Question Time

So, here are the answers to questions I know are troubling even your restful moments.
Question, The First: What, exactly, is a ‘puff’?
A puff is a thing that looks similar in construction and size to a cheerio.  Only, it is made of vegetable or sweet potato.  However, it is a melt in your mouth substance so as not to choke the baby.  While convenient in the sense that they are not likely to murder your child, they do tend to leave a paste on everything when, say, a baby with slobbery hands mashes them up.  I know, right?  When would a baby ever have slobbery hands?  But still, Claire loves them.  I have actually seen her taunt the dogs with them.  Though, that isn’t fair.  Claire will occassionally grace the dogs with her scraps.  And, from the dogs’ perspective, hey, it’s human food.  Even if it’s baby human food.  They just see a sucker in a walker.  And Claire sees her subjects who dance at her command and follow her everywhere.  So, win win win.  Except, you know, for the vegetable paste.
Question, The Second: So, is it cool if we bother you about seeing a picture of the bruise?
Yes.  It is cool.  I totally ripped off Iron Man the movie just now.  But, yeah.  It’s cool.  Here is our shame.  And, I should add, Claire’s pride.  Battle scars:
The picture is from three days after The Incident What With The Stairs And The Walker.  The bruise still makes me nauseous.  But, Claire has been since Tuesday completely unconcerned with it.  I believe it represents her conquering of the stairs; territory which she now rightly claims as her own.
Danielle and I spent some time talking about black eyes the other day.  You know, I can’t recall ever really having had a quality black eye.  My eight grade teacher once accidentally busted my nose once in a water jug/end of sports day hijinks gone wrong.  Totally my fault.  And I’ve had some quality injuries, but never really a black eye.  Besides, I’m a karate man.  Karate man bruise on the inside.  I was kicked in the head once whilst training hard enough that it made my brain reset.  I didn’t even fall down.  But, people said my body sagged and my head dropped while my brain rebooted.  I only remember thinking, "Whoops" and then "Why’s everyone looking at me like that?  I was just kicked in the head, wasn’t I?"  I’m totally fine though.
Danielle, on the other hand, has actually received a black eye from answering a telephone too aggressively and once from falling into a towel bar.  I remember the towel bar.  We were together for that.  She tried a sneak attack on me, Not-Now-Cato-You-Fool style, and fell into the towel bar.  It could only have been more perfect if it had been a doorknob.  "My god, how did this happen?"  "Well, you see, I fell into a towel bar."  Me, "No, really."  Words cannot express how much I love my wife for providing me the sweet awkwardness that came with conversations like that.  For real.  And, yes, I would have thought less of her if she had not occassionally answered that question in a way that implicated me, though not explicitly stated, in shall we say behavior unbecoming a gentleman.  It’s a moral imperative and I love her for knowing it as such.
Anyroad.  I think the bruise helps everyone realize just how much of a fearless explorer and warrior Claire really is.  She looks sweet.  But, man, watch out.  That kid is tough.  To prove she’s recovering nicely, here’s a picture or two of Claire recalling her Viet Nam days on my parents’ kitchen counter:

"Stay down, stay hydrated.  Charlie is in the cabinets."  Which reminds me.  Did I ever tell you about the time I got kicked in the whilst training in the martial arts?  Great story.


Claire has learned the way of peekaboo.  And, as with everything else she has learned the way of, she does it herself.
Claire was more than pleased that she found yet another way to command our every move.  So proud, in fact, she had to bite her own fist.
We, as always, are delighted to serve.  Less so with the fist biting.

The Other Side

The most normal of us is Claire.  Without a doubt, she’s been completely unphased by this entire ordeal.  Danielle and I will, I suspect, have nightmares for the next forty years.  I imagine they’ll last past the point where we can recall the origin or successfully interpret their meaning.  Years from now, we’ll share nightmares of things that go kapow crash bang in the night and we will scream our fear at them.  Claire will go on to fly rocketships emblazened with the Screaming Elmo Head Of Death.
Such is life.
Truthfully, we may have created a battle hungry monster.  Here.  Look.  Just look.

When she tips her head back like that it is accompanied by a fierce battle cry.  As if to say, "This?  This is all you have?"  I keep thinking Ray Winstone’s voice is going to come out and she’s going to scream at us "I am Beowulf!"  It is so totally and completely awesome!  My daughter, the Ur Warrior.  Ha! 
And then she trips and falls on her butt and she looks at her feet as if to say "Feet, don’t fail me now."  And then we stand her back up and she’s all ornery Beowulf again.  Snatching three and four puffs out of my hand at a time.  And screaming at me for more.  More!  The Ur Warrior gets cranky when she’s tired and demanding when she’s hungry.  But, that’s okay because she’s just so gosh darned cute.

Fathers’ Day: Or, How I Learned To Stop Being An Idiot And Try Not To Let My Daughter Kill Herself

Today is Father’s Day.  And, if I recall my words correctly, an intrinsic confirmation of my role as the caregiver for a human life.  And, if I also correctly recall, a day I cavalierly suggested should be accompanied by the successful donning of underwear.  In truth, I confess that’s not all I’m wearing today.  No, I’m not refering to the rest of my clothes.  Today, I’m also wearing the ER bracelet from our family trip to the hospital yesterday. 
Everyone is alive and well.

Claire was hurt yesterday.  And Danielle and I were pretty freaked.  I think more damage was done to our nerves and our confidence as able parents.  Emotional train wrecks and seriously mentally traumatized.  Claire was in her walker and wound up taking a trip down the half flight of stairs to the front entrance of our split level house.  Fortunately, no rolling over.  Unfortunately, she took a pretty hard face plant into the spinning Elmo head that shall henceforth be known as the Spinning Elmo Head…Of Death.

It’s a stair proof walker, with special grips to prevent it from careening wildly down stairs.  We tested it.  Multiple times.  And then we got complacent.  Chores were being done and both of us wound kvetching at each other about this and that.  One minute later, kapow crash bang scream cry.  Everything seemed in order at first. I was holding Claire, calming her down.  Calming me down.  Calming everyone down.  And then I turned her so I could see the other profile view.  I found a knot above her eye, formed in thirty seconds, the size of a golf ball.  My baby’s head is a little bigger than a softball.  This knot was green and enormous.  Or, I don’t know, because the world pinpointed out for a moment or two.

Panic ensued.

Decisions were made.

I drove us all to the ER where they promptly checked her out. Nothing but a nasty bruise. A bruise that is still making me nauseous.

But, a CT scan for a ten month old baby? Single worst five minutes of my life.  Since, that is, the previous single worst moment of my life: the split second it took to realize it wasn’t a dog clunking down the stairs.  Overall, I’d say this has been the single hardest day of my life.  I know I’m prone to exaggeration, and that the description of mine and Danielle’s take on the day is cliche.  But, I am deadly serious when I say the worst soul wrenching, gut tightening, take me out back and shoot me, I’m a terrible person sort of day.

Best worst moment ever? Playing with my daughter in the ER and her laughing like a maniac saying "ahdahdah!" with a newly forming hideous bruise above her swollen shut eye.  And then crying because she realized just how much that knot hurt.  And then laughing again because she remembered just how fun her dad is.  Somebody shoot me.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be easy.  I knew we didn’t have a gate.  I knew Claire was in her walker.  But I also "knew" that last week she didn’t have the strength to overcome the stair proof walker grips.  We tested it.  And I know she can’t crawl on the wood floors and I know she can’t walk.  At what point should I have overcome what I knew to be true and stopped her from riding the stairs?

Don’t let what you know get in the way of the obvious.

Kids learn quick.  She won’t crawl, but she can climb over the back of the sofa by herself.  Maybe she learned how to beat the grips.  Maybe it was Some sort of ongoing research project for her.  Searching for free moments.  Lying in wait.  Ready to pounce at the first opportunity.  Or, maybe a dog playing gave her a nudge.  We don’t know.  But, anything can happen.  Anything.  Be prepared.  You will make mistakes, they say.  Because, you know, literally anything can happen.

What I didn’t know is how hard it is to come home from the ER with your kid and maintain the routine in her life that makes her happy and just, you know, keep on parenting.  Who ever says anything about that whilst doling out parenting advice?  Where’s the chapter on The Day After?  There’s no more sheer terror to mask how guilty you feel.  And, even though you feel like you can’t even justify feeding yourself you still have to be the same parent you were the day before yesterday.  Because that’s what makes a good parent, right?  Not quitting because mistakes were made.  Not slacking off just because at the moment you may or may not be firmly convinced that you represent a danger to public safety. 


So, Claire is now wrapped in bubble wrap and Velcro and we just stick her where she needs to be.  The truth is, it’s amazing how appealing that option is.  But, you know what else?  My kid is a flipping trooper. She played and laughed the rest of the day.  I never knew relief could make a person nauseous.  Although, the bruise is over the eye that she likes to rub to indicate to everyone how tired she is, so that’s caused some problems.  There may or may not have been some guarded chuckling about that.

I’ve decided to wear the ER bracelet until the bruise heals up. As a reminder. Always be where you are. Because even a slip for one minute is enough to give my daredevil of a child all the time she needs to engineer a trip to the ER.

Here’s to Fathers.  This job is for life.  Mistakes will be made.  You can’t quit.  And, it will hurt.  But it’s the best damn thing you will ever do with your life.

 -001- Days On The Job Since The Last Accident

Danielle Wins A Prize

Can you believe she found a coupon for this at the bottom of a Cracker Jacks box?
Who would have thought they’d put a coupon for a five hundred dollar stroller at the bottom of a Cracker Jacks box?  Huh.
Actually, she won it in an internet based competition.  I’m told Nigerian royalty on the run were not involved.  Go figure.  People actually do win things on the internet. 
Either way, Claire sure seems to be enjoying it.  Before this, she was always stuck in a carseat in a stroller.  I’d say she’s moving up in the world.
Free at last.  Free at last.
In an unrelated bit of news, has anyone seen the shoebox full of cash I left on the television?

All The Better To Eat You With

It was an inevitable title.  It’s a blog about a baby for goodness sake.  What did you expect?  I make no apologies.  But, I have thoughtfully included a few introductory sentences to make you aware of my distaste, my inner struggle, with using the title.
Danielle is always yelling at me for posting unflattering pictures of her on the blog.  In some cases, this is fair.  But, those are all with purpose and so the penalty box, such as the shed is, is well worth it.  I’m growing to love that shed.  I’ve named some of the spiders, you know.  Moving along.  In other cases, I think she’s being cute.  So, there.  Still, the threat of penalty box is well worth it. 
Here, to even the score, is a picture of me looking like a complete maniac while Claire looks, shall we say, less than intruiged with her surroundings.
Apparently, I look like a maniac when I’m playing with the baby.  I’m probably just emotionally unstable after realizing that our hair patterns make a complete set.  Your hair is mine!  Cackle, cough, cackle, laugh, cough cough cough.
The truth revealed to me in this photo, however, is that my baby is one tough kid.  I look like I just axed down a door Stephen King style and all my baby has to say about it is "Oh, daddy.  You’re so boring."  That’s one cool customer.  Pretty much since day four of her life our game has been I startle her and she laughs hysterically.  The point of this rambling is that I think I have inadvertantly ruined my effectiveness over the Princess of the Galaxy.  If this is how she responds to axe murderer dad, how will she respond to stern, loving, but slightly disasppointed dad?
I’m afraid I may have to write discipline off for this child.  And, yes, that is my way of justifying any future time I may indulge the Princess’s every whim.
Seriously though, do I always look that crazy?  I wouldn’t even give me change in the street. 

The Big Point Eight Three Repeating

I can hardly believe it’s been ten months since Claire was born.  I confess that of late I’ve been more focused on the idea of her quickly approaching birthday.  Words fail me.  So, let’s talk about something personal.
Father’s Day is this weekend.  I admit I’m conflicted on whether or not I should wear underwear.  I mean, on the one hand it’s a big day in my adult life.  On the other hand, it’s supposed to be a holiday, or something, right?  And, who dresses for holiday?  I’m leaning toward the idea that the day is intrinsically an affirmation of my role as the caregiver for a human life.  So, good news for everyone.  I’ve just resolved that Sunday shall be an underwear day.  Pretty responsible if I do say so myself.
My baby tried to feed my toes the cardboard box that Nerds used to be in.  She’s still learning about food.  Isn’t she just the most adorable baby ever?
Later I found out she was just trying to papercut my toes for not jumping out of the chair to satisfy her need for wanton hurling about.  My respect for her remained undiminished.