Monday, April 26, 2010

The Metric System

Since Olive turned one, I have been trying to figure out how to tell people her age. Right now, I can get away with, “She just turned one.” But once May 8th rolls around, we have some decisions to make. Most people will say that she is 13 months old. But I’m getting kinda tired of counting months. When do I stop counting months? I don’t say that I am 368 months old.

I think little kids have the right idea. Ask a six year old her age and she will give you a fraction – “I’m six and a half” or “I’m six and three quarters”. When I was in elementary school we even celebrated half birthdays, for people who – like me – had birthdays that fell in the summertime.

I think I’m going to follow the lead of the fraction system and start referring to Olive’s age using decimals. So on May 8th I will say that Olive is approximately 1.083 years old. It is just easier this way. Less counting. It is like the metric system for ages.

Who’s with me?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Proper Bath Technique

So, I have been at this a year, and there are obviously more than a few things that continue to baffle me about child care. You know, things like, how do I keep my one year old from laughing furiously every time she pinches my neck, why does Olive love to eat dirt so much, and should I be scared that my daughter’s favorite liquid seems to be Infant Tylenol?

Given these and other issues I have been having, I decided to reach out for some help. It may seem trivial and I’m definitely putting myself out for ridicule, but questions need answers. So, this is a question to you, loyal dedicated reader(s).

How do you wash a toddler’s hair without a) performing a dangerous balancing act with a slippery wet baby is a slippery wet tub with slippery wet hands that results in said baby falling back into the water; or b) pouring cups of water into the child’s eyes.

I still bathe Olive in her infant/toddler bathtub. I do this because it allows me to lean her back in a reclined position to pour water over her head. Unfortunately, she is quickly getting too big for the tub and I feel like by now she should be in the regular bathtub. I mean, at some point she needs to transition. I just can’t figure out how to wash her hair. Am I missing something here? How do other parents do this without drowning their child or temporarily blinding them? There has to be a simple technique to this that I haven’t figured out. So I am reaching out to you, my diminutive blog-o-sphere community, for a little help. What does a father do?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just Another Marathon Monday

The first steps are so wonderful to watch, but after that, having a little mobile baby is a little more trouble than your first think. This last weekend marked Olive’s SECOND trip to the Boston Marathon to cheer on the runners (No, Leanne and I didn’t run, we got our fill of that in October). Last time we went out to the course she slept comfortably in her car seat as we pushed her around under roughly thirty pounds of blankets. She was only a couple weeks old and really didn’t do much other than sleep, eat, and shit. As long as we kept her well fed, warm, and managed to contain the excrement, we had nothing to worry about.

This year was a different story. Sure, it was fun to watch her clap for the runners and sit and watch them run and/or limp past. But keeping her contained proved to be a little work. For a little while, all she wanted to do was set off running along with the crowds. Leanne and I took turns sitting behind her and preventing her from playing out some weird version of the running of the bulls (Running of the sweaty people in short shorts? Running of the Gu-eaters? Running of the baby tramplers?) The rest of the day was a quest to keep her entertained cause, you know, she doesn’t really sleep as much as she did when she was three weeks old.

I mean, at this point it is just tough to keep track of her. You need various strategies and accoutrement. So I think the way things worked out was this: Leave home, car seat, to the stroller, to being held, standing, held, standing, held, stroller, standing, sitting, standing, sitting, held, Ergo on daddy, standing, ergo on mommy, stroller, car seat, ergo on daddy, standing, stroller, carseat, home.

There was some playing and eating and a couple diaper changes in there somewhere. Also some sleeping, but not much.

Overall it was a great day. Walking Olive is a lot more work than non-walking Olive, but she is also a heck of a lot of fun. And it is great that we have started a little tradition of watching the marathon as a family. Who knows, maybe someday she WILL join the crowd running past.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 366

What is a dad of a one year old to do?

That is the question I can’t seem to get answered. As we all know, the world is littered with self-help books, advice websites, and television shows telling you how you should live your life. Those focused on parenting tell you how to guide someone else’s life (and probably turn them into an over-protected, wildly timid, friendless dork, but that is an entirely different posting). Go ahead, Google “parenting advice” and have fun sorting through the 29.3 MILLION hits. You get everything from the site for Parenting Magazine to WebMD to the sites for Dr. Phil and the SuperNanny. Advice topics range from birth to dealing with college students and beyond. The vast majority of the sites, though, are focused on dealing with newborns.

That is my problem. I have a toddler now. I admit that I turned to the internet and to some trusted books for advice on what to do in certain situations. Heck, I’ve never done this child rearing stuff.

But now we have survived the first year. And that means that most of the websites I turned to to figure out what to do when Olive had a fever or what are appropriate finger foods, have simply kicked me to the curb. Sorry, Jeff, we have to cater to the clueless, tired, vomit and poop covered masses dealing with the little ones – you’re on your own.

I realized just the other day that the one parenting book that we own What to Expect the First Year only covers, well, the first year. We are in the second year now and apparently are experts at this parenting thing.

I figured all this out when I tried to do some research this week on giving Olive cow’s milk for the first time and introducing foods that have been verboten until her first birthday, like eggs and KFC’s Double Down sandwich. I was given very little guidance. It was almost as if all these advice-mongers were just saying “Yeah, give her 16-24 ounces of milk and just deal with it. She might get sick, might get diarrhea, might not take to it right away, but you have dealt with all that stuff before.”

Not helpful.

But I just need to man up. I must embark on the beginning of Olive’s second year without my training wheels. No more running to the computer to check at what point Olive should be gaining this motor skill or that motor skill, no more flipping through the pages of a book to find the symptoms of various childhood illnesses. At this point I’ll need to rely on myself, Leanne, and our vast parental experience.

I’m lying of course, I’m already searching amazon for good books on toddlers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

365 Days

Olive officially turned one at around 4:00 AM this morning (if you want to read the rest of THAT story, you can click here).

I am now officially the father of a one year old.

The birthday party was this past weekend, so today is a little anti-climactic. Olive already ate her cake (and we have discovered that she is the neatest eater of cake in the world) and she has already opened her presents.

I know it is cliché and cheesy to say, but time really does fly.

Sure, there are days when time most certainly crawls, or even seems to come to a screeching halt. Times like when you are stuck at home alone with a vomiting baby; her first diaper blow out; when you drop her on her head and have to take her to the doctor; when she is sick for the first time and won’t go to sleep; or when you are on your first plane together. Times moves at a glacial pace during those events. But most of the rough patches have to do with “firsts” and then the “seconds” aren’t so bad. The only problem is that there are a lot of “firsts” for a new parent.

But, for the life of me, I can’t fathom how I filled 365 days between birth and now. A year ago she hardly knew how to eat, how to breath. Now she is looking at me and saying “da da”, she is chasing her mommy, feeding us her dinner and she is smiling whenever we come in a room.

A year ago she was a third of the size she is now and she needed us to cradle her and keep her warm and keep her safe and close. Now she is running and tripping and face-planting and there is very little I can do about it. A year ago she was nestled up to her mother for dinner. Now she is eating cake.

This blog was originally supposed to be a way for me, a clueless dad, to work through the lessons of parenthood. But, really, I don’t know anything. Sure, I may know how to change a diaper more confidently, or the signs of an ear infection, or all the words to “Hush Little Baby”, but I still don’t know what the next hour, day, week, or month is going to bring. I don’t know when Olive is going to skin her knee for the first time or what she is going to think when we switch from formula to milk or if she will start to want to go to bed earlier or what the world is going to be like when she is two years old. I don’t really know if anything Leanne and I are doing is right.

Just 366 days ago my life was as it was for the previous 29 years of my life. Then 365 days ago it changed completely. And all I really know is that I couldn’t be happier.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kidnapper in Training

Olive was almost kidnapped on Monday. (My Mom just fell out of her seat. Sorry Mom, keep reading). Luckily, the aspiring kidnapper was, well, inexperienced.

Olive and I were at the playground and two girls, I think twins, became enamored with Olive. This might be because the Olive spent the first 15 minutes at the playground standing and staring at the girls play. Where they went, she followed. Eventually, the two girls started to notice the red-cheeked little cherub tailing them.

They eventually dropped their game of sliding down the slide and running back up it to come over and poke and prod at the baby. The girls were probably around six or seven years old (but I am a horrible judge of age, so they could have been three or seventeen for all I know) and one in particular was not shy.

“Can I hold her hand?”
Girl then holds Olive’s hand.
“Can I give her a hug?”
Girl then squeezes Olive until her face swells.
“You should take her down the slide!”
Girl runs to the slide.
“Take her down the blue slide!”
Girl runs to the blue slide.
“What’s her name?”
Girl doesn’t wait for an answer. Instead, hugs her again. Olive gasps for breath.
“Can I pick her up?”
Girl picks Olive up. Remember, Olive weighs 22 pounds.

This is where there girl’s mother/grandmother intervenes (again, I’m a bad judge of age, this woman could have been either) and tells the girl to put Olive down. Well, I think she said to put the girl down. The mother/grandmother didn’t speak English (I’m also a terrible judge of ethnicities and foreign languages, so I’m not going there) so she could have been saying “Lift with your legs, not your back. That baby looks heavy.”

I blame all this on dolls. My guess is that these girls probably have dolls, and they probably lug them around by an arm, entertain them by pushing them down slides, and toss them aside when they are done. My guess though, is that their dolls aren’t built like a fire hydrant.

This entire time Olive is just standing, staring, expressionless. Every once and a while she would look up at me plaintively as if to say: “Dad, I know I got us in to this mess by following these girls around. I’m sorry. Please, don’t let the one on the left hug me again. My ribs hurt.”

Then, one of the girls comes hurtling down the slide, runs up to Olive and says: “She would like that slide. I’m going to take her down that slide.” Uh-Oh.

She then wraps both arms around Olive, grunts, picks her up and starts running. And I mean at full speed. Olive looks horrified. I go after the two of them and grab Olive by the arm while saying, “Nonononono, I think I should take her down the slide.” The mother/grandmother grabs the girl and says either “Stop, put the girl down” or “You’ll hurt your back trying to carry her like that!” This girl was quick! If she had made it much further, I would have had no choice but to tackle her.

I ended up having to take Olive on a couple runs down the slide on my lap to appease the girl and make sure she wouldn’t make another guerrilla kidnapping attempt. After a couple trips up and down, Leanne got back from work and found us at the playground. Gave me a good excuse to pick up Olive, say goodbye to the girls, and run home as quickly as possible.

Kidnapping plot foiled.

In other news, tomorrow is Olive’s first birthday. A year ago today, Leanne was just about ripened and we were preparing for her to start getting a pitocin drip.

Oh, how times have changed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One is the Loneliest Number...

“It’s time to have another one!”

Olive is closing in on her first birthday and I am starting to lose count how many people have said something along those lines to me in the last couple weeks. The conversation goes something like this:

“How old is she?”
“She's almost a year”
Then I get:
“Almost time for a brother or sister!”
“When is she going to have a little playmate?”
“Have you started thinking about another yet?”
“It’s time to have another one!”

These conversations are uncomfortable for me on a number of levels. First, they basically boil down to people -- some of them friends, so family, some co-workers, some complete strangers -- encouraging me to have unprotected sex. “Oh, your daughter is almost one? Perfect time to impregnate your wife. Want to take off early from work today? And don’t you dare use birth control, either.”

Weirds me out.

Also, can I please take some time to celebrate the fact that I have kept my daughter alive and functioning over almost an entire year before I start thinking of running that gauntlet again with another baby? Trust me, the people who know me best are pretty impressed that I have only dropped this one once. My nickname as a child was El Destructo as a celebration of my ability to break things (and apparently my Mexican heritage) – is that a nickname that inspires confidence in my ability to care for two living things? If I had another kid at this point, I would need to 86 some sort of responsibility from my life just to keep up – maybe I just wouldn’t shower.

The other thing that bothers me a bit is that I thought by having a child that Leanne and I put a stop to all the “you should have a kid” nagging. We were married for over five years before we decided to breed, so I understood when people gently nudged us in the direction of parenthood. But I thought producing an actual child into the world would buy me more than a year before all the questions started up again.

To be fair, Leanne and I talk about having a bigger family all the time. We are pretty sure that two would be our upper limit (I mean, I only have two eyes, how would I keep track of more than two kids!) but we haven’t really decided if we want more than one. Each day with Olive though convinces us that another kid just can’t be a bad thing, though. Every day we see her play with one of her cousins or a friend’s son or daughter we think about how much fun she would have with a brother or sister of her own, and how much we would love watching them grow up together.

All I ask for is your patience.