Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One small step for baby

I really should stop taking off my shoes. I should wear the same pair all the time, out on the streets, in bed, in the shower, etc. It doesn't matter if my socks start to disintegrate; I don't think I'm ever going to take my shoes off again. Not after this past weekend.

On Sunday, Kyle took his first step. He was holding himself up at the playpen in the living room, when he suddenly let go and walked to the nearby living room table, doing a few tap dance steps and a waltz in between. My mother was there and watched it happen. Jennifer was also there and became ecstatic. For weeks now, Kyle had been building his confidence, testing his balance by occasionally letting go from whatever he was holding to stand in place for a few seconds. Yet until this moment he had never actually walked anywhere. This was an important milestone in the very young life of our little guy, one that no parent should have missed. Except I did miss it. I was in the next room, sitting at the computer I'm at right now, taking off my shoes.

What can I say? My feet were aching. Jennifer and I just walked back from a delicious brunch at Brooklyn's 12th Street Bar & Grill, where we had celebrated her birthday. It was hot out, my stomach was full of blueberry waffles, and I needed to wind down. Kyle had been home with my parents during our meal, and he had quietly done nothing monumental. When we came home, our son didn't stand up to welcome us, or do a little headstand to show off his new balancing skills. So I had every reason to believe this was going to be just an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and I went to my computer chair to take off my shoes.

This is how it went from there (my thoughts are in italics, while Jennifer's words are in quotes): Dum-dee-dum-dee-dum, I'm taking off my shoes. "Dave! Kyle just solved a Rubix cube!" Doo-dee-doo, left foot first, then the right. "Dave! Kyle can count to ten and do basic algebra!" Did I step in some gum? Nope, doesn't taste like gum. "Dave! Kyle has come up with a reasonable solution to our health care problem!" Say, what's this news story on the computer? Britney's back? No way! "Dave! Kyle just took his first step!" What? Did I just miss that?

Okay, so maybe I exaggerated a little, at least with Jennifer's quotes. I was floored that Kyle chose this moment to walk on his own. Sure, he included me in other milestones (the first time he stood up in the crib, the first time he laughed, the first time he dirtied the curtains), but this was a biggie, and I thought for sure I'd be there for it. After all, on most days I am with him nearly every moment from the time he wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to the time we put him to bed at night, usually around eight o'clock. I feed him, bathe him, entertain him, shine his shoes, carry him around the apartment, and change all those horrific diapers. You'd think he'd show me some respect and wait until I was there to take such a momentous step. But, nope... he seemed to be deliberately waiting for the moment when I was just out of view, in another room. No respect at all, I tell ya. I suppose there's a life lesson in there somewhere; maybe I'll figure it out once he's a teenager.

Until then, I'm not missing another milestone... I just hope my feet stop itching.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A week away

It was cool. It was windy. The clouds were dark and threatening to burst open at any moment. Forecasters and sociologists alike were already declaring Sunday the 8th as the "least fun" day of August, and even the dogs in most neighborhoods felt the weather was unsuitable for going out and playing fetch. Naturally, this was the day we decided to take Kyle to a real beach for the first time.

We had been looking forward to this moment, in part because it was the start of our vacation, and in part because I love the chafing feeling of sand on my clothes. No gloomy skies were going to stop us from going. I was determined to put Kyle in the ocean and make him enjoy it, even if we'd both get numb in the process.

Kyle did not seem to know what to make of the beach experience, since this was his first time dealing with sand. Earlier in the day he tried to prepare for it, sitting on some dirt and having a pleasant experience with a few pebbles. He even tried to eat these pebbles, which, to him, were more appetizing than the peas and carrots he's been refusing for weeks. But sand was different. Sand's pebbles are tiny, sticky, and inescapable. Kyle tried at first to avoid the sand by attempting to jump over the gap between our beach blankets. This was difficult, considering that Kyle has yet to learn how to jump. It probably didn't help that we were all staring and pointing at him.

Eventually Kyle grew comfortable with the sand, though he did not know what to make of his dad's frequent attempts to bury his legs. And, yes, he did go into the water, though just his feet. He'll wait to try surfing next year, I suppose.

The next day Jennifer and I were in Chicago. We wanted to escape the city, so we figured this would be the natural place to do it. Notice I did not say "Kyle, Jennifer and I." That's because, upon arriving in the Windy City, we realized we had left the little guy back at my parents' place. He was safe, though the extra attention he received during his stay has given him a superiority complex that make take months to undo.

Meanwhile, we were just marveling at the ability to travel without a child in tow. Those who do not have children don't quite understand the pleasure of taking a trip with just your spouse. Trust me, I didn't understand during the years before Kyle. Suddenly we were able to pack all of our things in one suitcase. We were able to sleep until 8 a.m. We had a streak of dinners without a single Cheerio assault. Chicago was full of life, and we were willing to live it, touring downtown, visiting the Sears (Willis) Tower and Wrigley Field, eating deep dish pizza, and riding the subway without having to wait for an attendant to open that door to let strollers through. At times it even took us less than 10 minutes to get ready and leave our hotel room. It was truly a paradise... except for that annoyance of actually missing our kid.

Oh, the plight of new parents! Even though you love your little one dearly, you get excited for that opportunity to "be free" for a little while, but when you get that opportunity to be free, you spend a good amount of time missing the little one. While we never forgot him, at first we reveled in our ability to go someplace late in the evening and walk out of the hotel without a diaper bag. But shortly into our trip, things would start reminding us of the little guy. We'd hear a baby cry and think of Kyle. We'd see little blond-haired boys in the park and see our little guy. We'd hear some drunk at Wrigley blabbering away and hear our boy's drivel in our heads. Yep, we missed him.

It did help to know that Kyle was having a great time with his grandparents. We would have felt more guilty going out and having fun if the little guy were someplace else, like prison. Each day my mom let us know just how much he was enjoying his time with them, by teasing us with adorable pictures of the little guy going food shopping, playing on the couch, and washing the car (that one is dear to my heart).

(Above: Kyle applies the wax before scrubbing the tires and vacuuming the interior)

By the time we returned Thursday we were pathetic parent puddles, ready to see him. While I am not looking forward to him becoming a wise-ass teenager, it certainly will make vacations away much easier.

The week wrapped up far away from city life, up in the woods of New Hampshire, where my cousins had a small family reunion. By "small" I mean the people were small: there were at least five little kids there, though it often felt like there were more, considering how fast they moved from room to room. When the adults weren't changing, feeding, or protecting their kids from bears, they were... well, I don't know. Jennifer and I were too busy changing, feeding, and protecting our kid from bears. In the evening, after the kids were in bed, we all sat outside by the fire, which illuminated our bare skin, allowing easy tracking for mosquitoes, who feasted as well as we did earlier in the day. Throughout the night, we talked, laughed, and discussed some of the important questions of life, such as "what do you get when you cross a horse and a moose?" Deep conversations like these could happen only in the back woods.

On Sunday New York welcomed us back with open arms, and one of the worst traffic jams I've seen in a long time. Everybody was coming back from vacation at once. We were feeling completely unoriginal. Next time, to avoid traffic, we'll have to be more spontaneous, perhaps by going to a New England beach in January. Maybe we'll have better weather then.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This week I'm away from my desk, busy on a dangerous mission with Jennifer and our son, secret agent Kyle Bond...

I apologise for the short post this week, but a person doesn't have much time to blog when he is out saving the world and/or Great Britain.

Have no fear... Kyle Bond will return next week... in Thundercrawl!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Everything must go!

This crib saga may be finally nearing an end, much to the disappointment of those fans who were hoping for a long-running series on it. On Saturday, I once again found myself ripping apart cardboard boxes, trying to make sense of poorly-translated directions, and wondering if Kyle's old enough to just sleep on a mattress on the floor. After several hours, the deed was done. The new crib was assembled, and this time Kyle did not try to somersault out of it. Jennifer and I celebrated by torching the old crib, only to douse it seconds later when we realized we needed its parts to get our money back through the recall. Kyle marked this glorious occasion by doing what he does best. He grabbed whatever items I had put in the crib (books, stuffed animals, the screwdriver I had misplaced), and tossed them out of it.

This behavior is nothing new. All of Kyle's things are frequent flyers. It doesn't matter what it is: if it is light enough for Kyle to pick up, and if it's not coated with crazy glue, then it will be airborne in a matter of seconds. He's been doing this for several months now, stemming back to the time when Kyle first threw out his stuffed dog after it started talking smack. Now hardly anything stays in the crib.

I don't know why he's doing this; as a new parent, most of my child's behavior is a puzzle to me. These actions don't seem to work to his advantage. It might have made some sense at first: he'd play with a toy for a while, get bored with it, and then toss it out. He'd then play with something else in his crib or playpen. Now he just tosses everything out, often without giving most toys a second of attention. Once the crib is cleared out, he gives me a look of satisfaction, as if he accomplished something grand. Then he realizes he doesn't have anything to play with anymore and starts screaming at his dad for letting this happen. At that point I stop what I'm doing, whether it be the dishes or open heart surgery, walk into his room, throw the toys back into the crib, and we begin the whole process again. Usually it goes faster the second and third times around.

(Above: Kyle is thrilled to have no more toys to play with)

Sadly, he's not throwing anything out of his playpen anymore. That's because he hasn't used it since he tried flinging himself out a couple weeks ago (yes, just like he did with the Delta crib). We put up a gate at the entrance to our living room, transforming the entire room into his playpen. I've found myself tripping over at least five of Kyle's things each time I walk through there, when I'm not tripping over Kyle himself. The little guy just keeps flinging things around, and now he's throwing things into the crib. It's as if the inside and outside have simply reversed. Apparently Kyle just doesn't like his toys. At least he's making cleanup a lot easier. If he keeps this up, maybe I'll have him help me take care of the mess in my office.

Now, one may say I'm encouraging this behavior by putting lots of toys into his crib or in the living room just to see them flung out of reach over and over again. I tend to think that this behavior, as strange as it may be, could be related to Kyle's development, and who am I to get in the way of that? Plus, I'm noticing that he's flinging things out with greater velocity. He's obviously strengthening his arm for one of three goals: to became a major-league pitcher, a human catapult, or an expert snow-shoveler. I'm excited about all prospects. With the first option, he'd get gazillions of dollars and I'd be able to live out my lifelong dream to build a mansion out of waffles. With the second, he'd be able to fling things great distances, which would come in handy years from now, when I realize that the best way to clean out the garage is to throw everything into the lake. I think the benefits of the third option are self-explanatory. In any case, I'd be a winner.

However, as I've said before, I do not intend to impose my own hopes and dreams onto my child, and I'll continue to let him practice throwing in his new crib so that he can do whatever HE wants to do. It's his life, and he can follow his own dreams with that powerful arm. If, instead of pitching, shoveling or catapulting, he chooses to use his arm to throw a football for the NFL, well, I guess I could learn to live with that. As long as it's not for the Jets.