Busy, Busy, Busy
Theron walks in his
Theron is now fourteen months
old. (That's one year and two months, if you count like
a non-parent.) He walks - actually, he usually runs -
climbs, and plays with mad abandon. I swear he's grown
another three inches within the last week. He's shown a
few other developments, but I'll cover those a little
further down because they're related to the events of
the last two months. It's been fairly busy, and
unfortunately I haven't managed to update these pages
while all these things were going on.
Showing off for the family
In June, we went to a family reunion in Charleston,
South Carolina. This is a wonderfully scenic city, and
we had a good time wandering around when we weren't
actually visiting people (which was also very
enjoyable). The combination of Theron's current bedtime
and the change in time zones meant that he could stay
awake long enough for us to do evening activities
without throwing off his sleep schedule. So, he got to
meet a whole bunch of extended family. He won't remember
them, of course, but that's hardly the point. The point
was we got to wave the baby at people who made
appreciative noises about him. No, wait... That's not
it. The point is that we got a lot of free food. No...
that's not it either. In that case... the point
is that the rest of the family finally got to meet the
youngest member. Yeah. That must be it.
The joys of traveling with a
baby are manifold. First, having a baby means hauling
more stuff. Once you've checked your luggage, you get to
stand in line for security while holding a wiggly
toddler. (Airport security does not make me feel
any safer, by the way; any sensible terrorist can see
that you'd kill way more people by blowing
up the security checkpoint than you would by bringing
down a plane - and that's assuming the terrorist was
stupid enough to target airports at all. There's plenty
of equally vulnerable infrastructure that's even less
well protected.) So, once you've handed over your
liquids, taken off your shoes, removed your laptop from
its case, sent everything through the scanner*, and
walked through the metal detector while holding your
baby in one hand and your boarding pass in the other,
you get to your gate. That's where the real fun begins:
you get to watch the expressions of dawning horror as
your fellow passengers realize that you're bringing a
baby onto the plane.
Fortunately, Theron actually flies pretty well (though
his arms get awfully tired). He stayed quiet, and even
slept a little. He did not scream, and he did not run up
and down the aisle. When we got off the plane, people
Theron practices the deadly
Dim Mak, using only his forehead.
We brought both the baby leash
and the baby backpack, which kept Theron fairly
manageable. The only problem with this arrangement came
when Theron missed his afternoon nap (which was entirely
our fault) and fell asleep on my back. Even that
wouldn't have been a problem, but he fell asleep with
his head slumped forward, placing his forehead directly
against my spine, at a point about halfway up my neck.
I'm pretty sure that that's one of the Dim Mak pressure
points - the ones that ninjas use to kill with a touch.
That made for a rather uncomfortable walk back,
especially since I was trying not to wake
We were staying a sort of
apartment downtown, above an extremely good barbecue
place. The elevator was small, dark, and unbelievably
slow. It took a full three minutes to go from the ground
floor entry to our hallway on the third floor. This, of
course, bothered Theron not at all; he had a good time
trying to reach for the lights.
He also made his first attempt
at negotiating stairs on this trip. Naturally, he chose
a nice, solid set of concrete steps to practice on, but
he managed not to injure himself. (In the months since,
he's improved his skill dramatically.) Note to any
children reading this: if you want to panic your
parents, learning to climb on concrete is as good a
method as any.
One of my uncles described
Theron as "the perfect baby," so overall I'd have to
classify this trip as a success.
Theron gets a buddy
In July, one of our old college friends came to stay
with us, bringing her husband and son with her. They
were taking a vacation, and used our house as a base of
operations while they visited people in Dallas. This
made for a bit of crowding - we don't really have a
guest bedroom - but overall it worked surprisingly well.
In the interests of privacy, we'll refer to them as P
(our friend) and D (her husband).
Their son Luke is a couple of
months older than Theron, and very blond. He is taller
than Theron, but (I think) about the same weight. They
made a very good match in terms of interests and
mobility, and I was extremely pleased that
they didn't have any trouble sharing toys.
Shortly after they arrived,
Luke went to explore our house. He checked out the
kitchen, then went up the hallway to the library. He was
deeply annoyed to find that we had a baby
gate across the library door, and expressed his
displeasure with a little wail of anger and distress.
This prompted Theron to go toddling up the back hallway,
stick his arms out, and try to give Luke a hug. Luke put
his arm out to stop him, and they spent a couple of
seconds shuffling around in a little baby dance: Theron
with his arms still extended for a hug, Luke
stiff-arming Theron's chest to keep him away. I wish I'd
had the camera handy; it was quite possibly the cutest
thing I have ever seen.
Luke used sign language to ask
for things. I had heard that people were doing this -
teaching their young children sign language - but I'd
been pretty dubious about it. What's the point of
teaching a baby something that I don't understand
myself? It turns out (as usual) that I only had half the
story. The object isn't to teach children ASL, it's to
teach them a handful of simple signs that allow them to
communicate until they figure out how to talk.
Basically, it's a way of reducing the child's
I-can't-talk-yet frustration, and is therefore supposed
to cut down on temper tantrums.
Luke appeared to get the most
mileage out of the sign for "more," which he used to ask
for more crackers. (Luke had an extreme Ritz Cracker
fetish.) A few days after he left, we found Theron
making the same sign in order to ask for a cracker. So,
we're now working on signs. He can do "more," "food,"
"water," and "milk." My beautiful wife's attempts to get
him to use "please" have been a complete failure, but
then "please" is a somewhat more abstract concept.
I'm not sure that Theron
actually noticed when Luke left. His long
term memory is getting better, but it still isn't that
good. While P & D were here, though, he had a good time
running around with Luke. When one of them cried
(usually because he didn't want a nap, and
why couldn't we see that he didn't need one!?) the other
would go check on him.
Things That Man Was Not
Meant To Know
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (if you'll pardon the
digression) is considered one of the seminal writers in
the modern Horror genre. One of his main contributions
was the concept of beings so alien that just knowing
about them could make you crazy. Actually seeing them
could not only damage your sanity, it might destroy your
As a parent, I consider myself
comfortably immune to such dangers. Having a baby means
being exposed to all manner of soul-destroying
experiences. Just keeping the baby clean requires you to
sacrifice any sense of dignity, cleanliness, and propriety. If any Lovecraftian monsters stop by
our house, they're in for a disappointment: there's
nothing left for them to do to me. The baby has left me
completely desensitized. I have no sanity left to
...Or so I thought.
One of the difficulties of
having two toddlers in the same house (especially when
one of them is visiting from a different time-zone) is
that the bedtime rituals tend to bump into each other.
Bathing is significant part of putting Theron to bed,
and it turns out that this is true for Luke as well.
Rather than trying to do two baths in a row (and
probably running out of hot water in the process), we
bathed them both together. The Beautiful Woman took the
first night, and I took the second***.
It is impossible to clean a
baby without touching... pretty much everything,
including the private bits. I thought I was resigned to
this. So I shampooed Theron's hair, and then Luke's. I
poured soap on Theron and cleaned everything that needed
cleaning. Then I did the same to Luke.
And then I got a rampant case
of the heeby-jeebies.
This is totally
irrational. I was wearing a bathing suit, I was sitting in
the bathtub with the two boys, and P (Luke's mother) was
sitting next to bathtub, watching. Neither of the boys
was at all disturbed. The situation was perfectly
innocuous. I clean Theron's bits all the time. Heck, I
clean myself with great regularity.
Logically, there was nothing wrong about it at all;
quite the opposite.
And yet, that didn't keep me from spending the next half
an hour huddled in the closet with a blanket wrapped
around my shoulders, clutching a bottle of rum and
shivering, all because I'd touched a toddler's... bits.
Feh. Anybody who thinks that human beings are
fundamentally rational... is clearly delusional.
Theron and Luke:
(Click for larger images)
The Evil spreads...
Shortly after our guests left, all three of us came down
with a particularly nasty head-cold. I'm not sure if
they brought it into town with them (something awfully
similar was going around my work at the same time), or
whether the timing was coincidental. It probably doesn't
matter. What did matter is that just at the moment when
we needed to be cleaning up and rearranging things, we
were almost too sick to move.
Having one of us sick is a problem. Having all three of
us sick becomes a horrible, self-reinforcing cycle. It's
not that we pass the illness back and forth (though I
expect we will, eventually). The problem is that when
Theron gets sick, he can't sleep. When Theron can't
sleep, my wife can't sleep. When my wife can't sleep, I
don't get to sleep. And when nobody sleeps, nobody gets
This is why antibiotics are my friend. They may not have
helped with the virus, but they kept me from adding a
sinus infection to the mix.
Eventually, of course, we did recover, and now we're
pretty much back to our normal schedule.
So, we'll end with pictures of Theron being cute at the
kids' area of one of our local malls. As usual, click on
the thumbnails to see larger images.
* Important safety
tip: do not try to send the baby through the scanner;
for some reason, that freaks people out.
** No, I'm not kidding.
*** We bathe the baby by
sitting in the tub with him. I mention this mainly
because some people apparently don't do it this way.
It's the easiest way we've found, though, and Theron
really enjoys it.