Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mr. Lazy Pants

Holy crap - Amari's crawling all over the place.

I love that Carrie hijacked my blog, by the way. I felt like I got a week off, even though I spent most of it hugging single parents. Some of them no doubt appreciated it, while others called the police and used words like "groper" and "frotteur" as though they were somehow illegal. Whatever. Uptight Americans.

Last week I went away for two days - a bureaucratic mission regarding my professional license sandwiched between a fun visit with my buddy, Matt. When I left on Monday Amari had only been crawling for three days, so her lack of mastery was still handcuffing her curiosity. She would take four or five focused crawls forward, then collapse on her belly, grab something within reach, and reward a job well done by indiscriminately sucking on whatever she'd found. By the time I called home from Fairfield that evening, Carrie told me Amari was now a "crawlin' fool." I felt excited and sad, but I also suspected Carrie might be exaggerating. When I came home Wednesday night, however, Amari looked across the living room, smiled her biggest, dimpliest smile, and - although I'd like to say she crawled frantically into my arms - just lay there on her belly waiting for me to pick her up. "This is a crawlin' fool?" I thought.

"Grab a glass of water or the laptop," Carrie suggested, so I obliged, sitting in a chair across the room pretending to be very interested in both my beverage and the monitor. Amari let out what I now call a warning laugh/shriek and crawled frantically into the arms of...well, the computer. I guess I'll have to make her a sign that reads "Will work for refreshments or technology."

Now Amari is in fact a crawling fool. She's like an explorer, seeking out a new world of toys, shoes, remote controls, and unsuspecting, attention-starved cats to colonize. She's gaining speed each day, which is both adorable and terrifying. Everything in her world is fascinating and new and potentially edible. Our only saving grace is that her distract-ability still surpasses her curiosity; that a carefully timed U-Turn will make her forget what she was excitedly heading towards.

The past week has been awesome - our much deserved summer break with lots of family time. I contemplated getting a part-time job, but a friend and colleague recently said, "You can make up the money, but you can't get back the time." This is such a precious time that we all have together, and I don't want to give up a minute.

Every day my capacity to feel deepens. Joy, sadness, excitement, pride, worry, fear, nostalgia, everything. Parenting is terrifyingly exhilarating. Almost eight months ago Carrie gave birth to Amari in our living room. I caught her as she entered our world and delivered her to Carrie's chest. Two hours later we were alone in our house with a baby. "What the hell did we do?" I thought? What now? Today, much to my surprise and delight, Amari is not only alive and well, she is thriving. Turns out, we're not too bad at this parenting thing.

PS For anyone interested in what dad does on his sabbaticals away from parental responsibility, please enjoy this video I made with my buddy, Matt.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Home Alone

Isaac will probably kill me for hijacking his blog. I mean, for father's day was one thing, but a mere two days after??? Madness! I just had to say: 

Hug a single parent today!

Many times in this crazy adventure called parenting I have said, "I don't know how single parents do it." I know I would NOT care to do this alone and am eternally grateful for having a righteously awesome hunk of love to co-parent with. Now I know more than ever! I have been left home alone ALONE (and cried and wept for loneliness and missing my progeny) but the past few days I have been left home alone with Amari while Isaac visits friends (the bastard!). I'm surviving. BARELY!

And that's why I say hug a single parent today. Amari is one sweet cookie, and I was about ready to pull my hair out when she FINALLY went down for a really good nap at 4:30. I can't imagine getting stuck with a grumpy Gus all day. I have been thinking of making a shirt for my darling one that says "Loves Fine Whines". She's starting to have ideas about what she wants to do and it's pretty much never "watch TV and read US Weekly," so we're having some differences of opinions and desires. Fortunately we both love long walks, snuggling, music, weird toys, and food. Lots of food.

Isaac come home and never leave us again!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Blog

What do you want for your first father's day? A BLOG? Whatever (weirdo).

For your first father's day, I promise not to resent this day falling on my birthday week and detracting from the gloriousness that is the yearly celebration of my birth. I promise to let you listen to the ballgame on the radio, even if we're on a long road trip and it's REALLY boring. I promise to let you sleep in--every other day. I promise to do your laundry, swiffer the floors, clean the toilets--if you keep vacuuming and cooking. I promise to smile through the Lakers games even though I have NO idea what's going on.

In short, I give you the same damn thing you've gotten every year, only a little extra because you're a great dad. Didn't I complain a lot more about sports before Amari was born? That's right.

Well look, I'm sleep deprived and sunburned. I'm tired and stupid. Just imagine I'm saying something brilliant and funny...oh, and that I still look as good as I did before I got pregnant. But let's face it--being a mom has made me a lot more endearing.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something about Crawling

I'm really tired right now. No time for fancy words or complete sentences, but I would be remiss if I allowed another day to go by without mentioning that Amari B. Fishman crawled her first crawl last this Thursday afternoon.

Carrie and I had just brought her home from Susan's where Aiden and Liam had been crawling around all morning trying to show Amari how it's done. While we were still at Susan's we noticed Amari doing a little hand shuffle back and forth, but when we got home she pushed herself up onto all fours, targeted something interesting across her play mat, and took four very definite "steps" forward.

It was really exciting. I jumped up to get the video camera while Carrie ran outside to get Granny C, and for the next fifteen minutes or so we strategically placed enticing objects beyond Amari's reach, then watched, encouraged, and clapped as she showed off her mobility. As time passed Amari grew both tired and clever, eventually taking only the minimum number of crawls necessary before diving toward the desired object. A sign of genius, I'm sure.

Although I vowed to keep a much closer eye on her from that moment on, the next morning I cavalierly left her alone on her blanket for a couple of minutes. She was surrounded by toys, none of which were small enough to choke on, and I didn't see anything in the vicinity that appeared dangerous. Moments later, however, I returned to find Amari very interested in something at the edge of her blanket. I'd seen her suck on tags, before, but this time she'd managed to get a hold of a tissue box, pull out a tissue out, and was eating it enthusiastically until I frantically pulled the soft, mushy, moisturized pieces from her mouth. If we weren't attached to our home, I believe this would be the ideal time to move. It's much easier to unpack essentials than it is to condense and elevate everything we own. Did I mention my brilliant Nerf furniture idea?

So there it is - the end of one era and the beginning of another. I'm grateful Amari waited until the day before summer to start this milestone, because now we have the whole summer to watch her master mobility while simultaneously learning that we live in an infant death trap. Time to put away my halberds and scimitars.

That's right - I ended on an obscure Medievil weaponry reference.

PS My mom passed away almost four years ago. I know for a fact I would not be half the father I am had it not been for her love and adoration. Today would have been her birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom. I think of you often.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Video Killed the Radio Star

Does everyone know that was the first video ever played on MTV? That was back in the day when there were actually more videos than commercials. Ahhhh, the days of youth.

Yesterday was Carrie's 32nd birthday, and much like mine it passed without incidence, save one of her graduating senior running into her classroom and inciting a chorus of Happy Birthday from her students. Much like the video killed the radio star, having a baby killed all romantic birthdays and anniversaries. We also have less music and way more commercials between episodes of our mediocre reality show.

Kidding. Sort of.

When Carrie and I met she was such a huge fan of birthdays - hers specifically - that she would start counting it down after New Year's. "Only five months and 14 days to go..." As an inspired new boyfriend, fiancee, and then husband, I did my best to match her enthusiasm with birthday surprises ranging from fully decorated living rooms to balloons spilling down on her as she exited our house to birthday signs taped up along Highway 1 from our apartment to her restaurant job.

On the latter occasion a policeman pulled over and asked me why the heck I was putting signs up all over town at midnight. A little embarrassed in the face of such obvious testosterone, I confessed my romantic gesture and he said, "Well, technically that's illegal,...but it's also a really cute idea. Promise me you'll take them down later." I'm pretty sure that's the only good interaction I've had with a policeman, and I'm also pretty sure I saw him putting up similar signs later that year. Plagiarizer!

This year I had planned to steal Carrie's keys and decorate her classroom at the high school, but I couldn't even muster the energy to make up a good lie to leave the house. Instead, after she went to bed, I pulled out last year's decorations and tried to spread them around the house enough to look as though I'd made an effort.

My birthday present? The same thing she got me two months ago...A BABY!!! Only mine's cuter, older, and can do more stuff.

In fact, Amari is now sitting up on her own, and with the exception of the occasional tumble onto her face or back, she's quite happy doing so and plays independently for longish stretches of time. And by long stretches I mean long enough to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how tired I am) this joy of sitting has replaced her desire for tummy time and will probably postpone crawling. She's still making progress, but it has slowed considerably. Now when she gets on all fours and rocks back and forth, she adds the occasional knee movements. Still uncertain of what to do with her hands, as her knees grow closer to her palms, she invariably falls onto her face and either cries, starts over, or lies there looking like a break dancer pausing for applause.

Another recent development is the emergence of a mild case of separation anxiety. Even though she plays by herself, she likes to know exactly where Carrie and I are. If we get up and walk away without her permission, she'll start fussing. And by permission I mean when she's not fully engaged with a teething ring, a doll, or some music-making contraption. The fun part is coming back to her. The cry subsides immediately and is replaced with a smile. If I walk away and come back quickly enough she sounds like a little accordion. Awesome.

I also tried to give Carrie the present of a full night's sleep before her birthday by taking all the nighttime feedings and fussings. Amari has lots of sniffles and pain and hopefully teeth soon, so this present became increasingly challenging as the night went on. Every time I tried to leave Amari's futon at the foot of our bed, she would start crying again. I would pat and rock and sooth and feed then sneak away and she would cry. By two-thirty in the morning I was so frustrated that I grabbed her pink bunny and flung it across the room making a distorted "Twinkle, twinkle little..." sound as it hit the wall. Having blown that birthday gesture, I assure Carrie that I was fine now, that throwing stuffed animals is a common form of parental therapy, and I took Amari downstairs to her favorite rocking chair where we both eventually drifted to sleep.

Happy Birthday, Carrie. You will always be my commercial free MTV. I love you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Strollz in the Hood

Last week Carrie and I popped Amari into her stroller and took a long, early-evening walk around our neighborhood. Every car and passer-by, even when we had a light blanket draped over the front of the stroller to protect Amari from the sun, would gaze at the stroller, and then smile and wave to us. After about a half an hour I turned to Carrie and asked, "Have you noticed how friendly people are when you have a stroller?" 
"Yeah. So?" 
"They don't know what's behind the blanket," I said, but instead of just appreciating that we live in friendly part of the world I added, "I think if I ever become a serial killer and I need to dispose of a body - I'm going stroller." 
"Nice" Carrie said as though it were a totally normal thought, "Or, if you become a drug dealer, you could just peddle your wears behind the blanket."
"Or what about a terrorist?" I thought to myself, but quickly dismissed it thinking I must have seen that in a movie somewhere. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

First Boob-Free Night or Best Dad Ever?

Amari slept through the night! Awesome.

After a painfully long week of sleep deprivation, neither Carrie nor I believed this night would ever come let alone be just around the corner. Amari's current lack of a schedule has her falling asleep anywhere between eight and nine o'clock. We do have a bedtime routine - bath, massage, bottle, sleep - but we're not always steadfast about the time. We've tried to include reading in this routine, but Amari still enjoys eating books more than listening to them. Once she's asleep Carrie generally takes her upstairs and places her in the futon at the foot of our bed. When she wakes up, which she usually does 2-3 times each night, Carrie and I take turns comforting her or offering her a boob or a bottle or some gentle pats on the back. 

Two nights ago we had dinner with the Calverts and didn't leave until after nine. Amari fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept soundly for most of the night. Last night was even better. After her routine, Carrie and I took Amari upstairs around nine-thirty. For the first time in ages nature called before Amari did. I glanced at the clock - it was 4:30. I looked over at Carrie to see if she had brought Amari into bed. It was just the two us, the cat, and utter silence. 

I listened more closely, certain that Amari must have tossed or turned or moved or cried. Nothing. After so many nights in a row, the silence was unsettling. I began to worry. What if something's wrong? What if Amari stopped breathing? I was pretty sure she was out of the SIDs window, but that didn't mean she couldn't be smothered by a cat or her god-awful pink bunny. I was faced with a major parental dilemma. Do I risk jeopardizing this perfect night of sleep by checking to see if she's breathing? Or do I play the odds - which I told myself were very good - that everything's okay? 

After a few seconds of self-inflicted mind games and worst case scenarios, I came to the logical conclusion that checking Amari's breathing - albeit the more immediately responsible parental choice - was a lose-lose situation. If I check and she's breathing, it's likely she would wake up and I lose. If I check and she's not breathing, well that option sucked, too. Ultimately, I decided to go back to sleep because either outcome would be better served by a well-rested dad. Does this put me in the running for father of the year, or what?

For any of you worry-warts, as I drifted back to sleep amidst a flicker of guilt that I was somehow the worst father ever, Amari tossed and turned and moved, but never cried. When I woke up again I heard a small cough. It was light outside, the moon fading in the grey sky above, while Amari reared her lovely head below, patiently waiting for one of us to notice she was still very much alive. 

Like the bad nights, I remind myself not to get attached to these good ones either. Even as I write this, Amari is snoozing next to me on the couch because her sleep upstairs was already interrupted by hunger, gas, a bad dream, or the subconscious fear that her dad is much too logical sometimes.