Sunday, April 20, 2014

Father Son Lessons

In exciting news, Gunner and I can say we are starting moments of positivity. These moments are few but do come bouncing on the exercise ball while I hold him in futile efforts to console him or just to give my wife a break, much to Gunner’s aggravation. It is in these moments that I have started to enjoy the banter between father and son.

1)      Gunner has been calm during soccer matches on television. Usually, after ten minutes of British accents, he even passes out asleep. I’m not sure if he gets that from his mother, who falls asleep immediate during any English Premier League match that isn’t Manchester United, or his father, who falls asleep immediately hearing Lady Mary or Thomas the Footman in Downton Abbey. Either way, I’ll take it for I get to tell him all about clubs and players, tactics and coaches, and of course moan about my poor Arsenal.
2)      I love to explain Gunner the “Wish Creed”. When I am holding him and he is calm but starting to show signs that he wants to start crying and wailing, I simply let him know that I “wish he would start crying.” This either amuses or confuses Gunner as it off prevents the wailing for a good little bit.
3)      I love explaining the good life he has and to enjoy it and not cry about it. He lounges around the house all day with zero responsibility. Others massage him, bathe him, dress him, and feed him without him having to lift a finger. And every 3-4 hours, he gets to eat, take a nap, pee and pooh with no restrictions and have someone else clean it up, and motorboat my wife’s breasts. Sounds like a pretty good setup to me.

4)      We also watch a ton of movies and TV shows where I explain to Gunner that if he doesn’t develop a sense of humor to enjoy Modern Family or the movie Role Models, we will have issues getting along. Also, it’s okay to enjoy Chrisley Knows Best even if you can’t explain why.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I am Being Nice

My big brother my entire life and my wife the last 8 years both love to tell me the same phrase quite often, “Alec, be nice.” Apparently, I can easily not be and require gentle yet constant reminding to avoid this darkside.

So it is not surprising that when I describe parenthood of a newborn, my wife is less than thrilled. While I love and adore my kid and am excited about him growing up to be fantastic, right now he is a little terror ruining the peaceful ambiance of our home with loud noises. I am convinced our dogs and cat are plotting a way to “off” him when we aren’t looking. Right now, there are no smiles or laughs and playtime sounds more like the passengers stuck onboard the sinking Titanic than a good time.

So when the question is “How is it going new dad”, the biggest offenders of not sounding “like an excited new Dad” are…
1)      I may never have sex again so I don’t risk going through this again. And that’s not enough. I plan on travelling to all local high schools to tell kids that sex, while awesome, it is not worth the risk!
2)      Is it wrong to wake up to a crying baby feeling really really Pro Choice?
3)      Becoming a parent is like someone forced me to become a Turkish Prison Warden. There is a lot of crying, pain, and agony all day and night. There is solitary confinement and physical punishment with swaddles, cribs, pack’n’plays, etc. There are biochemical experimentations with numerous gripe waters, gas drops, colic meds, etc. There is harsh meal times with food that agitates the stomach, causes gaging and spit ups, hard gas, and odd bowel movements. There are a lot of involuntary and quite public activities in the nude such as diaper changes, bath time, and the butt cream ointment moments are straight out of Shawshank.

Trust me. I am working on compliments for when the kid can pick up on these things…

Pretending to be an angel, but we know the truth...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Art of War Round 1

During pregnancy, I wrote about the baby playing “mind games”. Now that he has arrived and is 1 month old, I have notice these “mind games” are so much more…they are wartime strategies and battle tactics. Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, “All warfare is based in deception. When able to attack, seem unable…when near, seem far…when in motion, seem inactive.” And so has begun Round 1.

Gunner has played his first hand, starting with his initial strategy I best describe as “divide and conquer through siege warfare”. One obvious focal point is to create an environment where Mom and Dad want to kill each other. Anything at 3 or 4am starts this. Focal point two is to create imbalance and uncertainty. When Dad holds him, he wails until Mom swoops in and he calms down briefly. But as Mom holds him, he starts to wail to get her to walk around or bounce on the exercise ball and he calms down briefly. But as he is being bounced, he starts to wail again for Dad to either change his diaper or helping him with gas or something. And it’s always something different as he knows to never create a routine or pattern we can learn. This scenario goes on and on 24 hours a day as Gunner unrelentingly bears down his neediness upon us. There is no room for sleep in siege warfare and he knows this. He knows this well.

One major caveat of Gunner’s tactics is that he has also mastered “giving us the eyes”. This strategy was created in the 1980s by basketball legend Magic Johnson and his infamous Showtime Los Angeles Lakers fast breaks, where he faked opponents by looking one way but passing to a teammate the other direction for an easy basket. Gunner has worked this into his siege warfare where he loves to use his eyes to lure us into false senses of security. His staple is he will yawn and show sleepy eyes like it’s so hard to stay awake. This means “Haha. I look sleepy but I’m really about to scream as loud as possible for the next 30-45 minutes. Enjoy.” Another look is he will stare at us with this iron stern crinkled brow that says “one false move and I will punch you straight in the face”. That stare will last 30 minutes to an hour and requires treading oh so softly as there is no certainty of what is to follow. And there are many other looks which my wife and I photo log all of them so like Drew Brees on Monday morning, we can look at the game film to better prepare for the next battle.

Gunner has developed a nice repertoire of these looks designed to keep us on shaky footing. Gunner has mastered when Sun Tzu says “When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” Touché little one, Round 1 is yours…but the war has only just begun.

Need I say more...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Unfortunate Side of Life

Everyone who has lost someone dear to them can tell you that the only good thing about the circle of life is the song by Elton John. A little over a year ago, my brother passed away from an undiagnosed heart disease at 32 years old. 3 months later, my other brother had his first child and 1 year after his passing, we had our first child…both boys Carter Christopher and Marc Gunner named to honor their wonderful uncle Marc Christopher Lundberg.

Monday was my brother’s birthday and to commemorate, we brought Gunner to the mausoleum for the first time to meet his namesake. While sitting there, watching my son rest next to my brother, it was the unfortunate reminder of how my brother will not be a part of raising my son. My brother was a role model to me in so many ways, always a couple steps higher on the ladder and it made me keep climbing. He kept me grounded when angry or frustrated, positive when discouraged or disheartened. I loved to stubbornly fail on my own, and fail often, but my brother was my safety net because he was the comfort in the attempt, always reassuring.

My father says we need to teach Gunner how amazing his uncle was, but it hurts to think about he won’t ever get to know Marc, revel in his jokes, bask in his laughter, find comfort in his smile…stories don’t change lives or inspire the way the presence of great people do and Gunner will never know that joy of what it is like to hang out with a truly genuine pleasant funny person. My brother was one of a kind and my son is really unfortunate…and that is a painful thought.

I admire those who turn to their faith but it doesn’t change the agony of an unexpected and unjust lost. And time doesn’t heal all wounds. One thing I can say for certain, whoever finds joy or comfort or wonderment in the notion that death brings forth new life has never lost someone close. It isn’t a marvel of nature or evolution, it’s a straight kick in the balls and spit in the face and it unluckily recurs every morning when you wake up and every night when you try to fall asleep. But life goes on so why not let Elton John sing about it.

Gunner's first visit to his Uncle...

And his first Game of Thrones (while he can be in the same room when its on)...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The "Oh It Sucks" Phase

To quote a friend of ours who has recently gone through the fun of a newborn, “Oh it sucks but trust me, just when you think there is no way you can handle any more of this, it’s like God zaps down and it is gets so much easier all the sudden.”

We are definitely not at that point, treading agonizingly in the “Oh It Sucks” Phase. While it is nice to hear of this magical place of manageable child rearing, I see no silver lining or light down the tunnel. My wife loves to remind me it is coming though, probably to prevent me from booking a flight to the British Virgin Islands until the kid’s 1st birthday.

The “Oh It Sucks” phase is not a judgment or testament about our child but instead, the disappointment in the difficulty of determining our child’s needs. A lot of the time, there is just no rhyme or reason to the crying. He cries when hungry, feed him, he cries after. He cries when gassy, get it out, he cries after. He cries when his diaper is dirty, change it, he cries after. He cries when tired but refuses to sleep, cries when he is put down, cries when he is held, cries when room is too bright, cries when it is too dark, cries when my wife puts on any of the Real Housewives shows, and the list goes on of amazing reasons to be upset. Parenting in the “Oh It Sucks” phase is the seemingly futile attempt to console the Mission Impossible inconsolable baby. Whatever works once will never work a second time and when the idea stream starts running dry, oh it sucks.

My assumption is Gunner has colic. He meets the crying requirement but we aren’t the type of parents to diagnosis our child with anything. He can have a bone sticking out his arm and we won’t say it’s broken, “It’s just a sprain so rub some Robitussin on it and get on with it”. Colic is a son of a bitch. It is one of those things that God could’ve and should’ve left out of the master plan in creating the universe, like heart disease, cancer, and rape. Crying for the sake of crying doesn’t help anyone anytime ever so we can chalk this up as a miss from the Big Guy…sounds like he owes a “zap it’s all better” sometime real soon.

Doing what we got to do...watching the tele...napping out...