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Time stands for no one 

What can change in such a short amount of time stuns. We long ago settled on a basic system of time—seconds make minutes make hours make days make weeks make years and so forth, with exceptions for saving daylight and dealing with that extra day. But what that time means for each of us—and, as a collective, for all of us—is wildly variable. It's said that one year in a dog's life equals seven years in the life of a human. Lately, for me, it seems that one week in the life of my son, Oliver, is equivalent to six months in my own life, if not more. And the time of the world—well, who knows?

I have stayed at home with Oliver for six months now, and he's accomplished much more than I have. He's gone from a four-month-old who couldn't sit up on his own to a seven-month-old speeding around the room on hands and knees. Now, as a 10-month-old, he toddles from couch to end table like a drunken Frankenstein.

But the world's moving fast, even for the quick-growing kid. The first half of the first year of the '10s has progressively zoomed into the future with several events that will doubtlessly change how Oliver's generation will perceive and interact with culture, machines and each other. In January, North Carolina joined 29 other states in banning smoking in bars and restaurants. "You used to be able to smoke in restaurants?" he might ask one day. "Yes, and not too many years before that, workers smoked and drank bourbon in office buildings daily," we'll reply. The United States Congress passed health care reform in March. Oliver and I listened to the debates on the radio and watched the 6 a.m. Christmas Eve Senate vote from our living room floor while everyone else at home slept. "There was a day when some people didn't have health care?" Oliver might be fortunate enough to ask.

Disasters have been in the headlines early this year, with earthquakes in Haiti and Chilé and a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The power of social media has become evident in these crises, indicating that the next generation might band together in times of despair to facilitate help quickly and on a grand scale. Indeed, by late April, it was a Dr. Seuss ABC's read-along book on the iPad that enticed Oliver to take his first steps ever. He now bangs at a keyboard like Bamm-Bamm Rubble wildly swinging his club at the dinosaurs, but he may never know how to operate a keyboard or mouse.

It all happens so fast. I seem only barely to remember Oliver being 9 months old, much less being able to roll over on his own. Important events come and go, making their impact on the course of history and holding the attention span of the audience for a moment. Out there, the world continues to spin around, while time stands still here at home. We are making the most of our moments, creating a time capsule full of memories that aren't easily documented on a historic timeline. I'll try to remember them. If not, Oliver can always pull up a slideshow on the touch screen and remind me.

  • I have stayed at home with Oliver for six months now, and he's accomplished much more than I have.

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