Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Anything But Routine

Each and every day starts about roughly the same time at our home. 

Sometime between 6 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. Mrs. Blackwell and I crawl out of bed. This is after an evening in which one of us has no doubt risen to provide Master Blackwell with a middle-of-the-night feeding. 

Those occasions when the boy — and by extension Mrs. Blackwell and I — sleep through the night are rare. So, we're usually pretty groggy.

But that said, we must be fleet of foot to prepare for our day, get ourselves ready, find presentable clothing, make breakfast, make lunches and gather all we'll need for work.

Then there's him. We must pack his bag for day care. We'll need bibs. We'll need bottles. And did he soil yesterday's backup outfit? Yes. Ok. We'll be needing a new backup outfit too. Is it still 35 degrees outside? We live in Madison Wisconsin so, yes. Ok. He'll need a winter coat and a toque.

And of course, we'll need his primary outfit for the day. 

We must perform these tasks quickly because the moment the boy wakes up, priorities shift. At that point you're attempting to simultaneously cater to the whims of a baby while performing each of the aforementioned tasks. 

Some days this is quite easy. Some days the little guy is awake, sitting up in his crib and greeting us with a grin when we enter his room. His mood is brilliant. He's a compliant, smiling little boy who giggles while having his diaper changed and helps get ready by slipping his arms through his shirt sleeves like they're made of warm butter. Naturally the whole process is easier when both Mrs. Blackwell and I are home.

But, some days there aren't two of us. One of us has to get to work early, leaving the other to shoulder the load. 

This isn't so bad when it's one of those smiling, compliant, warm butter days. But when you're all alone and it's not one of those days, good luck.

Recently I was alone in the morning and it was not a warm butter day. I had the outfits ready, the bottles filled, the bibs packed and myself dressed in short order.

But when I entered his room  I was not greeted with an awake, smiling baby, instead I got:

Pretty much the last thing I wanted to see. 

It's worth noting that this is one of the few times in the last several months I've seen the boy sleeping on his back. He's a tummy sleeper, so I knew he must have been sleeping particularly deeply. Waking him — no matter how softly, sweetly and warmly I did it — was not going to be pretty. 

But I tried. I cracked his blinds and let a hint of morning light in. I hit the highest of high notes and softly repeated his name. 

And this is what I got for my efforts: 

A surly, angry little boy who wanted nothing to do with a hint of morning light or soft recitations of his name whispered at a high note. 

No, this boy wanted to be left alone and, in lieu of that, he wanted answers as to why he was awakened. Or perhaps he wanted retribution. I don't know. 

My attempts to assuage him with an onslaught of smiles, raspberries and other sound effects failed miserably. So, I dug deep and went to the peekaboo strategy. 

Sensing my desperation the boy gave me this: 

He leaned toward me and made his anger clear with a firm bellow as a reminder that he, not dad and his phone camera, was in charge. 

I will acknowledge that it might seem insensitive of me to spend any amount of time chronicling my son's frustration instead of expending all efforts to alleviate it. 

What kind of monster takes pictures instead of going to any and all lengths to make his little boy comfortable? Welp, I suppose you could have a point. But, I'd also be willing to bet you don't have a kid. 

Having an upset baby is awful. It's loud. It's frustrating. It's guilt multiplied and squared for good measure. You feel like a bad parent. You feel like you might be letting your kid down so I suppose there's a bit of fear in there too. 

But, before you know it you make the right move, you get one of those bottles you prepared and then your baby settles down like this:

And as he slowly drinks and the sound of his sucking on the bottle becomes the only noise in the room, your blood pressure drops.

You enjoy the silence before speaking to the little guy, reminding him that all is well and that there will always be a bottle there for him whenever he needs it. 

Then as you take the next step toward the day, you get him cleaned and dressed, good vibes begin to abound, the little guy is settling in and you get this:
And all is well. All is right and for a while, you know you're not such a bad parent after all.

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