My son used to be a baby. Now he's almost like a real person or something. Now he can stand up. Like, on his own and everything.
He also talks. Did I mention that? Did I mention that when he comes over to you he does this weird little proto-wave and says "Hi"? He can also walk. He may not know it yet, but oh yeah. He can. He just thinks too much. I'd like to tell him it's like hitting a baseball or driving a stick shift, that if you think too much you'll whiff it or stall, but I don't think he'd quite get the analogy.
Oh, and he has hair now. Long, curly, red wisps of it. No more bald baby jokes for this kid. No more denying that he has more hair than his old man.
And a week and a half from now he's going to be a year old. How the hell did that happen?
Sorry to be gone so long (my brain having taken a vacation from all creativity, inspiration, and wit), especially because Chins and I have been having some serious adventures together recently on days d.w. is in class. They are adventures for me anyway, dipping my toes into the world of stay-at-home parents a couple of days a week.
I must say it is a welcome change from the stress and constant pressure of grad school...did I mention my prelim's are next semester and I know nothing at all about science? That the past 22 years of schooling (dear god...) have stewed my brain to a gelatinous grey mass? That my major professor and all my committee members are going to discover that I'm a fraud? A giant phony destined to be run out of town in shame?
But that's another post. Sorry.
As I was saying, I've been venturing into a world heretofore known only to those brave souls strong enough to make a career of raising their children. It's a world at once both comfortable and intimidating, where you must simultaneously trust your instincts yet learn to overcome them when necessary. It's enough to drive an evolutionary biologist crazy.
We've been hitting up library story time as often as we can, which for a sahd noob like me is the crucible to end all crucibles. We arrive early so Chins can crawl around and play with the other kids (i.e., slobber on their toys and try to yank out their hair). This leaves me standing with the other parents in a ring around our children, like so many gambling addicts ringing a cockfight. It is then that I feel it most strongly: the ridiculous judgments of small, small people.
"Well, he certainly is a chubby one, isn't he?"
"Oh, you let him come here without shoes on?"
"Is he chewing on that toy? I would never let my Aiden/Caiden/Brayden/Jayden/Hayden/Zayden do something like that."
But I can take it. It's a funny thing; I used to get really hung up on what other people thought of me. I suppose I still do about some things. But when it comes to Chins, I don't give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks. I just breathe, listen to my instincts, and when I look into those big green eyes I know I'm doing OK.
OK, so right when I finally had the dad thing down, deftly changing blown-out diapers, instinctively curing boredom with a perfectly-timed stroller ride around the block, and masterfully inducing midday sleep in a rambunctious baby, all of a sudden (or, more likely, thanks to a two-month absence) I no longer know my son. What do I mean? Well, I'll tell you.
Now he crawls away just as I peel a funk-encrusted diaper from his little bum, leaving a horrific trail of...residue...in his wake. (An aside: I am now a firm believer that introducing solids should wait until kids are properly potty-trained. Or better yet high school. I am generally not a squeamish person, but those diapers — eww...just eww.) I used to prefer diapers with snaps, but now I've come to realize that velcro is a lot faster to secure when the object of your diapering is racing away from you at a feverish clip. Except they only work when he also wears pants. After all, nothing is more fun than undoing the velcro tabs on one's diaper in the middle of the living room rug.
My boredom-curing instincts have also all gone to hell. When Chins gets tired of what he's doing, he simply crawls over to something else. Usually an electrical cord, bit of trash, or one of the cats' tails. This has thrown me for such a loop that I totally forget all my mad parenting skills, and it isn't until d.w. gently shoves us out the front door that I remember "oh yeah — walks."
But the napping! It used to be so easy! I would lay Chins down in the middle of the bed with his favorite blanket and walk away, a couple of hours later hearing the gurgling and cooing of a baby talking to his Blankie. How sweet. How nice.
But now? NOW?! No, of course it can't be like that anymore. Now I have to sit there rocking a squirming, body-straightening baby who screams at the top of his lungs like I'm feeding him feet-first to a pack of ravenous squirrels. Then, once he finally wears himself out and falls into a peaceful slumber, he wakes up mere minutes after I lay him gently in his crib with his blanket, ready to get up and start playing again. Sigh.
So there you have it. I've completely lost my touch. But I'm sure I'll hit my stride again, most likely just in time to be away for all of next summer...
Chins turned 3 months old on Saturday. He's now at that awkward age between newbornhood and babyhood, where he's hyper-aware of the world around him but still rather amusingly uncoordinated with his hands. Actually, he's only recently shown the slightest interest in grabbing things at all (a little fleece blanket with shiny little loops of ribbon to chew on), but his obsession with all that is bright, shiny, moving, or otherwise AMAZING is insatiable.
Which means that whenever he is neither nursing nor sleeping he must be entertained. By either d.w. or me. Continually. I guess this is why God (or whoever) invented that baby TV channel.
But we try not to think of such temptations.
Anyway, long ago I ran out of new things to say to little Chins, and he gets rather bored with the same old repetitive, "Whose feet are these? Whose feet are these? Are they Chinsie's feet? Are they? Yes they are! Yes they are!"
Having had the last vestiges of a creative spark hammered out of us by a little man barely 2 feet tall, d.w. and I have now been reduced to simply offering a running narrative of activities in our quest for perpetual baby occupation:
"OK, now I'm emptying the dishwasher. Doesn't that sound like fun, little Chinsie? Let's see what we have in here...ooh, lots of shiny glasses! Let's put them away, shall we? These tall ones get stacked over on the right side of the shelf...there. OK, then these short little ones get stacked next to them. Can you see that? Can you? No, of course you can't...you're in your little bouncy seat. OK. Ooh, aren't those knives shiny?..."
I have grown accustomed to being liked by people. I'm not talking about people basking in my radiant glory or anything (although were that the case no one would be turned away). I just mean that I like to think I'm a generally agreeable person, and I'm used to having my efforts reciprocated by others. And when people are dicks to me, I feel sufficiently justified in, you know, cursing the names of their ancestors and stuff.
Passive aggressive? Sure. Pathologically averse to confrontation? I'll give you that. But I must say I've been served well enough for most of my nearly 27 years.
You see, Chins just doesn't seem to like me all that much. Sure, he tolerates me well enough, especially when I'm wiping yellow poop from his feet, elbows, back of the head, and wherever else babies manage to get it. And yeah, he smiles at me when I put him under his favorite mobile.
But to paraphrase the old song: anything I can do, Mama can do better.
I don't mean to say it's a competition for Chins' affection; that one was over before it started. All I mean is that when d.w. is at class for a couple of hours every evening, I'm left to tend to a baby who gets crankier every minute his mom isn't around, trying desperately to tread water until she returns.
I rock him. I bounce him. I sing to him. I even sit him in front of the mobile, under his little activity gym thing, and in front of the window to the street. No dice.
Then, just as his wails become ear-splitting, d.w. waltzes in through the front door, scoops up her now-cooing little boy in her arms and sits down to nurse him, milk flowing freely out the corners of his grinning mouth.
And off in a corner there I am, dazed, hair slightly askew, grateful for the newfound quiet but admittedly a little hurt seeing my wife and son cuddled together, gazing into each other's eyes and smiling sweetly.
Actually, now that I think about it, who could possibly think ill of that?
So it turns out the best way to bleach those rather alarming vivid green stains out of cloth diapers is to wash them and lay them in the sun for a day or so. It also turns out that the first sunny day we've had in weeks had a high temperature hovering somewhere around zero. Put these two fun factoids together, and this is the result:
Oh, and another thing. Today was the first time I have ever had to sweep a pile of snow into a dustpan. Good thing our house doesn't get that warm in the winter.
You know that baby smell everyone talks about, usually right before their hearts goes all aflutter and they start convulsing from thoughts of overwhelming cuteness? Well, I was sitting there the other day helping Chins cope with his not-yet-broken-in gastrointestinal system, and I realized what that smell really is.
Vomit and sour milk.
Not aerosolized wonderment. Not pixie dust. Not a magical elixer made from puppies and ribbons and lollipops.
Nope, just the product of messy eating and messier digestion. Kinda takes the fun out of it, eh?
...one very unhappy, very purple baby. That's what you get for smooshing your face all around while you eat, buster.
After unending rounds of ineffective prescription meds, we've had to resort to gentian violet, which is what was used "before they invented medicine," in the words of one alarmingly obtuse pharmacist we consulted during our quest for the elusive substance.
Here's a little tidbit the pharmacist probably should have known, and that I only just now found out (but can pretend to be an expert in anyway) thanks to wikipedia: despite its name, gentian violet is made from neither gentians nor violets, but is actually tecnically known as hexamethyl pararosaniline chloride, a rather frightening substance derived from coal tar. Besides being an antifungal agent used with amusing results on the mouths of infants and the nipples of breastfeeding mothers, its main application is in staining bacteria so they can be identified to species.
Ok, now that is a career path in which I can safely say I hold absolutely zero interest: bacteria systematics. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there are people out there classifying bacteria to species. But I'm also glad I'm not one of them.
Now if you'll excuse me, I believe there's some coal tar residue on the ceiling that needs cleaning.