Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What a 9 month old does for kicks

So what does a nine and a bit month old do for kicks, you ask? Well, this one spends a lot of time discovering buttons on clothes and on toys, and is fascinated by wheels of any kind (he always upends a toy with wheels and uses his hands to spin the wheels round) which leads me to wonder whether I have a budding engineer on my hands. Fortunately, Little Green is also proving to be a consummate book lover like his mother. Every fortnight or so, I visit the library and check out a fresh stack of board books so he -- and I -- won't get too... bored. I have always been a library supporter, not to mention have you seen the price of books lately? He has definite favourites (luckily we tend to share the same taste). It started with The Gingerbread Man when he was only four months old. Mummy memorized it after the first hundred readings (sharp mummy!) and ultimately would recount it after returning the book after the nth renewal. Then there was Mr Brown Can Moo, Can you? by this guy you might have heard of named Dr Seuss. Now it's Silly Sally walking backwards upside down, but really the list goes on and on. He loves books not only for their playful language and visual phantasmagoria, but for their tactile satisfaction. He sometimes will help flip the page. But more often than not he happily turns a book over and over in his hands, thinking god only knows...

Otherwise, a typical week for us looks something like this: a trip to a baby gym and another trip to a music class. Both of these classes are part of franchises and as a result, the plugging for other 'products' is almost constant. I guess the ethos is that it's never too early to bring out the consumer in you! The baby class industry is a huge, insanely lucrative market. After all, you've got mothers with time on their hands starting to feel like Jack Nicholson in that big lonely hotel in The Shining. I go because there are many unstuctured hours in a day. Having a class to go to once or twice a week breaks up all those hours and tends to shape the day. I admit it, the classes are probably less about the little Green one and more about me, safeguarding my sanity so that I don't crack out a lipstick and start painting 'redrum' all over the walls. (You may laugh but I've come close a few times.) And I'm fairly sure it's the case with other mums too. I kid myself that he loves music (he does); I convince myself that the socializing is good for him (no doubt on some level it is). But in truth most of the time he spends the classes looking around or playing with the little rug he happens to be sitting on while I battle, sometimes futilely, to engage him in what's going on.

Maybe years from now I'll look back on this time and laugh, mirthlessly of course, at how seriously I took it all when I should have been relaxing on all fours without a care in the world. But raising a child is serious business. Play is hard work. After all, I just read that something like 80% of a child's intellectual potential is already realized in the first 12 months. And I think a further 10% by the time they are five years old. Explains an awful lot in my case. There are genetic limitations, obviously. But the scary fact remains that whether he turns out to be Borat or Einstein is largely under my control. Yowsa. Never mind Silly Sally. Think it's high time I dusted off my Complete Works of William Shakespeare and got down to business...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Even as a newborn, he came at me like a piranha

When I reread my last entry, I realized that in all the trifle I'd left out most of the meat (that is, assuming you like yours laced with meat -- don't ask). I touched on teething but forgot to mention that Little Green to date has his front four teeth -- two up, two down -- with an epic crevasse in between the front two (allegedly predestines him to be either a great singer or whistler). And a few more bugling, whitish spots on either side suggest other teeth are not far from cracking the surface. Apparently I should be 'cleaning' these teeth, but I'm not even going there yet. I have been too busy stressing as to what constitutes 'finger foods' -- nachos, popcorn, hot dogs... I could go on, but this litany of baseball foods is making me hungry. There seems to be little concrete advice or consensus on what to feed a baby once he starts weaning. There is even less guidance about the timings of meals and the ratio of bottles, and so on. Why is that? I guess the only idea behind the finger foods is to hone baby's fine motor skills. (Imagine, then, my pride when our little pride wheedled a microscopic piece of cheddar between his pointer and thumb and actually manoeuvred it into his mouth!)

In fact, I use the term 'little' almost ironically here. Our Little Green currently weighs in at 26lbs and is nearly 3ft tall. Yeah, it's almost freakish for his age and rarely does a day go by when a passerby refrains from passing comment. Just yesterday -- and not for the first time, I might add --a construction worker walking past couldn't resist a bit of, 'Weyhey, mymy he sure is a BIG boy.' What a bruiser/sumo/michelin/you name it we've heard it... Sometimes even the three-letter word that dares not speak its name. It used to bother me, all this name calling, because as we all know all too well, it's not just sticks and stones that hurt. But in the past few months my skin has toughened to rawhide when the subject of my baby son's size comes to fore, as it inevitably does, from every teller, cashier, construction worker and random walker/shopper. On occasion I even manage to joke with friends that I never stood a chance at nursing him; I don't have the 'equipment', and even as a newborn he came at me like a piranha.

Too much information, perhaps. But isn't it refreshing? In this age of overload and junkie confessionals, how odd that so many aspects of birth and motherhood are still shrouded in a little black box. Just yesterday a friend expressed abject horror when I explained how post-labour menses can last up to six weeks and how mere Always doesn't always cut it. After a baby comes out, you need breeze blocks to catch the flow. She had NO IDEA. Her ignorance came as no surprise because up until my third trimester, I too had NO IDEA. So among other things, for me this blog is not only about rant but hopefully also about illumination. If just one sad soul out there reads this white screen and learns a trifle more about the kamikaze that is parenthood and as a result is a trifle (sorry, couldn't resist) better prepared for it than I was, then hallelujah, praise be all the gods in heaven.


So Mr Green Jr has recently celebrated his nine-month anniversary. Holy crapolie. Soon, he will be a year old and then he'll be blowing out his 16 candles. It really is whirlwind stuff. The most recent development being the advancement of his 'babble'. Dada is the word of the day. No, I hasten to add, our little one is no avant-guard art aficionado. And no, as much as Mr Green Sr would like to believe, it is not short for 'daddy'; it is simply the easiest syllable combination for babies to utter (otherwise it would be one heck of a coincidence that most start there, no?). The first time he exchanged in a true babblelogue was during supper, and I tell you it was as though he was discoursing in the Oval Office. He had the 'and you listen here' expression fixed on his face as he sat up in his high chair putting the world, and mommy and daddy, to rights. Hilarious.

Since then it has been more ups and downs than the chair lifts at Whistler. On, off teething woes balanced with happy clappy bouncy bouncy. Seriously, I'm starting to feel dizzy from the bipolarity of every day. It still blows my mind how close I can feel to him one minute, like I might be given to chomping on his delectable little fatty rolls of flesh, then completely drained and wanting at the sound of his whaaaawhaaaawhaaa the next. He is delectable, though, and I guess to some less intense effect, this is how one relates to all family members. It might just be personal preference but a little middle ground would go down a treat once in a while. He's sleeping now. A record for the day: 2 hours this morning and another hour this afternoon and counting. In addition to the teeth knifing through his gums, could it also be growing pains, I wonder? I am so used to my own near-constant fatigue that I tend to forget that the natural thing to do when one is up against physical discomfort is to rest the body until it passes.

In the meantime, I keep reiterating: patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue... A virtue I must quickly acquire. In the meantime, I cross my fingers and wait for the next bout of babble to strike.