Monday, February 28, 2011

Maybe I'll Just Squint From Now On

I put on my reading glasses yesterday afternoon so I could show the backgammon game on The Wife's iPad who's boss. I noticed that one of the arms was a little wonky, and remembered seeing NJ grab them off the coffee table a couple of times (I bribed her with her Elmo doll or something to get them out of her grubby little mitts). I announced to The Wife my plans to stop leaving the glasses on the coffee table, and she replied that NJ comes into the living room in the morning and immediately goes for the specs:

"She sees them and says 'Daddy!' and rushes over to grab them."

"Really? That's kind of cute."

"Yes, she did that today and then tried to put them on her face. Yesterday morning she tried to wear them around her waist."

"Really?? Aw ... heck."

So now I'm shopping for new reading glasses, because these will be on the coffee table -- I'm not messing with that.

The toddler trap has been baited -- now we wait.
(Although: NJ skipped it this morning -- these kids today with their long hair and short attention spans.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Master Spooner

The kid waffled between adorable smiling tyke (she smiles on command now, in fact) and cranky sourboots all day, but dinnertime was a revelation. She's been demanding a utensil during meals for a couple of weeks now, but me or The Wife always had one on hand, too, to do the heavy lifting while she dabbled. Tonight, though, she ate an entire cup of yogurt with a spoon, by herself, completely bib-free. It looked like this:

I'm trying out a yogurt fu manchu. Eat your hearts out, Luis Tiant and Ming the Merciless.
Sure, there's a smear of blueberry yo across NJ's face. But can you see the yogurt on her shirt? No? I'll wait while you get your glasses. OK, now: See it? Still got nothing? Yeah, that's what I thought. Darn right you can't see it -- the kid didn't spill but one tiny drop! One single, solitary, head-of-a-pin dab of yogurt. Let's blow that photo up a bit:

If you're rounding up, you'd have to say that she spilled *no* yogurt at all.
We don't strap a bib on her at dinnertime any more because whatever she's wearing is going in the dirty clothes hamper anyway. Clearly, though, in a matter of almost no time at all we'll be able to get rid of the bibs forever!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Partial Treasury Of Beloved Catch Phrases

"That's what she said!"

"Please pack your knives and go."

"I've made a huge mistake."

"Make it so."

"We're not in Kansas anymore."

"That's what she said!" (redux)

"No soup for you!"

"Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

"You cannot be serious!"

"Heeeeeeeeeeeeee're's Johnny!"

"No way!"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For Her Next Trick, She'll Need A Volunteer

A little after 4 a.m. today we heard, on the baby monitor, NJ cry. It escalated, then stopped, then started up again with more force. I reached to the floor and grabbed my second pillow to put over my head -- The Wife would either get up and check on her, if it came to that, or poke me in the back to do it -- when the next sound we heard was a thump. A loud thump. As we both shot out of bed like someone threw a Molotov cocktail on it, I felt the silence and knew it was about to break. The calm before the storm -- it's always there when NJ hurts herself, a bit of dead air before the real fun starts. One second as her face screws up in anguish and she builds up a mighty roar. As I reached our bedroom stairs, the roar came. The Wife beat me downstairs by a few steps, so when I got there she was scooping NJ up in her arms.

The kid had climbed out of her crib and landed on the floor. She looked nothing like this photo, which was taken some ten hours earlier.

Apparently, thankfully, luckily, she must have landed on her feet or her butt, because she was fine after a few minutes and had no pains, bruises or marks. By the time I got in the room, she'd stopped crying, too. The Wife rocked her a while and put her back, but NJ was having none of it and eventually they both came upstairs for the rest of the night. None of us really got any more rest, although NJ fell asleep just about the time the alarm went off.

In the past week or so NJ's figured out to pull herself up onto some of our furniture, particularly the low-slung sofa in the basement and a couple of stuffed chairs. Two hands on the cushion, one leg hoisted up (this takes a couple of tries), then she pulls until the rest of her body follows. She has a little trouble with the living room sofa, but is quick with a "Help" and I provide the requested assistance. The crib's mattress was at a height that the outward-facing rail smack at the middle of her torso. We didn't think she'd be able to climb over and out because she still sleeps in a sack and doesn't have a lot of leg mobility. (Or so I thought!)

Today I lowered the mattress floor to a suitable height (or lack of height, I guess) and she's back to being a cute little kid in a wooden cage. Before I screwed it in tight and moved the crib back to its spot against the wall, we put the mattress and the kid in it to make sure it's going to be safe. (She danced to a Clapton track in there.) We're set for a few more months, and there's one more, lower notch on the thing for further adjustments. I guess we just sit back and wait for her to climb out and fall again -- then we'll know it's time to lower the mattress again, right? /I keed, I keed

So, not a great way for the kid to kick off her 1 1/2-year birthday. But all's well now, she's upstairs sawing logs in her newly sunken crib. Hopefully she'll sleep through the night -- she ought to, because last night she, uh, got up early.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Can I Miss Her If She Won't Go Away?

Well ... now she's really getting the hang of the whole "going away" thing. Por ejemplo:

I'm outta here.
There won't always be a closed gate at the end of the path, as there is here at day care. And there's only going to be a lot more of this to come. Walking away from me for her first day of real school, first date, off to college, to a new city/state/country, down the aisle, etc.

/Dad Solo feels very, very old
/realizes she'll be 1.5 years old next week, and it's already mid-February 2011
/feels even older
/starts missing grown-up NJ pre-emptively
/wipes away single tear, like that Native American chief who hated pollution
/sighs dramatically, wonders where time goes

Monday, February 7, 2011

With Apologies To Papa Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea
The Young Girl and the Lake

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thank You, J.J., For What I Consider Sound Advice

About an hour ago a BabyCenter e-mail landed in our inbox entitled "Your 17-month-old: Week 4." These missives are occasionally helpful, sometimes interesting, often attempting to explain the obvious. This one caught my eye, though, because it starts off like this:
It will be a year or two before your toddler leaves most of his tantrums behind. Until then, expect to deal with outbursts of anger and frustration on a regular basis.
This caught my eye, because NJ has been on a tantrum roller-coaster lately. The apex came a couple of nights ago when I was pulling off her clothes before bath time -- she was in a foul, red-faced mood and stopped crying and wailing long enough to laugh every time I blew a mouth fart on her stomach. Her laughter lasted exactly as long as every raspberry; once it was over, laughter ended on a dime and wailing resumed. (Only the traditional "Ready for your bath?" query ended the tantrum once and for all. She responds to this question with a smile, a head-nodding "Yeah!", a roll-over on the changing table and an attempt to climb down that is clearly her going through the motions, because she knows I won't let her and will pick her up.)

Lots of things trigger tantrums these days -- The Wife's unforgivable failure to hold her indefinitely is a current favorite. (Sadly, my holding her instead doesn't seem to be the answer -- NJ accepts no substitutes.) So you can imagine the mix of relief and anticipation I felt as I clicked on the BabyCenter link to find out what to do about these tantrums. The first thing that caught my eye was the phrase "magic formula," but a closer read ended in disappointment -- these experts were not, in fact, passing on a sure-fire recipe, but rather telling me there was no such thing. Instead, I got this:
A tantrum usually burns itself out faster if you act neutral or even ignore it instead of responding with a sympathetic cluck or rational explanation. Once your child calms down, offer her a lap and a chance to regroup. Try distraction (rather than giving in to something you refused). Don't punish a tantrum. At this age, your child can't help herself.
So this one goes in the "tell me something I don't know" file.

These tantrums wear more on The Wife and I than they do NJ. Once they're over, she's all smiles and sunshine and rainbows. If one lasts long enough, and is loud enough, I don't stop thinking about it for a long time.

I would ask for advice, but 1) I get the feeling that, as bland as BabyCenter's take on tantrums is, it's about all there is to say on the matter, and 2) I doubt anyone can help because, obviously, we are the first couple in the history of parents to go through such a thing. Right?