One of the skills in being a good parent is knowing what your child wants. Some things are pretty easy to guess when you consider the auxiliary evidence, like say, when her bottom stinks to high heaven. Ah, her need would be a diaper changing.
Other times, it’s not so evident. Just recently, we’ve gone through a rash of occasions where we just couldn’t figure out what it was Maddie wanted. It’d be meal time, and she’d be whinning and fussing reaching for the food. So, we’d scoop some up and offer it to her. Then she’d violently shake her head, and swipe at the food. Okaay…
Some times, when I’m here on the computer, she’d come in to the room, and try and draw my attention away from the computer. “Mmmm! Mmmmm!” I’d try and finish what I’m doing, unless she finds the pretty light on the power button to the computer. Trust me on this: You only make the mistake of letting babies near pretty power buttons once, if ever.
“Mmmm! Mmmmm!” She’d start tugging at me. Oh, how sweet. She misses me and wants my attention. So I save off my work, and turn my attention to her. Okay, Baby, here comes Da Da!
“Waaah! Eh, waaah! Waa!”
“What, what? I thought you wanted to play with me. What is it? What do you want?”
It took me a while, but it became clear when Maddie would run in a circle around me, grab the chair and make futile little climbing gestures at it.
She wanted to use the computer.
PS. It was the same thing with the food. She didn’t want us to offer her food. She wanted to get it herself.
Ever since Maddie was able to walk, she’s ended the day with what we affectionately call Loopy Time. That’s a lot better than to say she’s continuing her quest for the perfect mind altering experience.
At first, from a standing position, she would cock her head to the side, and begin walking in concentrated circles. She’s usually lean in to the circle a little too quickly and fall right down. Then she’d laugh, stand up, cock her head to the side again, and do it again. Over and over.
That was good for a month or two, but eventually the buzz from the dizzy fall wasn’t enough. She’d have to start Loopy Time with a dizzy fall or two, but she needed a new rush. She found a way to climb onto a footstool, then onto the couch. She’d turn around, sitting adult-style with her back to the back of the couch. Then, with a mischievous grin, she’d use her heels to inch her way forward, towards the foot of the couch. She’d inch ever so close, looking into the void. (The floor was almost a Maddie-length away, after all.) A hesitation, then weeee! Off she’d go! Face forward into the thin air. Luckily, Da da (yours truly) would be there to catch/stabilize her at the bottom. The scarier her fall, the more she’d laugh. And then she’d climb back up the footstool for another fix.
Nowadays, the Couch Launch doesn’t provide quite enough oomph, either. She needs a new fix. She’s back to spinning in circles, babbling, and running towards the wall, stopping with her face just inches from it. Then she’d pound on the wall with her fists as if to say, “next time, I’m gonna run right through you.”
Some kids are content to end the day with story time. Not mine. She gotta have eXtreme bedtime.
There are plenty of things for which I can’t wait. My next frappuccino. Hearing “da da” when I get home. Getting to the next level in a video game. Reading a few more pages in my bedside book.
But there’s one thing that I just cannot get enough of. (Get ready to be grossed out.) And that’s the smell of my baby’s hair. Doesn’t matter if she’s fresh from the shower, or stinky from a day in the playground. There’s just something about Maddie-hair that I can’t resist. Sure it all started innocently enough. A father has to carry his daughter from place to place sometimes, and he can’t help but get a whiff of her hair. Oh, but now, I practically drink in her scent any old time I please! Sure, I feel plenty bad. I know it’s weird.
But you know what? I take great comfort in the following realization: She’s my daughter. And I get to smell her hair if I want! This, truly is one of the great privileges of being a parent. Woe to all you childfree people. You will never know.
PS. Think I’m weird? Another friend of mine loves to kiss her daughter’s “stinky feet.” She’ll singsong “stinky feet” and her toddler will try to raise her leg and foot (in the manner of a dog about to do his business) for the inevitable kiss attack. Ptui! Ptui!
When I was a kid, I used to think that sight was my most precious gift. How terrible it would be if the world became blurry, or if I couldn’t see it at all. Then some time later, it became clear that my grandmother was suffering Alzheimer’s. That put a new twist on things in my head, as I watched her realize that she was becoming more forgetful, but trying to rationalize it away. Yikes, there are things even more precious than sight.
Then, more recently, one of my friends revealed that he suffers depression. And I watched helplessly as he went through a bout with it, until he insisted I just go home. I was useless there anyway, there was nothing I could say or do that would snap him out of it. It was odd, because he knew that he wasn’t financially broke, he was healthy, and he had sincere friends. But he just began obsessing over his job and self image, and there was no bringing him back.
In contrast to him, I have another friend who recovered from the most devastating physical injury. He had an arm amputated and both legs broken in a bicycle vs. truck accident. Naturally, he went through some very hard times on his road to recovery. It’s a number of years later, but he’s remarkably in good spirits now. Actually, he’s just one example. I’m surrounded by friends who have the most amazing stories of overcoming devastating problems.
I think I have better perspective now, than when I was a kid. Then I thought that depression was just what you felt when something real knocked you off track, and you just get over it. Now I know it’s an entity all of its own, and quite terrible if left unchecked.
Hopefully, we can build natural defenses against depression. Every day, no matter how crummy my day at work was, I come home and do something to make Maddie laugh. (Luckily chasing her around the house usually works.)
Today Maddie seemed really fussy during dinner. She whined and reached for her sippy cup, but refused it when it was offered. Eventually, she’d grab it and tip it towards one of our water glasses. “Did she want to exchange one for the other?” we wondered. So we offered her a drink from the glass instead, but that only upset her more. (We wouldn’t let her hold the glass herself, since she’s prone to throwing things over her shoulder when she’s done with them.)
We carefully let her have the sippy cup and our glass. Finally, she seemed pretty happy, and intent on pretending to spill water from the sippy cup into the glass. Aha!
So, I took her outside to pour water from one cup to another which is what she really wanted to do. Where’d she get the idea to do that?
- Gnawing balloons.
- Scattering wooden blocks
- “Sorting” clothes
- Kazoo playing
- Spinning and falling
- Running from Da da.
- Watching the hunter.
Last week, Maddie was acting very strangely during naptime. She was restless and listless at the same time. I tried to comfort her by staying in the nursery with her, but that wasn’t enough. Only when I picked her up did I realize she was hot. I took her temperature, and it turned out to be 103.5. Well, the nap wasn’t going to happen, so I took her downstairs with me, but nothing interested her there either. It was hard to see her so hot and uncomfortable. But…
Although I really hated the fact that she was sick, it caused something amazing to happen. As I was lying down, she crawled up to me and put her head on my arm and — get this — stayed put. She normally never would have let me hold her. She’d be too busy “helping us” by sorting things in drawers where we’d never guess to look for them, or scattering blocks all around the floor. So she gave me a moment of peace and a chance to touch her back lovingly.
I hated the fact that she was sick, but I really enjoyed holding her.
Made with the trial version of Fog Creek’s City Desk. So far so good!
Last night after tucking Maddie in, and kissing my wife goodbye as she went to work, I settled down to watch “A Fighter’s Blues.” (A Hong Kong movie about a Chinese Kick Boxer visiting Thailand and meeting a Japanese orphanage worker.)
I was pretty comfortable laying lengthwise along the couch, relishing the solitude, when out of nowhere a big spider crawled across my arm and chest. A quick spider. Zip, and it was gone. I barely had time to flick it. It was slightly juicy, and kind of ant shaped, except for more and longer legs. Ugh! I imagined spiders crawling on me off and on for the rest of the night.
The next day while changing the baby, I felt another imaginary spider on my leg, only it turned out to be a real ant. Where’d that come from? Dang it, it turns out the family room was being scouted by about 20 ants. Lucky that it wasn’t more before I caught them I guess…
In the spirit of making this journal accessible to like-minded individuals, I’m making it semi-blogchalk compliant.
If you followed the link, you’d see the intent is that someone who wants to find blogs by locale (or interest, in my case) can do so. But this requires the writers of the blogs create a page (like this) that includes certain keywords that are also listed as keywords in the page header. In my case, those keywords would be: English, United States, California, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Milpitas, Daddy, Mommy, Maddie, Babies, and Children.