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!

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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.

Number Two, But Not Doo-Doo: A Ramble

It is not easy being Number Two. Just kidding, it actually is a little bit easy. Michelle is very well read, like books a week well read, and she keeps up with many sites and blogs. So as we’ve been going through the new parent adventure she’s been reading up on the subject quite heavily. She told me about a piece she read where the husband felt slighted by the new born baby, as it felt like he was suddenly second in his wife’s affections, no duh. I laughed for a good long time, and then we made up jokes about what such a person would do to try and gain advantage over a baby. I know it’s not good form to make fun of, or dismiss, anothers feelings, but you’re a grown ass man act like one. In the end the husband did come around and that family is very happy, so all is well.

But that’s not the Number Two I want to talk about, as I think the majority of expectant, and new Fathers, know that they will be second to the baby. As we should be, and from a Fathers perspective Mothers are second to the baby too. That’s how it should be, King Baby he rules all, Number One in our hearts g. The real Number Two this post is about is who’s Number Two in Felix’s eyes, and that honor is all mine.

Felix and Pops

Number Two, I’m thinking of replacing you with this empty bag of chips. It’s amazing!

It’s easy to go you’re dead last pathetic, but let’s remember that I’m 2 out of 2, and the other person can literally feed him from her body. Unfair advantage? Yes. But those are the facts, and unless you’re some sort of super dad you’re most likely Number Two, right now. Number Two comes with a few sad violin moments, where your gut reaction is to feel slighted and say, “I could’ve done that for you.” followed by crying in a corner. Yet, it also comes with a big ace up the sleeve.

First, let’s take a look at the demands of being Number One. Felix  always wants to be around Michelle. Think of it, she tries to do anything and Felix comes crawling over to her, even if we are in the middle of playing. His internal Number One alarm goes off and he makes a beeline for her (a baby beeline is quite squiggly and may involve several pit stops).  I’ll make all sorts of crazy sounds, drum on toys or the floor, even stack towers to the ceiling for him to knock over, and at times it will not be enough to get him to willing crawl back.

(Humorous aside: I can’t even tell you how much he loves knocking over towers these days. It’s my go to method for distracting him, or refocusing his attention. My theory is that he views the towers as an insult, an unwelcome peasant mocking the Kings inability to stand. So he smashes the insolent towers who dare standeth in the presence of King Felix! I always congratulate him for ruling with an adorable and tiny iron fist. Then scold the tower for insulting the King by standing in his majesty’s presence. Now that I’ve taught Felix to high five he validates this theory for me, up top!)

Never stand before a crawling King.

Insolent tower you dare stand in the presence of your King!

Back to our story, he just loves being with Number One more than anyone else. When he’s hurt, or startled by the sudden effect of gravity, he’ll reach out for Michelle. Needs something, sees me, reaches for me, sees Michelle, screams louder and reaches for her. Though, he’s started to make a game of this where he’ll reach for Michelle, spend sometime sobbing with her, then reach for me, spend sometime sobbing with me, then reach out for Michelle again, and repeat until he’s happy. It’s kind of funny. I like to imagine Felix says, “Have you heard how sad I am?” as he reaches for the other person. Once held he quickly forgets he was just being held by the other and thinks, I need to let them know how sad I am, as he reaches out again.

Part of my Number Two status is beyond my control. Michelle pumps, and we give him as much breast milk as possible, but he does get a bottle of formula a day. Every day he gives me the same look when the formula comes around. It’s a startled confused look that gravitates to mild annoyance. I imagine him saying, “Pfft! What is this? You had one job, to get me milk! M-I-L-K, milk! I don’t know what this swill is, but when I’m done, I’m leaving you an angry review on Yelp.” Mumbling as he drinks begrudgingly, “This is why you’re Number Two. Can’t even get me proper milk.” Then he takes the bottle out in a huff, “My Momma get’s me milk. It’s always good, its always the right temperature. And what do you do? This.” Boom! Felix drops the bottle on the ground like a boss. He is the boss, and I forgot to say happy National Boss Day yesterday. Ugh, that’s probably also why I’m Number Two. Oh the sad life of Number Two.

Done eating!

“I wish I could rate this feeding 0 stars.” -Felix B.

What’s sort of amazing is that he knows our schedule. If we have to use formula for his second feeding he drinks an entire bottle. But when that third feeding comes around he’ll only drink half, or less. He knows that Michelle will be home soon and says, “Naw. I’ll wait for the real thing.” Felix’s ability to recognize schedules and determine his own eating habits has been really cool to see. I even tried to encourage him to drink more formula by switching sides and presenting the bottle in new ways (Formula now with more spins!), but he quickly puts a stop to it, because he knows Mom will be home soon. This is awesome, until Michelle’s bus runs late and he get’s real fussy. Then we have some solid food as we wait.

Whoa, we ended up kinda off topic. This was supposed to be about, Number One has some pressure, that Two doesn’t have, and that grants a certain advantage. Right! Advantage! My advantage, back on topic.

My advantage, sleepy time. When Michelle walks him to sleep sometimes he’ll pop his head up and just stare at her, or make soft babbling noises, perhaps those noises are a friendship song he’s made up for his Number One, just like Picard did for Riker. But when Pops puts him to sleep it’s all different. He rarely lifts his head up to make eye contact. Instead of a great friendship song I imagine his sentiments to be, “Oh hey big guy. Guess it’s just us. Well I’m a little tired,” overtly fake yawn, “so I’m just gonna take a quick nap. But we’ll play when I wake up, okay. Who’s my big guy? Who’s my big guy? You’re my big guy. Boop.” then Felix falls asleep mumbling, “Number One set course for the park. Engage!”. And this is wonderful. Advantage, Number Two. Who has advantage? Big Guy.

Being Number Two also means I’m Felix’s second favorite person in the whole world, sorry Mom it’s true, and that’s mighty nice. We do have fun times together, stacking towers and knocking them over, chasing cats, wrestling cats and stealing glasses. There is nothing quite like being the second most important person in a child’s life. The only thing better is being Number One.

Number One and Felix at the park!

Number One we’re having fun!

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