Lessons

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The Monday before last, I made what is perhaps my most dubious parenting decision so far: I brought Little Dude to his first blind tasting. He’s already attended a few of my own Le Metro wine events around town and toured a handful of wineries – he even learned all about sparkling wine production at Gruet when we visited New Mexico. But this represented his first academic, sit-down-and-swirl-and-totally-geek-out kind of event. I hadn’t tasted with this group in months – since before he was born, in fact – and I’m constantly testing the limits of what I can and can’t get away with in my new life as a father. So I figured, what the hell.

Oops.

For one thing, the timing of this particular scenario turned out to be less than ideal. I’d thought that my guy’s sleep patterns were regular enough to anticipate a 9:00 nap (mistake #1). I also thought that by showing up late to the tasting I would be able to quietly join the group with my (slumbering) son in his stroller (mistake #2). Instead, I arrived as the table was being set, and in the very moment that my little angel woke up starving. Of course.

So my friends began tasting one by one, and I moved myself to another table so as to distract them as little as possible while I gave the baby his own beverage to enjoy. Then I had to burp him, and we took a nice little stroll around the restaurant (which was still closed and therefore empty, thank God). When my own turn came to taste, my hope was that he would hang out on my lap relatively quietly as he often does at home. (Mistake #3.)

20140226-103304.jpgLuckily our host and my good friend Maurice DiMarino is as gifted a dad as he is a Sommelier, so I did get a bit of a reprieve. He took the dude off my hands for a bit so that I could give my presentation, and it actually looked like Micah was having more fun with Maurice than he usually does with me.

But the fun was to be short lived. Fussiness quickly progressed into a total baby melt-down, which led me to a frenzied bathroom-floor diaper change and a rather dramatic exit. Covered in sweat and with a shrieking monkey in the stroller, it wasn’t my finest moment.

I love bringing my baby where he is least expected, and to be honest I often get a real kick out of watching people’s reaction to him. I enjoy pushing my own boundaries as well as others’, but I’m certainly not out to make folks uncomfortable, and I try to quit while I’m ahead. If there’s a point I’m trying to prove it’s more about gender roles than anything else: If Mommy can bring the baby wherever she goes, why can’t Daddy? (This of course assumes good behavior on the part of the baby, without which none of us should be there.)

Granted, I don’t expect many mothers OR fathers are crashing practice tastings for the Court of Master Sommeliers‘ exams with their four-month-olds, but you know, we’ve all got our own thing. I do think I’ll wait a couple of months before giving it another shot, though.

 

Stalkers

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It started off innocently enough.

We moved Little Dude into his own room a couple of weeks ago and finally began using the baby monitor that I had set up well in advance of his arrival. What a rad little piece of technology – this thing allows us not only to observe our guy but also to communicate back with him. I can sing him lullabies (ie: Chet Baker) from anywhere in the house, and Mommy can comfort him in soothing (albeit slightly metallic) tones. (For those wondering, yes – the signal does reach the dive bar on the corner.)

Not that it’s really necessary in our tiny bungalow, but we turn on the monitor when we put the baby down at night and for naps, telling ourselves that we just want to make sure we’ll be able to hear him if he cries. At first, we tried to justify also using the video function:

“Let’s just make sure he’s really sleeping…” (Or, in moments of paranoia: “Do you think he’s still alive??”)

But we quickly stopped making excuses. Now we just sit there in the evening with a glass of wine in hand, watching him sleep.

Prime time viewing is undisputedly the early morning, however, when he wakes up and plays with his security bunny before I bring him into our bed for family cuddles. Of course we’re up every day with the first sounds that he makes, but he seems to enjoy the alone time with the bunny and it’s to our benefit that he learn to keep himself occupied. So we allow them their space, and quietly observe from the other room. After all, I can relate; I was so attached to my own bunnies that it was only my sisters’ ridicule that forestalled me bringing them to college. They now sit in all of their ratty splendor in shadowboxes on my son’s wall; his bunny is the one that my mom used to give me when mine were in the wash. It’s fun to watch him coo and smile and kick his legs as he snuggles up against my old childhood friend.

I suppose you could call us stalkers (or addicts…). We know we have a problem, and we feel increasingly helpless to do anything about it. We keep telling ourselves that we’ll use the monitor in smaller doses. But it’s tough to break the habit.

Luckily, we’re not alone. The folks over at dropcam are even running a contest right now, asking bloggers like myself to submit a “tale from the crib” (and of course I’ve sent this link in). Their device actually streams the monitor right to a cell phone, thereby allowing for virtual, international stalking. How cool is that??

It’s no wonder that so many parents are hooked on their baby monitors. There really is nothing better than baby TV.

Pizza

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This one is dedicated to my sister Samara, who loves pizza as much as I do.

A week or so ago, we began introducing our little man to solid food. If It had been up to me I would’ve started him off with Neapolitan pizza, but as it turns out the prevailing developmental philosophy dictates saving the best for last. So we started with rice cereal. Yum – just what I was craving.

It’s fun for somebody as flavor-obsessed as myself to see what my son digs and doesn’t. But of course it’s never that simple: as with all things baby-related, the whole subject of when, how much, and which foods to feed an infant is full of controversy. In order to prevent allergies as much as possible it was recommended to us that many foods be introduced between four and six months. But for better or worse, the chances of a child weaning himself from the breast may go up as he starts to discover other foodstuffs. This is weird to me – I mean, who would choose oatmeal over boobs?

OB-style parents that we are, we’re doing our best to stay out of debate by making his food ourselves. It’s easy to be a hippie about it and feed him fresh, organic produce when you live exactly one block away from Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market, and fun gadgets like the Baby Bullet make it super easy to blend it effortlessly at home.

So far, so good, but as I said we’re talking about one week here. In a few more, when it’s just he and I alone all day… we’ll see how long I’m able to resist taking him over to Buona Forchetta for pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

Movies

Walter Mitty

I’ll be honest – we haven’t really slept in weeks. Just when things started to get fun around here Little Dude had a change of heart and his brief oasis of sleeping through the night deteriorated into screams that we interpret as, “screw this shit, parents, sleep is for wussies!”

Waking up every two hours all night makes things difficult: writing a blog, being civil to one’s spouse, exercising patience with one’s child (who is, after all, the root of the issue). And while one might think that a nice evening out would provide a certain sense of relief, we’ve quickly learned that it only serves to worsen the effects of sleep deprivation.

So when this weekend rolled around we decided to try something new: an afternoon date. We dropped the mini man off with his grandparents and headed to the movies, figuring that matinee pricing was a pretty fair deal for a two-hour nap. (What we really wanted to do, of course, was come right home and rest in silence for the rest of the day. We resisted this idea for practical reasons rather than romantic ones: we would have wasted more than an hour of valuable sleep time on the road).

As we got off the highway, we considered attempting to negotiate an hourly rate at the local Ramada. But we didn’t want to give off the wrong vibe –  after all, the idea of parents of a four month-old having sex is just as ridiculous as the concept of us sleeping through the night. So we continued on to the cineplex (although I do think that there’s a great business idea in there for somebody – rentable sleep pods for new parents, anybody??)

What we hadn’t counted on was that the movie we chose to see – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – might turn out to spectacularly awesome. At the end of the day we exited the theater no more rested than when we walked in, albeit with a newfound respect for Ben Stiller (on my end). However, beautiful filmmaking doesn’t help us catch up on sleep. Maybe we should’ve gone to see The Nut Job, after all.