Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sayonara, Suckers

Okay, so, I get it. I realize that every week I’m all like “It’s a developmental landmark! It’s a big deal!”

But seriously, guys. This time it really is a big deal.

This is diapers. This is diapers-big.

I must begin by telling you that, not to brag (well, totally to brag), but the Baby-Mama and I hadve the carbon footprint of a septaplegic mite. We don’t own a car, we don’t buy stuff, we re-wash our plastic bags, we give money to bears and provide job counseling for homeless trees.

We are, basically, saving the planet.

And thus, as friends of stinky, stinky Nature, we opted for cloth diapers when the choice was before us. And these things were pimpin. Bum Genius makes one helluva poop-catcher people – they’re modular, with shells and inserts and snaps and wicking technology. Seriously, we’ve been using the same 2 dozen or so diapers (with some disposables filling the gaps in rotation) from about 5 months up till now.

Up till now, I say, because they no longer fit him. There are no more snaps to be snaps, no more inserts to be inserted, no way to get snug on a fella.

And so they go.

We still need diapers, but he’s about 3 flushes away from being 100% potty trained, so it’s not worth investing in a whole new set.

Nope. Now we say goodbye to this particular part of our lives. We will be a single-diaper-pail family from this day forward.

Thank you, diapers. Sure, we had our problems, but you delivered the goods. Or, rather, prevented the delivery of the goods. You’ve saved countless pants, socks, carpets, furniture, car seats and dignity. The work was thankless, the hours long, you sacrificed over and over again for the relative cleanliness (definitely relative) of others. You really took one – and two – for the team.

I can’t say I’m sorry to see you go, but I will remain forever thankful.

That’ll do, diapers. That’ll do.

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It’s Like MTV, But With Wailing and Mucus

There’s crying, and then there’s crying.

And then there’s what I do when I run out of coffee. Like crying, but manly. And shriek-y.

But so crying. Any new parent can tell you this. When the baby makes first makes her grand entrance, it’s really a freestyle improv stream-of-nascent-consciousness sort of jam.

But pretty soon it sorts itself into 4 distinct genres: Hungry, Tired, Uncomfortable, and the universally dreaded great grandaddy of all cries, Hurt. As little dude gets older things get a little fusion, Tired and Uncomfortable, like Aerosmith and Run DMC, break down walls both figurative, and…well, I guess just figurative, to create bold daring new styles of cry. Through a combination of pointing and those first words, they can start to articulate their needs. This means less crying over all, but also introduces an entirely new genre: Frustrated.

And then the kid gets older still, the gaps in vocab get filled, and crying pretty much becomes, once again, just crying.

This is where I found myself this morning as I held a little man who was very upset, firstly, that Mama had taken a shower, and secondly, that she had the unmitigated audacity to get out of the shower when she was done.

The nerve on that woman. I mean, really.

We’d been on the ‘crying is just crying’ station for long enough that I’d gotten used to it. But something different was afoot this morning. It took me a second to realize we were forging new territory. At that moment, we were creating an entirely new and unique genre. Something evolving organically, never before heard (at least by us). It was like watching what Michael Bolton always imagined himself to be.

Yes, I’m talking about Performance Crying.

It was hilarious, actually. He would start out with this sequence of squeaky whimpers like a rusty bike wheel, and then would end with some breathy sobs. Rinse and repeat.

He’d go through a few reps, stop, take stock of the situation, and then try a slightly new variation (a few more squeaks, a few less sobs, etc). Eventually I picked up that he was checking himself out in the reflection in the window. Dude was practicing crying. My presence, at that moment was entirely superfluous.

I was kind of proud, actually.

Fatherhood is very weird.

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It’s Like the Water Cycle, But With Recalcitrance

I was listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me last night –if my nerdhood ever was in doubt, I believe I’ve just settled the argument – and they mentioned a thoroughly unscientific study declaring that 32 years is the age when most people turn into their parents.

This does, of course, coincide nicely with the age when most people who plan to have kids end up having kids. Which ends up being the take-away from this – that having kids basically turns you into your parents.

This phenomenon, I believe, is at least partially triggered by the fact that pretty much as soon as they can start to exhibit anything resembling behavior, your kid will start to remind you of yourself.

We’re about a month into preschool with the little man, and it has never been more apparent to me that he is most definitely his father’s son.

Firstly, and most obviously, he always puts up at least a token protest about going to school. It hasn’t yet escalated to full on tantrum, but every schoolday morning he declares with a tragedy possessed only by 3 year olds and tweens that he “can’t! I can’t go to school! I can’t!” Not that he doesn’t want to, but that he is, in fact, existentially unable to make the journey.

It took me sophomore year in college to be able to articulate my relationship to academics so clearly.

Really, I owe my poor, suffering, sainted mother a phone call on this one, because Monday- Friday, from preschool through to 10th grade I’m pretty sure I made a similar whine about going to school. It only ended in the 10th grade because we’d reached an unspoken truce, where as long as I kept my grades up and didn’t play hooky too excessively much I could get myself to school (or not) on my own (It was rural Iowa in simpler, non-truancy-law times).

I’m hoping that my little man’s insatiable curiosity and the Montessori educational model will eventually sync up and divert us from this course, but I harbor a secret dread about weekday mornings for the next 12 years.

As if a guy didn’t have enough reasons to dread weekday mornings. Eesh.

Another trait that preschool has turned the mirror on me with is silence. This may be a surprise, coming from somebody filling the interwebs with hilariously touching observations about life and love in these crazy times of ours, but I am generally a quiet guy. Not responding, does, for me, count as a response. As long as I’m apologizing to women in my life, I should play penitent to my Baby-Mama, because I know it drives her nuts.

I’ve developed, in the last 35 years, a skill set to let me work well in social situations, to give people the impression that I’m outgoing and charming and ruggedly handsome. But they are skills. They require practice, and take a lot of energy. I do not label myself a nerd lightly – my natural state is that of a basement-dwelling troglodyte who’s petrified of women and possessed of incredibly fast thumbs.

And this is, it seems, genetic. After five minutes of mid-snack interrogations, we’d gotten from him that he’d had a good day at school. 10 minutes later, we learned they’d gone for a walk. By the end of the day we had gleaned that he held hands with another kid during the walk, but couldn’t for love or cantaloupe get the name out of him.

And then, free of clothes and full of banana, he will go on to recount the plot of his favorite Curious George episode at length.

It’s odd how things become cyclical. Whether it’s the Serengeti or the Baltimore slums, whether it’s Elton John singing about it or Tom Waits, people come and go, rise and fall, and yet they’re eternal in a way, wearing different faces.

There will always be a Baggins in Bag End, and there will always be a kid at my table not talking about his day.

I brought it on myself.

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