Sunday, April 15, 2012

Month Two Musings

It's already time for ANOTHER blog post? It seems like only days ago that I was writing about the first month of life A.J. (after-Jackson) - but here we are at month two. Or is it week eight? Or year 1/6? It's all very confusing. I mean, I understand the need to communicate with others about how old your baby is, since saying "he's zero years old" doesn't really paint much of a picture - and sounds weird. But should I be counting his age in weeks or months? Or days? Or just making the days count?

Tracking a Baby's Age. Girls obsess over this stuff. They have books that tell them what their child is supposed to be doing at each stage of their life for the first year - but the problem is that some publications count in weeks, and some count in months. Jackson was born on February 16. So does that mean he's not "two months old" until April 16th? Or, since the average month is 4 weeks long, is he two months old when he's 8 weeks old? In that case, it would have been back on April 12th. It's only 4 days, so it really doesn't make that much of a difference - but it's of tremendous importance when it comes to things like taking "two month pictures" and sending around Email announcements about what's been going on for the prior month of Jackson's life. It's also important to be able to stack rank your baby against your friends' babies to make sure that your baby is better than theirs.

As for me, I've got one resource for tracking my child's development - an iPhone Baby Center app that tells me what should be going on each day for the first year of his life. I don't read ahead, so I'm not spoiled - but that does make me somewhat clueless about what exactly is going to happen in this first year. When do babies start walking? When do they start talking? It could be next week or next year, I'm not sure - but I'm sure the iPhone will tell me about when I need to know about, no sooner and no later.

So what should be the standard tracking metric? Well, like any good American, I don't really understand fractions, so using 1/6 of a year is out. If I've got my handy iPhone app to help me out, I will easily be able to tell you that Jackson is 8 weeks old - if not, there's no way I'll be able to remember how many weeks old he is. It seems like the only logical choice is to track based on months, so that's what this Blog (and I) will be doing. The only tricky thing is going to be when someone asks me how old Jackson is and we're not close to the 16th of a month. I guess in those cases, I'll just round down to the prior month - effectively setting Jackson up to under-promise and over-deliver on those developmental milestones. Smart.

Admitting You Are Wrong. Speaking of the iPhone, I'll be the first to tell you that it's easily been the most life-changing thing I've bought since my first 13 inch TV when I was 16 (which I'm still using in my bedroom to this day). But it's also something that I resisted for years, telling others that I didn't need such a fancy phone - and my good old flip phone that just made phone calls was fine by me. I was stubborn and fought the good fight for years before realizing that I was unable to fully live my life without a smart phone. I now look back on the past five years of my life and wonder how much better they would have been if I had an iPhone all along.

Similarly, before Jackson was born, Kate thought we should get a video monitor for his room. I told her that this was crazy, and a good old fashioned audio monitor would be fine. Then, on one fateful day this past month, the wife decided it would be a good time to cash in all our Baby's R Us gift cards on a breast pump and a video monitor... and just like the iPhone, I can't imagine life without it.

Before you're a parent, you don't really realize how many noises babies make all the time. When they're happy, when they're sad, when they're sleeping. There are very few times when Jackson isn't making some grunting / honking noise. There is very little difference between his "I'm sound asleep and dreaming" grunt and his "I'm suffocating myself face-down in a bed" grunt. But having the video monitor allows you to quickly confirm if he's happily dreaming of boob whiskey fountains or somehow gotten himself into mortal peril. I have to assume if we didn't have it, each night after he went to bed, we'd be running upstairs to frantically check on him every ten minute, which would really cramp our TV watching schedule.

Also? These video cameras are amazing. The one we got came with two cameras, which you can control with the display. Want to pan left or right? No problem. Want to look up or down? Yep. Want to use the camera as a walkie-talkie? It does that to. It's like a home defense system / spy camera rolled into one. I can to use this to spy on people in our house when we leave the room to make sure they're not talking about us - or when we're still using this 15 years from now and can use it to spy on a teenage Jackson and his friends in the basement to ensure they're not drinking beer or making out with chicks*.

There are some things in life that are worth spending money on. Video baby monitors are one of them.

New Developments. As I mentioned, Jackson is now a real person who sleeps in his own room, instead of some mooch who has to crash on the floor of our bedroom. That's a pretty big development - but I'd say the bigger one is that he's now able to look at and recognize things like his toys. I was really starting to wonder why we got so many bright-colored, animal-filled things for him to lay in and play with, when all he really wanted to do is look out the window, the black and white pictures on the wall, or the lamps. It would have been much cheaper (and fashionable) to just have him hang out in our house with our existing decorations and chairs - but everyone told us that we needed to get all this baby stuff for him.

Now I understand why.

He'll sit in his Rainforest Bouncer and watch the monkey swing back and forth for a good twenty minutes without blinking. He's so intently focused on that monkey. It makes you wonder what's going through his little head while he's watching that monkey. Is he trying to figure out what makes it move? Trying to figure out what it is? Making sure the monkey doesn't come to life and attack him? I have no idea. But it's good to see him doing something productive with his time, like guarding us from evil plastic monkeys. Although he's not really using his hands to grab things yet, I look forward to the day when he gains that skill set - just in case the monkey does come to life, he'll be able to grab it and retrain it until the authorities can step in and assist.


Cuteness as self-defense. Although he can't really use his arms or legs yet for anything useful, I realized that he does have one very powerful defense mechanism. He's pretty adorable. I have to think at some point along the evolutionary timeline, God realized that people wouldn't want to take care of something that requires so much attention and only repays you with crying, pooping, and sleep deprivation... that is, unless it's pretty cute. This rule doesn't just apply to babies though - look at nature. There's a reason why puppies and kitties get adopted and the hot girl at the bar doesn't pay for her drinks even though she's super annoying - it's the ultimate self-defense / preservation mechanism.

This past month, Kate made the foolish decision of visiting Jackson's future day care... and came home really upset at the prospect of leaving her poor defenseless baby out there in the cold, cruel, world all alone. "He's so little!" she cried. While this is true, I reminded her that there's a really good chance that Jackson is going to be the cutest baby in his day care class - and therefore will get the most attention from his teachers and will be taken care of better than the uglier kids in class, so he'll be just fine.

I'm not going to act like it's going to be easy to drop him off at day care - it's going to be terrible... and as a parent part of you kinda hopes that your baby actually is going to miss you. But let's be honest, there's probably a strong chance that as a three month old baby, he's going to have no idea what's going on. As long as he gets to drink boob whiskey, sleep, and guard against evil plastic monkeys, he's going to be happy. Also, although my iPhone hasn't confirmed this yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that babies have memories like gold fish - and to Jackson, a full day of us abandoning him at day care will really only feel like we abandoned him for a few minutes, which feels much more responsible.

Here's hoping I'm right about that.

Holidays. Although technically, Jackson celebrated St. Patty's Day last month, he celebrated his first "big three" holiday was last week with Easter. It's kinda funny that although he's totally oblivious to everything that is going on, he still received not one - but TWO Easter baskets, complete with the whole "hunt for the Easter basket" activity caught on film. Although KB is clever, and filled his basket with toys and books that he had already received, but had yet to be used (money savings!), it's still a little bit funny that we're already going through all of the normal traditions that we'll do when he's old enough to remember them. We dyed Easter eggs, hid baskets, sung Easter songs (okay - technically I think there's just the one, but we threw in some church songs as well), etc. We have a lot of this caught on film, so that one day when he's older, we can get these pictures out and prove to him that we didn't cheat him out of a single holiday in his life - but it's also nice to start establishing those family traditions.

Although technically the merging of family traditions start when you get married, it becomes for real once you have a kid. All the sudden, I'm responsible for Jackson having the same memories and expectations of holidays that I have from when I was a kid... and that's a lot of pressure. But I must say, as anticipated, holidays become infinitely more fun when you have a baby / child to share them with - all the sudden hiding Easter baskets seems like a perfectly logical thing to do, and they are actually filled with candy and toys as opposed to candy and booze, like they were B.J.

Gym. Lastly, this week marked my triumphant (embarrassing) return to the gym after a two month hiatus. The good news is that I remembered where it was and how to operate the machines. The bad news is, I was pretty much spent after five minutes. When people ask me what the toughest thing about parenthood is, I have to say it's the time management - and actually, that's probably been the only tough thing about having a baby. It turns out the Lion King was right - there's more to do than can ever be done. Life has suddenly become much more of a juggling act between work, home, friends, and baby - and it seems like no matter what you decide to do, there's always this nagging thought in the back of your head that you're neglecting some other area of your life... like going to the gym.

Back in the day, the gym was a mandatory stop on the way home from work. If you didn't go, you felt guilty. It was like being a Catholic. But now that I think about only having a few hours with Jackson after work on the average weeknight, it seems crazy to waste that time ogling the girls at the gym - I mean "working out". However, then I remember that if I don't go to the gym, I'll revert back to "chubby Brian" days, become a fatty, and probably die sooner in life - which would result in me being able to spend quality time with Jackson when he's older, and we're able to ogle girls at the gym together. So I suppose I can't play the "I have a new baby" card excuse forever, and this is yet another ball to juggle in life.

Still, that doesn't mean it's going to be easy to make the decision to go there again anytime soon, especially since their stupid non-digital cable doesn't have the Travel Channel anymore -unless of course Jackson is screaming his head off at home. In that case, I'll have to put my personal health above spending a precious hour of time with my baby. Sorry buddy, but you'll thank me one day.

That's all for this month!

* and by "beer", I mean non-Miller Lite / Beast beer. By "chicks", I mean uggos.