11 Things I’ve Learned In My Son’s First 6 Months. Part 2

by chasereeves on January 6, 2010 · 7 comments

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11 Things I've Learned In My Son's First 6 Months

Here is part two of the 11 things I’ve learned in my son’s first 6 months. It goes to eleven.

Lesson #6: You Will Become A Master Ninja In Your House

It became painfully apparent on the day we brought the baby home that we had some real friggen loud creaks in our floor. We had no idea who put them there, but sometime between when we left for the hospital, and when we returned home, someone injected 32 different squeaky floor spots on our main floor.

What? You think it’s ridiculous to know the exact number of squeaky floor spots? It’s ridiculous — indeed, suicidal — NOT to have an exact blueprint of every single squeak and creak in your house when you have a baby in residence.

What’s more, you have to know exactly how to navigate each of the passages without triggering a squeak. In this way you become like a master ninja, tip-toeing, spinning, leaning, jumping, rolling, taking whole flights of stairs in a single bound…

You will assert dominance over your domain, even if doing so in cowering fear of a waking baby.

Lesson #7: You’ll Never Want To, But You’ll Always Be Glad You Did

Every single time that it’s my turn to put the midnight baby back to sleep I moan and groan and hate it. Everything in my body and mind resounds with a single: “This is going to suck.”

And then I get to the crib, and pick him up Put-Down 2.0 style and start gently bouncing… I’m 45 seconds into it and my back already starts to hurt; light perspiration in my armpits.

I’m looking around the dark room at nothing in particular and winging petulantly in my mind, begging the poor sleepy child to give in and retreat into unconsciousness.

My eyes start to adjust to the faint glow of the hall light coming through the cracked door and I realize that Aiden is looking right up at me. Looking directly into my face; not moving, not arching his back and barking, not flitting his head side to side, or any of that. Just perfectly, peacefully staring into my face.

I stare back. It’s lovely. I’m in the moment with my son. We’re having a moment! We’re just there together staring at each other… And I’m not even thinking about my back pain.

It’s simply amazing.

This happens just about every time I put him down. I never want to do it, and I’m always glad I did.

Lesson #8: Don’t Trust Your Baby’s Smile

This baby's smile will eat your soul

This baby's smile will eat your soul

It will seem like a miracle, like a farce. You’ll double-take and time will stop. Inevitably your heart will skip a few beats when, at some point in the first few months, your baby cracks his/her first smile. Not just a twitch of the facial framework, but a real, honest to god smile!

This is an amazing time! It’s the first little bit of feedback that your baby is actually having an alright time. (It is no small wonder that babies are born with this little mechanism pre-installed, off the shelf, ready for playback.)

Your baby’s smile feels like a bolt of electricity going right through you. You’ll be so goddam excited about it you might drop the kid and call your friends and throw a party. “MY KID LOVES ME AND HE’S HAVING A GREAT TIME WITH ME!!!” you’ll want to say.

But don’t. Don’t call anyone. Don’t schedule a party. Don’t even let your baby know you enjoyed his/her smile. Oh, God, please don’t.

Your baby’s smile is a ploy; a test. He/she is trying to feel-out your boundaries, your character, your values. Once they find out where you’re willing to go, they’ll gnaw, chortle, lick, and dimple their way into breaking your boundaries, devolving your character, and turning your once vibrant values into a brown and crackled picture of what used to be.

Of, course, I have no confidence that you’ll be able to defend yourself. In the desert of early parenthood your baby’s smile is like water flowing underground from some immeasurable depth; sweet, sweet water…

That’s how they do it, you know… That’s how they break you down. With their smiles. That first smile is the nail in your f-ing coffin, man. In no time your children will be making you look like a friggen idiot; the bane of the salon; the fashion-less chowderhead.

You’ve been warned… Your baby’s smile will seem innocent and fun, but it is the gateway drug, dear reader. That randiest of all rousts. The gateway drug!

Lesson #9: They Know What You Want, They Won’t Let You Have It

So, it sounds all beautiful and lovely to be putting down the baby like that… But sometimes, I don’t get lost in the moment. Sometimes I’ve got other shit to do.

And Aiden always knows when I’ve got other shit to do.

If you have other shit to do, you might as well forget about putting that baby down for sleepy time. They know you’d rather be elsewhere and they’ll make you pay for it.

“But I’ve got to go do the work that will pay for your college, your wedding, your first car, the unicorn!”

It doesn’t matter. The child will not understand that. All they understand is how to thwart and pillage your plans until your will is broken and your eyes are dry and red.

The only answer to this seminal problem, dear reader, is to not have other shit to do. Or, to master the art of getting lost in the moment even when you have other shit to do.

Lesson #10: A Lot Of Shit Becomes A Lot Less Important

I used to want to get a PHD. When I asked a professor about what it was like to get a PHD, he told me that he had two kids when he was going through his program. He said that he finished his PHD before anyone else in his session because of his kids. Other students who didn’t have children took an extra year or more to finish the program.

I asked him how that could be… How could having kids make you finish something quicker when they’re such time vampires. He said it was because of the way kids make some shit important, and some shit totally unimportant. And also because, when you have kids, there’s no possible way you’ll get away with doing unimportant shit.

Well, now I know a little about what he meant. I’ve got a lot of ideas, and a lot of things asking for my attention. Business ideas, current businesses, blogs, friends, family, wives, personal sanity requirements…

Now that we have an Aiden, I innately understand that some of this shit is shitty, and I’ll have no possible way to get away with it.

I always hate letting a good idea go away. I can put it on the shelf, but that’s just about as good as forgetting about it in my book. So, it kind of sucks to “murder your darlings” as Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch put it. But that’s one secret to good writing, and, apparently, to good living with childrens.

Here’s some tips:

  • Find what actually makes money and do that. Quick ‘time to cash’ ideas only need apply.
  • Find what actually gives you pleasure and do some of that too. A hobby or something… For me it’s cigars and reading. I’ve got to give me some of this stuff in the week.
  • Give your marriage a priority spot. Do what you need to and keep that shit un-shitty. Maybe I’ll put a post together with some creative ideas on how to do this some time… when I get some creative ideas on how to do this.

Lesson #11: Love For Kids Is Worked Out Over Time

I’ve hinted to this before. It’s one of the most important lessons I’ve started to learn over the past 6 months. It goes like this: The more time you spend with your child, the more your love for them grows.

I first started to understand this when I watched Mellisa breastfeeding a few months back. She just sat there with him up against her, skin on skin, feeding him. He sucked and chortled and grumpled and made all sorts of sounds there are no words for, and then he’d stop and look up at her. He would stare into her face for a few moments, and then dive right back into the titties.

There was no way for Mellisa to be anywhere else. No place she could possibly be. She might have a whole shit ton of other shit to do, and she’d just have to wait to do it. (Though she does get through a massive amount of work on her iPhone while she breastfeeds)

That made me think about this bond that was forming between them. As he get’s what he needs from her and then stares up into her face, making the connection. Good stuff… Lady… Good stuff… Lady… Throw up… Lady… Good stuff…

I didn’t have a built in mechanism like breastfeeding. So if I wanted to create this kind of bond I would have to simply waste a bunch of time on him.

It worked. We would spend basically all weekend playing, and by the time monday rolled around, I’d be calling Mellisa on the hour wondering about how my little dood was doing.

And then the week goes by, work happens, and by Saturday morning I’m already trying to get away from playing with him to go write some goddam blog post, or design a client’s website, or something like that. All good stuff, all urgent, but maybe not as important as playing with my son during some prime play time.

So, what I’m telling you is this: as a dad, make sure you get in your time to waste on your kid. Schedule it, plan it, be surprised by it, call it by another name, whatever. Just get it in, because your bond will become more bondy only by time and attention spent — wasted with abandon — on your child.

Oh, and try to feed him/her with the bottle anytime that’s going on. That’s good time spent.

Conclusion

So there are some of the awesome and terrible things I’ve learned in the first 6 months of being a dad. I’d really like to hear about what you remember being hard or surprising to learn… if you don’t mind sharing.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney January 6, 2010 at 11:16 am

Yea Verily Brother. Once again a triumph.

I’ve found #9 never goes away and may get worse which makes the acceptance of #10 all the more important for your own sanity. I had been applying to MFA programs and then found out the second baby was on it’s way. I prayed to the heavens I would get rejected cause I couldn’t handle the stress of more school with twice as many babies. It worked out. Never been so grateful for artistic rejection in my life. Besides, kids are kind of the antithesis of acedemic art theory anyway. Babies are very scatological and Pollock-esque in their image making. Sooooo last century modernism….

Let me know when he starts dating and wanting to borrow your car. I’ll bring the whiskey.

Reply

Chase January 6, 2010 at 11:49 am

HA HA HA!!! man… every friggen time… sun’bich!

I’ll bring the cigars. Also, do you know where i can get some arab scabbards and/or other semi-mythical weaponry?

Reply

Courtney January 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Swords and mythical weaponry… I know some people.

I always like the “I’ve got a .45 and shovel. I don’t think anyone will miss you” route in regards to boys and my daughter.

This conversation is turning my hair gray…

Reply

adam barnett January 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Hilarious! We have a 4-month-old little girl so we are learning many of these similar things… and starting savings for her wedding!

thanks for sharing!

Reply

Matt January 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

Great post…both parts!

Minor editing note: seminal not seminole

Reply

Chase January 7, 2010 at 8:57 am

Thanks Matt!! and thanks for the spelling fix!

Reply

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