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.
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.
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.
Working from home has its share of disadvantages. Laundry, filthy floors and other house distractions are always pulling me away from what I need to be doing. It also has its advantages like being able to set my own hours, a picturesque green space out our backyard, a stocked refrigerator and wildlife being chased into my home.
So it was just the other day when working at my computer I heard Indy come charging towards the front door. I literally turned and said out loud, “Dude, what’s all that about?” I watched as he stood as still as a statue in a classic hunting pose, tail erect and one leg up and crooked, by the opening to our hall cupboard. I then looked on in horror as he dove into the pile of shoes and boots and came up holding a chipmunk in his mouth.
This is exactly the kind of thing non-pet owners miss out on.
I shouted at him to “DROP IT!”, which he obediently did. Unsurprisingly it took off again. Into our living room.
Indy charged after it, his deep set animal instincts running at full throttle. Thankfully the follow-up to that instinct to chase, the actual biting down or thrashing the poor rodent to death, did not happen.
Still bewildered by the goings on I ordered him to drop it again. Which he did, resulting in a third get away and subsequently a third chase. By this time I’d raced to the kitchen to retrieve a spaghetti strainer (made sense at the time) and between the two of us we trapped the panicked and confused chipmunk under the strainer. Sliding a file folder underneath I was then able to scoop up and release the little beast back into the wild with the only evident casualty being it’s significantly damper and matted fur covered in dog drool.
Working from home with a pet in the house is never dull.
I’ve seen the article “Quit Doing These 8 Things For Your Teen This Year If You Want To Raise An Adult” zipping around FB and I like it. While “harassing your kid to be on time” wasn’t on the list it’s none-the-less one I feel caught doing most mornings. Can’t everyone see the time slipping by during yet another leisurely breakfast? How do they think they can make lunch, get dressed, pack their bags and get out the door in ten minutes when it’s never been done before? Most mornings I’m a buzzing time bomb, calling out “It’s 7:31. Now it’s 7:43!” No more. I’m adopting the mantra that learning to be late is a good thing. If you don’t like the consequences then change your behaviours.
My parental safety net default was put to the test this past morning. My daughter’s bus leaves at 8:03. As far back as 7:35 I could see things were going to go south. Come 7:55 I was sure of it. By 8:04 it was confirmed. I watched passively as the temperature rose and the tornado grew. When the bus whizzed past and the backpack fell to the floor, open, amidst a dizzying twirling teen I waited patiently for the realization to hit, options to be considered. I was available to fill in as the emergency taxi this time but I’m adjusting my routine to be around less during departure time. It’s not that I want to see my daughter stressed out in the morning. It’s more about wanting her to learn the consequences of messing up. Taking responsibility for ourselves is a lifelong pursuit and far better it be over a missed bus then something that has real effect later on in life.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is to stand back and watch. We’ll see how things go for the rest of the week…