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Entries in baby (3)


We Don’t Know How…

A weekend course I was attending ended early.  Clearly the instructor wasn’t interested in staying until 6PM when he announced we could leave shortly after 11AM.  He was wise; it was a beautiful day and one better spent outdoors after the miserable winter.

The class was being taught ten minutes from my granddaughter’s house, and I was excited to sneak in and see the 9 week old.  Heck, I might even get to see her parents.

Arriving at the house after texting my intent, my daughter-in-law had the baby ready to see me.

“It’s a beautiful, warm day.  Let’s get the little one outside in some fresh air,” I quickly hinted.  Everyone’s house is sealed up, and it is time for everyone to get out.

“She’s not been 100%.  We want to make sure she’s well, and we don’t want her getting sunburn,” mom quickly pointed out.

I pushed.  The only time the little girl has been out of the house is to go to the doctor’s office.  “Tell you what.  Let’s go to brunch!  We’ll get everyone together and grab a bite.”

Mom was perplexed.  She squirmed a little.  “We don’t know how.”  And we certainly don’t want to disturb everyone around us.

There are many facts about children coming to play when raising a child.  One is they don’t come with an instruction guide.  Another is it does take a village.  This is an example where the grandparent (me) can share some tricks.

“This is easy.  You need to figure this out early on.  It’s better for you and her,” granddaddy shared.  “First off, fill her up so she’s sleepy.”

Mom kicked into gear.  As she fed the little one, I shared some pointers.

Most babies will sleep through a meal if they’ve already eaten.  It is important to take your baby out of a dining area if the little one starts wailing.  Wailing is what a siren sounds like…and is many times greater volume than fussing.  (This reminds me of one time when out with one of my kids at a toddler age.  The toddler was tired and the siren was being prepared to go off.  My wife took her cloth napkin and gently covered the child’s mouth as she whisked him out of the dining room of the somewhat fancy restaurant we were enjoying.  It is hard to say who was more startled, our child or me!!)

For our inaugural voyage with the granddaughter we chose a busy kid friendly restaurant, Joe’s American Bar and Grill.  When our group arrived, a quick visit to the hostess station got us set in a good direction.

“We have a group of five with a baby who has never been out to a restaurant.”  The hostess quickly sat us in a corner of the restaurant.

“If she starts fussing, just rock her car seat turned cradle.”  There is a reason some car seats have rounded bottoms….it allows a gentle rocking action out of the car.

The waiter likewise understood.  “While we’d like a leisurely Sunday brunch, the truth is we need to move along before the granddaughter awakens.”  He made sure our food service moved along.

The granddaughter did great.  She fussed just a bit, easily overshadowed by a teenager having a hissy fit across the room.  Of course, it’s hard for family not to hold her, so when she did awaken she got passed around our table to loving family.  She was never a disturbance to anyone.

Sometimes accommodations by parents will make all the difference.  We were once in Montreal for a conference and wanted to enjoy a nice meal.  We spoke with the restaurant, and they set us up in a private area so we could bring the baby carriage in with us.  While we ate early and before the rush, we had our fancy meal and the baby slept through it all.

On this sunny Sunday, we had the first of many family brunches!


Need a Babysitter, Any Takers?

Grandpa took a selfie while feedingMy family uses a group messaging list for communicating.  Coordination for events, announcements, issues….it’s all there.  As long as a string of them don’t come while working it’s pretty convenient, although I would prefer to talk once in a while.

One thread the other day had me reflecting on child raising through the millennia. 

“Need a babysitter on Saturday, any takers?”   My son rarely initiates a text thread. My daughter had the privilege of babysitting one day, since she lives 2.5 blocks away. 

“I need to work overnight 2AM to 6AM on Saturday and April plans to drive her mom home during the day.  We’re flexible on time.”  April’s mom lives in Western MA, and was ending a week’s visit with the newborn.

“I have a haircut at 8:30, and could come over after.”  Wow.  My first solo ride with the newborn. Let the spoiling begin!

“Thank you, we really appreciate it.”  April chimed in with a nice expression of appreciation.

“No problem.  I’m looking forward to it.”  I was happy, no, thrilled to spend some time with my granddaughter.

“See how long you last before you beg me to take over.  :)”  Did my son suddenly doubt me?  It turns out each grandmother had spent a week at the home, and they were pretty tired by the end of the week.  I can certainly handle a few hours.

“I may have done this before.  Maybe….”  Given two offspring are on the list, I was hoping this would be a funny note.  As I shared this with other parents, we all do the same thing…checking in on the grandparents and making sure they still have it.

“30 years ago?”  Hmm, my son was pointing out my experience was not “recent.”

“Like riding a bike.”  I was not going to be held down.

“You aren’t the young stallion you used to be.”  Darn him. He wasn’t letting go.

“Aged to perfection.”  I got my wife a t-shirt with this inscription for her 40th birthday.  I got the t-shirt from PBS, so it was highbrow.  We are now divorced.  J

“Pretty sure I’m only 27.”  There’s my daughter, coming to my aid, and defusing the situation. 

“Pretty sure dad didn’t take care of either of us until we were 1.5 years old.”  OMG!  They actually read my blog?  They are using my own words against me?

I caved.  Pulled out the white flag and surrendered.   “There is a little truth to that.”

I did do my babysitting duty, and had a glorious time.  The little one and I bonded between feeding, diaper changes, and sleeping.  It was all good.

While she rested, my thoughts went to changes over the years.  Children have been raised for tens of thousands of years.  Disposable diapers are a big change still in place today.  The formula was mixed with purified water…frankly we always thought town water delivered through the tap was pretty pure. 

Overall, it comes back to the same things with a newborn.  Feeding, cleaning, napping….loving.  The specifics may change but the basics are unchanged.  And like riding a bike, once you have it you have it forever.



I Grew Into Being a Dad

Hey, wanna know a secret?  A deep, dark secret?  Something only my wife heard about?

I didn’t initially enjoy being a Dad.  I had to grow into it.  Let me explain.

When we got home from the hospital our entire world changed.  Sleeping through the night was gone, as was any ability to do things spur of the moment; we had to plan child care.  And the little one required care and feeding….lots of care and feeding!

In hindsight, I think I had it lucky.  In an era before paternal leave, I went back to work within days.  My wife was taking care of the baby until her maternity leave was up and she went back to work.

I just didn’t take to this whole concept.  It took me a while to come around to the idea of caring for something more than you care for yourself.  Something requiring food, diaper changes, care…..love!

My world changed to evening discussion of how many poops were created and of what color, from thinking about work and conquering the world. I perfected stirring in my sleep so my wife would get up and take care of a crying baby….after all, she was breastfeeding and there really wasn’t much for me to do….(note: yes, fathers, I am breaking the sacred touch and acknowledging to moms we do this!)

In hindsight, I think I was pretty selfish.  I had participated in creating this living, breathing creature and needed to fully help raise it.

Thankfully my wife took to parenting immediately and helped get our kids off to a great start.

My recollection is it took about 12-18 months for me to really embrace parenting.  It happened as the child went from “blob” phase to being fully aware of his surroundings and interacting.  When I came home and that connection was made, I was hooked.  Heck, I enjoyed the “terrible twos” as this was just the child further exploring the world.

I was reminded of this little secret when my kids got together to coo over my grandchild. 

The kids were talking about the changes in my son’s world.  “Dad, it’s kind of amazing you had more kids.”

After a brief family debate about the need for a second child to achieve perfection after the first, I made a valiant attempt to explain why having children is so special.  It’s about nurturing your offspring and taking pleasure from their learning and success.  It’s about hope for the future.  It’s about continuing humanity.  (Yes, it is also challenging, sometimes maddening, and exasperating!)

As a grandparent it is exciting to watch the new little one, and to offer advice (when appropriate) on raising children.

I’d argue it’s the most important thing in my life.

How about you?  How quickly did you take to your new role?