February 26, 2005

Playing hide and go see with a young child is so blissfully innocent. I love when she covers her eyes with her hands and considers herself to be hiding; acting under the pretense that if she can’t see me, I can’t see her. While it’s an incorrect principle, I think it’s a developmental step that everyone goes through.

What worries me is how so many people don’t ever seem to fully leave that stage.

I’m troubled by how many people in my generation will avoid unpleasant tasks with the misunderstanding that if they ignore it, it will go away. I’ll admit that I do that with phone calls sometimes, but I always make the call, and I am learning to become more assertive in that regard. But what about bigger things and what about those people who have generalized this principle to their personal responsibilities? Are we secretly a generation of three year olds playing dress up in an adult world?

I hold video games primarily responsible. I’ve seen more people waste their lives with those than even television. I’ve developed a loathing for the stuff that will prove a rift in our family when my son comes of age.

I know it’s uncharacteristic of me to post a tirade, but I do so out of love for my son. The question is: how do I ensure that he grows up past three? How do I teach him to “just do” the things he needs to do so he can enjoy his playtime later?


invisible umbilicus

February 22, 2005

My son learned to love my husband before he was even born. My husband doesn’t have a rigid schedule at work, especially with the times at which he returns home for lunch or supper, but once he came home our son would wake up and started to play. At first I thought it was merely the stimulation that he finally had another voice (other than mine) to which he could listen, and that that made him happy. I then realized that this was not the exclusive reason because my son also became more active when I spoke to my husband on the phone.

The answer was chemical. Each time I spoke to my husband the happy-lovey chemicals gushed through my system and therefore that of my son as well. As he grew he learned to associate these good feelings with the noises he heard: the silly made-up songs that changed every night or the chatty narration of the day and the future. It should then come as no surprise that our son recognized his Daddy’s voice the minute he was born, and has been fascinated with my husband ever since.

Last week when our family was exercising our immune systems I woke up in the middle of the night to cough. I no sooner had finished my spell and lay back down when I heard echoing noises coming over the baby monitor.

The similarity was lost on me until the next day when my son foiled my attempts to feed him before I ate, and fussed his hungry look while I voraciously ate my meal.

“He always does this,” I said to my husband, “It doesn’t matter when I fed him last or how long I delay my own meal. When I finally eat, he wants to eat.”

He laughed and suggested that maybe we are still connected to each other.

That makes sense. After all, we are living in a wireless world.

preparation is no guarantee

February 21, 2005

It’s amazing that no matter how much preparation you do, some things are out of your control. It’s really a hard lesson to learn for control freaks, and I know that personally, it’s a lesson I have to learn over and over; that part of my brain refuses to make that information stick. Fortunately for me, this newest realization didn’t require any immediate pain.

A couple that we know had a baby a few weeks after we did. We met them a week or so before the birth, and they were doing very well. The mother was still comfortable and happy — I could tell that she had worked hard to make sure that she had a good pregnancy. They kept all their appointments, they read all the books, they hired a doula. Taking advantage of the tried and true methods and all that modern science has to offer, they had done everything they could to give their son the best start to this new world.

In three weeks he’ll undergo open heart surgery.

There are some things that you just can’t avoid; sometimes things go wrong and it isn’t anyone’s fault. The good news in this story, is that they anticipate good results and a full recovery. But it really reminds me how grateful I am that my son is so perfect. (And especially grateful given my intense beef with the health insurance crooks who would have left us high and dry (and bankrupt) had there been anything wrong with my son.)

just not my night

February 18, 2005

I could hear his breathing speed up; I knew he was trying to squirm his way out of the burrito-blanket. I knew that I had exactly one minute to show my bleary-eyed face before he woke up my husband. I seemed to be lucid enough to remember to turn off the baby monitor and close our bedroom door, but as I entered my son’s room I certainly didn’t feel awake enough to be walking.

I don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night to feed him and cuddle him; sometimes it’s even fun. But last night as I nursed him I was exerting all my of faculties just to sit upright. I reached for the wristwatch that I keep on the ottoman, searching for the answer as to why this night was so difficult; the answer was poorly discernable without my glasses and in the dark. Besides, that watch can’t be right, I thought to myself. An hour ago I was in this same chair and the hour before that I awoke dreaming that I was still in the chair. Have I been shackled? Is this all a dream?

My son sleeps well at night, gets a good few hours between each feeding, and goes immediately back to sleep. I am able to get good rests between each feeding and when my son rises with the sun at 6:30, I’m ready as well. This whole scenario is just the latest of my bizzarre dreams, like the one where my son rolled over, or the one when he was suddenly two years old.

When he woke up for his first feeding last night I had barely gone to sleep, but after eating he wanted to cuddle and suck my finger (the middle of the night is no time to fight over the pacifer.) Unable to sit in the chair, I brought him back to bed with me so he could cuddle and I could sleep. Unfortunately, the next time he woke up we woke up my husband, which was inevitable, and he saintly offered to take the baby to the other room and sit with him so I could sleep; and I, too tired to move, could not argue. But my son was hungry so I got up anyway.

I had had a couple or difficult nights in the past: for two hours one night I slept on the floor at the foot of the bassinet because he had a cold and I wanted to hear his breathing (and subsequently feel asleep), I admit to have woken up in the chair with my son in my arms a few times, and for a couple of days he thought that 4 a.m. would be a fun playtime. Nothing had previously compared to this. Never in my life had I been up almost every hour all night long. Never in one night had I slept in three different rooms.

This morning as I woke up on the couch, my face against the sheepskin, my son waking as he nuzzled me, I was completely exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep. As I fed him, cuddled him, and changed him he woke up for the day. He cooed, gurgled, moved all over the changing table, and smiled at me.

And now I’m ready for the day.

discovering Dad

February 17, 2005

When my Dad came down to visit me and meet my son I got to meet a new person as well. I hadn’t seen much of my father since I got married (that’s what getting married while still in school and living in a different country will do to you) but it wasn’t that he had changed it was that I saw him in a different way.

My father had always been the perfect combination of refined and silly. In the three days that he visited it was resoundingly clear that my son had changed my father. Suddenly he was volunteering to cram into the backseat of the car, just so that he could look at and talk to the baby. Suddenly he was holding him, enraptured, even though there was not one bit of technology or motorbikes about him, nor was he a manual of some sorts.

I never saw my father as old enough to be a grandad, and I was unsure how he’d feel about the jump to a new level of old. He entered this new phase seamlessly. It was I who wasn’t ready for him to be a grandad.

family relations

February 17, 2005

My husband says that if you put our son in a room with his cousin 14 months older, and filled the room with other children about the same age (but unrelated to us,) anyone could pick out that our two are related. It certainly would not be because they have the same colouring, my son has duracel battery copper hair, but he gets certain expressions when even I agree that there is a similarity there.

All of my family and friends are in Canada, and are stuck with getting to know my son by way of photos. They send me emails all the time telling me how much he looks like me. I’m flattered, but except for the chubby cheeks, I don’t see any resemblance. Sometimes my husband tells me he looks like me, but maybe just to make me feel good. Usually he comments on how the cousins look alike.

My husband’s family and friends can’t believe how much he looks like his Daddy, which is what I see a lot of, too. He’s a chubby-cheeks version of my husband as a baby. Physically, however, he is much more like his father than me — he’s tall and skinny — which is good because big boys are better than dainty boys!

I guess we see in babies what we want to see. I enjoy seeing my husband in my son, as do his family and friends; my husband sees a bit of me (okay, and a bit of himself and a lot of his nephew), as do my friends and family. In a couple of years I’m sure he’ll be very keen on asserting his individuality, and we may even wonder between ourselves where he came from. For now he’s the best of both of us, all the way down to his good-morning chatter.

old soul

February 15, 2005

No longer governed solely by his bodily functions, my son is developing into an interpersonal communication guru. While I realize that he’s only two months old, that as time goes on his babbling will become even more advanced, and it won’t be long before I’m listening to his real-word chatter all day long, he really has come a long way since he was born.

It’s funny that when you don’t see someone for a while you notice the minute changes that tend to go unnoticed by those with whom the person spends a lot of time. I spend every day with my son, nevertheless, every morning he has something new to show me: more dexterity with his hands, his ability to grab his toes or the squid-looking thing that hangs from his play gym, or that glint in his eye that tells me he knows me.

For over a month I have had a hard time reconciling the boy I held in my arms with the baby I saw in the photos and in the mirror. The boy in my arms was big, tall, strong. He could do things, make noises, interact. He held up his head and looked around all day long. He laughed at me as I changed his diaper and he scooted himself across the changing table. He was dynamic. The snapshots never had any action, no famous expressions, no smirks or laughs. The baby in the pictures was small, flopped over my shoulder or slouched in my lap. He was a flopsy-mopsy, sedentary, sleepy infant. Who is that?

The photos now are starting to resemble him more closely and sometimes he even likes to kick the baby in the mirror. I’m quite relieved now that my family, whose only exposure to him is what they get through cyber-space, will get a better feel for who he really is. They’ll never really get to know him until he looks them in the eye; he is an old soul, and not a baby at all. He’s my daytime/nighttime/anytime friend and we’re just catching up after all this time.