Zackery Simon Ward is my third son, after Leonard and Luke. He was the result of his mother feeling a little sick and me rapidly calling the midwife over her objections. He was born a few hours later.
Zack, like his brothers Luke and Dusty, was born at home on January 13th, 1984. When I first saw him I laughed, because he was the first one of my boys, and the only one, that looks like a Ward- a bald Ward, at that.
As a baby, Zack would always get out of his crib. It had high sides and he was so little. We could not figure out how he did it. We suspected his brothers were letting him out, but they denied it. Finally, I put a video camera in his room and waited. When I heard him crying under the gap in his door, I went in and looked at the footage. This 9-month old little baby was doing a chin-up and dropping to the floor. It soon was a common noise in the house when he made that thump. We knew Zack was out of his crib, again.
I have many regrets about the way we dealt with that. He would get out of his crib and then lay on the floor where he could look under the door. When he saw feet he would start crying and screaming. I would often open the door and put him back. Eventually, we would just wait until he fell asleep crying and I would go in a put him to bed. His face would often be stuck to the floor with tears and snot. I feel so badly about that, today. I just didn’t know better as a father. Now I would get up and keep him with us until he fell asleep naturally.
Zack was, and is, a daredevil. He was always doing things that made butterflies in my stomach. He would slide down the stairs, even as a little baby, on his butt bouncing on each stair as he came down. It was hilarious! He would also climb on things and was always falling off. Once, when his mother and I were in L.A. for the weekend, he went running in our bedroom and tripped and fell into the corner of her night stand, slashing his cheek. We rushed home and took him to see a cosmetic surgeon, at her insistence, and he sewed him back up. Even today, he has a scar that makes him look as if he had been in a sword fight. Cool!
Zack also got whooping cough. It was awful! I had installed a video camera and red light in his room to be able to rush to his aid when he started whooping and coughing up gobs of phlegm. I was the one who always rushed into his room at all hours of the night and pull the phlegm out with a paper towel and get him settled down. Eventually we took him to the emergency room to be seen by a doctor, although we had read that there wasn’t much to do. He just had to go through it. When I told the doctor that he had whooping cough, the doctor told me, “I’ll be the doctor here. What makes you think he has whooping cough?” I explained his symptoms, which were obvious to me, but Zack did not whoop. The doctor looked pompous and doubting. The Zack started whooping, and the doctor said, “My God! This boy has whooping cough!” I thought to myself, “Duh!” (A pre-Homer Simpson Duh). But there was nothing to do but what I was doing. I made sure Zack did not choke to death, which was a possibility with whooping cough, and he eventually recovered. We think a Mexican maid I hired once a week had passed it on to him.
Zack always held a special place in my heart after that. I was so worried for his life during this time that it really had an effect on me.
Zack tried everything. He was quite an athlete. He was an expert on roller blades, skate board, bike, and anything else he set his mind to.
He is also very intelligent. He picked up things quickly.
The boys and I used to do “boy trips” each summer. Once or twice we drove to Texas to see mom and dad. I would take them to the beach to play and to fish. They always caught fish!
Once we did a boy trip to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. It was just Luke, Zack, and Dusty that went with me, but we had a really great time! It snowed on top of Pike’s Peak when we were there, and it was just after the 4th of July. On the 4th we went through Vail, CO and it snowed then, too.
Several years we all went to Family Camp in the Sierras for a week. It was a great experience. Each family had to do one thing- teach a class, baby sit, etc. and the rest of the time was free. We spent one day at one of the Edison lakes. We toured the power plant. I don’t know if Zack remembers that.
And Zack is really funny. He and I would often play off each other.
When I was still married to his mother, she didn’t share the same sense of humor as I did. Not by a long shot! So I got an angry call from her at work blaming me for Zack and Dusty getting in trouble at elementary school where he and Zack both attended. I asked what happened. She told me Zack had told Dusty that girls didn’t get their brains until they were 10. When a girl at school said something in class he didn’t agree with he told her, “How would you know, you don’t get your brain until you’re 10!” He got called to the office. I thought it was hilarious!
When I married again, Zack would always find ways to trick my new wife, who was from England. One day we were driving down the road and I was playing with the radio or something but I left a big gap between my car and the next. She asked me why I left such a big gap. Zack in the back seat said, “Stealth cars.” I immediately picked up on it and explained that in America we had stealth cars that were painted in such a way that you could not see them. We explained many people were killed each year because they didn’t see them, but their insurance covered it. Zack and I went back and forth telling about stealth cars. She was getting quite angry about how our politicians could allow such a thing. She said she didn’t think they had them in England. Zack said, “How would you know? You can’t see them!” She was getting so upset I finally had to tell her there were no such things.
I used to get the boys on weekends. Then Monday morning, I would have my partner from work take them home, so I could go into work very early. One Monday morning I get a call from my wife exclaiming that she didn’t think it would be a good idea for the boys to go to school today. I asked why not? She said she thought it was barbaric what the kids did today. I said, “OK. What did Zack tell you?” She told me that he had told her about “Beat-Up Day” where the older kids could beat up on the little kids and the teachers would do nothing about it. She thought it was just terrible what we Americans did to each other! I told her it was baloney and there was no such thing.
I had a good laugh.