Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for March, 2006

Three Simple Rules for Raising My Infant Daughter

I’ve learned the secret to parenting!  That’s right—put away the books and forget about what Oprah or Dr. Phil have to say. Dr. Sandy has the answer.  After continually refining my technique over and over again, I now know all that I need to know to get by for these next 18, 35, and 60 years.  Live by these three simple rules and you are guaranteed the be a much better parent.
Rule #1: Patience is a virtue.  OK, I thought I was a fairly laid-back guy before being a father.  After all, I work at a pretty stressful job, but rarely let it bother me at home.  When I deal with people who are less than ideal, I grin and bear it.  But nothing prepares you for the patience you need with a kid.  Iris will spin into tantrums when she’s teething…or is she hungry?…or how’s that diaper?  She’ll be going full-force with the fury that could be heard in Tacoma and you’ve gotta play detective.  Only problem is—she isn’t going to help you figure it out.  A couple of weeks ago, I had Iris for the afternoon and we were having a blast until, all of a sudden, she rips into this tantrum, the likes of which I have never seen before.  This went on for a full hour.  Check the diaper—nothing.  Offer her a bottle—that only gets her madder.  Each time, I kept asking “What’s wrong, sweetie?  You’ve gotta tell me what’s wrong.” until, at one point, I swear she stopped crying for just one sec and flashed me a look that said “you idiot—I can’t tell you what’s wrong.  I’m five months old!”  Oh yeah.  Hopefully, Iris will learn to have a little patience with dear old dad.
Rule#2:  Whatever it is, it’s funny.  I don’t think anyone would question whether I have a sense of humor or not.  I am quick to poke fun, particularly at myself.  Well, guess who the butt of a lot of the jokes are when you’re a parent.  Yep.  When I am in the throes of the toughest times, I will tell jokes to keep myself sane.  When she’s in a fussy mood, I’ll start mocking a conversation with her and pretend she is reacting to my last comment–“yes, I agree.  Our policy in Iraq is troubling.” or “I can’t believe Cheney shot that dude either!”  When she’s really loud, I actually give her tips (“no Iris, more from the diaphragm—you can hit the higher octaves that way.”)  When I am at my wit’s end, I think happy thoughts (“hey Iris, are you interested in new living arrangments.  How about being raised by wolves?  Worked for Tarzan.”  There have been times where Cherise looks like she’s about to go nuts and I will say anything to get a laugh out of her.  There’s something about laughter that can break any tension, though sometimes baby doesn’t appreciate it.  If you can’t laugh at the kid, laugh at yourself and your feeble attempts at calming the baby.
Rule#3:  Admit you don’t know squat and get on with it.  OK, this rule trumps all other rules.  When I was younger, I always wondered if I’d meet the ideal woman.  When I used to get magazines like Men’s Fitness, there would always be sections about how to attract the opposite sex.  Of course, the advice is on contradictory and one size does NOT fit all.  As a result, trying to take the advice did more harm that good.  When I finally wised up and threw away the pretension and basically admitted I was incapable of doing all the things that society expected me to do to find the perfect woman, the perfect woman showed up and married me.  I learned at that point that you really need to trust your gut.  So when it came to Iris, I’ve flipped through the books and heard the advice and will always listen to the advice (so you’re NOT supposed to give them something when it’s been on the floor, right?), but Cherise and I will say we did it our way…
The more I look at them, the rules don’t just apply to parenting but to life in general.  Yes, there are more rules (like treasuring every moment) and I invite you to post them here.  To me, these three are all about survival and  I am hoping they keep me sane.

Leapin' Leprechaun!

Our little leprechaun learned to leap, just a few days before St. Patrick’s Day.  Must be the Irish in her!  (oh wow, does that mean she’s gotten a few genes from mom after all?)  She was with me standing (with support) on the changing table looking out the window, when all of a sudden all on her own, she decided to start jumping.  And she loved it!  She kept jumping more and more, giggling all the while, til mom’s arms got tired.  So we tried the jumpy chair that hangs from the doorway, and she couldn’t get enough of it.  Now it’s even harder to hold this wiggly girl still, because she wants to constantly practice the newfound skill. 
 St. Patty’s Day also marks another big milestone for Iris – solid food.  Our pediatrician had recommended we start, saying it might help her keep food down better than breastmilk alone (we’ve been giving her Zantac to deal with acid reflux for a few months now).  So Saturday morning we wheeled out the high chair, put Iris in her plastic Dr. Seuss bib that came in the Microsoft baby gift box, and made up some yummy rice cereal.  We were prepared for the worst, ready for her to angrily refuse.  But Iris, like she has from minutes after she was born, ate heartily.  She even grabbed the spoon out of my hand to feed herself, but her aim was slightly off and she managed to feed her eyebrow and cheek.  Since Saturday, I’ve been calling her “smiley child”, because she’s been flashing her big smile and giggling a lot more.  Must be that yummy cereal!
I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by since Iris was born, and how much of an adventurous person she is turning out to be.  She reaches for everything, and seems happiest when experiencing something new and exciting.  It won’t be long before she’ll be off to scale Mt. Rainier!

The Many Faces of Iris

As time passes, Iris gains more and more of a personality.  Long before Cherise and I were parents, my first manager at Microsoft said something that proved very prophetic.  When describing his first child, he said "my wife and I were wondering if Brian (his first-born) would turn out to be like me or like her.  As it turns out, he was like Brian."  Kids definitely take on their own personalities and, as much as Iris may look like me (yes, the mini-me jokes are still appropriate), she definitely has her own personality and it gets stronger by the day.  Cherise and I are both pretty mellow people, especially at home.  We are always calm, never getting too high or too low.  And even when our feathers are ruffled, it’s often hidden behing a stoic reaction that would leave most people guessing.  Fortunately, I think we read each other pretty well (that’s what five years of marriage will do).  
Well, Iris is a woman of many moods and she clearly wears her heart on her sleeve.  Not only does she have so many faces and moods, but she can change them in a split second.  She’ll be smiling and laughing and we’ll be laughing with her and then, all of a sudden, the bottom lip comes out and she begins a hard pout.  If we were better parents, maybe we’d empathasize.  But she is SOOO cute, we can’t help but start laughing (people, trust me when I say this never gets old).  Let’s just say she doesn’t appreciate this.  Two seconds later, she’ll launch into a cry and you think you are in for it.  But then you slide your hand under her bottom and shake it a little bit and suddenly she is smiling again. Yes, my daughter is booty shaking at 5 months.  It’s cute now, but it’s giving me nightmare for 17 years from now.
As I spend more time with Iris, my thoughts do turn to the future.  It’s hard to say whether infantile behavioral traits persist, but it’s exciting to think that they might.  Is it possible to believe that a baby can "enjoy life"?  She seems to love the activity of it all.   Cherise keeps her daytime schedule packed with playdates and events, so she’s constantly around people and she loves it.  In fact, by the time I come home, she’s probably a little bored with me.  She looks and say "who else did you bring with you?"  But weekends have been daddy-daughter days and we are picking up a bond.  Plus, I’m learning a few tricks that are usually good for a laugh.  Since before Iris was born, I was pretty much prepared to being the clown dad that can always put a smile on my daughter’s face.  Little did I know that it would start so soon–and that it would be so tiring.  With her mood ready to turn, she keeps dad on his toes and I can’t stop for too long.  Fortunately, parenting gets a lot easier from here on out. [cue the laughter from all parents of kids older than 5 months]

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