Milestones

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With three months under our belts now, it’s been a lot of fun to observe (and of course to comment on) our little guy’s development. I mean, who ever thought thought it could be so exciting to watch him successfully wrap his baby fingers around a toy? Not that he can hold it for very long yet, but having witnessed him spend months figuring out that his hands even belong to him, I say it’s pretty damn cool. Watching him stare at his own face in the mirror is a better way to kill time than plenty of shit that I tried in college.

It’s tough, though, to avoid making these signs out to be more than they are. Sure they’re developmental markers, but they’re not exactly precise; WebMD says that for a baby to take his first steps “the normal range is anywhere from 9 to 17 months.” Um, that’s a pretty big window.

Over coffee on Monday morning, Wifey read me some highlights from the weekly email she receives from Baby Center.

“This one’s interesting,” she said, “about half of babies this age begin to exhibit an obvious recognition of their parents.”

“Only half?” I asked. “Does that mean our guy’s a genius?”

“Come on, they’re milestones, not IQ tests.”

“Well, if his brain is developing quickly it’s gotta be because he’s smart, right?”

She laughed, but discouraged my wishful thinking. “You really never know – it’s entirely possible that he’ll crawl super early and then start walking late. Some babies skip crawling altogether, and that’s considered a marker.”

Ok then. As much as I’d like to think that my son’s cooing indicates an Ivy League-calibre mind, I’m going to hold off on sending applications.

Shameless

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Despite my occasional laziness (and shameless potty mouth), I pride myself on generally speaking more-or-less proper English. So I’ll admit – especially after having recently shared Little Dude with a larger audience than usual during our holiday travels – that the things I say to my son are utterly ridiculous.

Of course, there’s also the singing. As I was walking home from the grocery store the other day – Mini Me strapped to my chest as usual – I found myself improvising aloud while waiting to cross the street.

This is the longest light in San Diego town… the longest light I’ve ever been around… the longest light that I have ever seen… goddamn, long light, when will you turn green? 

Micah, of course, loved it. I’m not sure what the other folks on that street corner thought, but then again I don’t really care. What I felt inside myself was a deep sense of liberation.

Finally, I have an excuse! I can say whatever silly shit I want out loud in public – fuck – I can sing it at the top of my lungs! Isn’t fatherhood amazing? I’m not a crazy person – I’m a daddy! Look! Aren’t we adorable??

Granted, here in Ocean Beach I’m sure not the only one acting strangely in public. But still, I enjoy every one life’s small victories.

 

Smile

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After a month of rejecting low-ball offers from around the country, Wifey and I have decided to take our Little Dude off of the baby black market. A couple of weeks ago he finally smiled at us, and suddenly everything changed.

During the six week roller coaster of sleep deprivation and paranoia, we’d been repeatedly reassured by the more experienced parents in our circle, “you have to be patient – just wait until he starts to smile. I promise you the whole thing gets so much more rewarding.” 

We thought: But first all three of us have to survive that long. Can we make it? We’ve got a pretty shitty track record with plants – and they don’t yell at us all the time or need diaper changes. 

Now I’lI say it – and thank God. They were so right.

Perhaps it’s also the evolution from slug to mammal that we’ve witnessed – the smiles are accompanied by flailing limbs that are pretty damn hilarious but help him appear more, well, human. He’s rapidly becoming a real little person, and it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Whatever it is that makes him smile, we do it over and over and over and over and over again. It never gets old. Most rewarding of all: all of a sudden he seems to get a real kick out of being kissed by his parents.

 

 

Incognito

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Little Dude is almost two months old now, and life is starting to take on some sense of (new) normalcy. Now that he’s developed something along the lines of a routine – as well as the beginnings of an immune system – one of my favorite things to do is to wear my son around the neighborhood. (I can’t wait to take him to his first wine tasting.)

Along with the opportunity for bonding that this provides – and the bonus calories burned – I’ll admit it attracts a fair amount of attention, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. What’s really amazing is how many times I’ve been asked, “is that a baby in there??”

This reached new heights when I went to pick up the little guy’s birth certificate yesterday; I brought him along in the Ergo – with his head covered as in the photo above to protect him from the bright California sunshine I had encountered on the way in.

So there I am, waiting for our number to be called (picture us at your local DMV, for reference), swaying back and forth to keep Micah calm – when a  woman takes a seat a few feet away, staring at us shamelessly. (I’ll call her “trashy” for lack of a better term – she had that look of a failed, aging porno actress that one encounters primarily in Florida and Southern California [and occasionally New Jersey].) After shooting me her dirty look for what felt like hours, she finally spoke:

“Why do you have a dog in there and you’re treating it like a baby?”

“Um, Ma’am, it is a baby. I’m here to pick up his birth certificate.”

“Yeah, right.” She said. “It’s a dog.”

I paused for a moment at this point to determine if I was hearing her correctly. While strangers have repeatedly demonstrated a shocking lack of inhibition when offering opinions about babies and child-rearing, this is a new one. She was actually going to debate this with me? And even if the child in my baby carrier was in fact a small dog, what business was that of hers?

Biting back all of more obvious (and satisfying) things I might have said to her, I instead took a deep breath and did my best to respond calmly.

“Excuse me, but why would I be standing here in the county office waiting for a birth certificate for my dog?”

“I don’t know,” she said with a look of disgust. “People are weird.”

Yup, I thought. That’s for sure.

 

TV

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There are two constants in my house these days: breasts and HGTV. After years of claiming in all sincerity that we never watch television, seven weeks into parenthood Wifey and I now know all of the commercials by heart. Night and day, as she nurses the baby, we alternate between the stereo and the television. And while I’m not sure that this is how the term originally came into use – it’s finally dawned on me why they call it the “boob tube.” 

Some day in the not-to-distant future our son will learn to hold his head up properly and our repertoire of daily activities will expand. Now, though, our options are pretty much limited to walks around the neighborhood, excursions to the supermarket, and time spent on the couch. I’m contended by the rare moments when I’m allowed to change the channel to FX. (Which for better or worse I can get away with for longer when the programming is such as Kung Fu Panda – which it was on Sunday – than when something like Iron Man is on. That night, as we fed Little Dude, ourselves, and then the little guy again, we even enjoyed the sequel together, Kung Fu Panda 2.)

It’s like parenthood flipped the switch – during the pregnancy it was hard for me to sit still long enough to watch a half an hour of television, let alone an entire movie with commercials. Now I’m just dying for more control of the remote.

For Hanukkah this year Wifey and I have decided to forgo the exchange of material goods in favor of something far more precious: some time to ourselvesI get Saturday night and she gets Sunday afternoon. Originally, I was sure I would want to take myself out to dinner somewhere fun, maybe drink some special wine with friends.

Now I just can’t wait to watch an action movie uninterrupted from start to finish in solitude – with the volume blasting – followed by a solid eight hours of sleep.

How quickly things change.

SALE!

5 weeks into this whole “parenthood” thing, Wifey and I have been considering posting the following ad on Craigslist.

We decided to give friends & family first dibs.

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SPECIAL OFFER – BABY FOR SALE!

  • Like new, this item is only gently used and comes fully loaded.
  • 5 weeks old; 10 fingers + 10 toes. 
  • No assembly required.
  • Occasional spit-up & diarrhea, some additional maintenance may be necessary.
  • Additional features include: built-in alarm clock.
  • May also be used as barbell.  
  • Warning: may attract unwanted attention from strangers.
  • Diapers & swaddling blankets not included.
  • Must pick up. No delivery.
  • All offers will be considered.
  • WEDNESDAY SPECIAL – Purchase by Friday and receive BONUS pacifier!

 

 

 

Delirium

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Little Dude is now 4 weeks old.

My sister Samara calls the early days of parenthood “The Twilight Zone;” as far as I’m concerned this first month of being a Dad is a hell of a lot like the first month of college.

Our home is scattered with empty take-out containers and vomit-covered clothing – not mine or Wifey’s, I promise – and we rarely change out of our pajamas. The whole “lack of sleep” thing is only the beginning. Just like Freshman year I’m awake all night and sneaking in naps during the day, and just like back then I somehow manage to feel guilty about both. Of course in college it was easy to blame the delirium on other factors; now I’ve learned that compounded exhaustion really is enough to make you hallucinate (and/or shed spontaneous tears of laughter whilst convulsing on the floor at 3 AM).

Once again I’m living off of noodles and pizza; I’ve graduated from insta-ramen to delicious phô from the OB Noodle House and I’m proud to say that the stuff we eat out of the freezer was usually home-cooked the first time. But I almost never leave the neighborhood, and when I do I spend the whole time wondering what I’m missing out on.

Just like when I was 18 I’d give just about anything to have somebody to clean up after me. And just like when I was 18 that’s the last thing that I can afford. There’s lots of work I should be doing, but – once again – I’m convinced that the new relationship(s) I’m forming are far more important. (I’m still pretty sure I’m right about that in both cases, incidentally.)

My days and nights brim with both excitement and anxiety, just like when I first moved to New York City for school. After all, this is only the beginning. But for better or worse – unlike my undergraduate experiences – this adventure will last a lifetime.