« December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

January 2008 Archives

January 5, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!

Ronan Open Wide
Ronan with mouth open wide. This doesn't happen during feeding.

So in my Dad’s group, which I have been missing due to visiting grandparents, colds, Christmas, final exams, job loss, and God knows what else, the older kids used to eat an entire jar – four ounces – of baby food at one sitting.

With Ronan, we’re lucky if he eats an ounce in one sitting. Ronan turns nine months old today, and he’s a happy healthy baby boy. Even when he had a cold last week and his temperature was 102° F, he still was happy. I pray to God that he doesn’t lose that wonderful, joyous personality when he becomes aware of the world.

So happiness is good. So far, he’s about on target for weight, which means he’s getting enough food. The next well baby visit is next Tuesday, and we’ll find out if he’s still on target for average weight.

In the mean time, we will fight over food. While we claim he eats an ounce, actually it’s less, because a sizeable quantity is deposited on his head, hands, chin, hair, floor, ceiling, and high chair. I’m not sure what we’re doing wrong (nothing, really) but his first reaction is to spit out the food. It was pretty funny introducing solids. He would take the first bite and then his whole body would shudder as if he’d just bitten into a lemon. The food would be pushed out by his tongue, and then sucked back in again. Eventually he calmed down and would eat. But not much.

We tried making food from scratch, which was, according to Ronan, a terrible idea. We couldn’t get him to eat anything we ground up. We also had an adventure with avocado, which I have never prepared before, and which Terry had placed in the refrigerator, ensuring that it would never ripen. Obviously we’re avocado experts. Let me tell you – do not attempt to grind or mush an unripe avocado. I swear the army is using unripe avocado as armor on their new tanks. After I successfully shot hard avocado around our kitchen, and later our dining room, I looked up online and found that you shouldn’t store avocado in the fridge. Ronan was very entertained with my antics while I attempted to grind that thing into mush.

The second avocado, which was properly ripened, was met with disgust. Ronan and I will not be sharing guacamole anytime soon if his utter hatred of avocados is any indication. His “WHAT THA FUCK IS THAT” look throughout the avocado experience was funny except that it was sadly tinged with my parent guilt over my inability to feed my child. Eventually, after it was frozen and turned brown, I made ersatz guacamole and ate the second avocado myself with beans and rice.

There will not be a third avocado.

Likewise, those of you, and you are apparently many, who advocate rice and oatmeal cereal will be disheartened to learn that, after many attempts, Ronan thinks that rice cereal and oatmeal tastes, well, terrible. We don’t exactly know what he thinks, but he basically spins his head in the direction away from the oatmeal or rice cereal.

About the only moderate hit is mangos. However, mangos get rejected if you mix them with oatmeal or rice cereal. Other fruit, like pears, is not as popular as mangos.

Spinach and lentils, lentils and squash, peas and carrots, squash alone, and sweet potatoes require a strange ritual immediately familiar to all parents. First, you have to trick Ronan into removing his fist from his mouth, which is his defense against food. Suitable tactics include deploying a baby spoon that he can control, or just pulling his fingers out of his mouth, which runs the risk of his fingers getting BACK in before you can cram a spoonful of food into his mouth. Giving him his own spoon also helps with the sudden and rapid power play to seize the food spoon for himself. When Ronan seizes the spoon that has food on it, it turns into a catapult. We know there’s food landed somewhere in the apartment, and from time to time, we find it, usually with our feet in socks, where it feels most cold and gooey.

The second stage of the eating ritual is to repeat his name over and over, interspersed with loud “ahhhhhhhhhs” as our own mouths form an “O.” A typical dinner conversation now sounds like this:

Jason: We need milk. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Ronan

Terry: (simultaneously) AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH Ronan I can go to the store tomorrow.


Terry: (simultaneously) Ronan AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Don’t we have some in the breadbox?

While we’re doing that, Ronan is looking from parent to parent, quietly hoping that our sanity will return. He never actually opens his mouth as a direct response to our aaahhhhhs, so it must serve only to make us feel better about our feeding abilities.

This is all quite funny until you realize that I’m writing this blog at 4 AM, while nearby Ronan happily and greedily breastfeeds from Terry. It’s possible that the lack of good solid food at his advanced baby age of nine months may be contributing to his early morning cries for breast milk.[i] Hopefully if we get him up to twelve ounces a day, he will sleep better.[ii]

Finally, I want to tell you about these new toys Ronan’s discovered. Every meal he gets five new ones to play with. They are called “cheerios.” While most of us think they are food, Ronan prefers to play with them until they somehow, through spit and mangos, adhere themselves to his butt, his clothes, or the high chair. If he actually ate some of them, he would get more, but so far we’ve only seen one of the dozens of suicide cheerios actually consumed. The others are simply left to cling to his butt. I’m not sure how he ends up sitting on top of them, but there they are, waiting to be discovered when it’s least convenient to find cold, wet, sticky oat residue on your fingers or feet. Think about that the next time you sit down to eat.

[i] Off topic, but I’ve been over-thinking about breast milk lately. (Hey, it’s 4 AM.) Why is it called breast milk? We don’t call cow’s milk “udder milk.” Why don’t we call it human’s milk? We call cow’s milk and goat’s milk by their species designation. Why not breast milk? Probably because women object to being grouped in with cows and goats, that’s why. Just a thought. It’s 4 AM.

[ii] And we’ll have more poo to clean up as well. Everything’s a trade off with babies.

January 16, 2008


Don't Say It
Who can imagine such foul language coming from such a cute Kid?
Jason was cute once too.

Terry’s niece liked potato chips when she was very young. When she wanted another one, she would yell “Bitch!” which kind of sounds like chips, if you think about it.

Regular readers of the blog may notice that I am free with the Celtic oaths. Some might say that I am as free with the swearing as my father. On the occasion of my eighth grade graduation, we drove my then best friend (whom I’ve not spoken to since 1987) and his brother and mother to the school for the ceremony. Afterwards I went with my friend to his house, where I had this conversation:

My friend’s Mom: Your father is such a religious man.

Me: (incredulous) Ah, what? Religious? My Dad?

My friend’s Mom: He was praying so much today.

Me: During the ceremony?

My friend’s Mom: When he was driving.

Me: Ah, he prays? When he drives?

My friend’s Mom: He kept repeating, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” over and over again.

I can assure you that he was not praying. For my Dad, that was pretty tame. Especially when he was driving. I’ve heard a lot worse screamed out at bad drivers who happened to get in his way.

Ronan, my son, has started repeating sounds. This is good.

I swear. A lot. This is bad. This is bad because Ronan is learning to speak, and he gets excited about excitement. In other words, emotions make him happy. (Go figure.) Since I utter “Fuck!” with a great deal of emotion, this could mean that he will gravitate towards my profanity.

Not that I have a problem with the word “Fuck.” Compared to, say, the firebombing of Tokyo, I don’t think words are such a big deal. For just a few missed chances, a tone change here or there, some other word could have been offensive. I’m mildly offended when people make a big deal out of the word “Fuck.” George Carlin has a great routine about “Fuck” that sums up why the FCC has its head up its ass.

Yet it’s not the first (or second or third) word I’d like Ronan to use. Why? Because my wife, who excels at all things, taught me that “Fuck” is much more powerful if you use it sparingly. As in, when I say “Fuck!” nobody much cares, because I say “Fuck!” when I drop something, when my computer doesn’t boot up, when I’m late, and whenever I’m pissed off, which, apparently, is a lot.

Terry, on the other hand, hardly ever uses the word “Fuck!” When we were getting our wedding invitations together, and many friends came over (Thanks again!) to help stuff envelopes, Terry said, “Fuck!” and the whole assembly line stopped. Dead. Not because Terry said “Stop!” or “Halt!” or “There’s a mistake!” but because she said “Fuck!” and she never says “Fuck!” So when Terry says “Fuck!” something is really fucking wrong. Several people, including me, looked terrified. It all turned out okay, something was missing from the finished envelopes but we could stuff it in, blah blah blah. The point is that if I had said “Fuck!” that the whole assembly line would have kept moving without a care in the world, because I said “Fuck!” fourteen times just opening the first box of envelopes.

So teaching Ronan the proper use of expletives is important. Plus, we don’t want him saying “Fuck!” all the time.[i] Right now he’s just mimicking sounds, but soon it will be words. And it will be easier to not teach him to say “Fuck!” than for Ronan to unlearn saying the word.

Which puts me at a disadvantage. One, I have to think about what I’m going to say. Two, I have to stop myself from saying it. Did you ever want to stop a behavior, but the more you thought about it, the more you did it? That’s where I am now. I’m trying not to say “Fuck!” but the more I think about it, the more I find myself saying it. Am I just coming to terms with how much I swear? Am I swearing more now that I’m trying to stop?

I think I have to substitute another word for “Fuck!” Something that is kinda cool, but not too retro. Any ideas? Either post a comment or email me.

After all, it’s just a word. Penis.

[i] As a baby, I couldn’t say “Fork!” instead I said “Fuck!” and would shout “FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!” in restaurants when I wanted my own fork.

January 20, 2008

Just Eat It

Ronan Bites
Ronan will eat paint chips, but not solid food.

We are finally making progress on the eating solid foods front. And when I say “solid” I actually mean “viscous liquid” as baby food isn’t actually solid. As expected from a young American, the sweet foods – pears, apples, mangoes, etc. – are very popular. Sweet potatoes, however, are not looked upon favorably. Squash is okay. Peas and rice, green beans and rice are welcomed. What is not welcomed is anything with chunks in it.

Finger food? Out. Cheerios? Out. Cheese? Out. Boiled egg yolk? Well okay, but only by accident. Right out? Oatmeal, rice cereal, pasta, and anything with carrot chunks in it.

Ronan is quite adept at spitting out the carrot or pasta or whatever chunk, while sucking the viscous liquid around it. He does not like the chunks of real food in his baby food. Even though he is almost ten months old he still greets each spoonful by sticking out his tongue, pushing most of the food out of his mouth. But surely, by some means, he will not eat that pasta or carrot.

The one time we gave him some of our food, macaroni and cheese, carefully cutting it up into baby-bite size chunks, it was too big and he choked. Now, being the son of a dramatist, I tend to completely panic when I choke on food. Ronan had a detached calmness while he was choking, like this happened on a regular basis (I cannot think of another time he choked on food). He spit the pasta out and went right on with his meal as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile I had ripped off the tray to his high chair, his bib, and was about to administer the Heimlich maneuver. Ronan looked at me if I was crazy, because I probably was.

The books say Ronan should be eating twelve ounces of solids a day. We’re overjoyed if he finishes a single ounce at each meal, for a total of three per day. Twice recently he has eaten an entire jar from opening to emptying, which is a four-ounce meal. This is an outstanding achievement, and we high-five and clap like it’s the BEST THING ever.

Because of the arrangement of our tiny living room, I’m the one that feeds Ronan (if I happen to be awake; I usually sleep through morning meal these days.) the food-laden raspberries, where Ronan puts his lips together and blows food all over me, have been replaced with clapping, where his food-encrusted hands launch baby food everywhere. The catapult, where he grabs a full spoonful and then lets go to launch it into the heavens, is still popular.

But he’s definitely eating, and that’s a good thing. Let’s say that he’s eating three ounces. At least one ounce seems to get on his clothes, and at least two get eaten. That’s already a 50% improvement.

It’s a little traumatic to see him covered in food and then he rubs his eyes with hands full of food. We can just imagine the food getting into his eyes and causing all sorts of problems. But that doesn’t really happen; it’s just scary and silly to see him not care that he’s rubbing food into his eyes.

As he ages, he will get better at eating. Ronan, if you’re reading this years later, you did very well.

January 28, 2008

Answering the Imam’s Call

UN Chapel
The UN Church Center in Turtle Cove.
(No, really, that's what the area used to be called.)

So, unfortunately, my friend’s father died. He was a mover and shaker at the United Nations, so the memorial service was at the same place Terry and I got married, the United Nations Church Center, a non-denominational chapel.

Now that I’m a stay-at-home Dad, I have to think about what to do with Ronan if I want to go somewhere. There are three choices: 1.) Stay home; 2.) Go with Ronan strapped to my chest or in his stroller; 3.) Get Terry, Ryan or someone else to stay with him. Before coming to the memorial service, I checked with my friend to see if it was okay to bring a baby.

His first sentence was “No.” The second sentence was “Just kidding, we’d love to see him.” Assuming his second sentence to be truthful, Ronan and I bundled up in his Bjørn carrier and headed off to midtown East.

Actually, I left out an important part: Ronan had such a crabby morning I was considering not going. He cried in my arms; he cried on the floor; he cried in his playpen. A short nap didn’t help. I fed him some solid food while I considered skipping the service. Checking with my brother, he wasn’t going, he had a temp job. I knew several other friends that wanted to be there but couldn’t because of work. Then the phone rang. My friend was on the other line with a question about microphones for the video of the service. I tried to be helpful, but he ended with, “See you soon, right?” which pretty much meant I had to go. Then we bundled up and rode the subway to Grand Central and walked to the UN Chapel.

Traveling with a child always takes 30 minutes more to get ready than I think it will, and instead of arriving early, we were cutting it close to the beginning of the service. I began to panic about not finding a seat as we got closer to the chapel. Luckily I was able to get a seat in the back. Joining me on my left was the UN representative (I think) of the Salvation Army, and on my left was the UN representative (I think) of someplace. Ronan was delighted at all the new things to look at. The service began with an Imam’s prayer, and then Andrew Young — of the Carter Administration — gave the eulogy. (My friend’s Dad was really involved with the UN.) About halfway through Ronan decided he’d had enough of looking around and had to explore.

This is the crucible of parenting. While he’s not yet walking, he’s crawling, and given a ledge (like, say, a row of chairs) he will go “cruising” which is not related to gay bars, but a baby term for holding on to something while the baby walks around. Ronan loves cruising and crawling, preferring it to any system of confinement we can think of or purchase.[i]

So I was faced with a dilemma. Do I let him down, and watch him crawl/cruise away? Do I hold him and hope he doesn’t cry? Ronan, as usual, made the decision for me. He was going to cry if he wasn’t allowed to explore, so I put him down, hoping he would just sit and be content. Foolish Daddy!

Ronan sat for about 3 seconds, then took off for the exit. The Salvation Army lady stopped him, and I scooped him up. She made faces at him for the rest of Andrew Young’s speech. For the next speech, he played with her shoulder rank insignia, attempting to grab it. This provoked Daddy’s earnestly repeated but quiet “No!” followed by Salvation Army lady’s “Oh, that’s okay.” Then it was time to get on the floor again.

This time Ronan didn’t take off for the exit. Instead, he entertained himself by sticking his hands up the butts of the three people in front of me. Two were delighted by his poke enough to smile at him and get a big smile back. The third person did not smile, but her stern gaze still got a smile from Ronan anyway.  Obviously either Ronan poked her where the sun doesn’t shine or she has a heart of stone. Again, repeatedly, I would take his hands away from the people’s butts. He thought this was great fun!

For the next speech, Ronan crawled under the chairs in front of us, and had a grand time laughing at me whispering for him to come back.

For the last speech, Ronan crawled up the leg of the UN representative of someplace, who actually didn’t seem to mind.

Ronan just started clapping. After every speech, he would listen to everyone clap, then after the audience stopped, he would start — but then he couldn't hear clapping anymore, so he would stop before he really got started. A whole room full of people clapping delighted and excited him but he couldn't figure out the procedure for starting and stopping.

Finally, an hour later, the Imam came back to close the service with prayer. I can’t write or speak Arabic, but it was very heartfelt and beautiful, and everyone was moved by it, including Ronan, who yelled out the last three syllables, almost perfectly mimicking the Imam’s words. Which was a great way to end the service. Instead of wanting to melt into my seat, instead people found his sounds quite delightful (or, at least, they didn’t tell me they were pissed off by his outburst.)

Ronan and I waited for the crowds to make their way upstairs after the service. Allowed the free run of the whole row at last, he cruised down the aisle giggling with joy at finding a new place to play.

At the reception[ii], so many people, even those I didn’t know, commented on how well behaved Ronan was, and that they had no idea an infant was even in the room. For all his activity, he confined himself to poking the five people directly around us, and while they knew for sure a baby was in the room, most of the other people did not.

The only time my friend heard Ronan was when he answered the Imam’s call. I’m damn lucky to have such a great son who is so well behaved!

[i] Actually, we just converted the last open space in our apartment into a medium-sized playroom. He prefers to be outside of it.

[ii] On a side note, despite the years I spent working at an international school, I could never master the European two-cheek kiss. So with one other friend’s Mom, I kissed her cheek, then realized too late that she had her other cheek offered as well. Then, as she realized that no second kiss was forthcoming, she retracted her cheek. That’s when I realized I was supposed to kiss her a second time, and kissed her now withdrawn cheek. Then, in the receiving line, my first friend’s Mom offered her second cheek to kiss, and I totally forgot about it. So she too was left hanging without a second kiss. I’m just an ugly American, sorry!

About January 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Freaks & Geeks Parenting in January 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 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