Cowboys vs babies

Dear Ron,

Some days I’m filled with wonderfully insightful wisdom on the subject of parenting. Other days I have relatively useless but slightly entertaining thoughts about kids. This definitely fits the latter and is proof positive that simply spending some time with your son can yield some interesting observations.

From the archives, I hope you enjoy.

Thinking of you.

Jason

cowboys and babies

 

Share your wealth

Dear Ron,

One of the best things you can do for your son will be to hand him over to someone else. Not forever, just for a moment or two. People love babies and there is some sort of cosmic goodness that comes to anyone who lovingly holds one. When people other than mommy or daddy hold your babe, it helps them build a comfort level among others who aren’t their primary caregiver. While this is generally very hard for first time parents to do (third and fourth children not so much…) because we’re fearful that the other person might drop our child or hold them incorrectly or not be as attentive as we would be, the benefits of sharing your child far outweigh any negatives. Cute, cuddly little babies become heavier more demanding infants. Infants cry. A lot. If they only find comfort with one person and that person isn’t available, hysteria sets in. Life for that one person is also devoid of any independence and killer biceps are a poor consolation prize.

Our kids were both content in other’s arms. I attribute this partly to their personality but also to our willingness to pass them of. It’s easier with family and friends, harder with complete strangers but I can attest to the magic of it all. Your son will be a treasure. Share the wealth and reap the benefits.

Thinking of you.

Jason

holding the baby

 

 

The art of the diaper change…

Dear Ron,

My apologies for not sending you a note these past couple of weeks, I’ve been busy with a new gig and time does just fly by. I’ve been thinking about you though, and other tidbits I can share about being a dad. I came across the drawing below while flipping through the Art of Dad archives and figured this was worth a note.

Boys and girls are different. We all know that, but what those who’ve never changed a diaper may not know is that gender and the accompanying equipment can have a profound effect on how that diaper change might unfold. I can’t remember a single time my daughter got me, but my son, well, that was a different story. I vaguely recall being warned, but having already changed diapers for nearly two years I’d thought I’d seen it all. I hadn’t. To wit, some suggestions for you when changing your son:

Keep the diaper bag/box/equipment very close. Reaching for it leaves you exposed and opens you up to trouble. Warning: they start wiggling sooner than you think and you’ll find yourself moving to keep up and your supplies just get farther and farther away…

Move quickly. Old one off, new one on. Putting the new one under the old one and doing the quick switch can be effective or at the very least, act as a shield until fully secured. Warning: This is easier said than done if you’ve got a scrapper or a happy-to-be-me-and-free baby.

Keep a washcloth over him while you struggle with the new diaper. Warning: Wrigglers will shake this loose almost immediately and duct-tape is frowned upon.

Minimize exposure time. The more time things are free and easy in the cool air the greater the urge to go. Warning: This is doubly tough if you are faced with diaper rash and believe in getting some air time to help lessen the rash. Somehow I always waited just a moment too long.

Invest in a full hazmat suit. This might be your best option.

Do be the kind of dad that changes your baby regularly, especially early on. Your lovely wife will have just had the workout of her life and will need lots of recovery time. This is a great way for you to help out and connect with your boy. Parenthood is dirty work. You will have things on you that you never dreamed of and running around like a lunatic screaming “GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF!” will only be seen as entertainment and re-inforce the behaviour.

With that, I say be well my friend.

Jason

good stream

(And yes, he got me in all of these areas pictured and then some.)

Nocturnal newborns

Dear Ron,

I had a lousy sleep last night. I don’t why. It could have been the howling winds outside, or the financial issues on my mind or the extra glass of wine I had to combat the financial issues, whatever the reason it got me thinking about you and newborn sleeping patterns.

The effort required to parent is enormous. The feeding, changing, walking, anticipating, playing, cleaning, changing again takes so much of our physical, emotional and mental well being that 7:00pm looks like a perfectly reasonable bed time for a grown adult. What makes it even more challenging is that some babies, (our son for example) become nocturnal. How is this possible you ask? Don’t they just adjust to the rhythms and flow of every day life? No my friend. No. You can swaddle them within an inch of their lives, adjust the temperature in their room to the perfect setting, wrap them in the softest blankets made from beluga tears and unicorn hair and still they’ll act like badgers and bats (I learned badgers were nocturnal one night while watching an animal documentary at 3:00 in the morning with a fully awake newborn) just when you need your rest the most.

I have no great words of wisdom here other than this – get as much sleep now as you can. Bank it, because you’re going to be making more withdrawals than you are deposits. That and remember nothing lasts forever, it just feels like it’ll never end when you’re in the moment.

With that, I wish you a very good rest tonight.

Thinking of you,

Jason

 

nocturnal newborns

 

Reflex vs. Real

Dear Ron,

There are a number of milestones as a new parent that will change your life – for the next few days until exhaustion renders you practically useless – that are worth reflecting on. Ask any parent for the exact day their child first walked or said their first word and I’ll bet they won’t remember. They will however remember the feeling associated with that moment. It’s pure joy, unlike anything you’ve experienced previously.  Such was the case the first time my son smiled at me. While I don’t remember the date I do remember being in our living room, cradling him and just staring down at this incredible little person all wrapped up in his onesie. His wee chubby face went from a blank expression to this wonderfully robust smile. It started with his mouth as his lips curled up creating a bulge in the fatty mass of his cheeks squeezing his already shut eyes closer together. I was elated! I called out to my wife to share the good news. She was far more practical in her response. I learned right then, which I’ll share with you now, that babies have something called “REAL” smiles and “REFLEX” smiles.

Reflex smiles tend to be shorter and occur randomly, during sleep or fatigue. They’re similar to the jerky arm and leg movements your baby experiences as they test out their new equipment and tend to disappear around 2 months of age. Real smiles occur in response to something, your face or the sound of someone they love and you’ll see this emotion further expressed in their eyes.

As I look at the drawing I created when I first experienced this reflex vs. real scenario I’m momentarily transported back to those days when I could hold my son like a loaf of bread and pass the time just staring down at him. I encourage you in the early days of parenthood to put aside distracting bits of tech and do just that. Scoop your wee lad up, hold him close and sit down on the couch together staring into his perfect little face. If you do get a smile before the clinically proven emotionally specific time that confirms he loves you for you, enjoy it anyways.

Thinking of you,

Jason

gas

The belly button

Dear Ron,

I had rather large breakfast this morning which in turn gave me a bit of a gut ache which in turn led to an examination of my stomach that further led to me poking around my belly button which reminded me of you. Well, more your future child than you. After birth, babies go through a rapid and diverse transformation from beautiful to gross, to beautiful to gross to beautiful (this repeats based on a myriad of factors and how often they throw-up, poop and pee all over you – more on that later). I would like to share with you one such transformation that is both incredible and pretty gross so that you go into things with wider eyes than I did.

Firstly, should the doctor and her team afford you the opportunity to cut the umbilical chord immediately after your child’s birth, jump on it. It is without a doubt one of the strangest and most memorable things you’ll ever do. My recollection of the event is a bit blurry as birth is a wonderfully chaotic and traumatic thing with lots of sweating, shouting, beeping noises and blood – and that was just me. I do recall looking down at my wife with complete amazement and admiration for what she’d just done, over at my new son covered in white paste and blood and rasping like an old man when one of the medical team thrust a pair of scissors in my hand and said, “Cut the chord dad!”. Imagine if you will, severing the life line that your wife grew, that kept your child alive in her stomach for 9 months, with a pair of scissors. You’ll never look at that tool the same way again. Take a moment to acknowledge the magnitude of what you’re doing then use all the bloody strength you posses because by this point you’ll be exhausted. Before you know it, the medical team will make a closer cut to your child’s belly and the chord will be clamped and covered with a bandaid. Here’s the next interesting bit.

For the next few weeks that remaining umbilical chord will get darker and harder until a crusty little chunk is left. If you’re the kind of person who likes to pick scabs this will be an incredible temptation for you. The contrast between the perfectly smooth and wonderfully soft baby skin and this crusty bit of stuff is too large to ignore. Hold tight man. Let nature do it’s thing. One day it will fall off. You might not even know when (as was our case which left me wondering for days if it had fallen into my bed, my food, my clothes…). Before long that reminder of the lifeline will be gone and it won’t’ be until you’ve had a big meal that forces you to poke at your gut that you’ll be reminded of the miracle that is this whole parenting thing.

I’ve included a drawing from the Art of Dad archives from 11 years ago that I hope you enjoy.

Thinking of you,

Jason

belly button

The Snoo, bassinets and babies

My best mate is having his first child and as distance keeps us from getting together I thought I’d create a special section on The Art of Dad where I can post never before seen drawings from my first ever sketchbook when our son was born nearly 12 years ago. This section will be known as: Dear Ron.  I hope you enjoy.

benzilla

Dear Ron,

I saw your “Snoo” post on Instagram. It’s a lovely piece of furniture. May your boy sleep in it more soundly than ours did in the 4th generation basinet we had beside our bed. The accompanying illustration comes from The Art of Dad archives from nearly 12 years ago.

Thinking of you, Jason