Timothy has been a very calm baby, but last night, while Laura and I were at a fundraiser, he was apparently a little screaming machine. Laura attributed his behavior to T probably having a tough day away from her yesterday while she ran errands, which was comforting until I remembered that he had spent all day yesterday with me.
Laura and I balance each other out in our baby approaches (some might say classic mom and dad approaches but I won’t go there) with Laura playing by the established rules of child care and me sometimes claiming immunity (‘oh, he doesn’t need a coat outside’, and ‘he’s fine — I doubt he’ll put that in his mouth’).
The burp cloth is one example. I tend to work ‘without a net’, holding Timothy with no burp cloth on my shoulder and occasionally wiping his face off with my hand (which I have been told is not always that clean). If I find myself victim of the baby sprinkler, I just reach for one of the hundreds of burp cloths we have stationed around the house like fire extinguishers and clean it up (and then change my shirt). Laura, on the other hand, thinks it’s wise to be prepared and has a burp cloth holstered at all times. If Timothy even begins to gurgle, Laura’s like a gunslinger in the old West, ready to draw and clean up at a moment’s notice (and I’ll admit that she doesn’t require a change of clothes as often as I do).
We continue to work with Timothy on turning his head to his right, and he’s getting better, and turns and rolls to his right much more now. The challenge is when he’s in his crib, he oftentimes still defaults to his left, which is what gave him the flat spot on his head in the first place. We’re still planning on at least getting an assessment from the ‘helmet clinic’ on whether he should have some hardware on his head.
Timothy is starting to use his hands in a more meaningful way. Up until now, he has most consistently grabbed people’s hair. But now he is seeing and reaching for objects more often. Our helpers from the school district, Jan and Joan, talk about him discovering ‘cause and effect’ — where he pushes something over and realizes that he caused that to happen, and does it again. We’re starting to see more of that.
As I entered middle age a few years ago, and our kids were getting older, I found myself occasionally feeling crabby with small children in public, who just seemed to be running all over restaurants and other public places and making lots of noise. And so it was an interesting turn of the tables when baby Timothy arrived at our house last Fall — proving that God has a great sense of humor and irony. Now, if I have offended some of you because you are either a crabby adult or a parent whose kid demands all the space the world offers, please return to your seat because I’m playing both roles right now. My goal is to eventually bring both sides together to foster common understanding, but for now, I just go back and forth between playing the role of a crabby adult and an oblivious new parent.
At Elisabeth’s recent orchestra concert, I was holding Timothy. He snored a little bit, but was mostly well behaved and made little noise. He received many, many smiles from people, but we were also on the receiving end of a few less than supportive looks from our auditorium neighbors (it’s okay – I just threw them the sign language motion for ‘Edina’).
The concert ended with a beautiful piece, ‘Finlandia’. In the brief pause between the announcement of the piece and the start of the music, Timothy let out a yelp. I was holding him in the entry way and hoped that no one noticed, but afterward a half dozen people confirmed that they heard the bark loud and clear and traced it back to our wee boy.
Somewhere in that story of me being crabby at other people’s kids’ behavior and then being embarrassed by my own kid’s behavior is a lesson in karma.
But for now, let’s agree that you won’t look crabbily at our little angel and I’ll try to do the same to your kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews.