Archive for the 'Idealistic parenting naivete' Category

Birthday karaoke

March 7, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I turned 33 a week ago. It can be a tough age, 33. It claimed three of my heroes — John Belushi, Chris Farley and Jesus. All of whom exhibited an above-average fondness for prostitutes.

All things considered, this was the best birthday I’ve had in a long time, and it came together at the very last minute. The past few birthdays, I’ve tried to put together epic parties by hyping the event weeks ahead of time then spending most of the event itself wondering why everyone didn’t show up. And the truth is, no matter what type of social event you’re planning, only about half of everyone you invite will actually come. It’s like election voter turnout — you can MTV Choose or Lose it up all you want to, but 50 percent of the population is still going to stay home.

This year, I kept it noncommittal and low key. My wife’s birthday — earlier this month — and Valentine’s Day both were underwhelming for us, thanks to a lack of money and an abundance of baby demands. So I was either going to have no birthday, have a few people over on my birthday, or just go up to karaoke.

Karaoke night has been a social tradition almost since I moved up here. Every Thursday evening, the Mexican-themed restaurant I used to work day shifts in has karaoke in their bar. It’s right across the street from the Australian-themed restaurant I used to work night shifts in, so it’s easy to get old coworkers to stop in, have a few drinks and maybe sing some Roxette or something.

Once a month, they have karaoke on Saturday, and I found out Friday morning that the next night, my birthday eve, would be February’s Karaoke Saturday. I asked Tiffany about me going or us getting a babysitter and going. She was willing to drive the kids to St. Louis, drop them off overnight with a grandparent or two and then drive back so we could go together. I called my mom to ask about keeping the kids. My mom offered to come up to Springfield, get a hotel room and babysit there. Bing bing bing! Jackpot! Instant winner!

The hotel chain of choice for grandparents on both sides of the family is Drury Inn. There’s an indoor pool — which means Sarah can put on her floaties and cruise the perimeter with adult accompaniment — and a free happy hour. Three drinks per guest. None of the visiting grandparents are drinkers, so on a couple occasions, I’d sit and slam a six-drink happy hour while talking about family stuff.

These days, Dry Andrew can still enjoy the spread of free food at the Drury happy hour, which on various days includes microwaved chicken tenders, the microwaved contents of a giant can of chili, microwaved baked potatoes cut in half, microwaved hot dogs that are lukewarm and gray, iceberg salad mix, Ruffles in a bowl, and carrot and celery sticks.

On my birthday eve, Sarah laid waste to the carrot sticks, neglecting the chips in the process, which surprised and pleased me. Tiffany happened to call from home during Sarah’s carrot binge, so of course I bragged about it. Then Tiffany told me carrot sticks are a choking hazard to a 2 year old. One more lesson learned by New Dad after the fact, but wouldn’t it make me seem like a better parent if I told the attending physician my kid choked on a carrot and not a giant deep-fried meatball?

Sarah spent the night at the Drury with my mom, while I went to karaoke and Tiffany stayed home with Silas. I’d invited people up to karaoke the night before via Facebook, with the tantalizing promise that my elusive wife, who was pregnant for a total of a year and a half, would be joining in the festivities. When she changed her mind and didn’t show, there were grumbles of disappointment, but I was glad she was staying home to protect our valuable. (That wasn’t a typo. We only have one valuable.)

Had Tiffany come to the party with me, it would have been a more cohesive social gathering. As it was, probably 15 people were there because I invited them, but they were spread all around the room. Not everyone knew everyone, and a couple people didn’t know anyone but me, which meant some people weren’t having the best time possible.

On a selfish level, though, it was great for me, because I love to work a room when I can. I was trying to keep up with three separate crowds, which kind of reminded me of that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams has to go to dinner with his family as the British nanny and do a job interview in another part of the same restaurant as himself. Minus the dressing up like an old lady, in my case.

At midnight, it was my birthday. I was invited out to the 3 a.m. dive bar people were headed to next, but when you’re 33, and you don’t drink anymore, the Taco Bell drive thru sounds like a way better idea than the afterparty.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah always laughs at my jokes.

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Dirty looks from Indians

February 8, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew is apparently spending this entire week in Editor’s Note purgatory. It’s Thursday afternoon, and he’s just now writing Tuesday’s blog. Worse, he’s listening to Mr. Mister’s Welcome to the Real World album on cassette in the background. And he’s trying to come up with some obvious joke about how these days, for the Mr. Mister guys, it’s less “Welcome to the Real World” and more “Welcome to Wal-Mart.”

Andrew’s trying to think back to Tuesday right now, and all he remembers is going with his wife on her lunch break to take Silas to the doctor. Silas was about a month late to his six-month checkup — which, in the scheme of things, is probably a greater transgression than being two days late with a 500-word blog post. What prompted Baby Silas’s parents to get him to the doctor was noticing a couple circular dry patches of skin of Silas’s leg. Which they speculated might be some kind of infant ringworm infestation, and which their educated doctor quickly informed them was in fact just dry skin. Baby needs more lotion and salve**.

Tiffany took Silas back to see the doctor, while Andrew stayed in the enormous waiting area with Sarah. Who was having fun jumping on the painted hopscotch boards on the carpet but perhaps suffered from the fact that all the waiting room toys had been removed due to flu-spread concerns. She quickly found the only toys in the place, some elaborate wooden blocks that belonged to a little kid named Corbin with an ugly but nice mom who let Sarah play with them then hurried them back into her bag when Sarah got distracted and wandered further down the waiting area.

Andrew received one of his first “I’m disgusted at what a bad parent you are” looks from an Indian*** family who were waiting with their infant. Andrew guesses it was because he was unable to talon-claw his child’s shoulder before she went exploring in the restricted area behind the flu shot reception desk. He coaxed his kid back out and picked her up, but that wasn’t enough for the judgmental Indian family, who also didn’t look too happy that the reception desk lady rewarded Sarah for her transgression with a fragrant peach sucker.

Silas is about to cross the 20-pound weight mark, which to Andrew is exciting, but not as exciting as when Silas crossed the 16-pound mark and went from Not As Heavy As A Bowling Ball to In Fact Heavier Than A Bowling Ball. Ask one of the Mr. Mister guys where you can find a bowling ball, and he’ll tell you, “Kyrie Eleison… I mean, Aisle 12.”

* “You can find that gallon of paint in the hardware department and a $5 CD copy of my greatest hits in the electronics department. I had two hits. Both equally great.”

** Which, the Mr. Mister guys would tell you, you’d think lotion and salve for babies would be located in the baby section of Wal-Mart but actually are located with the adult personal beauty items. The Mr. Mister guys know their Wal-Mart layout. They’re proud of their greeter jobs.

*** 7-Eleven Indian, not Native American.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Toddler with flowers

February 5, 2011

Andrew Hicks

When you up your blog productivity to once a day from two or three times per week or just whenever you feel like writing it, you start using little tricks you wouldn’t have considered before. List-oriented posts, writing heavy on back story, and now the photo essay. Ah yes, the photo essay, the easiest way to fill a bunch of space, especially when you’ve got a cute little kid playing with flowers.

My mom ordered a huge, beautiful bouquet delivered to our house for Tiffany’s birthday. It came in the early evening, Tiffany fawned over it and primped it up just the way she wanted it (while, I think, I was off changing a diaper or something) then went to bed early. An hour or so later, Sarah managed to sneak up to the flowers and pluck out a red rose and that yellow daisy or daffodil or delphinium or whatever that is.

And, instead of getting the flowers away from her, I pulled out the camera. Below are Figures 1.1-1.4. Missing are Figure 1.5, in which Sarah spits out the rose petals, and Figures 1.6-3.1, in which Tiffany awakens in the middle of the night, tries to get a peek at her beautiful floral birthday bouquet, finds out there are flowers missing, and expresses her displeasure with yours truly.

Figure 1.1 -- Here, Sarah is already done sniffing the yellow flower and is enjoying the texture of the petals on her lower lip.

Fig 1.2 -- Sarah introduces the rose to her nasal palette.

Fig 1.3 -- Sarah shoves rose petals into her mouth.

Fig 1.4 -- Gleeful, enthusiastic rose-chewing.

Crazy Watermelon Forehead

January 26, 2011

Andrew Hicks

We’re implementing a new routine in our house — the early wakeup*. I get up with the babies when Tiffany gets up for work. This brutal event happens every morning at the ungodly hour of 5:30.

I was dramatizing slightly in that last sentence, but I’ve had problems getting up early since puberty. But I’ve been the type of person who has a second-shift body clock and will only start my day early when forced to. So now I’m forcing myself to, and I have outside accountability.

So far, so good. The first day threw off Sarah’s baby body clock some, and she took a short, irregular nap, but I think she’s settled in now. If I get up, get in the shower and get moving, I wake up pretty easily. The hard part is staying active and resisting the temptation to prematurely slow activity and sit or even (Don’t do it, Andrew!) lie down. If I lie down, even “just for a minute,” when I’ve gotten up earlier than I’m used to, my activity level usually sits at zero for the next couple hours.

Kids will keep you up and running, but there is downtime, sometimes for, like, up to an hour. Getting everyone into an ironclad wakeup and sleep schedule will help me maximize and maybe even schedule my downtime with the kids’ body clocks. First things first, though. I have to actually get this routine cemented, which will take a few more days.

But it’s still morning, Sarah and Silas are both taking their naps, and I’m writing my blog already. I won’t have to wrestle with the midnight curfew tonight or, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, really at all with the new routine in place.

I’ve already gotten some good cooking, cleaning and baby play time in, too, a rarity for the AM hours. I got on the floor with Sarah and Silas and kinda had them playing with each other. Silas was in his Bumbo, and for the first time, he gripped one of Sarah’s little plastic play balls and waved it around, which delighted Sarah to no end.

Crazy Newspaper Head

Sarah started passing Silas other toys she wanted to watch him grab onto, so he indulged her by latching onto the little bunch of bananas toy and the half-watermelon toy. There was no one over the age of 2 around, so I let loose with the old Adam Sandler SNL bit about easy Halloween costumes for people with no money**. (“Look at me, I’m Crazy Watermelon Forehead! Can you believe it? I have a half a watermelon growing out of my head. My life is filled with pain and torment. Won’t you gimme some candy?”)

And I still have the whole afternoon and evening ahead of me.

*Which reminds me of a great Ross Perot sketch Dana Carvey did on “Saturday Night Live just before the 1992 election. “So, Step 1: a National Curfew, nationwide, lights out, 8:45 pm. Now, you may say, ‘Ross, what am I gonna do after 8:45?’ Well, I suggest you sleep — you’ll be glad you did when you hear that National Wake-Up Siren at 4:45 am. And don’t you worry, folks, you won’t sleep through it; it’ll be loooouuuuud!”

**Today’s blog is brought to you by the Ghost of “Saturday Night Live” Season 18, now streaming on Netflix Instant with a bunch of good sketches missing but still plenty of quality laughs from the last gasp of the show’s true golden age.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Josh plays with Baby Sarah and her Elmo guitar. Summer 2009.

Semisolids are forthcoming

December 10, 2010

Andrew Hicks

Procrastination is my forte. I’ll explain more later.

Okay, fine. I’ll explain more now. Silas, who turned five months last week, has been fed cereal once and baby food zero times. He’s old enough for both, I just constantly finding myself taking forever to implement any kind of change. I’m like Barack Obama without the change you can believe in… what? Oh, make that simply, “I’m like Barack Obama.”

Silas lost his appetite when he was sick last week, but he’s back sucking down formula bottles at full tilt. And it’s time to sit his big-headed infant body up in the highchair and start getting him messy with semisolids. Sarah was a good cereal and baby food eater. I think the only baby food she didn’t like was peaches, but she was down with other Snooki-colored foods like squash and sweet potatoes.

Speaking of Sarah while we’re speaking of procrastination, I finally converted the second crib into a toddler bed today. Me vs. Any Kind Of Handyman Activity is usually a long, drawn-out battle – first, to get me to attempt to fix or assemble something, and second, to actually get it assembled correctly. I use the assembly instructions as a crutch, but I never seem to read them thoroughly enough to get it completely right on the first try.

On the other hand, I’m not one of those dudes that refuses to ask for directions. I’ll ask for directions to the same place ten times from ten different people. If I can’t immediately find something around the house, I ask Tiffany if she knows where it is before I even look in a second spot. Which drives her crazy.

Tiffany also has problems with procrastination, which makes a lot of little things take forever to get accomplished and a lot of big things just keep looming in the distance. Considering how long it takes us to do things, getting married after knowing each other for three months was probably the most out-of-character thing either of us ever did. Our wedding, by the way, cost $148 and lasted less than a half-hour. I’ve spent more getting my oil changed. Which is an entirely separate personal issue.

In the case of Sarah and the toddler bed, I likely could’ve procrastinated right up until the hypothetical day Sarah climbed out of her crib and landed on her head. A broken water main ended up coming to our rescue – Tiffany got yesterday and today off work because the main burst right under the ground floor at her job. Thousands of gallons of gushing water were let loose in the vicinity of the company’s computer servers, necessitating evacuation and cleanup. And I thought I sucked for spilling an ounce of formula into my laptop keyboard a couple months back… and then waiting a month to fix the problem.

We put Sarah down for her nap in the toddler bed about 90 minutes ago. Tucked her in with her favorite pink fleece blankie, her Lily singing frog doll and a bottle*. Kissed her goodnight. Walked out of her room and closed the door. Ten seconds later, Sarah was beating on the closed door with her palm. Went back in, laid her back down, explained to her that she had to stay in bed because it was night-night time.

Ignored her tapping on the door more and calling for daddy and mommy. Eventually heard her rustling the plastic shopping bag that was in the trash and realized we hadn’t fully baby-proofed the new room she was sleeping in. Walked in and saw Sarah had found a pen and drawn on her white sheets and grabbed and strewn a bunch of my photos. Put her back in the original crib in the original bedroom. That was 15 minutes ago, and now the familiar sounds of nap-silence are emanating from her closed bedroom door. We’ll put her in the toddler bed later.

*Sarah does still drink from a bottle when she’s lying down for her nap or for the night. Procrastination here too? Probably, but we have broken her of her once-rabid binkie habit. Now Sarah goes without a bink unless one of Silas’s binks is within her reach. Then she does an instant stealth Yoink! followed by an immediate “I’m trying to get away with something I know I shouldn’t” glance toward mom and/or dad. Sarah always seems entertained by the two-step process of me first reminding her that’s her brother’s binkie then her handing it back to me.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Tubby custard hobblicoition

October 6, 2010

Andrew Hicks

I learned something new today, from the DrGimpy corner of the Internet. The term “abasiophilia” describes the fetish of having sexual desire for someone in a cast or on crutches. My wife is not an abasiophiliac, and I’m pretty glad she isn’t. If Tiffany did have a cast fetish, I’d probably always be suspicious that she was trying to push me down the stairs or run me over with the car to achieve her own perverse ends. Because nothing turns a lady on like having to do all the housework and pay all the bills yourself while your husband is immobile. That’s white-hot, “Funky Cold Medina” stuff right there.

The DrGimpy contingent was unable to provide me with a term for wasting an entire paragraph of your readers’ time describing the practice of being physically aroused by orthopedic assistance devices. So I’ll make up a term: “hobblicoition.” That’s pronounced “hah-blih-coh-ish-un.” Next, I’ll make up a term for wasting a second paragraph of your readers’ time by making up a term to describe the subject matter of the first paragraph you wasted your readers’ time with. And so on. This blog’s going to write itself today.

Hurricane Sarah trashed the downstairs family room and headed off to bed a couple hours ago. 23-month-old Sarah’s favorite new toy is her baby brother’s giant canister of formula powder. She uses every square inch of the coffee table to roll and slide the canister, then she turns it upside down and drums on the metallic underside. I do my dadly best to be right next to her and make sure the plastic lid doesn’t get pried off. That kind of mass powder dispersing would be a catastrophic mess, almost as bad as that scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen sneezes into the L.A. hipster character’s voluminous cocaine stash. Baby formula is almost as expensive as coke, from what I understand.

I vaguely remember, during the pregnancy and Sarah’s first couple months, pledging I’d be a truly conscientious, revolutionary parent. My child would not eat McDonald’s. My child would not watch television. My child’s carbon footprint would not be any larger than her pinkie toe. That was an Andrew who was unaware of the reality of round-the-clock parenting. That Andrew had no idea that McDonald’s french fries make a hysterical toddler stop crying in the car. That Andrew also didn’t know the sheer amount of wet and poopy diapers he’d be tossing in the garbage over the next two years.

That guy especially didn’t know how much he’d come to rely on the TV. It’s really easy to brag to strangers that you’re not gonna let your kid be babysat by television, but it’s tougher to resist when you figure out babies really love television. This is a tough reality to resist at seven in the morning when baby is wide awake and you still have two very crucial hours of sleep to catch up on and “Sesame Street” is just starting on the channel your tax dollars fund. Well, not your tax dollars, necessarily, but the tax dollars of people who earn real money.

Sarah’s first TV love was “Teletubbies.” Pre-parental Andrew had always bought into the conventional wisdom of cynical twentysomething adults, that the Teletubs were for drool-mouthed nincompoops only. I was especially put off by the knowledge that the producers of the show would have the TTs do something inane like jump around for a minute, then have them yell, “Again! Again!” and just loop identical footage. At the time, I didn’t understand or consider the target audience for the Teletubbies – babies aged 91 to 445 days. The vast majority of whom do have drooly mouths.

The Hicks household invasion of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La La and Po reminded me of the media furor in 1999, when the late Rev. Jerry Falwell yanked Tinky Winky out of the closet. Watching the show now, yes, Tinky Winky is purple and dances impeccably and has an upside-down triangle instead of hair, but I believe Falwell’s remarks were narrow-minded and completely off-base. The truth is, all four Teletubbies are gay. They all carry around purses, they all try on dresses, and they all enjoy the taste of “tubby custard.” Whatever that is.

Jerry Falwell is in heaven. The Teletubbies live on at my house in sparkling VHS. Fal’s well that ends well.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

 

Baby Silas is not quite ready to be a Bumbo sitter, but this is an excellent dome view of his male pattern baldness.