Saturday, May 31, 2008

Eating time...

We gave The Boy tofu (or, too-foo, as my father calls it) last night for the first time. He seems to like it okay. The extra firm tofu is good for The Boy to pick up, as it provides squishiness and sliminess (both positives) but doesn't come apart quite so easily. He ate most of three pieces of tofu for dinner last night, and lunch and dinner today. To be fair, at lunch, he was far more interested in the chicken, bell pepper and apple than the tofu.

So, we've given him (so far): bell pepper (green), apple, rice cereal, oatmeal, tofu, chicken, turkey, potato, turkey loaf (made with potato crust instead of bread crumbs), broccoli (his favorite non-chicken meal), spinach, rice cake, pear, mango and... I'm forgetting a couple of things. A fairly non-allergenic list, although tofu (being soy) contains some allergens. I'm not worried about tofu; I've given him a little taste of my soy yogurt before, and he hasn't gone into anaphylaxis. My wife yelled at me for that one.

Universally, so far, everyone agrees that it's fun to eat with him. He smiles and laughs and spits; he's got a wonderful, relaxed low brass embouchure. He picks things up very well - the pincer grip is fully formed, but he hasn't quite mastered the putting-things-down thing yet. He kind of opens his hand(s), and things fall where they may. That can be a little frustrating, such as when we dine alone, and the sippy cup winds up on the floor on the other side of the chair. He picks up food and puts it in his mouth and chews; occasionally, he swallows food. Frequently, food dribbles out when more food is put in. The larger chunks, I put back on his plate. The smaller ones, I leave in the little pouch on his bib.

My only bad habit is that I tend to forget lunch reasonably frequently. We have breakfast together, but lunchtime can be kind of scattershot - if he falls asleep at 11:30, I can tend to grab a quick bite and forget to give him solid food. That's bad, and I'm trying to stop forgetting. I've been good all week except for Tuesday.

We know he's done because he stops eating and starts playing with his food. Recently, he's started pulling at his bib when he doesn't want to eat (or when he doesn't like the bib - there's a couple that he doesn't want to wear). That can be annoying when the bib pouch is full of food and that gets everywhere... but, I generally take the table away from him, wash his hands & face, wash the table, then pick him up and move into another room. It's fun.

I highly recommend eating with the baby. My boy, in particular, is lots of fun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Band trips and so much more...

Okay, just for the record - yes, I saw "American Pie." Yes, the "this one time, at band camp," joke was very funny. But, that was almost ten years ago. The joke really isn't very funny anymore. Quit it.

I went on the band trip with one of the marching bands I work with, this past weekend. It was far more fun than it had any right to be - particularly since there weren't any other chaperones other than the director, the drum guy & me, with 58 students on the trip. The kids behaved themselves, as far as I can tell. We saw the Blue Man Group perform - wonderful show, but difficult to explain. We did a parade through the nearby Six Flags and tooled around in historical areas. In short, a typical band trip.

The interesting thing is that The Wife took The Boy down to Maryland to visit her sister's graduation. And, of course, he picks the weekend to learn to crawl on his hands and knees. He still does 90% of his crawling on his belly like an army man, but he does more & more crawling on his hands and knees. I missed the first time. Sigh.

Then again, I've seen lots of firsts, so I can't complain too much. I could have turned the trip down, but I didn't. I like the director too much. Plus. he doesn't snore. If he did, I'd have to smother him as he slept. It also gave us an opportunity to exchange baby stories - his is about six weeks old, give or take.

Today, I had a good job interview for an intriguing opportunity. I'll let you know when any contracts have been signed or withdrawn. After that, The Boy went with my to drum major interviews, where he became a really nice stress reliever - hard to be upset when a smiling, playful baby is looking at you. Plus, it let us tell the joke (and it was a joke): "If he smiles, you get five points. If he cries, you lose five. If he spits up, you're automatically disqualified." Everyone laughed at that one, and no one cause spit up. Then, he went with me to a lesson and was - again - darling. Just a good kid. I can't wait for tomorrow, when we get to go for our walk to the comic book store.

It was REALLY hard to be away from him for a weekend. I found myself looking at his pictures on my cel phone a couple of times per day! That's weird, for me - the only thing that I've been that attached to, in the past, was baseball scores.

(True story. Background first: when my best friend and I traveled anywhere when I was younger, I'd carry a transistor radio with me so I could check the status of the ball game. Since the cel phone revolution, I've checked the score three or four times per game when I'm out. Story, now: when we went to the movies a couple of weeks ago, I kept checking my phone during the movie - Yanks were playing the Red Sox, I think. My buddy leaned in and said, "He's okay. They haven't called. Stop checking your phone." I looked at him strangely and said, "It's 4-3 Yanks in the 3rd inning. What are YOU talking about?")

(That story is funny, if you know me.)

But, I digress. It's late, and I didn't get my nap today. Plus, LOST just blew my mind with the season four finale. Is it January yet?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lazy baby...

Today, like the past two days, was filled with lots of naps. That's a good thing, even though - for whatever reason - I'm still tired as heck. Today, The Boy took a nice, long morning nap (from 7:10 until 8:45), a mid-morning nap (from 11:20 until 12:15) and a catnap midafternoon (from 2:30 to 3:10, when my wife got home from school). The good thing is that he ate more today for me than he did yesterday: he had an apple slice and a few nibbles of rice cake with breakfast, a bottle at 10, some more apple, some chicken and some rice pasta at 1:30, another half bottle at 2:10. Dinner with my wife & me.

The trick that we all need to learn from the baby is this: when you're not hungry, don't eat. Period. If The Boy isn't hungry, there is no force on G-d's green earth that's going to get him to ingest food or milk. I wish we all were able to remember that more often; I've gained about 15 pounds since the start of the school year. Granted, much of that is due to the fact that I've added a hundred pounds to my max bench press, with corresponding increases to the rest of my exercises, but some of it is due to the fact that I'm less physically active during the day.

Famous last words. You know that The Boy is going to be the second coming of Bart Allen. He's going to have me sprinting around the house, trying to prevent him from taking a header off of the second story balcony or flushing Daddy's iPod down the toilet.

But, I digress.

This evening, The Wife & I took The Boy to her final concert of the year. I dropped them off at school, taught a clarinet lesson nearby, then went back to hold the baby during the performance. It was a good performance, and The Boy was an absolute delight. He watched the people around him and was particularly fascinated by the small children that were running around. He watched the stage, sometimes, mostly when my wife spoke over the microphone. Afterwards, we stopped at the diner to get some dessert.

I don't know why we go to this particular diner at night. It's remarkably bad service at night. For breakfast, the service is great - fast and attentive. At night, not so much of either. It took forever to get a waitress to take our order (and the baby was growing fussier by the moment, because it was 9PM - the second consecutive night that he was out WAY too late) and longer to get our drinks. I hate not getting a refill on a cup of decaf.

But, I digress.

The Boy was quite good at the diner, even considering how tired he was. He was a real trooper; the first half of our visit, he stayed with one of us and played with a trumpet toy, his sippy cup and a spoon. (Another digression... Juliana Hatfield is playing on the iPod. Ugh. One of my wife's CDs... her taste in music as a teenager was abysmal.) He got fussy, so my wife fed him. That's a real trick in a diner booth, let me tell you. Afterwards, he never really calmed down, but he wasn't embarrassingly loud.

I wonder what instrument he'll play, later on? I wonder if we'll start him on Suzuki violin lessons? piano lessons? Some mix of both? I'm interested. He'll play an instrument through the end of high school; that's kind of mandatory. I wonder if he'll get our musical talent?

meh. It's late, and I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

Chorus rehearsal tonight...

Tonight, The Boy had to come with me to the barbershop chorus rehearsal because Mommy had her concert. It was a lot of fun.

First things first - The Boy can really pack the food away. He had dinner with Mommy at, like, 4:30. Then, he ate at Panera Bread with my father and me; I gave him some chicken off of my Asian Sesame Chicken salad, as well as some lettuce (that didn't have dressing on it) and some of the crunchy rice noodles. The rice noodles were a bit of a surprise; I didn't know how he'd handle the hard crunchies. But, he used his teeth well and seemed to enjoy chomping on the ends of the noodles. Anyway, he ate around 7 or 8 of the crunchy noodles, three pieces of chicken and two pieces of lettuce, as well as half a cup of water with some Hawaiian Punch mixed in. That's a lot of food! No wonder he didn't want a bottle later... I think this might be him telling me that he doesn't want the bottle when he's with me, just regular people food.

Slight digression - what do y'all think about Hawaiian Punch? That was the juice that I was raised on! I don't think that more than a couple of days went by without some Hawaiian Punch, until I was done with high school... unless we had Hi-C or Sunny D or something like it. None of this hippie-crap organic fruit juice that's the only thing in my house right now. Pure, unadulterated sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup AND cane juice are the four main ingredients. Yummy... The Boy didn't seem to enjoy it as much as the apple juice, but he drank it. That's good, I guess.

At the beginning of the rehearsal - which started at around 7:40PM tonight - he was a bit fussy, because I was trying to get him to fall asleep in the stroller. That wasn't working, so I put him in the front carrier, facing me. That's a better position for him to fall asleep, because his head then rests on my chest. He was fine with that for a while, until he started bending backwards to look, upside-down, at the chorus. I turned him around, and the fun really began.

By fun, I mean fun - not sarcastic "Holy crap!" kind of stuff. It was a GREAT singing night - the guys were really ringing those chords. Nothing sounds quite like a men's barbershop group singing well - it's a powerful and very physical sound. The Boy has demonstrated, since birth, that he knows the difference between good barbershop and bad barbershop; tonight was no exception. When the guys rang a great chord, and the overtones were screaming in the room, The Boy got really excited. He grinned, giggled a bit, flapped his arms in the air and kicked his feet. It was >>really<< cute; this brought the attention of the men on the risers, and they performed a little bit better. This caused the baby to get happier, and the "vicious" cycle continued. What a wonderful, positive experience for everybody!

Funny thing, too - he conducted with me a few times as well. Now, I know that he was just using his hands to chase after mine, which meant that he was moving in a conductor's pattern; but, it's cuter to think that he was imitating Daddy and conducting. Watch him start directing the chorus when he's, like, 2 or 3!

He didn't sing along much, although he let us know, a few times, when we sang some stuff badly. At the business meeting break, I gave him a bottle (which he drank an ounce from), and he fell asleep in the stroller until it was time to go home. The transfer from the car, inside, changed into sleeping diaper and pajamas, wasn't our smoothest, but it was okay.

Great night. Fun baby. I hope he joins my chorus...

Scatalogical humor...

Take diaper off, clean nether regions, put new diaper underneath the baby, powder the area, fasten diaper.

Sometimes The Boy farts between the powdering and the fastening. That's funny, because it blows a small cloud of baby powder in the air.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It might just be time... start some sleep training with The Boy. Why? Well, the last two nights, when The Boy was left on his own in our bed, he was awake and crying within about two minutes. Last night, it was before I had reached the couch in the den; tonight, it was the length of time it took me to get to the kitchen, throw two pieces of (ezekial) bread into the toaster oven. In both cases, he cried until we came back in the room - which was rather quickly, considering the fact that, if he starts to crawl around and look for us, it's a three foot drop off the side of the bed (thank you, pillow top mattress, for that extra six inches).

On the surface, it seems pretty simple. Move the crib into our bedroom. Likely, we'll shift the bed over a couple of feet towards my side's wall (...considering that it's cleaner than my wife's side...) and pull the crib in close to the bed. Let The Boy spend a few nights in the crib next to the bed. When he's used to that, move the crib into his room. Now that it's not 50 degrees in his room (thank you, lack of insulation between the garage and his bedroom), it shouldn't be too cold for him to sleep.

However, it's not quite that simple. The big point, to me and to us, is the middle-of-the-night nursing. He still nurses once or twice during the night, usually once. I know for a fact that neither one of us wants to move to a crib, pick him up, feed him, then put him back when he's done. I think that he's pretty much over the immense NEED to feed in the middle of the night; my assumption is that he's capable of taking a feeding at 10 or 11 o'clock (when The Wife goes to bed) and lasting until 6 (when The Wife gets up for work) on most nights.

That's kind of a big assumption, when you think about it. He's still pretty young, even though members of my family (specifically, my New Jersey sister-in-law, as opposed to the hippie sister-in-law in California, who's likely... well, more about her at a later date) stopped nursing and nighttime feedings at a younger age than The Boy is, currently. (...and, her kid is kind of short, now, at 15...)

I admit to being nervous about it, because nobody likes to hear their baby cry without being able to help. I'm not particularly averse to hearing the crying; I know that, when I take a shower or use the toilet, I put The Boy in his crib for safety purposes. He can cry all he wants, but he's not wandering around the house while I'm not able to pay attention to him. Same thing, here. I don't mind if he's crying because he's used to a nighttime feeding and wants the psychological comfort of suckling at the breast; I do mind if he's crying because he's famished and needs sustenance.

I think he'll last. Today, he had breakfast (some apple juice and a couple of bites of rice cake) & a bottle at 9/9:30, lunch at noon (a couple of pieces of pasta, and a small piece of oatmeal& turkey meatloaf)), and didn't have a bottle for the rest of the day - just a live nursing at 3PM. That's not a lot of food, so - theoretically - if he eats at dinner, nurses as per usual around bedtime, quick nursing at 10 or so, then he should be able to last until 5:30 or 6:00. Should.

Is it time to experiment? Probably. My wife & I want our lap back at nighttime. I know that I would really like to snuggle my spouse, much less engage in that "awz" thing I've heard about (look at the letters directly to the right of those three).

Then again, I really and truly do treasure the nose-to-nose naps that I take with him. That's such a special thing for me, because - even from birth, snuggling with my parents - I've never been able to fall asleep nose-to-nose with anybody. I've always been a belly-down, face-the-wall kind of sleeper; The Boy is the first time in my life that I've fallen asleep with my arm around another person. I treasure that like words can't express; it's been some of the happiest moments in my life, in the last nine months. That's a TOUGH thing to give up.

But, I understand that I can't have it both ways. This week is a bad week to try, considering that I'm headed on a band trip Friday, Saturday and Sunday; my wife is headed down to Maryland to attend her sister's college graduation. Maybe we'll start to wean him off of the middle-of-the-night feedings this week, and bring him to his crib starting next week or so.

But, man, I hate to lose those naps.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New stuff

The Boy has figured out how to get from a lying position to a seated position. It's kind of cool, how he does it: he turns over onto his belly, pulls his legs underneath him and pushes with his hands until he's sitting. It's very cute because of how deliberately he moves. Every move he makes is very carefully planned, thought out and executed.

His eating has gotten a lot better, as well. Tonight, at dinner, he ate a lot of chicken and potatoes. His green beans weren't particularly well eaten; he mostly chews on them for a little bit, then spits them out again. I know that he's gotten the seeds from the beans, because they turn up in his poop.

His toys have changed, as well. He has only used his jumparoo once or twice in the last month, and he doesn't use it to bounce up and down anymore. He stands there and plays with the toys for a little while before getting mad and yelling at me until he gets picked up. Mostly, he crawls around the rooms, pausing to play with things as he is interested. It's actually kind of difficult caring for him, now - trying to keep him occupied with stuff that he's supposed to play with, as opposed to the stuff he isn't supposed to play with (power cords, electrical outlets, the PS3, magazines, etc.).

Not that big of a deal. He's a pleasure to care for, because he's fun. He seems to be learning not to put certain things in his mouth, like my cel phone and our sneakers. It doesn't always take; today, he crawled all the way across the room in order to chew on my wife's sneakers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's tough being a baby...

It really is, if you think about it. I mean, there are perks: you never have to dress yourself; someone cooks for you AND feeds you; all the boobie you want (okay, that's the male piggie view, but does that ever change?); people dress you in cute clothes; you never have to take a bathroom break; and, everybody in the world wants to play with you and to see you smile and laugh. Those are good perks. In those ways, it's great being a baby. I know, as a father, that it's awesome to walk around town with the baby. People stop and wait for you to cross the street without honking or naughty words, everyone smiles as you stroll past, and people in stores give the baby little presents. (We got a little football from the PNC Bank lady on Friday, which was cool.)

But, it is difficult to be a baby. You can't move around by yourself too well, and when you finally arrive at something COOL to play with, the Big People (*) take it away from you. There are plenty of rooms in the house that you're not allowed to go inside. Gates are put up all over the place to prevent you from going places. You're strapped into a car, facing the back seat, with no control over where you're going or what you'll do when you arrive. You sleep in a little prison, where you're stuck until you grow enough to be able to climb out of the darned thing. (Not so for my little man, who's co-sleeping; but he's stuck between two big people.) You don't have much of a choice about what you eat, although you are encouraged to make a mess with it. When you go to the bathroom, you're stuck sitting in a dirty diaper until someone gets around to changing you; and, there's always the ever-present danger of Diaper Rash.

Worst part, though, is the growing. I mean, the end result is cool - The Boy is figuring out, as he gets older, that he can do more things. The growing process, itself, is pretty painful. His body is sore and achy, and he doesn't understand why - studies have shown that pain is MUCH worse when we don't understand why it's occurring. The strain of hours of crawling per day is also making him sore - more pain he doesn't understand. (As a weight lifter, I could tell him all about Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - the soreness that happens after too much exercise. But, he doesn't get it yet.) And, that whole teething thing is ridiculously painful for him.

Nothing we can do about the growing / teething pains, really. There is always the cold teething rings, the frozen rags, the occasional shots of Children's Tylenol (something I hate because of the amount of medication my asthma has given me) and similar remedies; but, these never really do the trick. Snuggles, hugs and walks help just as much as the other stuff.

I kind of understand why toddlers go a little nuts when they develop enough abilities for a modicum of independence; wouldn't you go a little nuts? How many of us, when we went to college, went crazy for a while? Same thing, really. Once you can communicate effectively and have the physical ability to move, then it's no wonder that you want to exercise that.

The Love and Logic people do a great job of outlining techniques for dealing with kids. I've read their childhood book (well, most of it) and have used their teaching book as a bible. Basically, the premise is allowing kids as much choice as possible in their lives, even if it's guided choice. ("Would you like green beans or broccoli with dinner tonight?" - both alternatives are acceptable.) If they make many of their decisions, then they are more likely to accept the few decisions that have to be made for them by the parents. But, I digress.

It's tough being a baby. The Boy is experiencing teething pains and growing pains, which explains why he's slept so much in the last day or two. That's fine for me, as it allows me to catch up on sleep and to get housework done - mowed the lawn and weeded the garden during one of his naps today, while I slept with him for two of the naps. But, most of his pain seems to be soothed somewhat by snuggles from Mommy and / or Daddy, particularly if those snuggles involve a trip to the park and THE SWINGS!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great day today...

Today was one of the Good Days, no matter how those days are defined. The three of us went to breakfast this morning - The Wife has a later starting time on Tuesdays, because she teaches at a later-starting school, so we took advantage of that. We got back home and had some Crazy Baby Time.

Crazy Baby Time is when the little one crawls all around the bed like a madman, getting into everything we'll let him get into - including hanging over the side to try to reach my nightstand (where the remotes are) or my wife's nightstand (where a bottle of water & a bottle of lotion are). This is nerve-wracking, as you imagine, but not that bad - he's not stupid about throwing himself over the side. We have hand(s) on his ankle(s) to prevent him from falling, and we yank him back to the middle by the time he gets off the edge. Anyway, he crawls around, climbs on us, plays with things, stands up, sits down, dances, chews on things, plays with the sheets, chews on the blanket, plays with our hands, chews on pajama buttons, etc., etc., etc. Crazy Baby Time. This is followed, almost inevitably, by a nap. This morning, he fell asleep lying next to me, which was FAR too cute.

We were up at around 10:30 (didn't fall asleep until 9:15, 9:30-ish), and he had his bottle. He crawled around the living room causing trouble: pulling himself up with the edge of the couch (a new trick), exploring the underside of his jumparoo (cute), chasing after some toys, pulling DVDs out of the case and playing with them (he always seems to push the "Effective Choral Warmups" DVD the farthest... I wonder what that means?), going for the wires sticking out of the back of the easy chair (dangerous), playing with the wheels of his high chair, and going after the Swiffer (dangerous, but more gross than anything else. At least it's clean). I watched and chased after him as I skimmed through this month's "American Baby" magazine - nothing very interesting, although the babyproofing article reminds me that I need to spend more time babyproofing.

So, when he got bored of exploring by himself, he and I played for a while. He climbed all over me - lots of fun for us both, particularly because I kept changing the "landscape" to make it interesting. We danced together, we played with a ball together, and I read him a book - The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The book is good - the characterization was very strong, although I didn't understand the need to travel to Philadelphia in the second act. Plus, the introduction of his cousin was strangely done and irrelevant, as the cousin doesn't do anything for the rest of the story.

But, I digress.

After the story, we had lunch - I had the remnants of an Indian lentils dish my wife made for dinner on Sunday night, and The Boy had some rice noodles, some rice cake, some slices of pear and apple juice. (For the juice, it's more like a splash of juice in a glass of water - just enough for flavor.) After lunch, he busied himself on the floor of the kitchen while I cleaned, then took Crazy Baby Time again. This time, he fell asleep with his head on my stomach and his rear end on the bed in a kind of "Yoga-baby" position. Very cute and very endearing... this nap, I didn't enjoy with him. I cleaned the kitchen, did some computer work and straightened up the house. He woke up, and we played for a little while. We went for a walk, to the post office (to send out some resumes), to the bank for a cup of coffee, then to the park. We socialized a little bit, swung on the swings, played on the slide, then went home. That boy loves his swing, let me tell you! Around 3:00, he had his second bottle of the day - a REALLY long time between bottles, but he was okay until he saw me take the bottle out of the fridge. Once he started to think about it, he exploded.

After the bottle, we watched Spider-Man (the new cartoon) from this past Saturday, then I changed the first poopy diaper of the day. Once he was clean, I shaved & showered - interesting that, this time, I let him pick where he wanted to go while I shaved. (The baby gate is up and functional.) He went down the hall, saw that I wasn't following him, then came back to see what I was doing. He watched me shave. I put him in his crib while I showered, though, because I can't hear as well with the water running... he griped about it while he saw me, then settled down and listened to music (Max Q, "For The Children", the single best children's music album that we own) until I was done & dressed. We played for a few more minutes, then Mommy came home and I had to go to my chorus meeting.

A great day, as I said. This "Dad" thing? It >is< all it's cracked up to be. I'm glad he's here. I don't think I've ever had a day at work as good as this silly little day was!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Crazy Baby Time

We've been having a lot of fun, lately, having "Crazy Baby Time" with The Boy. This happens, usually, first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening, and at naptimes. The premise? As we lie together on the bed, The Boy goes a little "crazy." He climbs up and down Mommy & Daddy, spins around on the bed, rolls around up and down, occasionally peeks over the sides of the bed and acts as perpetual motion machine until he will, suddenly, put his head down on the bed, stick his thumb in his mouth, and fall asleep in approximately .15 seconds. It's really quite endearing and definitely cute. The only issue is when he falls asleep in a really awkward position, and we debate the merits between possibly waking him up or leaving him to have his spine grow into Lombard Street.

This is the part as The Boy transitions from being an infant into being a toddler. I understand, at least in concept, about the immense energy and emotion displayed by the younglings. I've dealt with enough children of varying ages to see that. I haven't had to deal with it on my own, although my niece did wake me up several times when she was very young by walking into my room and lifting one of my eyelids to see if I was awake. Nothing "cuter" than waking up to a child's face about .5 inches from your nose. I'm looking forward to it, although I really don't want to give up some of the perks of infancy (like the ability to get snuggles whenever wanted, and the ability to have a partner with which to nap).

Crazy Baby Time, in its own way, also translates into normal-day stuff. I've already told y'all about how The Boy likes to make his way to the DVD rack and yank DVDs off of the bottom shelf. The same occurs with his bookshelf. When everything's out of those places, he'll leave them alone and go elsewhere, usually to an area that he really doesn't belong - today, he made a game out of making a mad dash for the Playstation 3 everytime he was put down. Lucky me. But, watching his crawl around is interesting.

Several times, he's crawled from his bedroom to the family room. It's entertaining watching him make this journey. Several times, he'll turn himself 360 degrees and continue moving in the same direction, for absolutely no reason. He'll stop and look into the bathroom, then continue. He'll stop at his bookshelf, knock over one or two books, then continue. It's funny, really. He hasn't started going for the stairs yet - thankfully, as the gate will finish going up on Sunday.

Tomorrow night, we're leaving him with a new babysitter. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Babyproofing, part 1

Where is too much when it comes to babyproofing? Or, in a seriously related note, where is not enough when it comes to babyproofing?

My father and I spent about four hours today, shopping for baby gates before realizing that I had the best one for my particular staircase situation, then getting it set up so that it's ready to be installed. I had bought this gate from a website,, a couple of weeks ago and realized that I didn't really know how to put it together. Plus, my father didn't think that it was the right size, etc., etc. It turns out that it was the right size; I just didn't have the proper attachment materials to hook the gate up to the wrought iron railings that are on both sides of the staircase.

We live in a bilevel house, so the whole staircase thing is a big issue. I know that we need a gate on the stairs for a while, particularly until our last child - be it #2 or #3 - is old enough to know how not to fall down the steps. That's not a big deal. But, when is enough enough when it comes to babyproofing?

We've got a big thing of outlet covers. That's fine. We moved the plastic bags out of the kitchen and put them in a downstairs closet, where The Boy doesn't go; we plan to decorate that drawer in the kitchen (that formerly held plastic bags) with stickers and things for The Boy. We'll keep pots and pans and toys and things in there for him to play with. With some luck, that will keep him occupied while he's in the kitchen, particularly if we're smart enough to keep rotating the toys so that there is something new and fun in there most of the time. If he knows that there is a fun place in the kitchen, then he is less likely to play "drink what's under the sink."

I'm debating about starting to use the skull danger symbol around the house. I read a great magazine article last summer about a method that one family uses: they put big skull stickers on things that the young child is not supposed to touch - drain cleaner, bleach/detergent-soaps and other stuff in the cabinets. Apparently - and this is true - kids can recognize pictures and symbols fairly quickly, and if you teach them that a particular symbol means BAD, then they will avoid that sticker. It works for that family, and it might work for mine.

The question, I guess, is: "Am I willing to risk my son's life on that?" I can't answer it, right now. He's still little enough that he never leaves our sight for a second, unless he's in a crib or playpen, or asleep in bed (and wedged it with pillows). We don't put him down in the kitchen and walk away for any length of time, although I am guilty of putting him down in the center of the family room and running the bathroom / laundry room / bedroom / etc. to pick up an item / mail / newspaper / whatever. I've probably been a little more cavalier about some things than many first-time parents.

I wonder if that's bad. So far, it isn't - I have a beautiful, healthy, intelligent baby boy. He's fallen twice with me, and been fine both times - scared the crap out of both of us, but no damage. I throw him around a little more often than my wife's comfortable with (not seriously, folks - maybe a few inches in the air from my hands, and I "drop" him onto my bed from about three inches off of the matress), but that seems to be a dad thing. I just don't want to do any lasting harm.

I also don't want to get carried away. I refuse to put foam bumpers on every corner, rebuild / reconfigure kitchen stovetops to avoid hots, and similar nutso things. It just doesn't make sense to me. The Boy once grabbed at a mug of hot coffee that I was carrying. He touched the side of the mug, which was boiling-hot, and burned his fingers. It wasn't even a first degree burn, but it scared him into screaming. As cruel as it seems to say, it wasn't a bad thing that he "hurt" himself like that - he has not grabbed at a coffee mug since then. Learning "hot" is a quick and lifelong lesson that all of us must learn.

(Okay - I'm not going to leave pot handles, with boiling water, hanging out from the edge of the stove. I'm not stupid or cruel, and I don't want my son to look like Two-Face. But, by the same token, the single best way to learn to avoid touching a hot stove is to touch a hot stove.)

I feel that some lessons need to be learned the hard way. The Boy needs to learn not to touch hot things; not to grab sharp things; not to run into corners of tables. I'm not going to teach him about electricity by letting him play with power cords; nor am I going to teach him about bad chemicals by letting him under the kitchen sink (even though all of the really fatal stuff is locked in the Comic Book Room behind the garage - which is so thick with storage that it's difficult for me to get to, much less a not-able-to-walk little guy) or about avoiding other people's meds by letting him play with my various forms of prescription medication (even though my medication is relatively mild in that regard; if he swallowed every pill I currently have, he'd be relatively fine. It's all allergy stuff and mild steroids - all of the real liver-busting crap takes years to do damage).

Does this make sense?

I have not fallen off the face of the earth...

It just seems like it.

Been a busy couple of weeks. I went to the barbershop chorus contest on Friday and Saturday, in eastern Pennsylvania. At the same time, The Wife took the baby down to Washington, DC, to see a visiting foreign relative. It was my first two nights without The Boy, and it was REALLY weird. I didn't like it much, but we all survived. Seeing that little, semi-toothless grin when they got home on Sunday was priceless...

I figured out, today, that my time napping with the baby is starting to wind down. Eventually, I have to help get him acclimated to his own bed and his own bedroom. I'm not in a rush for it to happen, but it has to happen. Today was a sweet day for naps - his afternoon nap was REALLY long, and it featured about six wake-ups near the end. At all of them, he looked over, saw me sitting there & reading, and went right back to sleep. It was adorable, with his delicate hair standing spiky-straight...

More will follow. Just now now. I'm tired.