« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

November 2007 Archives

November 2, 2007


Halloween 2007 Ronan as a squirmy cat for Halloween 2007. Or a mouse. Could be a mouse. Or a reverse panda. Seriously, what is that costume?

I’ve mentioned before how fascinated Ronan is with my eyeglasses. He loves to pull them off my face and hold them and chew on them. The repair bill is $150. Ouch. I’ll skip that for as long as I can still see through them.

His other favorite daddy attribute is my chest hair. There’s no way to say this easily; I’m a bear. I’m covered in fur. Ronan has made the connection that mommy Terry is not covered in fur, and I am. As I’m sure you’re aware, the natural thing to do is to remove the fur for closer inspection.

Which is unbelievably painful. It’s so painful I’m not sure how I’ve still got hair on my chest, as it feels like he’s ripped out everything there. At first I thought he was having nipple confusion because he kept pulling my shirt collar down; I thought he was looking for a nipple. However it turns out he’s quite entertained petting my bear fur and pulling it out by the roots. I’m not sure why this is so fascinating for him, but it is. As I battle severe migraines from a drug problem (allergy, not addiction, I just read that sentence) I find it easier to just let him pull the hair out rather than pick up the damn rattle off the floor for the umpteeth time. If they didn’t originate as weapons and act as weapons in novice hands, I would teach him to yo-yo. But that will have to wait until he’s older.

I think Ronan thinks that I’m covered in toys; that these things are there for his amusement. It’s a daddy costume. Which, in a clumsy way, is my segue into Halloween.

Park Slope has a Halloween parade down 7th Avenue. If you want to party, you go to the Greenwich Village parade, where you can get loaded and laid (and mugged and bloodied, if you’re not careful, there are some angry people I’ve met there.) If you want to see the most adorable little kids in costumes, trying to figure out what the hell is going on, come to the Park Slope Parade. By Parade, I mean people go in whatever the hell direction they wish while traffic is suspended. And they go in every direction. It’s not so much a parade as a community intermingling. You want to march, march; you want to watch, pull off the side of the street for a while and watch, because nothing causes more confusion in babies than everyone running around laughing and screaming while parents paint themselves and put weird constrictive costumes on their children. Almost every baby we saw had this “WTF?” look on their face, like everyone had taken crazy pills and they had to remain sane so the world would go back to normal and the babies would get changed and fed. One family had turned their stroller into a garden, and their baby was the sunflower. The baby sat in the stroller looking like the most confused sunflower ever. Another toddler was Yoda to Mom’s Princess Leia. That tyke, who could walk, ran all over the street checking out every other parade participant. That mom needed the Force that night. A friend had handmade their 5-month-old’s pirate costume. I wish I had time for that!

There was so much to take in. I think he was over-stimulated. Ronan seemed generally confused as well. Since we knew we would be out for only a little while, we didn’t worry too much that the hat for his cat costume (which lacked a tail) didn’t really fit; this is the only year the outfit will fit, so out the door we went. Ronan, clearly not into the spirit of things, attempted to take his hat off fairly regularly until there were so many people and things to look at he forgot all about it.

As we wandered 7th Avenue, marveling at all the costumes, Ronan made a cow sound, a deep “Meeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhh” or “Moooooooo” over and over again. I’m not sure but it sounded a lot like his “What is this?” noise. It was hard to hear but we decided that six months was a little young for a happy appreciation for the Parade so we left pretty quickly. He did seem to spin around quite a bit to take in everything; and there was a lot going on. Next Halloween he will be 18 months, walking, running, and we’ll have to keep from losing him in the crowd. I can’t wait for next Halloween!

While it seems like our everyday clothes are just ordinary, they are actually costumes. The people living in the 15th Century or Medieval Times or the Old West didn’t think they were wearing costumes; they were just clothes. Ronan is beginning to see the distinctions between individuals, the biological and gender differences between his parents and others. While I was told how wonderful it is to experience life again through your child’s eyes, I kinda thought that was a little overblown, a cliché. It’s actually pretty neat, not in that saccharin-sweet Hollywood way, but in that everyday way that you learn something new. Ronan seems to learn something new every day, and a lot of the time I’ve forgotten to appreciate or just took for granted what he’s practicing. Sure, I may spend two or three or more hours picking up things he’s dropped on the floor just to see what happens when you let go of something, but it’s also great to see him light up when he figures out that he can pick something off of the table and let it go.

Halloween is one of those holidays that seems more fun because you celebrate it with total strangers from your community. Like the New Year’s fireworks in Prospect Park, It’s nice to be in a crowd. Maybe all three of us will share the same theme for our costumes...

November 9, 2007

Sleep Wars

Ronan Get In the Car Its a Bear! As I nonchalantly look on,
Ronan is terrified by the flash of the camera,
which is often how he looks
as we’re trying to get him to go to sleep.
The person holding him
has been edited to protect their identity.


Humans would be so much more productive if they didn’t have to sleep a third of their life.

I dislike sleeping on one hand; it often comes when I least want to sleep, when I have papers or projects. Then when I do want to sleep, I find that I’m wide-awake. When I lay down to sleep, that’s when my demons – my fears and worries and paranoia – are at their worst. It’s as if I have little control over when I rest.

Ronan seems to be much the same way. Greeting the world as a six-month-old must be confusing and exciting all at the same time. Because I’m often rushing from one place to another, I don’t always take the time to let him explore the world and really identify it in that baby way – y’know, crushing it in your hands until it is dead and then stuffing it in your mouth. I feel bad about that sometimes but other times I’m glad that my baby didn’t notice the deadly choking hazard and kept right on going.

Sleeping seems to be a roadblock for Ronan’s understanding of the world. When he was only a few months old he would sleep on the subway, gently rocking with the car’s movement until he fell asleep. Now that he’s seven months old, he’s AWAKE, there’s STUFF TO SEE, and Dad, I’ll cry if you try to get me to sleep. I MIGHT MISS SOMETHING!

I’ve written about Terry’s baby whisperer technique, which involves standing over his crib holding him until he’s quiet, then putting him in the crib, then picking him up for a moment or two if he’s fussy until he quiets down, then starting the whole process over again. Terry is a baby whisperer kung-fu master, often getting him to sleep within five to ten minutes. I feel like twenty or thirty minutes later I’m still trying to get him just to be calm. Often for half that time Ronan is staring at me with those big brown eyes, looking at me like I’m crazy for even contemplating putting him down for the night. Terry doesn’t enjoy the process, and I hate it, to the point that I announced that I’m not doing it any more. Which promptly meant the next time she had trouble putting him down with her kung-fu sleep technique, it was my fault for not using the baby whisperer technique. This could have something to do with the fact that she’s a black belt in baby sleep and I feel like I’m only a white belt. Last night I tried for thirty minutes before Terry sleepily allowed me to sneak away to the comfy rocker in the living room. Maybe if Robert Redford comes and whispers to Ronan, I’ll finally have the back strength to endure his protestations…

Babies cry. Everybody knows that. Secretly, everyone hates hearing babies cry. My masterful, and probably self-absorbed, damaging-the-baby’s-psyche technique is to hold him while he cries himself to sleep. The problem is that now he expects this. I don’t mind the crying; but I know that some people freak out when babies cry. I think it’s natural for them to cry part of the time. In the long run, I’m probably going to regret the babe-in-arms path. Still, even Ronan, for all his crying, seems to eventually enjoy falling asleep on me. The weird thing is when he will cry when you put him in the crib, but instantly fall asleep in your arms when you pick him up. Just because I’m evil (or bored, or evil and bored, or just impressed with this phenomena) sometimes I will lower him halfway into the crib, then pick him up just as his eyes start to open, then lower him halfway, then pick him up. I know he’s a real baby, but it really reminds me of those semi-animatronic dolls that open their eyes when you put them down. Only it’s a real boy. It’s really kind of freaky, but repeatedly observing that phenomena also probably wakes him up somewhat as he rapidly goes from awake to asleep to awake.

Bur those dammed dolls had an off switch so you could close their dead eyes when you were done with them.[i] You can’t turn Ronan off, which is good, because too many parents would leave their kids off until they were 18 (or older) and that would not work out well. I think you have to take the bad times of parenting, and not sleeping is definitely part of the bad times, along with the fun of seeing your kid smile and laugh and learn new things. Several people have remarked to me  that the cuteness factor of babies is so that we forgive them for being messy and noisy and awake when we want them to sleep. I think it’s more than that; I think we’ve adapted to the image of baby cuteness so that we feel protective of things that look cute. It’s a chicken-and-egg argument, but I think the cuteness was there first, and as prehistoric humans, we decided to forgive them for a lot.

Still, I have no idea why I’m writing this. I really should be sleeping. The baby books say that you should get sleep while your baby sleeps. Gee, if only I had an off switch…

[i] It occurs to me that I should point out that all of my childhood animatronic doll experience was because of my friend Tamara, who had a huge collection of these things. I didn’t actually own any dolls. I say this because Men’s Vogue recently launched an attack against stay-at-home-dads’ masculinity, and there are probably those readers wondering if I played with dolls as a kid. Well, yes – if you call dismantling Tamara’s dolls to see how they worked as playing with them. She and I haven’t kept in touch, I wonder why…

November 15, 2007


Ronan Brains Bbbbbrrraaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnssss!!!!!

So  Ronan and I are chillin’ on the futon, laughin’ it up like a fuzzball on Hoth. He’s enjoyin’ bein’ tickled, and I’m enjoyin’ watchin’ him laugh. When, suddenly, if Ronan actually could verbalize his thought process, he thought something like, “Gee, there’s an open hole in Dad’s face, I wonder what’s inside?” and without pomp or circumstance he jammed his index finger as far up my nose as he could.

And then he laughed.

And then he removed his finger because I yelled “Ouch!” and Terry yelled (from the back bedroom) “What’s wrong?” and then he looked a little startled. That’s when I began to feel the blood start to flow out of my nose. I asked Terry, who by now had entered the living room, “Am I bleeding?” and she said no and handed me a tissue. I put it up to my nose and a small, but not insignificant, amount of blood was present. And then more. And then more.

Ronan had touched my brain, I think. My nostril hurt from about the middle back up into my sinus (or whatever the interior of the nose inside the head is called.)

It’s probably partly my fault that Ronan now carries a sample of my grey matter underneath his fingernails.[i] My father-in-law told us a story about how my sister-in-law accidentally amputated the tip of her daughter’s finger, and ever since then I’ve been remiss in clipping Ronan’s fingernails. Terry does it but we basically have to wait until he’s asleep as he hates the process and waves his hands in the air like he just doesn’t care.

So when he scooped out some of my brains with his finger, it’s wasn’t just a sharp nail. It was a trowel; a claw attached to his finger, which was perfectly sized to go where no one had gone before, except maybe my ENT. So he dug a channel in my nose, perhaps to facilitate scooping out more brains on future spelunking expeditions.

Terry gave Ronan a stern talking to about how he should respect other people’s personal space. I’m sure he will retain every word, as he smiled through the whole thing and doesn’t actually speak yet. He may have said “Dad” at one point but they jury’s out on whether he knew what that meant or if he was just mimicking Terry at the time.

It’s two days later and my nose still hurts. I don’t mean to be gross but I blew a giant wad of dried blood out of my nose, and the next day there was another giant wad of dried blood when I woke up. Fun!

Perhaps Ronan is removing me a piece at a time; first, the eyeglasses, with the accompanying epithelial shave; then, slowly scooping out my brains through the nose in the ancient Egyptian method. Only I’m still alive at the time. Add in the slow removal of my ever-present but still interesting (to him) chest hair, and you could say my son is slowly dissecting me.

Because he’s a happy and joyful baby, he’s having a wonderful time doing it. Except for the pain of brain removal, chest depilatory, and unmedicated rhinoplasty, I’m enjoying it too.

[i] Yes, we cleaned his hands. But part of my brain will always be with him.

November 20, 2007


Ronan Happy Ronan is clearly a melancholy baby.

Ronan will be eight months old on December 4. I don’t know if that has anything to do with today’s post; the older he gets, the more he imitates me.

It started when he was just a few months old. He would lay on my chest and listen to my heartbeat. I would absent-mindedly sigh. He would sigh. It wouldn’t happen every time but it happened enough to be more than coincidence.

Then he graduated to staring at me all the time. When we are home together, when he’s being carried out of the room, and unfortunately when it’s time to eat and sleep and all points in between. He still stares at the cranes but a lot of his time is making sure that I’m in the room. Which is frustrating for Terry when she can’t get him to sleep or eat.

The next step was call and response. He discovered that I could imitate him, and he started to imitate me. Ronan especially likes dolphin noises. We spend the better part of an hour each day going “ack-ack-ack-ack-ack” at each other.

The really weird thing is his fascination with computers. I spend a lot of time while he’s puttering around our baby-proof nursery on my computer, and often it’s on a table next to the chair in the living room so that I can check email and do work when he’s asleep.

Now that we’re engaged in full battle with him over when to sleep, I’m not as perky in the morning. Ronan used this as an excuse to send his first email. I was holding him and I closed my eyes for a second in the middle of emailing Terry something (probably something about how much we miss her during the day) and suddenly Ronan giggled and started pounding away on my keyboard. Not only did he erase my entire message, but my signature as well. He then send the Mac into Exposé mode, and still kept typing away, giggling madly the whole time.

At first I thought he just liked the keyboard, but now I’m wondering if he isn’t imitating me. Any chance he gets, at either my laptop or my desktop, he starts banging away on the keyboard. He will lean way over to get at my keyboard, and he loves doing it, even if the computer’s off. He types so hard he knocked my wireless keyboard off my desk and dislodged the space bar. He also likes to use the mouse.

The whole time, he’s giggling like a maniac and very intent on what he’s doing. The first thing I thought was, “Jeez, he’s really enjoying this. I wonder if it’s the keyboard or if he thinks that’s what I do all day long?” and the second thing was, “Jeez, I’ve got to cut back on my hours!”

It’s weird to think that at eight months Ronan already is picking up my habits, or at least imitating them. It’s also frightening to think he’s concerned about grown-up behavior already. On the other hand, it’s pretty impressive that he recognizes my computer use and wants to imitate it.

If he isn't imitating me – maybe he’s just really into something with so many buttons? It’s hard to tell.

Whatever is going on, it is nice to see his face light up with joy every time he sees me, or when Terry comes home, or when he’s in the bath, or when he wakes up in the morning, or when he gets his bottle, or when he sees his rattle, or just because. This kid smiles and laughs and giggles a lot, and that’s great.

About November 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Freaks & Geeks Parenting in November 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2007 is the previous archive.

December 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.34