Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Month Eight Musings

I’m sure at some point in your life, you’ve heard old people lament about how “kids grow up so fast”. Generally, I don’t really buy into it. Sure, time flies when you have a child (mostly because you don’t have any free moments to actually recognize the down time), but the actual growing up is a slow development. It’s not as though kids suddenly wake up one morning talking and walking. There are the gradual periods leading up to these momentous occasions where the kids are talking gibberish, walking (with assistance) like a drunken sailor, and exhibiting flashes of understanding of concepts and human interaction.

It’s month eight… and Jackson is right in the middle of this period – he’s on the cusp of doing a lot of new, super-exciting, semi-grown-up things… but he’s not quite there yet.

Walking. There’s an expression that you’ve got to learn to crawl before you walk. Apparently Jackson has never heard this expression because at this point, I think it’s fairly unlikely that my son is ever going to crawl on all fours. Don’t get me wrong, he’s mobile. He’s actually quite the speed demon “scootching” across the floor on his stomach. When he comes across something interesting at a higher level than the floor, he’ll raise to all four (on his hands and knees) to examine – but then when he loses interest and it comes time to move on, he’ll drop back down to his stomach and scootch away, gathering as much dirt and grime on his outfit as possible.

However, given the opportunity to pull himself up on something, he’s all about it. If you stand on one side of the room and make a “come here” motion with your hands (yes, treating him like a dog), he’ll scootch over as fast as possible, put his hands into your hands, and stand himself up within a second. At that point, with your assistance, he’ll walk all over the room as fast as possible checking out the view of things from two feet off the ground. Aside from playing in the cat water, it’s safe to say that pulling up and walking around is Jackson’s favorite past time.

But Jackson takes it to a strange extreme.

Not only does Jackson not crawl on fours – but he absolutely HATES being on his back, for any period of time, for any reason.

You attempt to sit Jackson down on the ground, his legs go stiff. You attempt to lay Jackson on his back, he rams his head into the ground and arches his back to flip over onto his stomach. Changing this kid? Good luck. It’s quickly becoming a two man job – one to pin his shoulders down and the other to clean up poop as fast as possible before it ends up all over the place. It’s good times.

It really is absurd. Jackson got his first flu shot last week. When did he cry the most? When we put him down on his back on the doctor’s table. The whole shot part? No big deal. If he was standing up for the experience, I bet he wouldn’t have even flinched.

Why is this? I have absolutely no idea. Is it simply that being on his back prevents him from being mobile, and able to move around and explore his surroundings? Does it represent “the man holding him down”? Your guess is as good as mine – but this kid is happy 95% of the time… and the 5% when he hates life if when he’s pinned down on his back or strapped into a car seat.

For now, we deal with it the best we can – attempting to change and dress the kid while he’s standing up, crawling away, or flipping around like a fish out of water. He’s not quite walking yet, which makes it easy to catch up to him when he scootches away – but with every passing day I know that we’re one day closer to him standing up and walking away… which will quickly turn into running away.

At some point we’re really going to have to put up those baby gates and keep this kid confined.

Talking. Much like Jackson’s pseudo-walking, he’s also pseudo-talking this month. In true, “crazy parent” fashion, I find that we’re often deciphering his gibberish into legitimate words and assuming they are intentional responses.

Me: “What’s going on Monkey?”
Jackson: “Namafunng”
Me: “He said ‘nothing’!”

We’ve taken bets as to what his first words will be, and I’ve settled on the phrase “hi dad”. For one, I’m clearly his favorite person in the world. Why wouldn’t he want to say hi to me? For two, of all the gibberish sounds he makes, some phrase that sounds something like “hi dad” is the one he makes most frequently.

Unlike walking, which is just a basic function for transportation that will help keep Jackson’s clothes clean and force us to finally childproofing our house, talking is the first true insight into what he’s thinking, what he wants, and why he hates lying on his back.

Sure, I recognize that he’s not going to be spouting off full sentences anytime soon – which is why we’ve also been trying to teach Jackson sign language. According to the baby books, kids can learn sign language quickly and learn to express themselves using it much earlier than they can use corresponding words to express the same things.

The only problem? We don’t know sign language.

To date, we know four things:

  • Eat
  • Drink
  • More
  • Milk

Luckily, sign language turns out to be pretty straightforward. The same actions you would make in a loud room to indicate that you would want to eat, drink, or call someone on the phone? Odds are that the official sign language motion for those actions are the exact same as you’d think. Pretend you have a cup in your hand and you’re taking a drink of it? That means “drink”. Pretend you’ve got something in your hand and you’re taking a bite of it? That means “eat”. Using this logic, I’ve also taught Jackson the following phrases, which may or may not be accurate:

  • Throw a football
  • Take a picture
  • Punch the wall*
  • Throw it back*

* Note: primarily occurred during the Reds failed playoff run of 2012 or any given Bengals game.

Is he actually learning any of this sign language? He’s exhibited no signs (pun intended) of doing so thus far. But we’ll keep trying (when we remember) and see what comes first – the Monkey saying “I want food”, or the Monkey making a hand signal of putting food in his mouth.

Singing. It’s funny that I lived 30 years of my life without having a kid, but now I try to think back to life pre-Jackson, and it’s all a blur. I can remember some things – like what it was like to be able to go out whenever you wanted, having free time in the evening to watch TV, or being able to eat a leisurely meal while reading the paper – but there are other things that I can’t remember at all… like, did I use to sing songs, all the time, about everything? Or is that something new that has developed now that I have a child? I’m not sure – but I do know that it sure seems like our house is a lot more musical now that we have a baby.

What am I talking about? When Jackson wakes up in the morning, it’s a safe bet he’s going to hear the following songs:

“Good Morning”
“The Thong Song”

“Good Morning” is what I call the song from some musical I’ve never seen that starts with “good morning, good morning, it’s the best time of the day. Good morning, good morning, to you.” Kate has informed me that these are not the actual words to the song, which makes it all the more ridiculous that I’m singing a song that I don’t actually know to my child every morning – but it seems happy and topical… and can sometimes keep him distracted enough to change a diaper before he crawls away.

Why do I follow it with a rendition of Sisqo’s year 2000 classic about ladies wearing scandalous bathing suits? Because the first thing I check on Jackson in the morning is if he has any poop in his diaper… or as I word it, “dumps in his trunks”… which leads me to “he’s got dumps in his trunk, what what, baby move your butt, butt butt” (which is surprisingly accurate, given that he is a baby… and is often moving his butt).

Sadly, those are the more “normal” songs that I sing to my child. There are also the “variations on a real song that substitute words to make them child appropriate songs” – like my version of One Direction’s instant-class “What Makes You Beautiful”…

“You’re insecure, don’t know what for,
Maybe because you spend the day on the flo-ooor,
You don’t know, oh oh, you don’t know you’re a baby…
Oh, oh oh, that’s because you’re a baby”

Or Carly Rae Jespen’s “Call Me Maybe”…

“Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy,
But you are Jackson, and you’re my baby.”

I could go on, but by now you can see the crazy.

So singing existing songs (incorrectly, or with altered lyrics to make them appropriate) is my thing. Kate’s thing? Making up new songs that simply describe what she’s currently doing. Unfortunately, she does it in a catchy way that gets these “songs” stuck in my head for days at a time. The most brutally catchy one? The aptly titled “We’ll Give You a Bath”…

“We’ll give you a bath,
Give you a bath,
Give you a bath, give you a bath, give you a bath,
(clap clap)
We’ll scrub a dub,
In the tub,
We’ll scrub a dub, we’ll scrub a dub, in the tub.”

Of course, she keeps it pretty PC. Once she gets the song started, it doesn’t take long for me to take over and make it inappropriate, thus ensuring it will never be played on mainstream radio…

“We’ll wash your wiener,
We’ll get it cleaner,
We’ll wash your wiener, we’ll get it cleaner, wash the wiener.”
(clap clap)

They say that playing music in the household makes your baby smarter. Someday Jackson is going to thank us (and all the one-hit wonders from the year 2012) for making him a future genius. Thank you Carly Rae Jespen. Thank you.