Saturday, February 21, 2015

Some Do's and Dont's - Year 1

I know there are a billion do's and dont's of parenting, but since there are so many, not all of them get shared and new parents need all the help they can get. So I have decided to share 8 lesser discussed do's and dont's that I have experienced in this past year.

1) DO develop a good safety hold and fun song/dialogue at bath time. For several months, giving baths is very nearly a leisure afternoon in Guantanoma Bay so develop the technique early.

2) When your kid can crawl/walk and is engaged in playing with his toys or watching tv, DON'T make direct eye contact. Like mountain gorillas, they only become dangerous after you make direct eye contact and your kid will stop being content and cling all over you. Let them be at peace.

3) DO use your child to get whatever you can in public. Much like priority airplane boarding, the kid can open grocery checkout lanes, skip ahead to get coffee or at the bank or any line really, get a free appetizer or side dish...basically if you have to endure the hassle of bringing the child to run errands then make sure you can be rewarded.

4) DON'T be too snooty to let your child play with trash. It is well known babies like crinkly things. So when you finish a water bottle, give to the kid. Boil pasta, toss the kid the box. Be smart about it and don't give them a used insulin needle. But basically, the idea that your child is "too good" to play with "creative thrifty homemade" toys is nonsense. Your kid can't pooh or fart on command, can't figure out a circle block goes in a circle hole, can't look at noise behind him without falling over. New Flash: Fisher Price and Melissa and Doug toys aren't requirements for Mensa candidates or Stanford enrollment.

5) DON'T even bother trying to not sing or hum the theme songs to all your kid's shows. They will be in your head all day every day so don't fight it. Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, Daniel Tyger's Neighborhood, Curious George, and the list goes on. That's why the geniuses at Disney make songs worth singing...because they know those songs will be hopelessly trapped in your mind!

6) DO everything you can to avoid or delay your child learning that they can just give whatever food they don't like to the dogs. Gunner realized that if he doesn't want the chicken or turkey or carrots or green beans, the dogs do...thus beginning a lethal alliance against the parents striving for balanced diets at mealtime.

7) DON'T take your bedtime book collection lightly. Oh no my friend, it needs to be so much more than Dr. Suess. I remembered loving Green Eggs and Ham so I figured it would be my staple go-to story. Not the case. I hate reading it and Gunner hates hearing it. All the boxes, foxes, trains and planes drive us both up the wall. Much like on Wall Street, bedtime stories need you to diversify. We have fallen all for rhyming books with good dramatic story lines and character building yet can still be read cover to cover in 2-4 minutes. Impossible you say? Try Room on the Broom and tell me you can't wait for the Oscar worthy movie starring Cate Blanchett.

8) Dads, DO take joy (never find a reason to be offended or argue) in the jokes about you "not pulling your weight" compared to the moms with a baby. The best I have heard is that your wife should name your next child Gotham, so that way when the kid is screaming crying in the middle of the night, she will say "Gotham needs you" and you will be unable to resist the need to be Batman. And yes dads, you know it is won't be able to resist.

One with the camera....

Stud Muffin at Starbucks eating a muffin... you doing?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mardi Gras Tribute to My Brother

As Gunner approaches his first birthday, he has started to develop a behavior recently that throws up the red flag for all new parents, experienced parents, and non-kid having adults...the fussing when not allowed to have something or to go somewhere he wants. While I am proud he as identified this emotional connection and attempted communication, it does get old quick. Luckily as of now, he only grunts in frustration then does some weird humpback whale whine before moving on to his next interest. It is more comedy than drama....for now.

As the kid is becoming more understanding of communication, the need for effective parenting is close upon us. My wife has nothing to worry here. Me? I clearly have been faking it this whole time. There is very little skill required in changing a diaper, preparing a bottle at mealtime, cutting banana slices, or a riveting round of peek-a-boo. Now is when what is said and done is heard and repeated, and our behaviors will help determine his behaviors. And that is a lot of pressure for a new parent.

This week marks two years ago when I lost my brother. I think about him all the time but what I never expected was how strange the moments are when I miss him most; when something funny happens or when I'm having a hard time as a parent. I don't know why but it feels like we need the people we care about the most when we are feeling at our best or at our worst. Now, as Gunner starts to be a little man, I wish my brother could be around to help shape the kid's demeanor and behavior and help me not raise a sociopath child. It is amazing how of small successes and failures as a parent feel like our best and worst moments as a person. It is fair to say I am dreading this next phase of parenting without him.

This week is also Mardi Gras. Not sure why but Endymion has always been the parade for us. If we only go to one parade, it's Endymion. Only fitting, while Endymion was my brother's last good time, it was Gunner's first parade. And it was a good time. While we can't share everything with those we love, it is important we try to share whatever we can.

February 10th...In remembering my brother, Gunner had a "testify" moment at the Munch Factory over beef brisket and cheese grits...slightly over dramatic

 He just started standing up in his crib to screw with camera. Needless to say, we have now moved the camera...

 Walking to our first parade for Mardi Gras....all business...

Endymion on Orleans with the Maumus Family....and about 100 others friends...

No we didn't catch that bead...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Feeling like a Dad

I have learned in my first months as a dad, and as the show "Teen Mom" will happily reinforce, is that no one really becomes a parent when your child is born. At first, it is just a figurehead position where you are a "parent" in title only. Anyone who says they were "born to be a mom/dad" is completely insane and should have their kids taken away from them. And God help them if they are saying that without any kids.

In my humble opinion, becoming a parent is that moment when your kid has taken an emotional priority in your life. This does not happen at birth despite what women say when they give birth and become mothers. No one can be one person for 30 years and then be someone else 10 minutes after they have spent 12 hours being pumped with drugs during childbirth. They are disillusioned or schizophrenic. I know all parents feel they must give that PC answer so everyone doesn't think they are horrible people or that the child is in danger. "I just love my baby so much...they are the most important thing in the world...I can't imagine life without them...I would never go back to before". Really? You can't remember life two days ago or the last 30 years of sleeping, socializing, travelling, exercising, a floral fresh scented home, drinks (or anything) with friends? Like I said, psycho.

Of course the baby does immediately become a physical priority in consuming most if not all of our time, attention, and energy. And we do care tremendously for the child and work adamantly to please, comfort, adore, and protect at any and all times day and night. But to be an emotional priority is so much different. It is that moment when you genuinely would rather do something with your child over everyone else and that something could be just hanging out doing nothing; or when your child's activities for the day just seem more entertaining than your own. Parenting is usually such a chore so I doubt most people even realize when this moment occurs but I am sure it happens to all parents at different times and for different reasons. It is a wonderful feeling of achievement like a promotion, moving from a "parent" to "Dad" and from the "the couple with the baby" to a "family".

"Hmmm....interesting point..."

Some see-saw fun at buddy Maddox's 1st year birthday party...

A little sick so slightly quarantined at the party...luckily it was a gorgeous day...

"Don't scratch the paint, girl!"...

Developing Mom and Dad's road rage...

Our little Himalayan Marmot...needs a gym membership to "tighten" up that figure...not flattering

Our little man, how I know all the crap is worth it...I already forgave him for wrecking the car when he is 16...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Our First Time Away from the Baby

Sunday: So at nearly 11 months, my wife and I had decided to have our first night where neither of us were with the baby going to bed or with him waking up, a truly momentous accomplishment. Gunner was going to stay at his grandmother's house with his aunt in town assisting as well. And here is his reaction when we told him.

Of course our evening sans bebe had "poor parents" written all over it. Upon ordering a lovely bottle of wine, I commented to my wife "I hope it's good. It's worth 272 diapers." We then proceeded to look at the baby the restaurant...over a bottle of Bordeaux and cheese board similar to our days in France that led us to this baby fiasco in the first place. Oh how it all comes full circle. As for Gunner, we have him on a nice routine so he did well (at least that's what we were told.) First run: success. 

Monday: My wife insisted on having a birthday dinner with my parents (2 days before my birthday) and when at dinner, my wife insisted on giving me my present (2 days before I should get any gifts). Knowing the futility of explaining the oddities with hopes of change when dealing with my wife, I opened my birthday gift and found a plane ticket to Puerto Rico departing in exactly 12 hours to be gone all week.

Immediately, two thoughts entered my head:
1) This woman is going to get me fired!
2) I am going to miss that baby of ours...

Tuesday through Friday: We flew to San Juan, enjoyed the beach and the sea, sailed around the island at sunset, walked the old town, my wife surfed or "surfed", realized Puerto Rican Starbucks is awful....and of course, video chatted with the kid and stalker watched him sleeping on the crib monitor any and every chance we could. It is not creepy, it is responsible parenting.

The sea from the beach...

The fort on the bay...

Some birthday sailing around the island...with the best wife ever...