Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Daycare is killing me.

He smells different.

At the end of the day, Appleseed smells like the daycare.  It's similar to how an airplane or a hotel room smells, that attempt to make something sanitized that will never ever be sanitized.  I smell it when I kiss his head.  He doesn't smell like us.

I don't think Nicole has noticed because I've done a good job of re-scenting him before she gets home.  I sit on the couch with him and give him Sophie the Giraffe, which he promptly sticks in his mouth and gums like crazy.  He slobbers everywhere.  I kiss his cheeks, his head, the spot where his neck and his head connect which makes him squeal with happiness.

The squeal is muted.  There's less energy to it.  His smiles don't come as quickly.  His giggles are harder to come by.  And he smells different.

There's a logical explanation for it.  Besides the sensory overload, Appleseed doesn't sleep at daycare, not like he should.  They can rock him to sleep, but he wakes up when they try to put him in the crib.  So when I pick him up, he's tired, too tired to humor his father.  After I've gotten my fill of drowning him with affection, I decide to rock him to sleep.  It doesn't take long.

The best way to make sure Appleseed will not just sleep, but sleep for a long period of time, is to sleep with him.  So I take him into our bedroom, lie him on the bed, crawl in next to him, and tip him over on to his side.  He likes to sleep on his side, he just can't maintain it on his own.  We'll spend the next two hours or so like this.

It's during this time that the smell fades.  Cuddled up in bed, cuddled up next to daddy, he begins to smell like us again.

After the long nap, he starts to perk up.  His energy returns.  And mommy comes home.  The smiles come fast and furious.  The giggles and squeals are back.  Appleseed has returned.

I know that he's fine at daycare but that doesn't mean I like it.  That doesn't mean I don't feel like simultaneously throwing up and crying when I drop him off, and that's after I make it out the door.  Up until
that point, I feel like taking him back home and skipping work.

He's in the infant room at his daycare, and the teacher to student ratio maxes out at 4-1, although it's probably more reasonable to say 3-1, as one of them is almost always asleep.  But between diapers, bottles, and tantrums, how much attention can those three really get?

When I drop Appleseed off in the morning, I put him in a boppy and I find him a couple of toys.  That's how I leave him and it has, so far, been how I've found him when I come back.  It's a different boppy and they are different toys, but that's where he is, because he's a relaxed baby who can hang out like that.

And that's perfectly fine.  I know he screams his head off when they change him or when they put him in a crib.  I know he's happier on the boppy and he's certainly more quiet.

When I show up, he smiles, he squeals, and he kicks his arms and legs around, so I know he's happy to see me.  I know he's still him.  I know he's fine.

But I want him to be more than that.

Staying at home with Appleseed was exhausting, and I only had to do it three days a week.  It took so much energy to stay engaged with him and I'll admit that I took a fair number of breaks.  When four o'clock rolled around, it was time to watch a little bit of baseball.  He'd zone out on it for a few minutes, but then get bored.  But those few minutes were nice.

But I did my best, as I know Nicole did.  She felt even more pressure than me, I think, to interact with Appleseed every minute he was awake.  A lot of that is because of how much stuff she reads on the internet.

Our son his happy and energetic to the point where I'm a bit confused by it.  I don't think we do anything special.  We just love the heck out of him to an obnoxious degree.  And, apparently, he responds to that.

Going to daycare means he's no longer getting that as much as he used to, and that makes me sad.

It's hard for me to think about Appleseed when he's at daycare because it breaks my heart.  I sometimes have to force myself not to think about him because it's honestly too much.  And I resent the fact that I have to stop myself from thinking about my son.

For the first three weeks of daycare, Appleseed will only be there 3 days a week.  After that, he'll be full time, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, although as the guy who picks him up, I can guarantee you he'll never stay that late.  I'll be skipping out of work early a lot more often.

I can't imagine what it will be like when he's there every weekday.  It seems unbearable.

So the wheels are turning.  Maybe we can handle three days a week and maybe that's all we need to handle.  I just need to find a way to only work three days during the week.

Because I don't want him to be "fine."  I don't want him to get the bare minimum of attention.  I want him to have all the things he's had for the last 5 months.

He deserves all that and more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Daycare starts today and I am freaking out.

 And by "today," I mean Wednesday, the day this will be posted.

As I have been told by a great many people, we'll get through this.  Appleseed will go to daycare and he'll be okay and we'll be okay and that's the way these things work.  And I'm sure the aforementioned people are right.  This is a nigh universal experience.  People have been leaving their children with other people for hundreds of years.  This is a big part of being a parent, particularly a parent in the 21st century.  This is what we do now.

But that's a big part of what upsets me.

At some point over those first few weeks after Appleseed was born, I told Nicole that I felt like I was going to burst.  It wasn't the responsibility of taking care of him that was causing this, it was the scope of how much I loved him.  It was huge.  It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.  It practically incapacitated me, that's how intense it was.  There was Appleseed and there was Nicole and there was nothing else.

But I couldn't function that way.  I couldn't live life like that.  And eventually I went back to work, which meant that the feelings that had rendered me incapable of life outside of our home had lessened.  I knew this was going to happen from the start, and it bothered the hell out of me.  I didn't want that feeling to lessen.  I didn't want the outside world to tamp it down.

This is how I feel about taking Appleseed to daycare.  I don't want it to become normal.  I don't want it to
be another part of life, like going to work or drinking coffee or brushing my teeth.  I don't want the fact that I'm leaving my son with strangers (albeit licensed, qualified strangers) to become commonplace.  I don't want to be able to walk away so easily.

I'm sure all of the above comes from over thinking the situation and, to a certain extent, from living a life of repressed sensitivity.  The bigger problem is going to be the obvious one: I don't want to leave my kid at daycare.  I want to see him as much as I can and when I can't, I want him to be with his mom.  That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?

To a certain extent, I feel guilty about this.  There's a part of me that truly believes I should have advanced far enough in my life where I'm now able to be at home with Appleseed, where I don't have to go to work five days a week just to pay the bills.  I could have avoided this.  I should have done more.

There are two things that are keeping me from losing it completely (three, if you count whiskey).

Why is that woman smiling??
The first is that I'm going to work from home tomorrow, and the daycare is not far from our house.  I'm not going to be locked into set hours when I have to leave Appleseed and when I can pick him up.  I can even visit if I want, but that might be pouring salt into the wound.  But being close and having the freedom to go see him at the drop of a hat is making this all far less difficult. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do on Thursday.

The second is that, as Nicole pointed out, this isn't permanent.  Appleseed going to daycare doesn't mean he'll always have to go daycare or always have to go to that daycare, although it seems like a perfectly fine place to abandon your only child.  There's time.  Maybe I can figure this out.  Maybe I can make this work.  There's a glimmer of hope.

Maybe I can find a way to not end up the way everyone says I will.  Maybe I can put off that acceptance just a bit longer.

I will be fine on Wednesday; the build-up is always worse for me.  Nicole will probably be wreck.

Forget what I said; I'm going to be at that daycare every hour.  I'm not ready to move to the next stage of parenting just yet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The 5 Stages of Grief (about taking a nap)

Appleseed hates taking naps.

A kid Appleseed's age should sleep something like 14 hours a day.  Even if he miraculously sleeps 8 hours at night, he still needs to get six more hours in during the day.  He's not happy about that.

He doesn't want to sleep.  And, honestly, I don't know that I can blame him.  I know all babies are inquisitive about the world around them, but Appleseed strikes me as even more so.  He's incredibly thoughtful.  Combine that with his new found stranger danger, and we can already start to see his personality coming out.  He's got introverted parents, so I guess that makes sense.

Appleseed's protestations against taking a nap could easily be organized ala the 5 stages of grief.

Denial

We call them "meth eyes."  Appleseed's eyes themselves don't really get red, but the area around them does.  It's like his eyeballs are suddenly surrounded by inflamed tissue.  Even his eye brows get red.  It's crazy.  It's also a sure sign that he's tired.

Appleseed likes to talk.  He can't say anything yet, but he likes to try.  And listening to him is fantastic.  He's to the point where he's not just making noises, it actually sounds like he's trying to say something, he just lacks the words.

But at a certain point it becomes these whale-like noises that are a surefire indicator that he's sleepy

Take meth eyes, add in whale noises, then figure out how long it's been since he last slept, and it's not hard to know when Appleseed needs to sleep.  It's obvious to everyone but him.  Actually, it's probably obvious to him, too, he just doesn't care.  He wants to stay up.  Tired?  I'm not tired.  Why would you think that?

I hope he never plays poker.

Anger

Oh, sweet fancy Moses, the anger.

I get static in my ears from Appleseed's screaming, it is that loud.  It's also freaky as hell because I honestly think I'm hurting him somehow.  Maybe I messed up the swaddle, even though none of him is really swaddled anymore these days.  Am I holding him too tight?  Does he need to burp?  He must
be in real pain!

No, he's just pissed off.  And he knows when we're going to try to get him to sleep.  He knows as soon as we carry him anywhere near the nursery.  And he starts the boil.

Bargaining

Okay, how about if I stop crying and just lie here in your arms for a while, will that make you happy?  Is that good enough?  I'll be quiet and wide awake and that should be enough, right?

Depression

This is when the bizarre noises kick in.  He sounds like a drunk bird or a raccoon that's taken one too many sleeping pills.  He'll often make these noises with his eyes closed, too, just to set me up.

The main problem is that the noises are hilarious, so I inevitably start laughing, which, of course, startles him and we're back to square one.

This is the stage when I know I'm actually making some progress.  His Anger and Bargaining stages are unpredictable in length, but the Depression stage usually means the home stretch is in sight.

Acceptance

Okay, daddy, I'll take a nap...for 25 minutes, even though it just took you 50 minutes to get me to fall sleep.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mr. Mom

As you are reading this, I'm probably freaking out.

This is set to be published the morning of 7/9, which just so happens to be the day that Nicole goes back to work, and my first day as Mr. Mom.

I will fully admit that this scares the heck out of me. 

I've spoken at length about Nicole's anatomical advantage when it comes to appeasing Appleseed.  But beyond that obvious trump card, there's the simple fact that Nicole has spent months staying at home, taking care of him.  She knows this whole thing inside and out.  And while it's not like I haven't spent a lot of time taking care of our son, I've yet to spend a full day doing it alone.

The timing is just about perfect, and by perfect I mean really, really bad.  Appleseed has decided to be really fussy about taking a bottle.  I fought for half an hour to feed him just two ounces yesterday.  Eventually, I had to walk him around for a while just to get him to settle down.  I tried to feed him again and he started getting fussy again, so I decided to turn on the Indians game.

Yes, I know, TV is bad for babies.  But a) baseball isn't full of quick edits, which are supposedly the worst and b) I just needed him to chill out, and then the plan was to turn it off and try feeding him again.

While he was watching the Indians lose, I decided to try giving him the bottle again.  He took it.  He didn't even register me giving it to him, he just took it.  Drank the rest of it.  I got more.  He drank that, all the while watching baseball.

Clearly, that's not a pattern that can hold.  But I guess it's nice to have that as a fallback, given my anatomical inadequacies.

Appleseed is also not a fan of sleeping these days.  I think I once suggested that the amount of time
spent trying to get him to sleep is roughly double the amount of time he actually sleeps.  It seems like lately that ratio pushes towards 3:1.  Granted, it's the same for Nicole as it is for me, so I'm not any more of a disadvantage than she is.  But I am going to have to perform this song and dance more in a single day than I've ever done before.  I'm going to blow through my back of tricks before it's noon.

But I think I'll be okay with all of that.  I'm sure I'll need to step away and take a deep breath every now and again, but what could be more worthwhile than taking care of Appleseed?  Nothing.  It's the most important thing I'll ever do.

The hard part, I think, will be when I'm trying to get other things done.  The hard part will be when I'm trying to do dishes and he wakes up after ten minutes.  It's going to be hard when I want to make some reasonably healthy food and he starts crying.  I don't want to see my diet go to hell because I'm just eating whatever I can, whenever I can.

I realize that I'm going in naive, but despite everything I've typed above, I can't help but think about how great it's going to be to spend so much time with my son.  I know it will be taxing, but I'm trading a day at the office for a day with Appleseed.  I'm getting a day of him making crazy noises, him smiling and giggling, him trying to eat his own feet.  I'm trading the relative peace and quiet of work for the insanity of being a stay at home dad.  There are no tedious, mind numbing two hour meetings.  There will be frustrating, chaotic hour long feedings.

In the end, I'll smile at Appleseed and he'll smile back.  He might even giggle.

And I'll make it through the day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Free Music Monday: The Shins!

It's that time of the week, people!  Time for some free music!

This week it's the digital download for "Oh, Inverted World" by The Shins!  There's a little song called "New Slang" that a few of you might have heard.

It also happens to be filled with a ton of other great songs.  And it could be yours!  For free!

All you have to do is like my Facebook page and send me a message saying you want this album.  I only have one of these codes, so it's first come, first serve.

And, hey, even if you won the free music download last week, you can win it again this week.  I'm all for someone putting the work in to get all these great records for free.

So like, send, download, and enjoy a fantastic album.  And come back next week for another free download!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Baby Slang

This picture choice will make sense in a minute
I have used the word "shart" more in the last four months than in the rest of my life combined.

For the uninitiated, the Urban Dictionary describes "shart" like this:

a small, unintended defecation that occurs when one relaxes the anal sphincter to fart

Yes, I know, it's charming, but it's also what Appleseed does on a fairly regular basis.  I'm not sure if he's ever pooped without sharting.  I think the two go hand and hand for him.  Oh, and I suppose I've also used the word "poop" and all of its variations a lot more recently.

This is the lexicon of having a baby.  Not only do you use words you've never used before, you start to make up terms for things.

Like volcano.

Appleseed isn't always done emptying his bowels after he sharts.  Sometimes he likes to wait and release the rest of it while we're changing his diaper.  Not unlike a lava, more poop flows out.  In the beginning, it ended up on the changing table, but we're careful enough now to always have a diaper underneath him.  So, yeah: volcano.

But one time there was a little extra behind the lava, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Having a boy means periodically we will exclaim "fire in the hole!"  I attached this particular phrase for the times when Appleseed has an "airborne accident," as the baby app we use calls it.  Why "fire in the hole" when a) it's the opposite of fire and b) it's coming out of a hole, not in a hole, I don't know.  I just said it one day and it stuck.

One day, when Appleseed was probably only nine or ten weeks old, he sharted.  I carried him to the nursery, put him on the changing table, and took off his diaper.


"Fire in the hole!"


He peed everywhere.  It got on the carpet, that's how much he peed.


I removed his poopy diaper and began cleaning everything up.  And then he volcanoed.  I'd yet to put a new
diaper beneath him, so it ran down onto the changing table.


I picked him up by the ankles so I could wipe his butt and lower back clean.


He volcanoed again.  But this time, he had something extra behind it.  This was a shart, a shart that occurred as I was lifting his butt into the air.


And that is how we ended up with baby poop on the walls in the nursery.


I lost it.  I laughed so hard that I nearly fell down on to the pee soaked carpet.  I was practically in tears I was laughing so hard.


The changing table is actually the site of a great many slang occurrences.  On a fairly regular basis, Appleseed will flex all of his muscles, turning himself into a human board.  I think it was Nicole's brother who referred to him as a plank when he did this.  So, naturally, what he does is now referred to as "planking."


His planking has taken on a new element over the last week or so as he's started trying to roll over.  He does this by thrusting his hips forward and to the side.  We call it "Elvising."


This is just the tip of the iceberg, really.  Baby slang is great because it's specific to the family, even if it's dealing with universal occurrences.  I'm sure everyone has a term for when their kid continues to poop while he or she is on the changing table.  

I'm envisioning references to oil fields.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Free Music Monday: The National!

I'm giving away some free music!  Every Monday for the next few months, I'll be giving away codes for digital copies of albums.  Don't worry, it's all on the up and up -- no illegal downloading or sharing going on here.

Basically, I've been building up my vinyl collection and pretty much everything I've bought is something I already own in digital form.  But these records all come with codes for digital copies.  So I'm going to pass these codes on to you!

First up: "Boxer" by The National!

Here's the Metacritic page where you can read about how awesome this record is.  It's one of my favorite albums to listen to while I write.

How can you get this gem from me, for free?  Easy!  All you need to do is go like my Facebook page, then send me a message saying you want the free album!  I only have one code, so it's first come, first serve.

That's it!  You are mere moments away from owning a modern classic.