Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dad: Observations of a New Father

We’re a little over five weeks into parenthood. Things are drastically different from what I thought they’d be. We’re having fun. We’re sleeping. I’ve only been peed on twice.

I’m still waiting on things to melt down like all the naysayers kept telling me they would. Susan lets us feel like competent parents. She’s a GREAT baby and, not to rub it in anyone’s face, we got lucky with this one.

Being a parent is an incredible thing and takes a lot of sacrifices. We’ve already seen that, but we know right now it’s not too bad since her biggest needs are food and sleep. Still, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts, observations and confessions from the first few weeks.

Susan doesn’t do a whole lot, but she’s a whole lot of fun.
At this point, she mostly eats, sleeps, poops, burps, cries and flails. That’s six things. Watching her do any of those things, except crying, is infinitely more entertaining than watching TV, reading books, playing video games or whatever else used to take up our free time.She learned how to roll over last week, so I guess technically she’s got seven things.

Speaking of free time, there’s a lot less of it to go around now.
Here’s the routine: Susan eats, Susan plays, Susan sleeps. There is some pooping and peeing in there somewhere, but that’s the basics. Once she falls asleep (which she does VERY well, thank God), MJ and I have about two hours of interrupted US time. We try to squeeze as much fun crap as we can into those two hours because we now have less time to ourselves. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s an adjustment. Time with Susan is very fun, but I now see why my parents made sure I was in bed by 8 p.m.

It’ll be all over you. Get over it. You don’t get in the front seat at Splash Mountain without knowing you’re gonna get wet.

And you WILL get shit on.

When your baby cries in public, people stare at you. We were in Barnes & Noble the other day just browsing, and Susan started to fuss. I took her to the bathroom to change her, but that only made it worse. The fuss turned into a cry, and the cry turned into wailing. Everyone in the store (not exaggerating one bit) stopped what they were doing and stared. This is a book store, mind you, so the decibel level on a normal day is only slightly louder than two butterflies making love. MJ and I had become separated, and I had Susan in her stroller at the very back of the store. Feeling the collective eye daggers of what felt like 10,000 disgruntled shoppers stabbing me in the face, my first instinct was to flee. I channeled Speed Racer and zipped through the aisles dodging people and Nook salesmen until I reached the exit. Freedom at last? Not quite. Being outside only meant that her cries had that much more room to travel, and everyone who had previously been enjoying a nice leisurely day at the mall got an earful of Susan’s best (worst) crying. Then (and I’m convinced this was Susan’s doing), it started to rain. That’s when I realized that maybe she just wanted to be held, so I picked her up and she stopped crying immediately. A lady told me good job. See, parenting isn’t that hard. 

I had this exact look on my face that day.

I feel bad for my dog.
Admittedly, we shower way too much attention on our dog, so we probably set him up for this. We got Oscar when he was a puppy before we got married. We’ve had him for over four years now, and he was basically our only child until Susan arrived. Now instead of tugging his rope, taking him on walks or just sitting around and looking at him (one of our favorite things), we’re taking care of Susan. He’s great with her, but (and this is probably 100% projecting on my part) I feel like he’s bummed out that we’re not playing with him as much as we used. It’s in his eyes. Yeah, he’s a dog, but he’s my FIRST dog and I love him. On the bright side, it won’t be long before Susan starts paying him all kinds of unwanted attention, so he’d better enjoy NOT having his tail pulled while he can.

I hope Susan likes sports.
Even if she doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body, I hope Susan enjoys sports. She doesn’t have to play anything, but as long as she sits down with me every now and then to watch a baseball game, I’ll be very happy. I can’t wait to teach her about the circle change, play action fakes and the 2-3 zone. I wholly plan on learning how to pirouette, plie, sip tea, and play Barbies, so it’ll be an even trade. 

Susan, the first rule of baseball is never put the go-ahead run on base.
The second rule is never pull for this guy.

Advice is great...when you ask for it.
There is so much out there about how to raise your baby. Books are helpful. Too many books is not helpful. Asking parents what they did is helpful. Getting told what you SHOULD do is not helpful. All babies are different. What worked for one kid may not work for the next, so don’t be offended if we politely nod our heads and smile when you tell us the best way to put our baby to sleep.

Also, feel free to nod and smile at us when we’re doing the same thing to you.

Like poop (see above), but worse. You know when it’s coming. You hear it shoot out of her tiny esophagus, and there’s a slight pause before you feel it. It’s just long enough to think, “Oh, it’s probably just a burp right!? A wet burp! Yeah, that’s all! Don’t you feel better now Sus--” and then you have warm goop oozing down your chest and a crying baby. Thus...

All parents are nodding in agreement right now.

You’re a lot more dexterous than you think. You won’t believe the ways you have to contort your body to accomplish various tasks when you’re a parent. When you’re feeding your kid, you have one hand behind her head and the other holding onto the bottle. Ok, so we’ve got that covered, but what happens when the burp cloth falls on the floor? What about when your dog brings you a rope to tug? Now your nose itches. Also a bird just flew in the house and is using your hair as a nest.

Solution: Use your chin to hold the bottle in place while you use your newly-freed hand to pick up the burp cloth. Grab your dog’s rope with your toes and tug away. Wipe your nose on your shoulder. As for the bird, wait until the bottle is over and make an appointment with your hair stylist tomorrow.

The point is, as a new parent you learn how to multitask REALLY fast. You have 10 fingers and 10 toes, and you’ll use them all.

This man was probably an excellent father.

I’m in trouble. Because I’m already wrapped around my daughter’s tiny finger. All she has to do is look me in eye and I turn into a mushy pile of goo. I don’t know what I’ll do when she starts talking and hugging me.

I worry.
Once you're in charge of keeping a baby alive, you start to worry about things you never even thought about in the past. What if Susan gets sick? What if she has trouble making friends? How do I teach her how to read and do math? What if her first boyfriend has a face tattoo and a Harley?

Hey dad, I'd like you to meet Snake. He's a senior!

My baby is cuter than your baby.
I’m sure you feel the same way about your kid. We’ll just agree to disagree.

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