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March 2008 Archives

March 6, 2008

Bang! BOOM!! Crash!

Ronan with Pots and Pans
Smash Them again! That’ll teach those pans!

So as Ronan gets increasingly mobile, we have to babyproof. This means we lock everything up with safety locks that mostly annoy us and for now cause him to be disinterested in what’s behind the locked door.

We have a lock on the oven, a lock on the two doors of the bathroom cabinets, the double-door kitchen sink cabinet, and the doors of the upright cabinet from Ikea. Installing them took some doing – they come in one basic design, and it’s not evident how to put it on cabinets with widely varying designs. The upright was hardest, the right-angle lock receiver only stuck on one side. The solution was to stick one receiver to the other receiver, so that the receivers were stuck to each other as well as the cabinet door frame. I just read that paragraph, and I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about. But trust me, that was the hard one, and now even adults can’t open the left door without opening the right one first, because both door locks were made for the receiver to face one way, and because they’re stuck together, one faces the wrong way, making the lock open inside the cabinet, which is inconvenient. Try it out the next time you visit.

In fact, the whole thing is inconvenient, because at 2 AM, you really want to get a new roll of toilet paper without accidentally ripping the bathroom cabinet apart, which is what I’m going to do if I fail to remember that those doors are now locked. Plus, the bathroom cabinet is so old, total destruction is easy. (And it’s ugly. But telling your landlady “We locked the door, and Jason doesn’t know his own strength, so in the middle of the night, he accidentally ripped the doors off the hinges, so please buy us a new one. Oh, and the old one is ugly” doesn’t work really. She won’t accept “the bathroom cabinet is ugly” as an excuse for accidental early morning remodeling, and I’m too broke to afford to replace the sink, which is embedded in the top of the cabinet.)

Ronan seems unfazed by our attempts to thwart his exploration. Cabinet locked? Move on. Cabinet locked? Move on. Yes, he might play with the door, get some enjoyment out of the door popping out of his hands and back into the door frame, but he quickly moves on.

The one cabinet that was left unlocked was the one holding our pots and pans. The dear readers who have children know that toddlers love pots and pans. Ronan did not discover our pots and pans until we had locked down our apartment, but pots and pans may be the best thing ever. EVER.

He loves to sit and just bang them on the kitchen tile floor. Or bang them together. Or bang them, one in each hand, on the floor and then on each other. As long as they are making lots of noise.

Of course, he seems to find the best moment when I have the least amount of energy. He either bangs them when I’ve just woken up, or when we’re winding down for the evening.  But mostly when I’ve just woken up.

I don’t know if pots and pans toys are going to be an ongoing interest, but already they are cleaner than ever. Since I was stunted as a child with a life-long hatred of doing dishes (we would sit around the dinner table, recounting our miseries – whomever had the worst day got out of doing dishes. My brother, who is generally happy and less depressed as an adult than I am, always had the best excuse for getting out of dishes. And he’s reading this and will kill me for saying so. DEAD.) Terry does the dishes in the family. But that arrangement may have to be renegotiated – as she is now washing all the pots and pans in the house every night, even if I’ve only used a few of them to cook. Ronan has pulled out all the rest and smashed them together until they are good and admonished for being inanimate objects.

Of course, he doesn’t think of them that way – they are just fun things that make lots of noise, so let’s make lots of noise – which is not going to bode well for me. It’s a good thing that I’m broke – I can barely stand the noise when I’m just awakened – but I imagine it would be much worse if I were hung over. I have been known, once a fortnight, to enjoy a good round or four at the local pub (which, usually, is six miles away, in Manhattan) before taking the Q train home. I shudder to think what that incessant pounding would be like after a well-enjoyed night out with friends.

But, luckily I’m too poor to drink right now. With any luck, Ronan will grow out of his pot-banging phase before I have enough income to start liquidating it again.

(Terry is laughing at me as she reads this, because she knows that my nights out with friends will probably come before Ronan outgrows banging pots together.)

March 15, 2008

Light On, Light Off

Ronana at the Wedding
The blushing bride with Ronan.

Ronan and the family took our first road trip to a family wedding in Vermont. The five-hour drive turned into an eight-hour drive with lunch stops, bathroom stops, and breastfeeding stops. Luckily we arrived before the really big snowstorm hit and we spent the rest of the weekend indoors, looking out the window at the snow blowing in the wind.

Ronan was very well behaved the whole weekend, but didn’t understand why he had to stay in the car seat the whole time on the road. After all, Mom and Dad and Uncle Ryan were free to move about the cabin. Terry, as usual, was impeccably prepared with new toys that distracted him for quite a while, and he slept on the trip as well, when he was too exhausted to take in all the new sights and sounds from the back seat of a 4-wheel-drive.

But as we approached the mountain inn where we were staying, he grew restless. Terry solved this problem with the overhead light, which she turned on and off. This proved to be so entertaining; she had to spend at least an hour turning in on and off. While this kept Ronan quiet, it didn’t entertain Terry nearly as much for some reason. Every time she tried to stop, Ronan kept pointing at the ceiling light and grunting until she turned it on and off again. She kept threatening to stop; but every time she gave in to him again. He was thoroughly entertained by this.

The inn was just as much fun as the trip up. Ronan has this way of sitting back and looking around for a while before crawling around and exploring a new environment. He would take in the rehearsal dinner or the reception or breakfast and look around for a while before wanting to head off, crawling around on his own. This would be fine except he’s only about a foot off the ground when he’s crawling and most places were filled with relatives either getting sloshed or on their way to getting sloshed, and I wasn’t sure that they would notice a baby under foot. (They’ll probably all take umbrage to that characterization.)

So the only time he got to crawl around during the weekend, outside of the time spent in the hotel room, was when the reception was in full swing and the bar area was mostly emptied of people. I had to pick up some toothpicks to prevent impalements; it was only later that I realized that he had crawled through an indeterminate number of spilled drinks, soaking his pants with alcohol, but he loved the wide-open spaces not found in our Brooklyn abode and didn’t care.

Overall he was a big hit at the wedding. Most babies I’ve encountered reach a point where they can’t stand one more person picking them up; Ronan seems to thrive on it. At least a hundred times someone picked him up and carried him off for some quality time, and as long as Mom or Dad were within line of sight, he seemed not to care. The one thing he did care about was the cheering when the happy couple was introduced at the reception. The whistles and the clapping and the noise undid our fair trooper, causing his one true meltdown of the weekend. His crying could barely be heard over the thunderous applause. Apparently, besides humming and singing, Ronan does not like loud crowds. Once the wedding party was seated and the noise quieted down, he was back to his old self.

We continued building his phobia of dogs with exposure to a sheepdog, which terrified him, and a small little pug, which at first terrified him but then he became more curious about her. The sheepdog caused Ronan to back up as fast as he could, which we were not aware he could do until he did it. Now he loves to crawl backwards as much as forwards. Hopefully through slow exposure to large dogs he will lose his phobia of being eaten or something. This will hopefully also improve, as he grows big enough so that large dogs don’t seem like Godzilla to him.

After a too-large breakfast Sunday morning to help us with our post-reception blues, we all piled back in the 4-wheeler for the drive back to New York City. Ronan was not happy about being consigned to the car seat again, and the toys held little interest for him. So Terry resorted to the ceiling light yet again, until she realized that she would have to do this for the next eight hours. Thankfully Ronan became interested in the passing, ever-changing view out the window, so she was able to try to get some sleep, even though she didn’t really sleep much. Ronan stared out the window until he too fell asleep.

The logistics of rental cars in New York City being what they are, we dropped Terry and Ronan off in Brooklyn before returning the rental car to Manhattan. I arrived home about two hours after we had left them. Ronan was happily eating dinner in the high chair, with Terry feeding him. Finding your family safe and sound and happy to see you after a long road trip is quite a nice feeling.

March 20, 2008

RUN! It's A Dinosaur

Ronan and Ryan
Ronan and Ryan at the movies.

As we approach Ronan’s first birthday, we are starting to emerge from infancy and move into toddler-hood. To that end, we took Ronan to see his first movie, Horton Hears a Who. We choose this movie for several reasons; one, it’s only about 90 minutes long; it’s rated G; and most importantly, several close friends worked on making it.

The process through which we determined the acceptability of the film was much more elaborate than I remember as a child. When I was young it was basically Dad saying “that movie sounds good,” and we were off. This was a much more complicated process. We first checked with our friend who worked on the movie to see if there were any scary bits, and then rechecked just to make sure. We then checked the running time and figured out which theatre it was in so we could decide where to sit. Finally, our friend was gracious enough to check with us first about what time would be best for Ronan before inviting all his other friends.

Once we decided to bring Ronan, I acquired three tickets ($8.75 for a child’s entry. I remember when my Dad paid $1.50 for me thirty years ago – at this rate, Ronan’s children will pay $51 for a child’s ticket in thirty years.) and we were off.

Ronan loves new experiences. His preferred mode is to take in his surroundings, looking around first. Then when he is comfortable, he will start exploring. I don’t know if it just took a long time to take it all in, or if the large digital screen overwhelmed him, but he stayed put through the whole movie. He never wanted to wander around like he does in other places. Which was good.

Uncle Ryan started out holding him during the pre-show advertising (when they cut into the long advertisements to show you shorter advertisements for about twenty minutes) and into the trailers. The trailer for Ice Age 3 ended with Scrat landing on the tail of a giant dinosaur (Allosaurus or T-Rex) which bellows a deep, scary roar at the hapless nut-muncher. As Scrat fell into the beast’s tail, I knew, just knew, that this wasn't going to be any fun for Ronan. Before I could do anything, the full-throated dino roar blasted forth in surround sound, and Ronan's lower lip quivered and then he broke into his own, less noisy wail. The dino made him cry. It was one of those moments where you’re trying to be comforting to him, but he was so cute you just wanted to laugh. He was crying with his little lower lip in a pout. I took him towards the door and held him through the next trailer, which wasn’t as loud but still loud enough to continue the crying. Soon enough he calmed down and I took him back to our seats.

After the dino’s roar made him cry, it was easier for me to hold him (I was seated on the aisle) rather than pass him back during the movie. I think watching what was essentially a giant screen TV enthralled him. The new digital projection makes movies like Horton, rendered in digital 3D, really pop. Being bathed in Dolby stereo also added to his experience. I don’t know if he enjoyed it or was a little scared, but he basically didn’t move the entire time, except for the dino roar and one other loud noise during the picture.

It’s kind of amazing to be watching a movie, something I’ve done as long as I can remember, with your son on your lap watching his first movie. I doubt he will remember any of it, but it was a wonderful experience for me. Terry may have less fond memories of Horton, because she was brave enough to breastfeed Ronan during the picture in the middle of the audience. I doubt anyone noticed in the dark, but Ronan seemed to eat quickly and get back to figuring out what the giant TV was doing.

Ronan at the Movies Pointing

So, after a wedding, a church visit, and several other public gatherings, we’ve learned that Ronan is not big on crowds or loud noises. He is immediately calmed and fascinated by moving pictures, and his attention to TV or movies will last for a few hours, as long as there aren’t any loud noises. The evil characters in Horton didn’t seem to faze him in the least.

While it may be some time before we take him to the movies again, since we will not often have the benefit of consulting the filmmakers beforehand for advice about what scenes may be scary, I can’t wait. Just as I really enjoyed watching movies with my Dad, I look forward to sharing this with him also!

March 27, 2008

One Sock, Two Sock

Ronan Panda
He's cute, but he's not wearing socks.

Kids love to take their socks off as soon as they figure out how to do this. Ronan has reached that stage and he is pretty damn proud of himself, judging by the wide smile he has every time he pulls one of them off.

Silly Daddy thought socks pricing would reflect the fact that they probably are short-lived. Silly Daddy had sticker shock recently when the family went to buy socks. Daddy was expecting $2 a pair, but instead was greeted with a choice of socks that were more than $4 a pair. Suddenly having organic cotton, chemical free socks seemed much less important if they were just going to end up living for eternity stuffed behind floorboards.

The socks fly off as soon as I stop riveting my attention to his every move. Usually, just to confound matters, only one of the pair is hidden deeply inside a pile of toys. We are quickly acquiring a pile of mismatched abandoned loners. I know something has happened when Ronan stands grinning at me. That probably means he’s either very happy, or very happy and has a cold foot. Sometimes the grin is accompanied by waving the sock in the air like he just doesn’t care, before it is thrown completely out of sight, where sock elves immediately descend and take possession of the sock and carry it into a magical world where parents can never venture.

Luckily we are moving into Spring, so unless Al Gore’s wrong, it should be getting warmer. So the sock issue is easily solved by just not wearing them, which Ronan seems to prefer. However, that solution does not work yet for going outside. For now we can prevent the sock’s escape by covering the foot with a shoe. I shudder to think how short a time that diversion will work; then we will be missing shoes as well as socks.

Last night Terry took Ronan to the coop, where, while shopping, Ronan either kicked off or took off his shoe. They were brand new, first time out shoes. Luckily for us, another shopper spied the errant shoe and gave it back to Terry. But it’s only a matter of time before we begin collecting a pile of mismatched and abandoned shoes to go with our pile of socks.

Perhaps all parents could agree to trade. We could put up a website where we could post photos of our mismatched shoes and socks and partner them up with other people who are missing the same article. Or we could just end the fashion requirement of matching shoes and socks (not that I follow that much anyway, even as an adult) and get a Fashion Avenue allowance for children to wear garishly mismatched shoes and socks. It could be a new trend.

I don’t know of any study of the amount of garbage that is actually lonely kid’s shoes and socks, but I imagine it’s a lot. There’s enough tennis shoes gone missing for people to throw some of theirs over telephone poles. What percentage of landfill is actually discarded shoes and socks because Mom and Dad can’t find the partner, which is off in elfin fairyland somewhere? I bet most parents reading this think it’s pretty high.

Soon after discarding his socks, Ronan discovered how to take off his pants. Right now this is reserved as the last expression of frustration, as in, Dad has only five minutes to shower, but Ronan wants to be picked up. When Dad comes out of the shower, Ronan is standing there, minus shoes, socks, and pants, with a giant grin on his face. He clearly expects to be rewarded for his accomplishment. It doesn’t matter that we have 30 minutes for the 45 minute subway ride to meet someone; he’s taken his clothes off, dammit, and that’s pretty cool. I imagine the first time his reaction was, “Hey! I just took my pants off! This is cool!” or something like that. Often he will take off his pants and then wave them around as if they are the pelt of some animal he’s just caught and skinned in a triumphal dance.

On second thought, I’m reading too much into it. He’s just excited to get semi-naked. The fact that I have to now redress him is of no concern. He now has control over his own clothes. That’s pretty cool when you’re one.

About March 2008

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

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