The misadventures of a first time father

Monthly Archives: December 2012

During one of our favorite weekend rituals (a cup of tea and watching CBS Sunday Morning), I came across this report that I really found interesting. I thought you might too:

(sorry. WordPress won’t allow me to directly embed the video, but please give it a click and a watch)

It’s amazing to see how truly color blind (and that’s a good thing) we were when it came to our children. Leave it to the marketing folks and the manufacturers to find a way to not only make some extra cash on our kids, but change an entire cultural mindset to do so.

It’s sort of like mass-hypnosis when you think about it. Quite frightening when you think about it too much…

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationYou probably know the signs – the red around the eyes, the yawning, the tiny hands, curled up into fists, rubbing their eyes. The baby is sleepy.

Even as adults, when we get overtired, we get irritable. Take that and multiply it by about fifty and you get an overtired baby.

Some might say “well just put the baby to bed,” but we’ve found that it has not been so easy.

Our little guy hates to go to sleep, especially during the day. I mean, HATES it. Once he’s sleeping, he looks like a peaceful little angel, but that’s a long road to get to. He just does not want to nap, no matter how tired he may be.

He screams, he yells, he makes anyone passing by the home think you’re murdering him. We’re talking blood curdling screams some times.

I don’t know if he’s afraid he’s going to miss something if he goes to sleep, if he’s afraid something’s going to happen to him if he allows himself to sleep, I have no clue, but it has led to some very late, very sleep-deprived nights.

First of all, he hates being on his back. He is not the type of baby you can just lay down in the crib or in the pack and play and have him entertain himself, even for a moment or two. No, he will wail to get upright, and since he’s not yet sitting up or crawling on his own, that requires the help of mommy and daddy.

That often leads to a lot of holding between the two of us to keep him from flipping out, something the grandparents have told us is “making him too dependent” and “going to make things harder as time goes on.”

What else would you do, though? We’re not the types who believe in the “letting them cry it out” approach. I’ve read too much that says letting them crying it out makes them feel abandoned, without support or help, and something that psychologically will stay with them as they develop into children and little people. No thank you.

So we pick him up. We take turns with him at home. One cooks, the other holds. One showers, the other holds, one works on house projects, the other holds. If we’re lucky, he might fall asleep in our arms and be able to be transferred to his crib, which leads to a nap and a few minutes for mom and dad.

If not for those moments, though, he would never nap. You can tell he needs to, but he will scream bloody murder if you try to put him down for one, and falling asleep in our arms doesn’t always work. Sometimes the screaming just continues.

Unfortunately, it also makes life difficult for grandma, who babysits him during the day when he’s having a bad day.

When night time comes, we have to work our hardest to lull him to sleep, which has made our attempts at getting him on a schedule difficult since the beginning. We’ve tried singing, we’ve tried cradling (like i say, hates being on his back), we’ve tried reading a story, a bath, etc. Occasionally running the white noise of the vacuum cleaner will work, but not always.

We have some relatives that have jumped automatically to “there’s something wrong” or “he needs to be checked out by the doctor,” but that’s not the case. He’s been to the doctor multiple times and he’s fine. They say he’ll grow out of it. I’ve heard from some parents that it tends to subside when the child becomes mobile, so all of this may be moot in a few months.

However, until he is mobile, we definitely will be, continuing to pick him up, move him around, do tours of the house, and just try so very very hard when he gets cranky to keep him soothed and distracted in the hopes of getting the sleep he needs.

Any parents out there who’ve had trouble with babies who don’t want to sleep?

We’re at 5 months old now, with the norm being two 15 minute naps in the course of the day, but usually a full night of rest, with the occasional waking for a feeding in the middle of the night.

I’d love to hear what worked, what didn’t if there’s any folks who went through a similar boat.

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful LifeTonight we watched a holiday favorite and a staple in our DVD collection, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

With a five month old now added to the mix, I admit that our movie viewing habits have drastically reduced, or have become divided into segments. After all, any time we get where he is napping is usually spent taking care of more pressing matters around the house rather than watching the boob tube.

Somehow, whether it was his being infatuated with his mother’s face, or the ceiling fan up above, my little monkey was pretty calm while the wife and I took in all the Jimmy Stewart-Donna Reed goodness.

Depressed George BaileyYou don’t need me to say that it still holds up to this day – the story of the average joe who’s sacrificed so much of his dreams to help out those around him, only to fall knee deep into it himself and hit rock bottom and wish he were never born.

When I watched it this year, though, something was slightly different. Perhaps it was the frustration George Bailey felt at home with the “drafty old house” or the constant noise of the kids after an absolute day from hell. Suddenly, I was not only enjoying this film as I have for years, I was suddenly relating to it.

We all have the things we wanted to do with out lives, and in George’s case, it was seeing the world and living a life of adventure. He gave it up, though, time and again – when his father passed and he had to take over the Building and Loan, when he fell in love with Mary and they bought that old, run-down Victorian house and decided to fix it up, when he realized that the ever flirtatious Violet was not interested in his wacky dreams, or when he stayed at the Building and Loan so that his brother, Harry, could have the life and dreams HE wanted.

"I want a big one!"George Bailey gave up a lot of what he wanted in an effort to help out those around him.

In the end, of course, that’s what brings all those friends and acquaintances rallying around George when he needs it, but it took some getting there for George to realize how good he had it when the chips were down.

Earlier this month, I came across this great introspective article over at “The Art of Manliness,” a phenomenal website definitely worth subscribing to. From teaching/reminding useful skills that often get lost in our fast-paced, technological society, to an appreciation for the things of the past, this website is really something.

Anyway, the article can be found right here:

What it does is propose the exercise of doing a “George Bailey” on your own life. Sit down, and write out what your life would be like without a particular person, place or event in your life that brings you happiness.

It may seem like a simple thing to do, but once you start delving in to the paths that might not have crossed, you can hit upon some dark places in your mind, my friend. At times, it can be downright scary.

I think of just some of the seemingly random events that have led me to where I am today.

  • “What if I never took that phone call asking if I was interested in a job at my current workplace?”
  • “What if I never took that job?”
  • “What if I never went out for drinks that time and made some new friends?”
  • “What if I hadn’t, through those friends, found out about a play at a local theatre needing an extra actor or two and been coerced into trying out?”
  • “What if I hadn’t been at this new job that had the flexibility to be in a play?”
  • “What if I hadn’t agreed to go back months later and tryout again?”

ImageYou get my point. I could go on forever, and that’s just for one particular event in my life – meeting my wife. If those particular sequences of events had not taken place, I would never have met the woman I’m married to today. We would never have become friends, later begun dating, and eventually gotten married. The three cherished cats that have become like our first children, would never have been rescued, and been left to fates I don’t even dare think about without getting upset. And we would have, of course, never had our newborn son, the little man whose mere smirk or smile is enough to make me want to race home each and every day to see.

What I’m saying is that, while watching George Bailey torture himself to discover why he’s important, I realized that we all have those kind of days. Those days when it seems like we’re taking the falls for the absent-minded Uncle Billies in our lives, when our finances seem in trouble or drained, when the kids just won’t give you a moment to yourself, and when the Mr. Potters of the world just won’t let up and give us a break, trying to crush our spirits.

There’s countless times where I’ve been frustrated with work, or a co-worker, or a lack of space or function in our old house, or a surprise bill in the mail. “If we only had more money, if we only had different careers, if we only had a bigger, better home…”

It’s so easy to think about the obstacles we come across, what we don’t have, or to think the grass would be greener someplace or someway else. However, when we realize what we have an how such chance moments in life led us to it, how easily that could have all slipped by if we had made a different decision, it really puts things in perspective.

IIt’s easy to let the world crash down around us when this happens, to wonder “what if.” But instead of wanting to throw ourselves off our personal Bedford Falls bridge, maybe we need to listen to that little Clarence Oddbody (AS2 – ‘Angel, Second Class’) in the back of our minds and remember what it is that we have around us in our lives.

If we did that more often, we might all see that life isn’t so bad and those obstacles don’t outweigh what we have, who we have, and what lives we have touched.

We might just see that it really is a Wonderful Life.

It's a Wonderful Life

© Copyright 2011 CorbisCorporationLeaps and bounds, right into the mouth.

In the past week, our little guy has added solid foods to his menu. I say solid as in mushy, but heck, it’s certainly something a little more diverse than just milk, I’m sure.

Eventually we would like to begin making his food on our own. It’s amazing how much of a supply you can get out of simply pureeing a piece of fruit or vegetable, and how cost-effective! Of course, this is sometimes met with an eye roll or two from people who wonder why we would go to such trouble. I totally look forward to it, though.

Call me weird, but I look forward to the fun of choosing what types of food to make and making it as a family. Knowing what’s inside what he’s eating and where it came from. My wife and I have spent the past few years trying to eat local whenever possible. Here’s a perfect, inexpensive way for the baby to do so too. Not there yet, but I look forward to when we are.

Last week we started with Rice Cereal, which he lapped up excitingly. A few days later it was Oatmeal Cereal.

This week, drum roll please…it was sweet potato for our sweet potato, and boy, did he love it.

What a world-changing feeling to see that orange-smeared face smiling with a spoon in his mouth as he got his first tastes of new food, and liked it, to boot.

Times, they are a changing.

I might as well hand over the car keys now. 🙂

4212433203_d4e6cb4f74_zOne of my favorite things about this time of year is some of the movies and Christmas specials that are on television.

There’s plenty of good, classic films to talk about, but last night I caught an annual can’t-miss, the 1960s Rankin Bass, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

I love the Rankin Bass stuff, whether it’s Rudolph, any of its sequels, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or even Year Without a Santa Claus (I can often be found singing the Heat Miser/Snow Miser song around the house and out and about, much to the chagrin of my wife.)

One of the things that somehow went over my head as a child was just how mean some of those adults were to poor little Rudolph. Even his own father who tried his best to cover up what made his son different so that he could conform.

Not to mention, Santa Claus, who was a real jerk. From the way he reacted to Rudolph after his birth, to the way he speaks to Rudolph’s father, Donner, when Rudolph’s cover-up nose falls off and his real, red nose is exposed.

“Donner, I’m ashamed of you.”

Wow. Santa, you jolly old elf, are mad that Donner tried to have his son lead a normal life? Wow, I’m surprised the Mrs has stuck around as much as she has.

Nothing like making this poor kid feel even worse about the way he was born. No wonder he ran away from them all. Who would feel loved around that?

rudolph-RankinBass-Productions-Videocraft-InternationalAnd poor Hermie. He hates the job he’s in, yet is being told by everyone around him to conform to making toys even though he’s miserable. Why? Because it’s just the way it is.

At its heart, it’s a message about acceptance, of course and about pursuing your own sense of happiness, whether it be guiding a sleigh, pulling teeth, or whatever.

What a nice feeling inside when Rudolph, Hermie and Yukon Cornelius not only find a friendship founded in their mutual feeling of being outcasts, and the people of Christmas Town eventually realizing that different does not mean bad.

There is a sense of triumph for the little guy when Hermie gets to do something other than make toys and Rudolph gets to lead the sleigh on Christmas Eve.

All this was honestly lost on me as a kid, at least on the surface level. Now, as a father, especially, I look it at a bit differently.

Now when I watch it, I see how important it is to not only let your child now how all right it is to be different, but to encourage it. Be yourself, be different, embrace your individuality.

I hope that I can teach y son to know not to listen to the bullies around you, be they on the schoolyard, in the home, or in the workplace. You are who you are for a reason. You are special for that reason.

We are all different. If only we would all accept those differences, I think we could see what a beautiful place this world can be.

ImageMy wife and I took our little guy with us for some Christmas shopping recently.

He, quite honestly, did terrific. Whether it was department stores, book stores, clothing stores, he was great the whole time. We even got to go to lunch in between without any fuss.

We wrapped up our night at our local Barnes and Noble, where my wife spotted a stuffed Gingerbread Man doll. She showed it to him, prompting a huge smile. The little guy reached out, grabbed the doll and hugged him tight.

Yes, it was cuteness overload.

Then, as any four month old might do, he let out a huge wad of drool all over the Gingerbread Man and then shoved the doll’s head into his mouth.

Thus, the origin of our private courtesy policy of “you drool on it, we buy it.”

Needless to say, The Gingerbread Man, now named Dougie, has since taken up residence with us.

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