Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, and Little Dude and I are determined to make it a special one for Wifey. Not only is she totally our favorite person – and also, “Mama” is the little guy’s current favorite word – but she happens to have a pretty grueling travel schedule these days. So we haven’t seen that much of her the past couple of weeks.
Absence does make the heart grow fonder, especially when said heart is both exceedingly large and belonging to a very small person. Truly, it warms me to know that he misses his mother as much as I do. But it can be a real bummer to be rudely woken before 6:00, sandy-eyed, only to stumble across the house to pick up my son and listen to him call out – despairingly – “Mama?”
Let’s be honest here – mommies are the stuff of legend. And even in the sociological experiment that my household has become, with gender roles utterly reversed, this holds up as true. I may be the one to collect him from his crib most mornings, feed him most of his meals, and kiss his scrapes and bruises. But there’s nobody quite as special as Mama.
Every time I take Little Dude to the Pediatrician – most recently last week for his 18-month checkup – I return home with a print-out of his measurements. I open up his baby book, search for the right page, and inevitably mutter to myself, “well shit, I haven’t written a word in here in months.”
Rather than letting the guilt eat away at me, though, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m simply not really what one would call a short-form writer. Instead, I’ve decided to play to my strengths, and to make up for being a total slacker in the baby book department by occasionally writing rather lengthy letters to my son.
When I print out each letter, fold it, and place it inside the baby book, it becomes a time capsule of sorts. I can’t help but wonder, who is it, exactly, that will someday be reading this? Writing to a future version of my little boy has become a fascinating writing exercise. After all, as I tell of our life together – peppered with bits of my own inner happenings – I’m not really sure of my audience. It certainly won’t be the one-and-a-half year-old whom I currently know so well who reads the words that I write today. Will he be in elementary school, when he takes an interest in his baby book? Or will he be a teenager? For all I know, he won’t read a word until he’s a father himself.
Perhaps, the most interested party will end up being none other than a doddering, old, white-haired me. But I guess that’s the kind of the point with a time capsule. I’m documenting the present, for one never truly knows what the future will bring.
Little Dude is 18 months old this week, and his language retention has officially reached sponge-like proportions. Not only does he now parrot everything that we say, but each day a few new words stick. Yesterday, the catch of the day happened to be, “I love you.” (Yes, seriously.) And today, even before noon, he added “flip-flops,” and “bar” to his vocabulary. (He’s using the latter as if preceded by “granola,” rather than “dive,” or so at least I hope.)
Recently, I documented a list of the words that he’s mastered so far. Given the amount of time that my sidekick spends by my side, I can’t help but wonder what it says about me. (Then again, he often says da, instead of “yes” – thanks to his grandmother – so he’ll be linguistically well-rounded.)
- Thank you
- Yes (“ya!”)
- Bye bye
Luckily, as you see, there are no curse words on the list – at least not yet. But it’s probably time to start watching my fucking language.
Yesterday, as we were putting our shoes on for our afternoon adventure, Little Dude looked at me, smiled contentedly, and said – for the first time, mind you – “happy.”
Needless to say, I melted. And moreover, at a moment when life is certainly not without its challenges, I experienced a sense of gratification that is difficult to express. At 17 months, he still has fewer words at his command than he does fingers. So, as I figure it, the fact that he’s managed to wrap his little mouth around “happy” before learning even “no” must mean I’m doing something right. Right?
Words have a high value in our household, so I took pains to make sure that I was properly understanding my small sidekick. “You’re telling me you’re happy, bud? You’re excited to go to the beach with Daddy?”
“Happy.” He said again, with that grin on his mug. There was no mistaking it – and no denying the rush that I felt. This stay-at-home-parent gig, like any other, has its daily ups and downs. And sometimes, the lows can be seriously low. But that smile is the most valuable paycheck I’ve ever received.
Suddenly, it seems like every other word out of my mouth is, “No.” (The alternate word is still “Fuck;” I’m finding that one to be a tough habit to break.)
I’d been warned that this day would come. My older sister once said to me, “Just wait for it, one day you’ll see. Once they start moving, they know exactly where you don’t want them to go and what you don’t want them to touch. And that’s what they want to do more than anything in the world.”
That day has come. Little Dude has progressed well beyond the “baby” stage and into “toddler,” a word that is apparently synonymous with, “NOOOOOOOO! GET AWAY FROM THERE! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??? (And sometimes, as the above photo indicates, “NO, HONEY, GET BACK HERE, YOU CAN’T GO BEHIND THE BAR!”)
This kid is simply into everything, and does not enjoy being still. Diaper changing has become a logistical nightmare – I could use a whole other set of arms just to pin his limbs down while I make the switch. (I occasionally need to interrupt Mommy’s work day to call her in for reinforcements.) And – I tremor as I write these words – yesterday, he figured out how to climb onto the couch.
God help me. I think I’m unlikely to stop cursing anytime soon.
I’ve been taking some heat for slacking on this blog recently, and while the harshest of it has of course been self-inflicted, it’s always a pleasant surprise to learn that there are in fact other folks out there who give a shit. (To those reading this – thank you!! Especially if you’re not even related to me.)
It’s Thanksgiving week, and there really is a lot going on. At Le Metro we’re preparing to release our annual sparkling wine collection, and we’re super pumped for our Champagne Masquerade party, coming up next Friday. (Tickets are still on sale here!) I’ve also been doing some fun writing for upcoming issues of Edible San Diego and Riviera, and honestly, I’m not sure how I managed to hit a single deadline. You see, there’s one critical development on the home front that’s made it impossible for me to even sit down:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Little Dude is walking. (Actually, as this post has been delayed by several weeks, he’s already trying to run away from me.)
I tell you, it’s pure madness over here. Along with the rapid evolution from monkey to human being that I’ve witnessed has come a noticeable (and frightening) increase in self-confidence. This kid is one, going on sixteen. All of a sudden he knows exactly what he wants at any given moment and will settle for nothing less. He lays claim to household items and places them where he wants them. He reaches for doorknobs, among other things. And when he doesn’t get what he wants, he throws himself on the floor and shrieks at the top of his lungs.
This scene is exactly as pleasant as it sounds – meaning not so much – although when I’m feeling more-or-less balanced his fits are a nice source of laughter. For of course there is a silver lining: in between tantrums, I’m having the time of my life. We can actually take a walk around the block together now – albeit extremely slowly – and our morning bike rides to the playground are a magical way to start the day.
I almost never make it to the gym anymore, but that’s ok. Although I’ve never been much of a runner, I now spend most of the day sprinting.
It’s official: Little Dude has discovered his manhood.
I don’t mean this figuratively, as in he’s taken up hunting or something, but more in the literary erotica sense of the word. And it’s no exaggeration to say that he’s obsessed. In a house full of toys – including some pretty rad brand-new birthday presents – all that he wants to play with is his penis.
Until recently, he would cry when we lay him down to change his diaper and we thought, “Oh, he hates lying down on his back.” These days that’s not so much a problem. But you should see him buck and shriek when we put the diaper back on.
All of our friends who are parents to young boys had warned us of the day when this discovery would go down. And I shouldn’t really be surprised – I mean, by age 32 the novelty has worn off somewhat, but who are we kidding. Seriously, though, whoa now! You should see the fun that this kid has during bath time.
It’s all laughter and games for now. But his mother and I are not exactly looking forward to puberty.
As Little Dude continues to grow more curious about the world around him, our house becomes an obstacle course. I’m forced to make (occasionally arbitrary) decisions about what’s ok for him to play with and what is not. Needless to say, my darling child’s judgement doesn’t always mirror my own.
It isn’t only physical danger that I’m worried about – sometimes he gets himself into situations that are just plain gross. It’s not uncommon for my wife to hear scolding coming out of the bathroom along the lines of “dude, get away from there, that’s totally disgusting.”I live in constant fear of him slamming his hand in a door or dipping it in a cup of hot coffee. But honestly, it’s the toilet that’s the worst. (Especially when it is in use.)
All parents will agree that there is a fundamental law of child rearing that dictates that the less you want your child to play with something, the more determined he will be to do so. There are the obvious items: electrical wiring, ant hills, the occasional power outlet that we’ve neglected to plug up after use. But more disturbing still are the ones that most people don’t talk about in polite company, such as, well, shit (cloth diapers here…) or – ahem – certain parts of mommy and daddy.
When we childproofed our new home a couple of months back, it was obvious how important it was to close up the oven and the kitchen cabinets. But these days, the locks we installed on the toilets are the most valuable things in the house.
An Ode to Naptime (AKA: Why I Haven’t Written in Two Months)
When the monster rests, quiet descends upon the house.
But it is not a peaceful silence.
These stolen moments are elusive, finite.
There is enough time for an email or two, surely. Long enough for a blog entry?
I think not.
Dare I get in the shower, or sit down on the toilet? Dare I make a phone call?
Dare I…. try to go to sleep??
Alas, these are beyond my reach. For the moment my head lays upon the pillow, his arises.
I never imagined that I could so strongly desire
for he whom I love most in the world
to just take a fucking nap.
Yesterday morning, I woke to the sound of my alarm. This is so foreign to me these days that in my confusion I was totally unable to locate said alarm (or my glasses, for that matter). After all, who needs a wakeup call when there is a small human living in the next room?
On this day, however, I was determined to wake before him. Despite it being her birthday, Wifey was traveling for work, so there was a bottle to prepare as well as my own (lifesaving) coffee. And let’s be real: even small tasks like that are much easier when nobody is yelling at you at the top of their lungs from starvation.
Once a week or so Mommy leaves Little Dude and I on our own for a manly slumber party. (Honestly I’m much more interested in slumbering than partying, but you catch my drift.) It’s a bittersweet occurrence; we miss Mommy desperately the moment she walks out the door, but boys will be boys… so this time around we tried out a new pizza delivery joint and also spent a fair amount of time at the gym. Mini-mi even wore a muscle tee just like Daddy.
Next week the nugget and I have two days to ourselves, and I’ve already begun to lay down plans. For sure we’ll throw back at least a couple of rounds together up the block at Thorn Street Brewery – our new local haunt – and maybe we’ll even make it to the San Diego Zoo. When the cat is away, the boys will indeed play. But we sure are happy to see that cab pull up to the house at the end of the day.