Baby Urgency

LIVE FROM COVINGTON IT’S HALLOWEEN NIGHT

It’s Friday, that means it’s time for another urgent Felix post. A post written in segments as Felix napped! No photos because we’re out and about.

So many interesting things are happening with Felix right now. He’s learning motor control, evident by his incredible enjoyment of: opening and closing doors, standing at the office chair and twisting it back-and-forth or playing ring-around-the-chairsie, grabbing a toy and pushing it all over the house as he crawls like a maniac kid, rolling toys back to us and stealing my glasses every time the opportunity arises.

The first time he crawled over and took my glasses was one of those magical moments where you perceive more depth to what’s happening than there actually is. I had just built him a tower to vanquish and he was having fun knocking it over. So I took the time to send an email from my phone. I was in the middle of composing the message when he popped up looking slightly disgruntled and then grabbed the glasses from my face, raking the skin on my brow just a bit. He shook my glasses and vocalized something that sounded like a declaration.
I looked at Felix and said, “I get it buddy. I need to put my phone away and really see you.”
He smiled playfully and let me take my glasses back. I thought, wow, that was sort of a deep reverse parenting moment we just had. My glasses were barely on for a second before Felix lunged for them again, once more raking my brow.
“Okay,” I said, “now it’s a game, but the first time really meant something.”
He smiled and banged my glasses into the floor. Babies, we can learn so much from them.

And I sincerely mean that. I joke around a lot, but babies are persistent and driven, injury barely slows them down, minor bonks and falls are quickly brushed off and then it’s back on their feet. They have no shame and only seek to do what they want regardless of dangers or foolishness. If babies were like adults most of us would still poop our pants and crawl around safely on the floor. If I have learned anything from Felix it is to be fearless in my endeavors, and push past setbacks. Because in the end that’s how we get what we want and that’s how we learn.

Climbs off soapbox hops back on topic.

Felix is learning to interact with his world and impress his will upon the objects around him. In a previous post I mentioned that he knows our schedule, so with all these knew ways to control his environment and growing abilities to understand the patterns of his environment this should make him the most content baby that ever crawled the Earth. A Super Baby who never cries. Well you know nothing about baby urgency.

Baby Urgency is that irrational need to make 110% goddamn sure we understand that he requires attention. Not just attention, but immediate attention with a swift resolution. Most of his baby urgency happens when we’re getting ready to go, he really wants us to remember him, even though we have a perfect record of always bringing him along.

When it’s just the two of us and I need to do chores, or anything that requires two hands and moderate attention, I’ll put on the Baby Bjorn.
Now, a little bit of background here so there is no confusion on how we use the Bjorn. The Baby Bjorn is only worn if I need to take Felix with me. I do not wear it for fun, or fashion or as a conversation starter. At no point in time has anyone but Felix occupied the Baby Bjorn. It is covered in his drool, it is certifiably his by the Rules and Codes of Baby Law. But, the moment I put it on he starts crying and scoots over to me. Then takes a tight hold of my clothes and tries to make that epic climb all babies dream of; that’s where they grab on at the knee and then using only their bare hands climb all the way up and into your arms.
I’ve always found this confusing given the solid history of only putting Felix in the Bjorn. But then I started looking at it from his perspective. I used to be spend most of the waking day at work, leaving before he woke up and getting home for the last couple of hours before bed, it sucked. So to Felix, I guess he knows I can leave him. That’s a sad thought.
We share the apartment with two cats, and a couple of mirrors. By baby logic I can infer that there might be 2-4 other people in this house. Two, or four, other people who are trying to get in the Bjorn. So like a crazed fanboy he lines up once the Bjorn goes on and screams, “Pick me, pick me!” I always tell him, “Alright Felix, just this once, I’m gonna do you a solid and let you ride in the Bjorn.” It makes me laugh and I time it to when I’m actually loading him into the carrier so he lets out a happy sigh and double arm happy slam like he understands what I said. (On a side note, babies don’t get enough credit for their awesome gestures.)

His Baby Urgency also goes into overdrive when he’s hungry. If I don’t have a bottle prepped and ready it can be a full on cryfest the entire time. Even if the bottle is ready, when I set it down so we can get seated, he cries out, “No you fool! We need the bottle!” So now I just let him hold the bottle as we take a seat.

The baby carrier and feedings don’t happen on a precise schedule, but do happen with consistency. A consistency he should be able to grasp, if he can grasp the general time that Michelle comes home at. Yet, this urgency get’s the better of him and causes him to cry out. One day he’ll know that the Bjorn always means a ride and I’ll be a little sad, because it’s another mile-marker on the road out of babytown.

This is a short post today. We had a very busy week preparing for Halloween and I had to finish a short story submission. I’ll post a new Felix comic, soon, to make up for it.

From the whole Bray Family have a Happy Halloween!

Felix Takes A Holiday

I wish I could take a holiday, but it is Friday and this post must be written. Authors note, usually I write these with enough time to do a printed line edit, but I had to skip it for this post because of time constraints.

This pumpkin is too big, and oddly shaped.

“You know there’s a sign right here that says don’t climb on the pumpkin? If we get in trouble I’m telling everyone you put me up on this.” -Felix

This past weekend, between ominous amounts of rain, we managed to take Felix to the pumpkin patch! He behaved himself better than most college revelers, or rioters, but still brought that “I’m gonna do what I want” attitude that is quite charming on babies. This was, what I will consider his second look at celebrated American Holidays. The first one, also coinciding with his first sleepover, was the 4th of July.
On the 4th we were concerned that the loud fireworks would scare him, or keep him up, but neither of those happened. The festivities of fireworks start so late that he was plenty tired when my Mom’s street put on their annual 4-hour show of carnage and eggy farts (Seriously, who puts the fart powder in fireworks?). Felix was outside for only a bit of the show, and would look up to the sky, with an unimpressed look on his face as colorful fireworks exploded in the dark  and powder stained night. We were very impressed. When Michelle took him inside to sleep he fell right to sleep, fell right to sleep for a baby. That was his first 4th of July, I think he would say, “Didn’t suck.”
True, holidays do exist between the 4th and Halloween, but none are observed quite like them. Or we personally don’t observe them quite like the 4th and Halloween. No offense intended to holiday enthusiasts.

What do you mean you don't lick them?

In a moment I shall decide if this pumpkin is the one.

At the pumpkin patch we had no concerns about loud noises and fear, just about the rain. Felix handled the experience very well. He enjoyed a little Sugar Pumpkin that he held onto for most of the day, and tried to keep it covered in drool believing that was how one obtained ownership of the pumpkin. Luckily, his Nana later bought it for him, “I bought him his FIRST pumpkin!” she gloated. My mom is cool like that.

A baby claims ownership by covering the item in drool.

This pumpkin needs more spice.

He helped get his cousin out of an overly long photo shoot. They looked adorable sitting together on a wicker bench staged with all the rustic fall dressings, so we were all snapping photos. Soon though he had enough, looked right at her and said, “I’ll get us out of this.” and then turned to us screaming and crying. End of photo shoot.

“Thanks Felix.” -Cousin E.

Now that Felix is older, he is able to take in the environment more, and I mean that beyond his ability to grasp objects and put them in his mouth. We walked him through the animal pins, and he was impressed by the larger animals. This was shown through grunts, huffs, smiles, bounces and reaching out for the animal. Felix is quite the cat wrestler, number one in the league, and when he reached out for the mini-donkey, he had the same look in his eyes that he gets right before wrestling a cat. Good luck buddy, that donkey is out of your weight class. It was mostly the bigger animals that he liked, the ducks and the baby chickens just didn’t cut it. Mostly, I believe, because Felix thought a wrestling match with them would be so one sided as not to be worth it.
Felix is at an age where he can do way more than ever before, and this will only continue to become more true, but it makes him intent on being part of the experience. While Michelle and I enjoyed an ear of roasted corn, my Mom had to work hard to keep Felix entertained. After I finished my cob I gave it to Felix and he pretended to feed it to Michelle mimicking what he saw us doing. It was a reminder that at times his frustration is from not being included, especially those times when he’s not included for safety reasons, when all he wants to do is learn and understand why or how we do the things we do. Knowledge and understanding are two admirable qualities to get worked up about.

Now the baby feeds you. Power of Revers Parenting.

This is how you eat corn on the cob.

The pumpkin patch was just one part of the Halloween ritual. We still need to paint the two pumpkins we picked up, hopefully this weekend, and Michelle is working hard on some homemade costumes. She’s going to be a wizard (the classic stars on robe kind), I’m going as Black Jesus (because the new show on Adult Swim is amazing) and Felix is going to be a Leprechaun (he’s a short guy with red hair, slamdunk!). The hidden joke here is: a wizard, Black Jesus and a Leprechaun walk into a bar, only one of them is real. Our costumes are super leveled!

We’ll be showing Felix off at Michelle’s work and then heading to my moms so he can see real trick-or-treaters, as they still go door-to-door in her neighborhood. It seems so odd to go trick-or-treating at the mall. We grew up in an apartment complex and basically you would have a solid line/parade of kids going door-to-door, I remember parents just standing in the doorway during the peak hours as their was never a break in the line. As we grew older our boundaries increased and we would go off the complex. The neighborhoods were vast, but  word-of-mouth, and Halloween legend, would always spread about where to get the best and biggest candy so we would make a mad dash for those blocks.

You don't need a car-seat when you're driving a tractor.

“Felix allow me to rant to you as I drive this tractor.” said Pops. “Oh nooo.” Felix said.

(INCOMING RANT) I was one of those kids who was asked, “Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?” To which my answer is and always will be: No sir, or madam, I am not. Furthermore, in a day and age when too many kids abandon childhood early for young adulthood we should encourage those who chose to remain in the blissful state of childhood longer than their peers. So when you come to my door, if you are a teenager who has taken the time to prepare a costume and say “Trick-or-treat” I will gladly give you candy, with no judgement and no condescending remarks before acquiescing to your request out of fear of your trick reprisal. Because, like you I was a 15 year old trick-or-treater. I know the slings you suffer from friends who are now too cool for kids stuff, and rude adults jealous of the longevity of your Halloween career. Yes, they look back and think damn, look at this kid, I could have gotten two, maybe three more good years of trick-or-treating, why did I listen to my a-hole friends? Why?!?!  So no, you are never too old to go trick-or-treating during regulation hours of Halloween night. (END RANT)

No more door-to-door is a sad loss for childhood, and commentary on the state of child safety here in the US, but maybe that’s being too judgmental. Maybe once I get in the groove of getting free candy from stores and business’ I’ll think it’s pretty awesome and incredibly safe. Because no corporation has ever betrayed the public’s trust, right?
Whatever the case, I can’t wait for Felix to get the real Halloween experience, that is, of course, collecting ludicrous amounts of candy anyway you can. That day is far off, but we’re giving him the solid indoctrination he needs to make it a reality.

The Incredible Dynamic Size Shifting Baby or My Biggest-Little Fan

This past January my wife delivered our first child, Felix, in what was an incredibly long and difficult labor. I still recall when he was finally born, and how GIGANTIC he looked. The weight of that moment was so heavy, and meaningful, that my mind actually backed the overwhelming emotions and decided that we were looking at the first four-foot tall baby ever born. It wasn’t until the nurse placed him on the baby warmer, where I watched as they forced air into his deflated lungs that were too startled to inflate on their own, and raised his limp arms just to watch them fall flat, that he suddenly shrunk to the 7lb baby that was born that day. Felix eventually began to breath on his own, and his tiny baby arms stopped falling flat, as he finally acclimated to the post-womb world, but he’s never stopped changing size.

Newborn Felix

New born Felix, such a peaceful little guy.

He’s almost eight months and three weeks old now, and delights in crawling, climbing and cruising. Most mornings I’ll come into our room, after he wakes up, to ferry him via Pops’ Sky Service to the living room. There is a treacherous tiled hallway that one must pass to get there and it can be rough on baby hands and knees. Some mornings he’ll crawl towards me and right past my outstretched arms saying, No thanks Pops I’m making my own way today. As I watch him crawl by and out to the living room he looks so big, like Rick Moranis accidently blew up my baby. Felix will turn to me when he’s past the barren tile lands and give me his big boy smile. Then I’ll scoop him up and give him a big morning hug. It’s only when I’m holding him in my arms that he becomes the average sized eight month old that he is. When I set him down again and he wanders over by the desk, or to a chair and pulls himself up, I wonder how he grew so big, even though he’s still so small.

Toddler-Wobbler

Felix cruising with his Brio!

That dynamic shifting size is just one of the many improbabilities that make him so incredible. Even with all the overly excited eye-gouging, bed hogging, stomach kicking, poop smearing, hair pulling, glasses stealing, wake you up with a slap and dirty face rubbing he’s still the most amazing person I’ve ever met.
This could be explained by the fact that babies are essentially the biggest fan you will ever have, even if you are some rocktor superstar. He’ll get so excited to see you that he falls over, granted standing is not his strongest ability, but still he can hold himself up for days. Yet he falls over when Momma comes home from work.
Even when he’s content and playing with a toy, he’ll notice what you’re up to and he has to do that same thing right now! If you try and deny him he’ll flail wildly in protest, because whatever item you have becomes his number one need! This is the kind of influence companies spend billions of dollars chasing, and I got it. I can sell Felix anything. I’ve traded him an empty bottle to get my iPhone 5s back, all because he’s so fanatical that he has to have whatever I’m interested in. Also, because he doesn’t really grasp their differences, other than their taste and textures, babies are the ultimate epicureans.

What’s truly remarkable is how little you have to try, at times, to get your biggest-little fan to laugh. Lately I sit him in my lap, look at him, but say nothing for about 5 seconds, then go “Boo!” and he laughs his head off, even after the upteenth time. The best part is he knows the joke is coming, and he’ll crack a little smile in anticipation. The most wonderful smile I’ve ever seen. It’s like a review for a series, he’s saying, “Loved the last installment! Can’t wait for the next one! Where does he come up with this stuff! 5-stars!” Then you drop the next “Boo!” and it blows his mind.

Super Felix!

Super Felix!

You do have to put in work for your biggest-little fan, but the work is more than worth the rewards. Feedings and changing clothes, all that is fun “work”. There are two areas that I worried would be tedious; diaper changes and the dreaded sleepless crying baby. The diaper changes became the norm, so much so that if his waste gets on my hand my first thought isn’t, Ewwww! Gross someone else’s POOOOOP! Instead it’s, does the color and consistency look healthy? Let me Google Image Search for a quick reference. Looks good. Then I wash it away. That simple. The dreaded late night can’t sleep crying baby, well we lucked out and he doesn’t do that often. When he has I will admit to feeling a good amount of pride when I finally got him to sleep. That did help, a little, with the overwhelming sense of exhaustion the next day.  There’s also an adorability factor when he’s sleepless, but not a crying-sleepless, he’ll pop his head up as we’re walking and give me a big smile that says, I’m super happy we’re hanging out right now. I’m a sucker for this move and it has earned him extra playtime. What I’ve found is that there is nothing so difficult that I wouldn’t do it for my son. We’ve pretty much given up beer and Netflix for him, if you can do that you can do anything.

These days I get to do anything, and everything, for Felix most days, as this past July Michelle went back to work and I started staying home with him. It was a big change for the three of us but we’ve found our rhythm, and this is the first time I’ve felt like more than just a cog in the machine as I go about my daily duties. I am actually doing something valuable and truly worthwhile.  Felix has been an inspiration to write again, and not just hobbyist-write, but work-the-craft-write, pull out the Chicago Manual of Style and revise-revise-revise-write. I’m up at 3am, mostly working, Monday-to-Friday and 4:30am on the weekends. None of this would be possible without them, and I am so thankful to have my family and this time.

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