Tag Archives: baby

Baby-Induced Super Powers

sleep deprived dad in crib with babyWe know the story because it is so very cliche and common: two people have a baby and plummet into a world of sleep deprivation, regurgitation, dirty diapers, and near-constant wailing. Oh, those poor, poor new parents. We’re sure they need to know more about the level of hell they’re about to inhabit, so we pet them gently on the shoulder and whisper, “Your life will never be the same.” We should take care, in the immediate aftermath of granting such unsolicited advice, to avoid the daggers they shoot out from their eye sockets, because I hear they are heat seeking and almost never miss.

What we don’t pay attention to, not nearly as much, are the tiny skills that caring for a new human bestow upon these exhausted parents. I have noted, in no apparent order, the following gifts that have careened into my lap since Emile’s birth nearly a year ago: Read More…

A Better Dad Letter

Dear Child of Mine,

I have loved you since the moment I saw you pass before my eyes, right before the doctor placed you on your mother’s chest. In truth, I loved you before then, and since we’re on the subject, I would say I was in deep, deep like with the very possibility of you, but certainly having the actual you around is much better.

I read a horrible letter the other day from a father who was cutting ties with his son only because his child had asserted he was gay. I’ve known people like this, who wielded their ignorance against their own families, and yes, it is astonishing how human beings can revolt against their own kin. But it does remind me that this is why we have chosen families, dear confidants, and supportive systems of loved ones that may or may not share DNA with us.

That man is misguided. It’s clear to me after only 11 months of knowing you, that my mission as your parent is to help you grow into the best person you can be, and I ought not attempt to control who you become–it’s folly, for one thing, and mean to boot. Yes, I should expose you to ideas, talk with you as you sort through your place in the world and what to make of this great big mess, and tell you I love you, but your path is your own. If you tell me tomorrow that you want to be known as Priscilla Queen of Splendiferousness, I’ll simply be astonished that you’re talking this soon. I won’t worry that it’s because we dressed you up like Liberace for Halloween last year–you did look fabulous, by the way. Read More…

Swimming in Ridiculousness

baby swimming with pacifierA good friend who lives in chichi Northern Virginia described how parents jockey for their children’s position in educational institutions, taking a comprehensive assessment approach. They quizzed instructors, toured facilities, reviewed budgets of these organizations, and commiserated with parents of alumni, all before the enrollment advocacy began. As these things go, there are only so many available spaces, and many, many applicants.

Kindergarten is rough on parents.

To me, this was lunacy. Our friend weighed what seemed like perverse, contradictory goals: push for my child to go to the “best” primary school in the district, thus entering combat with other parental units who would fight to blood to get their kid in the most special kindergarten in Arlington, or opting  for what was considered a “less than” school where some of the pressure to excel would be removed. Certainly parents are told to push for only the best options when it comes to their offspring, but then shouldn’t we question what “best” means? And many a successful adult has come out of a mediocre school and/or rough childhood. Looking only for the highest ranked education and the most resource-laden home misses the point that often, people rise above their histories. People are more than the cumulative effect of tick marks on some bucket list of success.

Yes, I have my opinions. And to put things in context, this Virginia friend, the one who sent her daughter to the less desirable school? That school handed out iPads to every student. Such is life in the wealthy counties of the state. Read More…

Mission Extremely Challenging, If Not Impossible

cramped hotel room as exemplified by squished catFive days we’re here in Portland, ostensibly for Susanne’s participation in a work conference, but I managed to finagle a reading on our last day, so both of us have a career moment or two while we’re in town. The rest of our visit we get to see friends and some family, and take in the riches of urban life. While there are several nice upsides to living in Walla Walla, like no traffic or smog, cheap rent, and gorgeous sunny skies on most days, we’ve discovered we need frequent small breaks to nearby cities. Portland is three-and-a-half hours away by car, most of the drive along the picturesque Columbia River, the gem blue water reflecting the rusty, hard etched hills until the Cascade Mountains take over and pepper the terrain with thousands of evergreens. Leaving southeast Washington is a joy when the weather is agreeable.

On the downside, all three of us are crammed into a decidedly not large hotel room, and nowhere in the complimentary Book of Mormon is there any advice on sudden downsizing of life and provisions with baby. I’ve looked. Read More…

My Kid and His Invisible Chrysalis

The baby has made it clear he’s in a new growth spurt. Far from having an amazing lexicon or masterful charades skills, he just screams and eats a lot, and then one of the parents in the room will run to the interwebs and look up the under-12-months milestones for development. Not the sitting up, rolling over, crawling development, but the non-cognitive stuff like tooth appearance and those aforementioned spurts. Emile’s week 6 and month 3 spurts came a little early, so it’s not surprising we’d see the sixth month dash at 5.5 months. It has me wondering if he’ll grow into an impatient pain in the ass, but then I remind myself that it’s just too soon to tell.

I picked him up yesterday morning and had the sensation that someone had photoshopped my live child to make him 3 percent larger than the night before. His head, hands, shoulders, all of him seemed to take up more space and weigh more. I remembered that the further we are from the core of the planet, the less gravity pulls on us, so I briefly considered taking him to the top of Mt. McKinley and hoping he’d be easier to hold there. Probably the pool at the local YMCA was an easier way to get to the same outcome, however. He’s still about a month away from being allowed into the baby swim class. Read More…

Our Nefarious Sleep Routine

My brother-in-law owns an extremely expensive camera with some sort of whatsafiggy that lets him take time-lapse video. He’s also a fan of nature, so he plans to trek up to Alaska and do some time-lapse filming on the side of a glacier wall. I’m sure the final film will be visually fascinating and pensive. He’ll probably win an award.

But I think it would be much more amusing to set the camera up in our house and film how many times Susanne and I get up out of bed though the course of the night to deal with one baby issue or another.

Yes, I wait for the Wee One’s cues: yawning, a hand reaching up to slowly rub an eye, that stern expression that tells me he’s starting to fight his tiredness. Finally, after roughly five months, he is getting closer to a schedule. I do have quiet concerns that we’ll never really be on an actual schedule, kind of like those graphs in calculus where one is only ever approaching but never reaching infinity. Read More…

One-Sided Conversations with Baby

Emile sleepingOn any given day, I need to get a lot of stuff done. Most of us do, after all. I’m living off from my to do list at the moment, because I tend to lose lists these days, what with half of my consciousness preoccupied with WHERE IS BABY IS BABY OKAY kinds of questions.

Also affecting my ability to get all of my stuff done is the baby himself. Emile is omnipresent in the house, mostly due to the fact that this winter, he does not prefer alone time. So he comes around with us as we operate in each room of the house. Yes, this slows down progress–for instance, I am making it through this blog post one sentence an hour.

To further entertain him but also to increase the odds that I can get stuff done, I talk to him, explaining whatever is going on around us. It’s banal for the most part, and when I do it while cooking I feel a bit like a chubby, trans Rachel Ray. But sometimes I surprise myself with the things that come out of my mouth. Read More…

By Hook or by Crook: Traveling with Baby

Susanne and I like to think we are seasoned travelers, people who move around continents with ease and without flinching. I know before I get to the security line how many bins I’ll need for my stuff. I know which planes have a great bulkhead row and which will cause me to wrap my legs around me like an experiment in human origami. Southwest trains their employees to present all information as a jolly delight, so I’ve learned to cut through the tone to get to the actual substance. Delta, after its merger with Northwest, has a lot of sullen, underappreciated staff at the till, so I make sure to smile when I talk to them and then I get slightly better service. I’m a gate-checking madman, avoidant of baggage fees, and I most recently am grieving the loss of the tiny bag of pretzels, because it seems even that microscopic luxury of flying has now vanished.

When people told me that everything would change once the baby arrived, they failed to bring up air  travel. Not a single person in the 8,374 instances of “Your life is going to change, you know,” that I heard before Emile’s birth finished the sentiment with “especially when you try to get on a plane.” I recognized that life would shift, but I didn’t think about flying. Read More…

All About Poop

stack of diapersBefore Emile was born, I made promises to myself about what kind of limits I’d put on conversation topics that I’d heard from other parents over the years–things I never wanted to be caught saying in public. These included both specific statements and more general categories. Roughly, my list of verboten discussion areas included:

  • Insisting my child was a prodigy of anything–music, verbal or written ability, athletic prowress
  • Commenting on how my child would someday be a heartbreaker because he or she was extremely attractive or charming
  • Talking about my child’s genome (hey, I’ve seen this parent) as evidence of future greatness
  • Doling out details about my child’s defecation

I’m sure there are more things on the list, but it’s 4 in the morning and he’s just fallen back asleep. Read More…

Baby Baby Garbledygook

crying baby cartoonBaby experts and many parents have mentioned to us that Week 6 of babyhood is something of a nadir for new parents. The child’s night sleeping might be awful, dovetailing horribly with what is at that point moderate-term sleep loss for the caretakers. But bedrock being what it is, it’s also a sign that stress will soon lessen, life will feel somewhat easier, and soon enough, the baby will respond to coaching on sleep cycles and training.

Here is where I should mention that we have just entered Week 5. We’ve descended past chaos and stress and entered the realm of second guessing, especially now that we’re chronic participants in sleep loss. Whereas last week it was my foot-eye coordination, now some of my higher faculties are involved; I can’t do long division in my head right now, and yes, I double back on what I’ve learned about the baby thus far.

In some ways, this makes parenting more entertaining. Read More…

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