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.
Little Dude has recently become a fixture at our local Home Depot as much as he is at my wine tastings.
You see, we’re moving next week. And although Wifey and I have each relocated every year or two since we were 18, this time is a little different. We bought this house, and we have some renovations to do before making it our own. Also, there is a crazy little monkey by our side to complicate matters at every step of the way, and who is now crawling (as if he wasn’t already keeping me on my toes).
Our realtors got to know Micah’s mood swings well. He was even comfortable around the seller’s agent by the time we closed escrow, and when we solicited bids from contractors they wooed us by showering affection on our child. (Coincidentally or not, the guy with the four month old at home ended up landing the job.)
Now that it’s time to pick out furniture and fixtures, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that our kid has similar tastes to his mother and I. He enjoyed the texture of the tiles we were scoping out last week, and when confronted with carpet samples (as pictured above) gave us clear signs that we should leave the hard wood flooring uncovered. Soon we’ll be picking paint colors, and I’m sure he’ll provide his two cents on those as well.
The little guy and I certainly do have our work cut out for us. While Baby Mama busts her ass so that we can actually afford to furnish our new home, he and are heading out, tape measure in hand. With this particular assistant, though, I should probably be sure to double check the measurements.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had a chance to write; not surprisingly, I’ve found a direct (inverse) correlation between Little Dude’s activity level and Daddy’s ability to write about it all. Simply put, shit’s gettin’ crazy over here. We’ve got rolling, and babbling, and scooting – oh my!
Even as it grows easier to keep our guy stimulated and entertained, calming him down becomes steadily more complicated. As he moves around more confidently, he becomes focused on practicing his new skills – even in his crib. Lunge. Roll. Scoot. Sit. Repeat. With all of this new excitement, who has time for sleeping, let alone sitting still?
I don’t know what I would do if it weren’t for that CD we got in music class. You see, since the beginning of the year we’ve been attending classes offered by Sweet Sounds Music Together. (No, they’re not paying me for writing this. But they are awesome.) This lovely organization, which teaches the Music Together curriculum here in San Diego, not only provides Micah and I the excuse to sing and dance with other babies and parents every Monday morning, but also with the recorded material that allows us to boogie down at home. Or in the car. Or a cappella, walking down the street.
I’m telling you, these tunes are straight-up baby crack. Now that he’s hooked, nothing else will take the edge off. I used to brag about how much he digs Chet Baker and the Rolling Stones. Now all he wants is “Wiggle!” or “All Around the Kitchen.” What’s a (musically-inclined) dad to do?
He puts the damn CD on, that’s what. But when I upgraded the speaker system in my car a few years ago, this wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
As much as I like to say how progressive a world we live in, there is one constant thorn in the side of dads like myself who, while “stay-at-home”, also spend a lot of time out-on-the-town:
Wherever we go, the men’s rooms lack proper baby changing facilities. So my dude and I end up on the floor – or in the trunk of the car – which is somewhat more sanitary but still a less-than-ideal setting for wiping your child’s ass. (For the record, plenty of ladies’ rooms also lack proper surfaces, and my wife has also done her fair share of floor time.)
There are, of course, exceptions. Airports and major tourist attractions have pretty good track records for having family changing rooms; shopping malls may be hit or miss. But the photo above, which I took last week at Ballast Point Brewery‘s Little Italy location, represents an all-time first. A men’s room, in a restaurant, with a changing table! Granted, they make beer and this is San Diego – that, my friends, is some brilliant marketing. But it is also legitimately awesome. (Yet one more reason why Ballast Point rocks my world: they’ve got my favorite beer – Sculpin – the best soft pretzel in town, and changing tables in the men’s room. I’m still waiting for the catch.)
For better or worse, though, I spend only limited amounts of time in airports and at the zoo, and it’s not really socially acceptable to discuss how often I bring my child to alcohol-focused establishments. So I can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend that will spread quickly to other restaurants and the like. In the meantime, Wifey and I are considering doing our part to speed up the process: I can’t tell you how tempting it can be to change the baby’s diaper right on the table.
Thanks to Mama-in-law Galina for providing the inspiration for this post, and to Sean Kelley for pointing out the photo-op.