when his parents told him that we had to uproot him from his friends and grandparents and move to a new school and a new, much older, house, because the one he’d grown up in was too expensive for us to afford anymore.

A 14 year old Mike wowed at his brother's physics demonstration. (Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)
A 14 year old Mike wowed at his brother’s physics demonstration.
(Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)

He’s the high school freshmen who discovered, endured, and conquered severe anxiety through faith, reason, and mindful practice. He’s the high school sophomore who took a risk by auditioning for a performing arts high school, and graduated from there with a plethora of musical knowledge, a stretched artistic ability, and a talent that is unmatched in even musicians twice his age. He’s the young man who applied to just one prestigious music conservatory, just one, and got in just as he said he would, and received a mammoth scholarship to encourage his dream.

Mike (15) and I before his first performance as a student at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. (Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)
Mike (15) and I before his first performance as a student at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts.
(Tiffani Burnett-Velez/Ani Burnett)

Someday, Michael will be the composer you all know…

Mike (18) playing an original piece at his last performance at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts
Mike (18) playing an original piece at his last performance at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts

…and he will be that for me as well, but he was also the fat baby at the piano, and he makes my heart swell.

Mike (1) as a fat baby at the Philadelphia Zoo, 1997.
Mike (1) as a fat baby at the Philadelphia Zoo, 1997.
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2 thoughts on “Fat Baby”

  1. Hi Ani, and I remember him in the library alcoves little and cute and now a handsome man.
    good Luck and God Bless Michael in your new endeavors
    Charlotte your librarian

    Liked by 1 person

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