Monday, August 18, 2008

The Columns

Even before we started the blog, Kara started writing for the Post-Crescent, covering the little corners of raising Mihret.

For a long time, we kept saying, "Oh, we'll get the columns up on the blog," and then we'd forget.

But now!

Of course, the problem becomes, after all these months, do we stick all the columns together? Or do we put them where they belong, chronologically?

And if we do that, how do people find them?

This is how.

Kara's name appears at the bottom of each column, but here's the real tip-off that she wrote them, and not me.

Correct spelling.

Correct grammar.

Reasonably sized.

Take it away, Kara:

September 12, 2007:

October 29, 2007:

December 10, 2007

January 21, 2008:

March 4, 2008:

April 15, 2008:

May 27, 2008:

July 9, 2008:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Tired

One of the things that fills me with pride in my kid is her ability to tell me what she wants.

I kind of doubt she's got everything sussed out at 100%, given that she has a limited number of words, but with a little prompting she does okay.

So, for example, if I'm feeding her dinner, and she requires additional whatever, she can now say, cheese, fruit, milk, water, cracker, or pasta.

I'm not saying that's all we ever feed her, but those are the big staples.

She also knows how to ask for a cookie. Which is something she's VERY enthusiastic about, even after she has also let me know that she's "Done!"

Lately, however, we've been having some nighttime trouble.

As usual, I'm forced to concede that on the whole, our nightly issues aren't that bad. My mother, in particular, loves to remind me that my brother didn't sleep through the night until he was three years old.

But Mihret has mostly slept through the night, since about three days after we brought her home.

Things have changed, lately.

The problem is not that Mihret wakes up. The problem is that she wakes up and screams in a high piercing fashion that doesn't say "I'm sad," but rather, "I think something in my room is on fire!"

So we run to her room, and there she is, either standing up or lying on her tummy, screaming her little lungs out. And here's the strange bit:

If we try to put her on her back, and give her back her blanky, she screams and thrashes and makes every attempt to inform us that NO, THIS WILL NOT DO SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG.

But if we pick her up for, oh, say, ten seconds, she passes out in our arms, and allows herself to be lowered back to the mattress for sleepy-time.

What's bothering Kara and I is that we can't figure out the cause of the distress. For all intents and purposes, things seem to be par for the course in our kid's world.

The theories we've tossed around include:

1. Teeth. She's getting at least three, and maybe four of them right now. Previous teeth have come with no troubles, but these are the big bads. On the other hand, she has no problem making it through the day without Tylenol, so unless nighttime growth is just that much more awful, this probably isn't it.

Also, we've done nights with Tylenol, and nights without, and she seems to wake up either way.

2. She's cold. Our house is 85 years old, and like most beings that make it to that age, it has circulation troubles. (That's an awesome bit of writing right there. Please be impressed, readers!) Winter isn't awful, as most of our heat rises and we keep fairly warm.

But summer is a problem, because our A/C isn't all that well distributed upstairs. The baby's room is the first on the pipe, so it gets the most A/C. Then the bathroom (because who doesn't love an icy-cold bathroom?), then the office, then our bedroom.

So while Kara and I roast a little bit, the baby's room has actually caused me to shiver, even while ensconced in my fluffy, fluffy robe.

On a couple of nights, I've noticed that Mihret seems unusually chilly on he exposed skin, and popped her into wintertime jammies. Which seems to have fixed things. But, of course, some nights I haven't done that, and she has still fallen back into a restful slumber.

Also, according to some book or another, the "best" temperature to keep the house at for restful sleep is 68 degrees. So maybe she's too warm?

No idea.

3. Snot problems. This is kinda related to teeth, but maybe not, as I've seen other kids with runny noses at Mihret's day care. Which might have been caused by teeth. Or allergies. Or tiny angry pixies with a little dust to burn off, who have decided that in order to attract our attention, they're going to stuff the dust up the noses of toddlers, encouraging them to awaken, screaming.

Parenting isn't an exact science, ya know?

Anyway, it seems that having too much gunk in their nasal passages can cause children to have something called Night Terrors, which sounds like a great title for a Twilight Zone-style TV show, but in actuality mostly causes kids to wake up screaming.

I should point out that most of the loss of sleep in the household is on my end. I don't fault Kara or Mihret for this. I assume Mihret has a reason for screaming, and that it's a good one as far as her 18-month-old brain can figure.

But even if her screams persist for a full minute, and she falls asleep on my shoulder a minute later, she's out 5 minutes of sleep, tops.

Kara is the same way, because she has powerful sleeping abilities that I have to remind her to use only for good.

This sounds like a joke, but consider:
Kara has fallen asleep during a ten-minute drive across town.

She falls asleep every Sunday on the way back from church while Mihret sleeps in the back seat. (I should add that I do the driving, which, I think we'll all agree, is a Good Thing.)

Kara has sat up in bed when I'm getting dressed for work, asked me a question, gotten an answer, and then fallen asleep while I'm still getting dressed. You might claim this is impossible, but she starts to snore. No lie.

But then there's me, who, after getting up and doing whatever must be done to get the baby to do some of that lying-down-not-screaming thing I prefer at night, have to sit there, kinda-sorta awake, for as long as it takes me to stop grinding my teeth, waiting to hear what appear to be shrieks of pain, but are actually not, coming from the other room.

(The teeth-grinding thing is totally normal for newer parents, according to my doctor. Yes, he really told me that, and yes I really did ask.)

One could argue, I guess, that this is all just part of the process of being a parent, but I gotta say, I'm not jumping up and down about it.

I can't. I'm too tired.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Parenting: That Which Is Unspoken

I did a lot to prepare me for being a parent.

I'd wager that I probably did more than 99% of the folks in the United States gearing up to have a baby thrust into my arms like a tiny bundle of easily shattered crystal with the only words screamed at me while it was happening being, "This is yours to take care of for the next 18 years! Don't mess it up!"

Not that it went down that way.

But I was prepared. We had a bunch of stuff, you know? All the stuff that everyone says you need, and some stuff that everyone said we would need but that we did not actually need, which everyone said, "Oh, yeah, you don't really need that," once we had thrown away our money on said item.

And we took classes. We took classes on adoption, and parenting, and despite the fact that I had changed many diapers in my life and my child was going to be too old to swaddle, we took a parenting class that talked about swaddling and diaper-changing.

There was also a bit about cramming a thermometer into your kid if they had a fever.

Lucky us, we haven't had to do that yet.

The problem with these classes is that they mostly cover the "Your Baby is an Immobile Lump" phase of parenting. Which is nice, but kinda useless after a while.

The thing about parenting a child during the lump phase is that it's pretty simple. They're small and easily controlled, and you could set them on the floor, and as long as all sharp objects and firearms are at least a foot away from the child, they will come to no harm.

But then they learn to move, and they want to move all the time.

And they want to move at unexpected times, and in unexpected ways.

Diaper time is the worst of it.

It starts off easy, because they can't move. They might struggle, and sometimes there's the surprise fountain effect, but if you're fast on the draw with the new diaper, this can be controlled most of the time.

Then they learn to roll over, so you gotta kinda lean on the kid to keep them flat while you deal with the results of their bodily functions.

But then... ugh. The thing that no parent will tell you about, that no one will admit to you until you're a parent, and you find yourself crying to to skies, "Why, why, why would you do that?"

I am speaking, of course, about...

... how to put this delicately...

... about...


... about when your kid learns to operate their hands. And there's bodily waste. And you're trying to change the diaper.

And your kid tries to check out the "diaper area."

There are a number of horrors there, all of which are the kind of thing that can give you fits.

First, yeah, there's the poo, which no one really wants to be involved in. But anyone who wants to bring a small being into their life accepts pretty early on that there's going to be a lot of wiping and cleaning and A and D-ing in their future.

Then, naturally, there's the squirming. Which is easy to control at first, but as your kid gets bigger there's more of them to squirm, which makes it harder to hold them down, which makes it harder to keep the surface beneath them from becoming, shall we say, soiled.

And then the kid tries to flip over, or stand up, while covered in the remains of their food from 24 hours ago.

Finally, there are the hands - the tiny little lightning-fast hands, the little hands that wait for the moment, the singular moment when the diaper is off and you're trying to grab the wipes, and BAM, faster than any pickpocket they've got their hands racing to check out the food remnants they're coated in.

It's awful.

And what do you do? Do you yell at the kid? Do you grab their hands away, yelling out words like "yucky" and "no" and "look, little one, that's just not right?"

It's a mystery, really.

And you know what else? No one tells you about the sand.

When kids are little, they like to put things in their mouth. There's all sorts of science involved, stuff about how the mouth is how they best experience things, and nerve endings and such, but, yeah, it doesn't really matter, because the problem is there are just things that shouldn't go in anyone's mouth.

Sand is the perfect for instance.

Sand isn't all that dangerous, really. It's dirt, yeah, but dirt that exists away from toxic waste is generally pretty clean and, you know, earthy.

The problem isn't on the mouth end. The problem is, the sand has to come out.

There's a joke that most people make, when they get their hands on toilet paper that's not as soft as the stuff they use at home.

People say it all the time - "It was like wiping with sandpaper."

The thing is, though, that the digestive process? Can make this a total possibility with small children. They empty out, you go to wipe, and there's this, you know, grit. And if we're all honest with ourselves, when we picture taking an actual piece of sandpaper to our lower regions, we all flinch a little.

And yet, there's nothing you can do.

I suppose you could always strip your kid to nothing, stick 'em on the lawn, and spray the grit off with a hose. But I don't think they would enjoy that either.

In my year as a parent, I've probably changed 1,000 diapers. I've cleaned and scrubbed and washed and medicated and, in general, managed to keep my kid healthy and happy and free from long-term suffering in the diaper area.

And so, so I think it's time she met me halfway and stopped eating sand. At the very least, it will help me to help her.