(*Author’s note: this is not an advice column. If one more person offers me unsolicited parenting advice that is not directly related to me, I’m probably going to kiss my son on the head, apologize to my wife, and commit some kind of felonious crime in a misguided act of retaliation. I don’t know what I’m doing any better than anyone else does. However, the “you” I’m talking to here, is anyone that is a parent, has a strange sense of humor, and can identify with any of the skewed views that I have. I last checked in with readers in this post at the 6 month mark.)
- You’ll learn to love watching your child try to sit up, watching their tiny bodies firing into multiple gut-busting crunches as they get so, so close. It will remind you that you were once so small and determined. It will remind you that, maybe, you should do a few crunches of your own.
- Your child will gleefully smash through a blended up baby-cocktail of pureed meat and veggies and it will vaguely remind you of the gravy from the Salisbury steak that your elementary used to serve. You will wonder why that is and then realize that you have zero desire to delve any deeper into that dark childhood memory.
- Your baby will begin to really have a handle on that whole “sitting up thing.” But the moment you turn your back, suddenly defying fate in an attempt to grab a camera/video recording device/some heavily caffeinated sleep-destroying drink your child will pitch off to one side like a drunkard trying to walk their way across a tight rope on the fishing boat from The Perfect Storm. They may fully wipe out, they may softly slide over and be fine. Either way, your snare-drum-rolling heart will crash-land right along with them. You’ll dive for them, laying out into a Sportscenter-highlight dive.
You’ll inevitably come up just short and end up scooping them off the floor with kisses and apologies. They’ll smile at you within 15 seconds and your rug burned elbows won’t even matter.
- Your baby will begin to have a handle on that whole “sitting up thing.” But the moment you turn your back, suddenly required to tempt fate yet again, they will continue to sit up perfectly balanced; a miniature acrobat, their lithe little body swaying side to side with no worry of falling, showing all the equilibrium of a seasoned jungle cat hunting its prey.
- You’ll still be exhausted. Some mornings you’ll stumble to work like an extra from The Walking Dead. You’ll faceplant into 8:45 AM and have to pull yourself out from the shallow grave of sleep deprivation with one bony, Diet Mountain Dew clutching hand at a time.
- I’ve learned that there is a devil. And his name is Thrush. Thrush is a mouth infection that, essentially, makes it painful to eat. While that sounds like a fad diet that would be a smash hit in Beverly Hills it really, really sucks to watch a hungry baby cry when he tries to eat solid foods. Fortunately for us, he is still able to eat certain types of food and drink bottles. Unfortunately for us, we can’t seem to get rid of it. As I write this today, my wife’s taking him in to see the doctor for the 3rd time about it.
- I’ve learned that trying to teach your child to crawl can be the highlight of your day. Watching him push himself up, proudly arching his back and using his sturdy little arms to heave himself upward catches my eye every time. As he struggles and squirms and kicks and pushes I edge towards cheering wildly. As he flops down, exhausted, onto his tummy to recover, I feel like I should rush in and try to give him a Mick-From-Rocky style pep talk.
I hold back, waiting. Watching. I’ve learned that seeing him kick his legs, pushing and reaching and straining, as he seeks a foothold, is far more exciting to watch then I believed it could be. His arms are good. His legs are ready. But they don’t want to work together. Sound familiar, the Lakers?
- I’ve learned that one day very soon he’ll crawl. And I’ll be right there on the carpet, cheering him on like it’s the homestretch of the Olympic Marathon.
- I’ve learned that he might be starting to take an interest in what’s on the T.V. Which is good and bad. I watched my first 30 minutes of The Backyardigans and found it to be, shockingly, enjoyable. He stared in rapt attention, even squealing with delight in parts. I, in turn, found myself inexplicably out of snide remarks. No inappropriate comments, no beefs with the editing or storyline. I just. . .let go. It was refreshing. (*Author’s note: full disclosure, I had seen bits and pieces of The Backyardigans before while babysitting and found it to be one of the less grating Children’s shows, so it wasn’t a total surprise I enjoyed it.) I was, unsurprisingly, proud of myself.
- I’ve learned that my child might be paying attention to what’s on T.V. Which means that the 4 Friday the 13th movies I just DVR’d might need to wait until after he’s asleep. Sorry, Jason Vorhees. No murdering of drugged up, boozed down, horndog campers until at least 8 P.M.
My new watching schedule. . .
- I’ve learned that my son likes to sing along to some of the music on the radio.
- I’ve learned that my son is a better singer than Taylor Swift. And that I like his lyrics better, too.
- I’ve learned that it’s tough not to want to auto-tune his high-pitch squealing, slap some dope bass bumps and a few tough snare-shots behind it and lay down something that could absolutely make Ryan Seacrest’s top-40. It’s easy to see how so many parents end up thinking that their kid is the next Usher. (*Author’s note: I was originally going to go with the ‘Michael Jackson’ here, but at this point I think every parent knows that the talent sure wasn’t worth the baggage. Right, Michael Lohan?
- Your child will start taking what I call, “Grown-Man Poops.” Gone are the days of semi-smelly, “oh, that’s almost cute” style doo-doo. Oh, no. You’ve now entered into the realm of solid foods, meats, veggies, and undeniable baby-stank.
Where before the little man’s poopy diapers kind of gently wafted your way and left you saying things like, “Uh-oh. . .did somebody go number 2?” Now, his diapers Louisville Slugger you right in the nostrils and leave you saying things like, “Gugagugugughhhhhhhh.” No longer are diaper changes leisurely events that you can take your time to execute. Now they’re done at NASCAR pit crew speed and followed up by you hauling the offending diaper out and searching desperately for a flame thrower to light that bad boy up.
I know this photo doesn’t really make sense. . .
(*Author’s note: I know this photo doesn’t technically make any sense. Bear with me.)
- I’ve learned that you can spend 127 words talking about your child’s diapers.
- I’ve learned that moment by moment, piece by piece, my little baby is becoming a little boy. Each piece of his growth, from his silly laugh turning into a legitimately breath-stealing giggle to his fuzzy little head turning into an ever-lightening patch of hair that I can’t stop running my fingers through, is a mesmerizing, orchestral note in the prelude of his symphony.
Each little wiggling toe, jammed deep into the carpet as he attempts to hold himself up, swaying like a rookie surfer on his first big wave, each little finger that probes and grabs and has learned to change the channels on the remote control just like channel-flipping-Daddy is really just a thread in the border of his sublime tapestry.
- I’ve learned to enjoy these pieces. To marvel at the small, brightly lit moments that will inevitably fit together like a stained glass masterpiece. To wonder at what pieces are yet to come and to be thankful that I’ve been there for the building, the weaving, and the construction all the way from the ground floor up.