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Posts tagged ‘baby’

Excellent source of reindeer ears

Me: *yawn* ’Night. I’m off to bed.

Husband: It’s 11:00pm. I thought you were going to get to bed earlier?

Me: Yes. BUT.

Me: I was doing something really very extremely important.

Husband: That right?

Me: Yes. And also, time-critical.

Husband: You were reading Dear Prudence?

Me: NO!

Me: I did that this morning.

Husband: Go on then -what was it?

Me: I would tell you, except I’m concerned you won’t appreciate the grave importance-

Husband: All right*.

Me: Ok then; I was looking up elf outfits for Finn.

Husband: . . .

Me: For Christmas.

Husband: You can’t make your child a prop**!

Me: Ooh, I think you’ll find I totally can.

Me: There’s the CUTEST little elf suit on Trademe, but it’s to fit age 3-6 months. Why, why couldn’t Finn have been born four to seven months LATER? Damn him.

Husband: You’re not one of these people who send out cards with pictures of their kids dressed up, are you?

Me: No, no; I already have an idea for our Christmas cards.

Husband: Which is?

Me: Finn as Scrooge holding a sign which says ‘Fuck Christmas’.

Me: What d‎’you think?

Me: Genius, huh?

Husband: And you’re going to send this out to your family, are you? And my grandparents?

Me: No, I’ll send them the card with Finn in his elf suit. Hey, that reminds me; we must get a Santa hat for our dog-

Husband: We already have one.

Me: CLASS.

 

 

* It annoys the crap out of me when Husband pretends like he doesn’t hang on my every word.

** I have no idea what Husband thought this was all about

Filthy spirit

Making mischief

When Finn was 3 months old, I enrolled us in SPACE: a playgroup recommended by Angela.

You know? Angela. Lovely woman. I regret our friendship was so fleeting. It started auspiciously enough, when I bought some cloth nappies from her at the Oamaru Opera House. Unfortunately the second time we met – at the inaugural meeting of the Book Club – I hugged her inappropriately. My excuse – actually, I have two – were: 1) pregnancy hormones; and ALSO 2) she looks cuddlesome.

Angela never invited me to any subsequent Book Club meetings – which was actually fine by me because even still I’m vaguely traumatized by Monique’s recounting how she explained menstruation to her five year old son. Shortly after Finn’s birth, Angela visited the house with some lemon cake and we conversed awkwardly. I couldn’t stop thinking about hugging her, and I could tell the poor woman was terrified I might fling myself on her at any moment for snuggle time.

I never heard from Angela again.

I still miss her.

Anyway, playgroup. Around the fourth session, I discovered SPACE starts at 1:00pm, not 1:30pm. Of course I’d noticed Finn and I were the last to arrive, but had assumed the other mothers were unusually – in fact, retroactively – punctual.

Finn and I had been missing the singing. SPACE kicks off with ‘The Welcome Song’ in Maori. I’m convinced the words change every week; after the first line, ‘Te aro ho(?)/ha(?)’, it’s an organic jumble of ‘wha’, ‘ka’, ‘pa’ and ‘po’ noises.

The rest of the songs – in English – generally involve actions. I never realized how difficult it is to simultaneously sing and mime. In particular, ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ makes me almost appreciate Justin Bieber. (I have no idea why Incy Wincy couldn’t have been a possum – or a seal. I can do a wicked seal impression.)

Singing is followed by a ‘thought for the day’, which generally places a sinister emphasis on ‘fun’ and ‘play’. For example: ‘Your baby will remember having fun with you, not whether the house was tidy’.

Quite apart from the fact that I’m pretty sure Finn will remember neither for quite some time; but, where is a child supposed to learn a work ethic? The sense of satisfaction, achievement and self-worth derived from welding, or preparing tasty snacks for his mother?

Here’s another: ‘the most precious gift you can give your child is time.’

Well, there are 86,400 precious gifts in any given day, and frankly I don’t want to spoil him. Or, you know, bore the shit out of him.

Then we have activities. At first, these were about refining our motor skills, e.g. making mobiles out of ice-cream containers while trying not to drop the babies or stab them with scissors.

Now our crotchfruit are a little older, activity time appears to be geared towards generating the greatest mess possible. Because ‘messy play is important’ according to Ailsa with no supporting rationale.

I try to enter into the filthy spirit of it all, but honestly: every time one of the coordinators says, ‘Yay! Next week painting!’ or, ‘Slime! Yay!’, my heart sinks. It was only when pregnant that I noticed how many people interject ‘yay!’ with the same enthusiasm I apply to swearing; I presumed it was a symptom of morning sickness and would wear off, but if anything it’s getting worse.

Three weeks ago they brought out the pits.

“A few babies try to eat the sand,” said Ailsa.

“That’ll be Finn,” I said, grimly. “If he poos rocks, I’m holding SPACE directly responsible.”

Sure enough, Finn munched through half the sand pit. Otherwise everything was fine – until Ailsa added water, when it turned into the sort of footage you see on the evening news when a landslide has taken out an entire city e.g. Toronto.

Then Ailsa built a sand ‘volcano’, adding vinegar to red food-colouring and baking soda so that it frothed and bubbled over. Swept away in a paroxysm of joy, Finn flung himself on the volcano and licked it.

The week after, the coordinators made up vats of foam (Lux soap flakes whisked with warm water and some food-colouring) and slime (cornflour mixed with water and the playgroup staple: food-colouring). For half an hour, I held Finn literally at arm’s length, between my index finger and thumb.

The coordinators had supplied a bucket of warm water for the purpose of washing the babies’ hands. Well. I had to strip Finn down to his nappy and basically bathe him in the bucket. I even washed his hair, which was covered in pink goo.

Of course Finn loved it. But to put that in perspective, he also loves when I click in his ear – or shake my head. That’s the latest thing; it’s as if my purpose on this planet is to say ‘no’ for Finn’s exclusive entertainment. I should enjoy it before he realizes I say ‘no’ to RUIN HIS LIFE.

Thing is: Finn is a boy. There are already holes in the toes of his socks and muddy fingerprints on all my clothes. Before too long, it’ll be skidmarks on the lintels and slugs, snails and tails in my crockery. What I’m saying is: it’s innate. He hardly needs my endorsement to be messy – never mind ENCOURAGEMENT.

Sharing the drool: You’re welcome, Mama

Extreme push-up

Baby haka

With the hours devoted to feeding, changing, bathing and trying to avoid getting my baby stuck down the side of the sofa (amongst other pressing health and safety concerns), I hadn’t given much consideration to Finn’s mobility.

I’d always assumed crawling would be a spontaneous action. One day Finn would decide he’d had enough of lying around the floor waving his legs in the air and I’d turn around and – argh! where’s the baby? Is he stuck down the side of the sofa? No; where the- I was sure I left him RIGHT THERE – and after frantically scouring the house and surrounds, I’d find him scudding up the driveway like a giant centipede, only with 96 less legs.

I mean, what would I know? The vast depth and range of the number of ways in which I don’t have a clue continues to astonish me.

As it turned out, learning to crawl was an extensive process with several phases.

I suppose the first step was Finn learning to roll. At about two months old, he mastered transitioning from his back onto his front, but not the reverse. After a few weeks in prone position microscopically examining the carpet, the novelty grew stale. In any case, there was plenty to keep him occupied on his back, like pointing at the ceiling and dropping toys on his head.

When he mastered full rotation, he would tuck his legs beneath him and, with arms akimbo, press his face fervently into the floor. Either he was practicing yoga or our carpet smells fabulous (which seems unlikely given the volume of drool generated between dog and baby).

Some time later, Finn progressed to raising himself up on his arms and the tips of his toes and waving his arse in the air, a maneuver generally concluded by head-butting the floor. The marines should totally adopt this variation of power press-up if they really want to demonstrate how tough they are.

After that, Finn seemed to spend his (considerable) free time over several days on all fours rocking back and forth and occasionally executing little bunny-hops.

With all the momentum, it was something of a surprise when he did start moving – backwards. Staring intently at some object of desire (the dog, anything shiny, sharp and/or pointy), he would reverse steadily away from it looking increasingly bemused.

The only way he could move in the right direction was in the manner of some mortally wounded creature, using one arm to claw desperately across the floor, his body dragging uselessly behind him.

Now Finn’s crawl is an action of measured precision, executed with deadly speed. When he stalks the iPad carelessly left lying around the ground, one can see all the savage beauty of a cheetah springing on its prey. He disappears out an open door with the supple grace of a gazelle bounding across the savannah (note: prior to its encounter with the cheetah).

31/8/12 Watch out, dog. Grr!

9/9/12 Exploring the laundry basket

13/9/12 Escape from the zoo

Finn and the Gurgles of Doom

Finn turned 10 weeks old last Thursday. If you sit and watch him, you can practically SEE him growing.

Finn learns his three times tables

We went for a walk on Saturday with Andrew carrying the papoose. Finn’s now large enough that we turned him to face forward. He was avid; every time I looked around, all I could see were his big, big eyes peering out over the edge of the papoose. 

As you can see, Finn’s metamorphosis into Andrew’s Mini-Me is nearly complete - although he has his Aunt Florrie’s pout and Agent of Death’s chicken legs

He learned how to roll during the week. When I put him on his tummy, he drops his right arm and rolls onto his back. Upon his first attempt, he flung himself onto the kitchen floor and clonked his head. He was unimpressed by that effort – yet undaunted. Despite repeatedly performing the trick, he never fails to shock himself with the result. I have to be careful about strapping him onto his change table.
 
Speaking of which, he LOVES his change table. He’ll be loudly complaining about room service and the instant I put him on it he starts flirting shamelessly with the maid. I’m not sure why he enjoys it so much, especially when most of the time it involves having his bottom squeezed. 

On Thursdays we go to a playgroup called SPACE (which Andrew refers to as SPAT). Finn is fascinated by other children and lies on the playmat gazing adoringly at them. I’m required to sing songs like ‘Tickling Rain’ and ‘Head! Shoulders Knees and Toes’, which I have unwillingly adopted as the soundtrack to my life supported by a bass of farting.
 
The first week we had to discuss whether parenting was easier or harder than we originally expected, and how having a child has changed our lives. “Do you enjoy talking about that sort of shit?” enquired Andrew during the debrief over dinner, “because it would drive me insane.” I frequently fear for the man’s mental health since he evidently has the most tenuous of grips on it. 

We also do activities like make picture frames and bath balls. Last week I inadvertently arrived half an hour late – happily just in time for tea and biscuits and bath balls. Since I had to feed Finn, this involved supervising the coordinator while she made my bath balls: “Excuse me, can you mix the cornflour in better? Don’t you have any blue food colouring? Smaller balls, please. Make sure they’re uniformly round, thanks.”
 
I was amazed to see one of the children was already sitting.
 
“And he’s only 11 weeks old!” I marvelled to Her Goatiness.
 
“Are you sure?” said my mother-in-law doubtfully. “Sounds very advanced for an 11 week old.” 

Poor old bird, I thought; totally out of touch with children.
 
Turns out the kid wasn’t 11 weeks after all; he was- “7 months?!” said Andrew. “Did you not notice he was a bit bigger than Finn?”
 
In other news, our Class of November 2011 Antenatal Reunion was last Saturday week. I offered to organise it ‘because I’m very organised’.
 
Well, I lost the contact list and had to ask the coordinator for another. When she finally emailed back, I didn’t recognise one of the couples on the list. Assuming it was simply an attack of Post-Pregnancy Brain, I called ‘Beryl’ and had several in-depth conversations with her about the weather and motherhood – before I realised the coordinator had mistakenly included the couple from another Antenatal Class. 

In any case, Beryl didn’t show up for the Class of November 2011 Antenatal Reunion. Unfortunately, neither did anyone else except Sinead, Chris and their son. Since I’d sent Husband off dirt-biking, it was possibly the crappiest reunion in the history of the world ever.

OMG he’s SO UNBELIEVABLY CUTE! Oh, you were about to say that? Sorry

Bonding stratagems

I’m still amazed by what people feel inclined to – let’s call it ‘share’ – when they discover I’m pregnant.

I’ve had the stranger who, after asking how far gone I was, told me she had a miscarriage at that stage. The efficacy of this bonding strategem is limited by one of the parties battling the near-uncontrollable urge to reach into the adjacent deep-freeze, seize a family-size pack of frozen cauliflower and apply it forcefully to her face.

Then there are those who elevate the horror to a whole new level upon finding out you also have a dog, when they remember their sister’s neighbour’s plumber who read an article in an old Woman’s Weekly about a family corgi who gnawed a baby’s face off. The denoument of this variation of story – because I’ve heard at least two versions of it – is dramatic, along the lines of: “No warning- this dog was just the gentlest, most placid- used to bath the kid- but now the baby, IT HAS NO FACE!” 

I’m not sure what appals me more: the poor, faceless baby; the faithful family pet being euthanised; or the gross irresponsibility of parents who a) leave their dog unsupervised with their child and b) haven’t trained their baby not to eat out of the dog’s bowl.

Last week there was the real estate agent who, upon showing us an old-fashioned water burner, felt compelled to inform us how many babies used to fall into them and DIE. Tiny, unformed lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye. Happened all the time, apparently. She knew of at least one soft-boiled baby.

I’m not sure what the appropriate response to these social gambits are. How about, “Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I go into my bathroom and lock the door and cut myself with a sawn-off shampoo bottle. Then I curl up on the floor and cry uncontrollably. Anyway, nice meeting you”? Or, “Oh my, you’re right: that IS an impressive cluster of hemorrhoids. Indeed no, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. GOODBYE”?

In a devastating and frankly brilliant parting shot, she advised me to look up ‘perineal massage’ on Google. I resisted as long as I could but in the end I was macabrely compelled, like being unable to look away from a car crash or videos of tsunamis on YouTube. Here, for the stout of heart and stomach, is a description of perineal massage; there’s a picture; oh my sweet baby cheeses there’s even a video (thankfully featuring no free radical fanny flaps).

Some sites recommend you get your partner to massage your perineum, suggesting it reinforces love and closeness. Well, I don’t need Husband THAT close to feel The Love. In fact, in our relationship the intensity of love is directly proportional to physical distance within an optimal limit (in the region of 100m). Although it might be worth asking Andrew for a perineal massage just for the look on his face – or, more likely, the confusion that would ensue. I might get a nice head rub.

My favourite one came from the man who told me, shortly after my pregnancy was confirmed, about someone he knew whose wife delivered a still-born baby, strangled by the umbilical cord. It’s difficult to imagine anything more personally heartrending; I just about wept when I heard it.

After WTF, you might ask who – I mean to say – WHO – or even WHAT TYPE OF PERSON would tell such a story to a pregnant woman?

Yes, well, that would be MY HUSBAND.

Parsnip yield of Eritrea

In early December, I went to Montpellier to visit Daire and his family. Daire is the proudest of fathers – all he wants to do is show off Ceara to the world whereas I got the distinct impression poor Jasmin wanted to curl up in a dark room and never see anyone ever again.

 

Both parents are absolutely smitten and extremely conscientious. Dr Spock appears to be as out of fashion as a leg-warmer, and now one must pick ones child up at the first hint of noisiness or risk social rejection. I always thought you let ‘em screech till they fell asleep, so that was the start of my education. The amount of time and effort that goes into a six week old baby was a real eye-opener.

 

Although I was enchanted by my new niece and could spend hours just holding her and watching her scrunch up her little face and blow bubbles, I have to admit it was a relief handing her back to her parents at the end of each day. I was exhausted just watching them.

 

Obviously, the recent and frequent Johnson’s Baby Oil scents, the clench of tiny fingers, and the lines of babygros strung out on washing lines have all made me consider the prospect of motherhood.

 

On the other hand, the squall of little lungs and the malodorous whiff of nappies has made me think about other things entirely – like the parsnip yield in Eritrea and the life-cycle of the fruitfly, for instance

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