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December 2007 Archives

December 5, 2007

The Frogurt is Also Cursed

Ronan Beach
Ronan at the beach in Florida, wearing hat, sunglasses, onesie,
overalls, diaper, and some 40 SPF Sunblock from Australia
that is the only organic baby sunblock in the world. And it's free!*

A pox upon all the houses of baby clothes designers. I swear to God that those baby jumpers have special magical powers, so that at 3 AM, when you’re changing your baby, those things have one extra clasp or snap or button that you have to figure out in the dark while your child lies screaming on the changing table because, damn it, just feed me already.

I think it should be a requirement for all designers to actually use their designs with a child before announcing their Fall line. Some of the clothes Ronan wears are awesome – I marvel at how useful they are for parents, which is my only serious criteria – and some I wonder if the designers hate children, but especially hate their parents. Let’s face it, the more complicated your outfit is, the more complicated it is to take it off to change the diaper.

Some designers apparently have children that are born potty-trained. I know this because their clothes do not, under any circumstances, come off when you need them to. However, often they will come off when you don’t want them to, which is especially true of footwear. The baby clothes police will kill me for this, but I’m going to reveal that each item has a chip which senses how frustrated the parent is, and will either lock on to the child or loosen depending on what you want to happen. The clothes chip will do the opposite of whatever you want. The chip was designed by the Mordor© Corporation, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

While I’m quite comfortable flouting the evil that is Halliburton, I cannot explain how clothes have an extra button in the middle of the night. It’s like the clothes are designed by Loki, who just whoops it up watching you button and rebutton the damn sleeper again and again.

And Satan himself designs those snaps. Parents everywhere reading this are collectively shuddering at the thought of those damned-to-hell snaps that children’s clothes come with. Those Herculean snaps that require a sledgehammer to close, and then open within thirty seconds of picking up your kid, exposing his diaper to the world.

I’m sure there’s a designer or two reading this, thinking, yeah, but what about those parents who cram a 12-pound baby into a onesie designed for a nine-pounder? Or those those parents who want everything, snaps that work and hold when they are supposed to and release when they’re not? Well, I counter with children’s clothes labels: the suggestion. If you have purchased anything, even adult clothes, it seems that sizes are widely open to interpretation. Ronan is wearing, comfortably mind you, some onesies labled for newborns. Other onesies for 6-9 months will fit him sometime in college. (He’ll enjoy reading that line when he’s older.) There doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason, it’s not like the same clothes from one country or one manufacturer share the same sizes, it’s just whatever you get, the size is consistent for that garment, and only that one. There is no Dana; only Zuul.

Okay, I admit Ronan is probably not wearing possessed clothes, but it’s amazingly frustrating, when you didn’t want to get in the first place, to stumble over to the changing table and be confronted first, with snaps that don’t’ open, then a diaper full of poo, then snaps that won’t close, and when you do get them closed, there’s one extra and you have to start over again. All of this has to be done in such a way that Ronan doesn’t fully wake up and demand food. Which of course, means that by the time I’ve changed him, attempted to put him back to sleep, and woken Terry up to deal with it and actually get him to sleep, I’m wide awake, and now I lie in bed staring at the ceiling cursing the damned clothing manufacturers for not coming up with some snaps that work and don’t multiply in the night.

While Terry is actually staying up and feeding Ronan. That’s my contribution, the cursing.


*The sunblock is not free. It’s unbelievably expensive.

December 13, 2007


Ronan Day After
Ronan the day after the accident.

So, before Ronan was born, Terry banned all accidents.

As in, “I don’t want any accidents.” Clearly she’s been around children before.

If you haven’t guessed already, we’ve had an accident. I dropped Ronan on his face.


(Okay, enough with the one-sentence paragraphs! I would totally be in trouble with Ms. Mercy, my fifth grade teacher. She hated one-sentence paragraphs. She also disliked students using different ruled paper. All the paper had to match, for some reason. I never did get an explanation about the paper, but I loved her anyway.)

I was folding laundry with one hand (hey, if you’re a parent and it’s not your wife’s laundry, anything is possible) and holding onto Ronan with my other hand. We were sitting on the bed. You can guess what happened next.

(What happened next is that Ronan has suddenly become super-mobile and I’m still back thinking he’s dependent on me for all movement. I have to catch up fast.)

I was holding him but looking at the laundry. Ronan was looking at the floor. Ronan also hasn’t learned about gravity yet. In one leap, it seemed, Ronan leapt across the bed, off the bed, and plummeted two feet to the floor.

I think the most frightening, sick sound is the sound of your own child hitting the ground like a watermelon. Ronan didn’t move.

He’s dead, I thought. I’ve killed him.

Ronan wasn’t dead, of course. He had landed on his face on the plastic mat that I use for my office chair, which helped. According to the pediatrician, it also helps that his fontanelles haven’t closed yet, making his brain “like a ping-pong ball,” which on second thought isn’t a very reassuring image at all.

I was so freaked out in that first split-second I couldn’t move. Ronan moved first. He sat on his face for what seemed like forever and then he sat up. The baby equivalent of “ouch” is a deep wail, kind of like Wesley’s scream from the Princess Bride, only not funny or romantic, just completely heartbreaking for the hapless parent who must endure the sound of their child at their worst moment. Ronan usually cries like “waahhh” or “doi doi doi waaah” but this cry was unlike anything I have ever heard the kid make. It was like “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh” and just kept going and going. I wasn’t sure if he as going to run out of vowels or air first.

I picked him up and he buried his head in my chest and gripped my arms. Which, ordinarily, is a nice feeling when I haven’t just witnessed his defenestration off the bed. Despite his need for attention and comfort, I had more immediate concerns. At the time of the accident I didn’t know that he had landed on his face. In fact, at first it looked like he didn’t have any injuries at all. All Ronan wanted was for Dad to comfort him and hold him close, and here was this crazy man feeling him all over trying to see if his bones were broken as he didn’t look like he had any injuries.

Soon the swelling started, revealing his injuries. Ronan had two bumps; his lips were swelling, and I was looking to see if his teeth were damaged and bleeding, which meant that I had to as gently as possible pull back his swollen mouth to expose his gums. I’m sure, if he could form coherent thoughts, he would have started cursing his father, as all he wanted was some snuggles, and the crazy old dude is sticking his finger around his mouth looking for, but hoping not to find, blood. Thankfully I didn’t find any, and after three phone calls to an increasingly exasperated pediatrician, I began to calm down. Which is when the forehead started to swell.

So now I’m looking at my son, who has a swollen upper lip and nose, and a swelling forehead, with what looks like a mild scrape. As I mentally apply for Dad of the Year and prepare for child services to take him away, I realize something even worse. If Ronan gets a bruise, he’ll have it in the family photo portrait next week at the Meyers family gathering for Thanksgiving, and then I will NEVER hear the end of it.

Terry had this plan – she would get her side of the family together and we would get a professional to photograph us while we were all in Florida. As an anniversary present for her parents, she would buy whatever prints they wanted. Then it got serious when her sister-in-law convinced Terry’s Dad to buy the same shirt for everyone so we wouldn’t clash. Since the Meyers sit for portraits only every twenty years, I should have known it was a big deal.

As images of a bruised, unhappy grandson sitting on the Meyers mantelpiece until 2027 danced in my head, I decided I would compound things by calling Terry and telling her that on my watch, our son had landed on his face from high up. On the one hand, it was good (if anything about dropping your son on his face can be deemed “good”) that Ronan’s accident happened when I was watching him, because Terry would never have forgiven herself (clearly, I have forgiven myself, can’t you tell?) for about, I dunno, twenty years. She probably would apologize to him at his wedding. On the other hand, I would have to tell her that her son was injured, and she should resist the desire to fly out of work like a bat outa hell and come home.  Actually, of course, I worry needlessly about such things, because she was as always very supportive, appropriately concerned, and didn’t blame me at all, and only mildly wanted to run home. Which is good because I was already blaming myself, and if she was down on me, I would have probably actually cried.

We were talking, and I was explaining the accident, and why I thought I could hold him and fold laundry at the same time. Ronan, who was now quite inseparable from my chest and quite comfortable, started to fall asleep. By the time I hung up with Terry, he had fallen completely asleep.

Which is great, right? He sleeps, he gets better, and everybody’s happy and relaxed again.

Well, I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time he plunges off of something, because no matter how irrational I thought myself to be, I kept wondering if Ronan was actually in a coma, and had some serious skull fracture or something. Thankfully, as I said, I was being irrational. But I still had a moment where I wasn’t sure if I should let him sleep or wake him up to see if I can wake him up. 

After holding him for about an hour I put him down to sleep. I emailed everyone on both sides of the family to expect a giant bruise on his face and prepared myself for the endless stories every time someone looked at the picture of him on the mantle  for the next twenty years.

The power of babies is amazing on many levels. One of their powers is the ability to heal much faster than children or adults. The next morning Ronan didn’t have a mark on him, no swelling, no scrapes, nothing. He was even in a good mood.

The next week, we took him to the beach in Florida to have the group photo done. Ronan cried when we put his feet in the water and he almost never smiled during the photo shoot. Apparently he loves the beach about as much as his father does.

I don’t know how many First Aid training sessions I’ve been through between summer camp counseling and teaching for ten years. The first thing they teach you is, “Don’t panic!” which is easy to say and not so easy to put into action. The first time a kid got injured on my watch as a camp counselor, the poor kid spoke no English and didn’t understand the warning to get out of the way of the swing about to hit him in the head. He had a gash that bled every time he looked at it. By the time we got from the playground to the camp office, we were both covered in his blood, even though I was holding my hand on his hand to try to stop the bleeding. He was more scared than seriously hurt and needed stitches but was okay. The first time a kid was injured when I was a teacher I had to get my boss to come because I was so panicked I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do. My boss wiped the kid’s nose and stopped the tears; thankfully that kid could speak English, so we could ask her questions about her condition. So again I panicked the first time Ronan was injured.

In camp and as a teacher, the second time someone was injured, I didn’t panic. I surely hope that the next time (and I’m sure there will be a next time) that I won’t panic and respond calmly to whatever happens to Ronan.

I remember how calm both of my parents always were the many times I was injured, so seriously injured I was in hospital. Now, of course, I know they were faking it, but it really helped me to see them not freaking out. I’ve been around adults that freak out on the outside as well as on the inside when someone is injured, and the poor injured kid got ten times as scared.

So, hopefully, this minor injury was a dry run so that the next time I don’t panic and freak out and call the pediatrician three times in ten minutes.

But the pediatrician better not mind me calling, no matter how many times I call.

December 21, 2007


Ronan Messy
Ronan Demonstrating How I feel About The World Today.
Look at Him; He Doesn't Have A Care In The World.

So in the past month, two close friends have lost family members, another friend had minor cancer surgery, an aunt has cancer, another aunt has problems so complicated it would take the entire column just to explain, my Mom had a mild heart attack, my Dad slipped on ice and broke his ribs, I have pneumonia again and Terry lost her job.

Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas.

Seriously, I’m depressed instead of happy for the holidays. Instead of dreaming of candy canes[i] and mistletoe[ii] I’m figuring out if I can go to funerals and if a trip upstate will cheer up my aunts and cousins.

This was a tough year in some ways. The energy expended taking care of a baby is a lot. There are many nights when Terry and I look over the TV schedule, the chores, the hobbies, the family and business projects and just opt for sleep at 6:30 PM. Sometimes it was still light out. It was tough starting grad school. It was even tougher three weeks in when Terry got laid off the first time. It was tough not sleeping many nights when Ronan wanted to be up. It was tough deciding that I don’t want to go back to where I’ve worked for years. It was tougher watching Terry go through all that and go to work each day.

In others, it was the best year of my life. I can’t believe we beat the odds – not just beating the odds of being an older couple conceiving a child, but also that Ronan is healthy. And so happy it seems he’s avoided his Dad’s melancholy moods (we’ll still wait on that one.) We lucked out that he loves to meet people, and go places, and he’s still pretty happy even if he doesn’t get his nap at the same time every day. We’re still working on eating solid food, which doesn’t seem to be a popular activity so far, but it’s gotten a lot better, and he actually opens his mouth. So just because of Ronan this would be one of the best years of my life.

But what have we brought him into the world for? I’m sorry to be such a downer, but the Earth is not doing so well. After watching everyone gang up on the United States at Bali for expending energy when nothing is being done in China and no one cares, and reading about people that deny their kids milk so that they can still drive their gas-guzzling SUV, to the magical and questionable turnaround in Iraq, to the growing saber-rattling over Iran, to environmentalists fighting against clean wind power off their private island, it seems that everyone is out for themselves nowadays. With more and more people of diverse backgrounds living together in the United States (and around the world) we seem to focus more on our differences than was brings us together. Why are we electing the same people over and over again when wages have stagnated?[iii] Why are we sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to climate change and eliminating fossil fuels? Why are giving cheap computers away to villages that need food and water more than a way to receive advertising? Why are there days when I feel like the only one who seems to notice these things?

Slipping on the ice, cancer, heart attacks. These things are hard enough to deal with. Add in a recession, genetic engineering, food shortages, fuel shortages, and rising ocean waters, suddenly Ronan’s life looks a lot more complicated than mine. And it’s only his first Christmas!

Some days I play with Ronan and wonder what he’s thinking about. It’s probably something like food - change me - play with me – love me. He has no idea that people are separated from their families this Christmas, or even what a war is. I wish I could forget about those things that keep me up at night (mostly things like “How are we going to pay for this or that?” and “Where can I get work?”) but what is seen cannot be unseen. Perhaps a year from now, with only a month to go in the worst Presidency in American history, our job crisis solved, less friends and family in pain and suffering and money coming in, it will be a better Christmas. This year, for me, will be about celebrating the only thing I feel is the only constant in my life – my wife’s love for me and mine for her. With a family like mine, I can do anything.

[i] I don’t really dream of candy canes. It’s the first metaphor I thought of.

[ii] No tree, no mistletoe, no holiday decorations of any kind.

[iii] Also THIS, THIS and THIS.

About December 2007

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

November 2007 is the previous archive.

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