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Posts Tagged ‘baby’

Do you ever feel like you just can’t please anyone, let alone everyone?

When you’re juggling a small family on your own, someone is generally mad at you, which is even better when none of your family members can communicate verbally.  Yes, all three of my children have their own means of getting things across to me; sometimes it’s very clear what want, sometimes it’s a bit of a guessing game.

And sometimes, the way my little darlings choose to communicate with me, is the problem.

Take, for instance, my son’s most favorite means of verbal communication: the scream. Ear piercing, glass shaking, dogs running screaming.

One would assume for such a scream to emerge from my lovely little boy, that something is wrong, very wrong.  One would be wrong.

Typically the scream is reserved horribly frustrating instructions, such as “no more kitty videos” or “stop eating dog food”.  We also get screams for closed doors that can’t be opened, food that doesn’t come fast enough, nap times.  Less frequently, we get the same screams for moments of joy: playing ball with Dodger, getting chased by Mama, finding Mama in the water closet (my personal favorite).

The dogs are not quite as vocal as my son.  That doesn’t mean they don’t bark (boy do they bark!), it just means they don’t bark at me.  No, my dogs choose to communicate with me mostly telepathically, with some facial movements thrown in.

Penny’s second surgery has made my pretty girl even more depressed, especially being penned nearly 100% of the time.  Currently, her favorite means of communication is just staring at me with her big doe eyes and arching her eyebrows up and down.  I ask her if she needs to go potty and her eyebrows go up.  I pat her on the head, scratch her tummy and her eyebrows go up.  I offer her food and her eyebrows go up.  It’s awesome.

Dodger is no better.  Because he’s also dealing with various health issues (an ear infection and allergies) he can’t decide if my approach means affection or medication.  My poor guy spends most of his day with his head half bent towards me, ears almost all the way back, and tail wagging but very close to his body.  He is so confused! I try to communicate to him my love by giving him kisses and ear scratches, but all my efforts are ruined when I administer ear drops and he looks at me as if I have broken his heart.

Oh, I’m a mean, mean mommy.

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Parenthood is a very long lesson in practicing patience, but apparently it’s a lesson for everyone in the house, including the dogs.

From the day Baby C came home, Dodger has lived in a near constant state of duality: intense curiosity spiked with nervousness.

Dodger loves to follow C around the house, watching as the chaos grows around them.  Dodger happily sits beneath C’s high chair waiting for “accidents” over the side of the tray.  He appears to love nothing more than licking every available square inch of C’s baby skin (and, sometimes, clothes, though that’s more for the food than the love).

Yet, under this obvious curiosity and adoration, Dodger has always been nervous around C, especially should that little baby’s attention suddenly become focused on his furry brother.  Dodger has spent the last 13 months scurrying away from pinching, sticky fingers; “dodging” C’s attempts to hug or pet should the affection turn painful.

Penny, despite her every day nervous personality, has been the soul of patience and motherly indulgence since Baby C arrived.  She has let her little brother climb all over her, use her as a step stool, and allowed her tail, paws, ears, lips, and fur to be pulled.  Penny sits patiently as C pulls chew bones from her mouth and then watches as he waves it in front of her.  She patiently, painstakingly attempts to take it back as C shoves it into her nose.

Penny even plays games with C, patiently waiting about 10 months until he was able to join in the fun.  She chases him up and down the hallways, nipping his diaper or socks.  Should C stumble and fall, Penny quickly rounds on him, licking his hands or cheeks until he can get up and resume the game, all amid squeals of delight.

Or at least Penny did all this, until she had her first surgery about a month ago.  Since then she’s been laid up either in pain, or forced isolation (as she is desperate to run and jump with her brothers).  In her absence, Dodger has taken up the patience mantle.

Suddenly, my nervous Nellie is practicing the patience Penny made look easy.  Yes, Dodger’s sloppy kisses are a little more ferocious than Penny’s gentle licks.  Yes, if Dodger tires of C’s pulls and pinches, Dodger quickly resorts to forceful licking to get C away from him.

But none of this wipes out the fact that just a few days ago, I rounded the corner into the kitchen to find my boys sitting on the rug, C lightly biting Dodger’s tail and Dodger just staring up at me with sad, patient eyes.

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Finally feeling better, but still worn out. Hand Foot Mouth disease basically sucks. And as much as I love my son, I now view him as a tiny disease incubator.

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There are many differences between my babies, the most obvious being their different species, but no less important is Baby C’s thumbs.  Of all the gifts humanity has bestowed on C, the dogs most envy his moving digits which can lead the way to the dogs’ dearest wish: freedom!

Now C’s ability to grip can be a source of pain for the dogs, often literally.  C alternately tortures them with his kung fu grip on their ears and tails or by chasing them with hard, but brightly colored plastic objects in his hands.

Recently this behavior has escalated to include an object in each hand, which C clanks together in an adorable and somewhat menacing manner.  He sometimes laughs manically while doing this, which honestly scares the crap out of Dodger. Poor Dodger can be spotted running away from C several times a day as C charges the poor dog with various toys and Dodger scampers out of the way in a panic as if C had a gun or a metal wrench instead of a bumblebee maraca.

Yet, C’s opposable thumbs do have an upside for the dogs.  Penny is fond of the fact that C can hold food in his hands, which she is happy to relieve him of (though she is less pleased that he can take food from their bowls).

Both dogs are intrigued by C’s grip on tennis balls.  His hands are large enough to grip and throw the balls now, though he seems to prefer chasing Dodger with the ball held in one hand while the other hand is held out to fend off unwanted licking.  If he is close enough to one of the dogs, C holds the ball out near dog’s mouth.

Actually, C attempts to force the ball into dog’s mouth, most often Dodger’s mouth.  Poor Dodger isn’t exactly sure how to react.  Every instinct he has is telling him to grab the ball from C and run, but that means putting teeth on bare baby skin, something Dodger does not want to do.  So Dodger turns his head this way and that, trying to find the best position to take the ball from C’s vulnerable little hand, all the while trying to avoid getting a tennis ball in the eye or being punched in the nose by it.  He bites one way, then releases, then bites a different way and releases, maybe tugging the ball a little so it’s not quite surrounded by flesh.  You can see the eagerness in his eyes grow with each attempt.  He is trying so hard not to bite the baby, but he really REALLY WANTS THAT BALL!  Finally, Dodger works the ball out of C’s hand, immediately backing away, tossing his head in triumph.  Mission accomplished!

But the dogs’ favorite trick C performs with his magic thumbs is opening doors.  C, usually running, rushes up to the door and grabs the long silver handle in his hand.  Penny doesn’t move yet, but you can see her eyebrows arch up, ears twitching.  Dodger eagerly rushes up to stand just behind C.  With each of C’s attempts, you can watch the hope rise and fall on his little black furry face.  Finally, C turns the handle enough, the latch pulls back audibly.  Suddenly Penny is shoulder to shoulder with Dodger as they urge C to open the door.  You can almost hear them chanting “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”  and at last the door opens.  And as C pulls the door back, all my babies rush out, the joy palpable in the air they leave behind.

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Because drinking water regularly is a necessity for healthy pets, our house has two water bowls: one upstairs in the master bath on the floor and one downstairs in the kitchen on a stand.  Baby C believes both of these have been strategically placed for his personal amusement.

C has never been shy around water, languishing in the bath long after the water has lost its warmth.  In fact, early on he started showing interest in all types of water, whether it was to be found in my water bottle (which he likes to carry around with him) or running from the faucet (which he likes to run his fingers under).  Anywhere water is to be found, you can probably find C nearby.

Thus the problem of the water bowl.  I don’t mind him carrying my water bottle around like his own personal canteen, but I definitely have a problem with C using the dogs’ water bowls as his own personal wading pool.  Or should I say, splash pool?

C not only enjoys placing his little hands in the water, pushing around the bottom of the bowl, he recently discovered the joys of splashing.  He slaps a chubby palm on to the top of the water and receives a satisfying “SPLAT” and a squirt of water in return.  It’s the perfect entertainment….for him….The dogs are less than thrilled with the situation.

The main problem, aside from the fact that C is putting his dirty hands into the dogs’ clean drinking water (or should I be worried that the dogs’ bowl is dirtying his hands?  I’m not sure which is worse, so I’m upset at both options), is that C is particularly drawn to the bowls when the dogs happen to be drinking out of them.

Poor Penny and Dodger will be bending over to take a peaceful drink of cool clean water, unsuspecting of any small boys lurking behind them, when WHAM! C slams a hand into the water and the dog gets a face full.  The pitifully wet dog starts backward, shocked at this event (despite the fact it’s a regular occurence).  C happily plops down next to the bowl, splishing and splashing.

If the affronted dog dares to come back for a drink after C has commandeered the bowl, C has no problem physically pushing their face away from the water’s surface.  The dogs then look at me in what I interpret to be disbelief, as if to say “Mooooom! He won’t let us drink out of OUR bowl.  What are you going to do about it?” (imagine that in the whiny voice of a put-upon older sibling).

So why don’t I stop C from doing this?  Surely it’s not hygienic?!?

It probably isn’t and I do try to stop him.  C has learned I mean no when I tell him not to play with Daddy’s electronics or not to eat dirt, but for whatever reason, no matter how many times I say “No. No, C. No!  Stop!! C!!! NO!!!!” it makes no difference.  And as he’s too young for time-outs and I’m not going to spank, I’m at a loss as to what to do.  Generally each episode ends with me physically lifting him away from the dog bowl, shaking his wet arms like the dog he longs to be.  I think patience is my only recourse.  Now if only I could teach the dogs patience, or maybe how to splash C back!

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Tasty Experiments

So far today Baby C has attempted to eat dog food, flower petals, and paper. Yum!

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Occasionally Baby C will let me sing him to sleep and each time I am mentally grasping at songs I know the full lyrics to, suitable for children’s ears, to sing him to sleep with.

There are not a ton of songs that fit this description.

I typically end up singing him a fair number from the Beatles catalog, with some show tunes and folks songs thrown in there.

Here was the playlist (from my lips) tonight:

1. Blackbird, by the Beatles. Sung twice, with neither verse sung 100% correct, but at least I knew most of the words and it has a slow, soulful melody.

2. Yesterday, by the Beatles. I tend to sing this in “rounds”, that is I just keep going round and round from beginning to end, from end to beginning.  It works well, as C tends to quite down and slowly drift off (I know how he feels, loving this song myself).

3. Hey Jude, by the Beatles.  This is where I began grasping at straws.  I know approximately 75% of this song by heart.  I know all the words, but I always get confused about lyric construction, as it tends to go back and forth between verse and refrain at odd intervals.  When the music is on though, I can sing along.  When it’s in my head, it’s a little jumbled.

4. Edelweiss, sung by Capt. Von Trap in The Sound of Music. Now this may seem like an odd choice, but after my fumblings with the last song, I needed to follow it up with something strong.  I have known this song by heart since I was 10, making it easy for me to pluck the lyrics and music from my memory.  Plus, I can almost hear the harmony in my head when I sing it, making it an ideal lullaby with its soothing tones.

5. Tuppence a Bag, sung by Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins. Ok, so I lost it a little on this one, but I think my mind was going with the whole “show tunes” theme.  I really only know about half of the words to this song.  It was not my strongest performance.

6. Something, by the Beatles. After the failure of the last song, I needed to return to my strengths.  C was asleep by this point, but to be certain, I wanted to add one more song so I could assure myself he was soundly under.  I don’t know why I didn’t just stick with the Beatles the whole time.  Though the refrain for Something is a bit fast, it’s easy to slow the tempo down while singing.  It actually makes a rather lovely lullaby.

Here are some other songs I’ve either used as lullabies or think would make good lullaby tunes:

Here, There, and Everywhere (Beatles)

Here Comes the Sun (Beatles)

She’s Always a Woman to Me (Billy Joel)

Morning Has Broken (Cat Stevens)

Bubble Toes (Jack Johnson)

Waiting for my Real Life to Begin (Colin Hay)

Inaudible Melodies (Jack Johnson)

Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Cousin Iz-at least that’s who singing in my head)

America (Simon and Garfunkel)

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