Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Foolin' around

It's that time of year again. The sun is shining, the days are becoming warmer, and the smells of spring are dancing through the air and up my nose, beginning a non-stop sneeze-a-thon. With the deep freeze over, Kyle and I are no longer trapped inside our apartment, forced to entertain ourselves by crawling around, taking off our socks, and throwing toys onto the floor (Kyle normally just watches me). Now we can go outside and do those things! With the dawn of spring also comes the celebration of perhaps one of the most cherished holidays of the year: April Fool's Day.

I try not to let an April Fool's Day go by without honoring its traditions. Last year I actually tricked a few people into thinking that we were going to name our son after one of my former bosses. That was a lot of fun, as some people thought we were serious and bought Kyle all kinds of monogrammed stuff with the other guy's name on it. It cost them lots of money, but we all had a good laugh. This year, though, I'm not sure what to do. Tomorrow I'm going to be spending nearly all of my time with the little guy, and he probably won't understand the joke. I could try mixing his baby food, sneaking in some peas or Tabasco sauce with his bananas, but instead of laughing and saying the baby equivalent of "Ha! You got me!" I think he just won't eat it. Maybe I could trick him by hiding all his toys and saying they were eaten by a monster, who would be coming for him next. No... I still think he probably wouldn't get it and likely would start crying. Babies are just not that much fun when it comes to practical jokes. I guess I'll have to wait a few years until Kyle is ready.


(Above: Kyle learns that a puppy did not come in the mail, despite what his dad had told him)

I do hope Kyle enjoys April Fool's Day when he gets older. I remember being a big fan of it when I was a kid. Back then I would use construction paper to cut out a big letter "B" and I'd stick it inside the closet. Then I'd tell my mom "There's a bee in the closet! There's a bee in the closet!" She'd then pull out a can of Raid, crack the door and spray the closet before completely opening the door to reveal my joke, among our now-ruined jackets and suits. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I tried it again in the following years to get the same reaction, but after a while the joke became old, and I decided to stop doing it once I turned twenty-five. I hope Kyle finds the same joy in playing a simple trick on us, though he'll have to be a little more clever to get me.

So I'm thinking tomorrow won't be much of an April Fool's Day for us. I suppose I could call Jennifer at work and tell her the apartment burned down, but considering she proof-reads my blog, she might realize that I'm only kidding. I don't think I can pull off anything with Kyle just yet, and most of my friends know better than to be tricked by me. That leaves my parents. Now I wish I had the foresight to get some construction paper and cut up a letter. I could have called them up tomorrow and said that there was a bee in the mailbox. Now THAT would have been funny!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Baskin-Robbins Age

Ten years ago today I wasn't feeling well. I was incredibly tired, bothered by bright lights, and in constant need of a bathroom. I don't feel the same way today, except maybe for the "incredibly tired" part. I suppose that's the difference between recovering from your 21st birthday and recovering from your 31st.

I don't want to spend this post complaining about my age, because I know in reality I'm not that old, even if I'm 217 in dog years. Yet I'm amazed that a decade has already passed since my 21st birthday. Granted, a number of things have changed. For example, back when I turned 21, my roommate and I had a beer display in our apartment:



That wouldn't work today, mostly because Jennifer won't approve of me adding a beer display to our current apartment, though I still believe it would look nice inside the china cabinet. No, instead our apartment today has a bear display:



And that, I suppose, is where the big difference lies: that whole "having a kid" thing. Otherwise I'd be able to say 31 is the new 21 and go back to sleeping until 4 pm. For Kyle, sleeping late means sleeping until the sun starts to rise. And that's on a good day. The night before my birthday he woke up at 3 am and cried for about 45 minutes. That was his birthday gift for me, and he wanted to make sure I appreciated it. Jennifer appreciated it, too.

That, of course, leads to another big difference between 21 and 31. Since I'm up so early, I'm having trouble staying up so late. When I turned 21, we stayed at our local pub until it closed, then went back to my apartment and partied there until I couldn't remember my name anymore. When I turned 31, I ordered take-out from the local pub, watched re-runs of "The Office," and was in bed by 11 pm.

Hmmmm... okay... so maybe I really am that old. I'm just glad I'm not a dog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Luck of the 6.3% Irish

As many of you know (and some suffering from hangovers are trying to forget), yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. It's a golden opportunity for New York City's arsonists and robbers, as most members of the city's police and fire departments march in the annual parade and then head to their local pubs for the day. Those of us who are not into setting fires or robbing stores just mark the day by wearing something green.

St. Patrick's Day did not go unnoticed in our home. There is some Irish blood in my side of our family, as my grandfather was half Irish, and my mother has naturally red hair. Kyle is a sixteenth Irish, but it's a strong sixteenth. After all, his name is Irish, meaning "narrow piece of land" (we thought it fit him well). That's gotta count for something. Kyle celebrated the day by dancing a few Irish jigs in his playpen as his dad played his collection of family-friendly Irish folk songs, which are mostly about drinking, war, and more drinking. The little guy also watched the parade on TV. We didn't want to go see it in person, since Kyle's not yet tall enough to look over the crowds, and we were afraid that some of the over-spirited spectators would have confused him for a leprechaun.

A few days earlier, we took Kyle on a time-honored St. Patrick's Day tradition known as the "Pub Crawl." Our friends had organized the event and we wanted to support them by sacrificing our afternoon to visit several drinking establishments and guzzle down a few Guinnesses. There's no actual crawling involved, especially in the earlier hours, much to Kyle's disappointment.

Some people may think that going on a pub crawl with a nine-month-old is irresponsible. Not so. It would have been irresponsible if we all went on the crawl and then let him drive home afterwards. Though, to be honest, it was more like a gathering of friends, and there were other families there. Having a kid did make the event different than it was last year: I had to get used to asking the bartenders if they had any formula on tap.

Kyle enjoyed the event for nearly two hours, but it all went south when we all broke into a chorus of "Happy Birthday" for our friend Matt, whose birthday happens to be on St. Patrick's Day. Kyle started wailing at that point, apparently because he doesn't like birthday parties. I took note of that (it will save us some money in a few months), and we quickly got our things together. We wished everyone a happy St. Patrick's Day and left.

Overall, Kyle seemed to enjoy his first St. Patrick's Day, though I think he liked the music and parade more than the pub crawl. The only thing missing was the corned beef and cabbage. Too bad Gerber's baby food doesn't come in that flavor.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kyle & The Gang

Kyle's been a bit rebellious lately. He's been refusing to nap, and at times he has made feeding time difficult by not opening his mouth. Sometimes when he's crawling around he tries to go into rooms he knows he's not supposed to enter. At first we thought it was simple rebelliousness, a harmless little phase confined to our own home. Yet it's apparently more than that. You can imagine our shock on Sunday when we drove past this graffiti in our neighborhood:



How do you explain that? I pulled Kyle aside and demanded that he tell me what this was all about. He feigned innocence by staring at me with a confused look on his face. He then tried to chew on my nose. The most I could get out of him was a "wah wah wah," which didn't help. He was merely giving the same story he used to explain how all his toys ended up out of the crib and on the floor.

The little guy must be getting out of our apartment at night. How? I don't know. We have the baby monitor watching him, and we have a pretty good security system: locks on the building's outside door, a couple locks on the door to the apartment itself, window locks, security cameras in the hallways, and a hungry, blood-thirsty rottweiler just outside Kyle's door. I believe it would be very difficult for someone to get in here once we lock up for the night. Getting out, apparently, is rather easy. So easy a baby can do it.

Of course, there is the slim chance that this was the work of someone else. The location seems to suggest that. The target of this graffiti was a restaurant that Jennifer and I went to before the little guy was born, but we haven't been there since. Babies at Kyle's age prefer to be in familiar places, so I was certain he wouldn't deface a restaurant he didn't know. But then a couple days ago I saw this at the local Starbucks:



I think there's no doubt who's behind this one. Kyle has been to this Starbucks many times. When I asked him about this graffiti, he simply blew a raspberry. This guy's tough to crack.

So I wondered if it's normal for a nearly nine-month-old child to act so rebellious, and sure enough I found this on a baby development website:

At this point, your baby can probably stand while holding onto furniture. He or she is learning how to walk and may even try a few steps. Chances are your child is also experiencing separation anxiety, except late at night, when he or she will likely leave your apartment and join a gang. Make sure you have enough money for bail.
Well, I suppose this is just a harmless phase, after all. There are plenty of babies in our neighborhood, so I'm thinking Kyle must be meeting with these kids at night, causing mischief by spray painting on storefronts, crawling through wet sidewalk cement, and gnawing on cars. No wonder his two teeth are so sharp.

Here's hoping this phase comes to an end before there's any baby gang diaper warfare or illicit formula deals on the street corners. Most of all, I just want the little guy to stop being rebellious and take his naps. His dad needs the time to take some naps himself.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Home invasion

It's not looking good for the homeland. When Jennifer and I took control of our apartment just one year ago, we were able to lay claim to the whole territory. Today, our forces are rapidly retreating, and our empire is half the size it once was, if not less.

Last week came the final blow to any hope of holding onto our living room. Kyle's forces seized a vast sward between our television and coffee table. King Kyle celebrated his victory in his new fort, holding onto its edge as he danced, laughed, and taunted us by blowing raspberries. He then bombed us with the mother of all diapers.

Once upon a time, before last June, I had believed that there was a good chance we'd be able to keep Kyle's things in his room. Sure, we knew the little guy would have to spread out during the day, but by the evening he'd go to his crib, all his stuff would be put in his room with him, and we adults would have our apartment back, allowing us to do exciting adult things like playing with knives, taking out the trash, and falling asleep while trying to watch TV.

That plan seemed to work well early on, when we could just plop Kyle down somewhere and not worry that he would wiggle away. But soon things changed. First, a basket of toys snuck into our living room. Then, a decorative baby wagon found a "temporary" home in the dining room to hide an ugly corner of the apartment. Not only is it still there, it has brought along a friend - the high chair. And with the high chair came demands from Kyle, who insisted on having something to throw on the floor. That's how a set of stacking rings ended up on the dining room table. It's the flag of Kyle Country, staking claim on territory once belonging to Mom & Dad.

A week ago the living room was lost as we set up Kyle's playpen. Kyle had long wanted a spot in that room all to his own, and through his battle cries he made clear that he could take only so much time in exersaucer. He also did his best Houdini impression and nearly escaped from the bouncy seat. We were quickly realizing that, without a playpen, Kyle was not going to let us do anything in that room that didn't involve scrambling around to protect him from hitting his head on the coffee table, bookshelf, or scalding-hot radiator (lucky us - we have six of these in our apartment!). We were growing tired in the room meant for relaxing, so we gave up, set up the playpen, and pulled back our forces.


(Above: Kyle celebrates his victory by laughing at those he crushed)

Now the only major rooms we can lay claim to are the kitchen and our own bedroom, which are separated by the living and dining rooms. Kyle is obviously working a "divide and conquer" strategy. In recent days he's been crawling into our bedroom, and just this morning he found his way into our kitchen. He's obviously scouting them out, looking for weaknesses, and preparing his forces for the next strike. I suppose then we'll just have to move out to the hallway.