Category Archives: Baby Genius

a little water, a little sunshine

Today, we taught our son to run through the sprinklers. It was likely an expensive lesson given the cost of water in our city, but it was well worth it. Our whole family was soaked to the skin from running through the spray.  At one point, our son cheered my wife and I on from the patio, shouting “Run! Run! Run! Run!” as we ran through them ourselves.

We are having a lot of moments like these in our new place. We have routines. Every day, BG needs to check on the lawnmower in the shed. He touches it and either pulls his little plastic mower out or puts it back in. He washes rocks in a cool little water table my mom got him, and he has a whole system that I can’t even pretend to understand. We check on our little crop of heirloom tomatoes, which just now are starting to grow their fruit. BG will ask for “one pea,” so we give him a pea or two or three off of our sugar pea plants. He inevitably tries to feed us his partially masticated pieces in exchange for a fresh new one.

And so it seems the Reproducing Genius family is finding its way in this new place of ours. Our son is thriving. He said his first whole sentence a few days ago at a home improvement store. He touched a lawn mower (yes, an obsession), and J said, “You did it! You touched it!” and BG’s reply was, “Yes, I did touch it!” He kills me with his desire to say everything. He says “Cuisinart” and “dangerous.” He loves words, and we love his words.

My wife is also spending some quality time with BG at swim lessons where he is becoming more comfortable with the water and his goofball teacher who likes to randomly dunk unsuspecting children in the water. I love that they have this for themselves. He is always eager to tell me the tales of swim class when he comes home. I love seeing them off together, having an hour and a half to myself, and then seeing them come  home, hungry and tired from the pool, ready for hugs.

And the best thing that is happening, the very best, are these hug/kiss fests initiated by our son. If he sees my wife and I hugging, he’ll come up to us, reach up his arms, and say, “Big hug, Mama! Big hug, Mommy!” so we pick him up and hug him between us. He pushes our faces together to make us kiss, then he wants kisses too. It’s this beautiful moment we share every day in some unexpected moment that fills us all to the top with love. I can’t imagine ever feeling better.

Life isn’t all sunshine here. We’re lonely for friends and community, and we know it’s time to get out there and find all of that. I’ve got to do something to find more of myself again too–the scholarly me, the doula me, the wife me. But we’re getting there. We will get there, now that we have this place to thrive.

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Filed under Baby Genius, family

not so surprising

We have decided to move again. I have never in my life lived somewhere for such a short amount of time, but as you all know, this has been a few weeks coming.

Now that the moving stress has worn off and J and I have had the opportunity to settle in a bit, explore our neighborhood, and most importantly, spend some time in our lovely new town, we both agreed that this is the very sort of place we want to live. We love the town so much. We love the neighborhood. We want to see BG grow up here. We don’t, however, want to spend exorbitant amounts of money improving someone else’s property when what we really want is our own home.

The idea of buying a home is central to the American dream, but for years, we have wanted none of it. We considered ourselves nomads. We never really knew where we would end up, and we didn’t want to be tied down somewhere if it wasn’t where we planned to stay. This is why we never entertained the idea of buying a house in Humboldt, even though the prices would have been more our speed.

But here, both of us are dreaming for the first time of seriously putting down roots, and with that comes buying a place. We have a long way to go before we get there. We’re probably looking at a few years of saving, planning, trying to make our work in academia somehow more stable while pursuing our other goals at the same time. But we want it, and both of us have admitted it to the other at the same time.

What does that have to do with our current living situation? Well, we know that we’re going to have to put in at least a thousand dollars to make this place livable, and that sort of makes us sick. We don’t want to put the work in here. We don’t want to improve this jerk-of-a-landlord’s property value when she’s not willing to spend a penny on it herself. So we’re going to find a place as soon as we can–probably some kind of townhouse in a complex in town. We just sold our second car, so it would be convenient to be able to walk everywhere, but it would also give us the opportunity to save a little while having someone else take care of issues like lawns and such. It has to be somewhere with a little yard, which is going to be challenging to find but not impossible. It has to be safe, and it has to be free of rodents and pot smoke and mold, and it needs to be suitable for a couple of years. The great thing about this area is that the country is no more than a mile away regardless of the direction you drive, so we won’t be far from peace or even lots of apple trees. They just won’t likely be ours–for now.

It is rather anxiety-inducing to think about moving again so soon, but we plan to move when J finishes up the semester, and my mom will be able to help us with BG, and everything will be rosy and positive and a step forward. Hell, moving back to our old place (which is NOT something we’re going to do) would be a step up from here. But we’re taking wobbly little toddler steps (thanks, Strawberry) toward our dream, and that’s starting to feel good. I already feel a bit lighter.

In fact, we packed a few boxes today. That’s how serious we are. Holy hell, I can’t believe we’re going to pack again.

In other more escapist news, it’s been since before BG was born that we have taken a proper vacation. We had planned to do a Yosemite trip, but to do what we wanted to do, we needed to have planned our trip a year ago. Therefore, we’re going to San Diego at the end of May–maybe spend some time at the beach, hit up some children’s museums, venture through the zoo, and more. I cannot begin to tell you how delightful this feels to be planning such a trip. Anyone have any suggestions for must-see stops there? We’ve both been there but only for brief stops and never to spend any time, so we’re very excited for the upcoming respite and some adventure with our boy genius.

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Filed under Baby Genius, moving, new beginnings, vacation

no tail

We have generally had a well-behaved Baby Genius, despite some occasional minor tantrums and a general getting into things. He is a good boy, or “goy!” if you ask him, and we like that about him. Part of that is probably simply that we’re pretty laid back about what he can play with so long as he can’t hurt himself or anyone else.

Unfortunately, that hurting of others has become a problem lately. BG loves our cats so much that he can hardly contain himself when they are around. If one of them is up on the sofa, he’ll come along and lay his head on the cat, saying, “Awwwww! Awwwww!” While we have been working on the finer art of petting for some time, he still just sort of places his hands on the cats and pushes. It looks like his variation on rolfing–something that might be therapeutic but not exactly soothing or comfortable. And when this is all he does, everyone is fine. The cats tolerate him. Our old lady cat, Cleo, even purrs and loves him back.

But sometimes our son gets overstimulated with the cats. Sometimes, he gets so excited about them, that he can’t help but grab onto their tails with both hands and pull with all his might. Typically, this happens when the mom watching him is out of the room, and we hear a cat under extreme duress.

These episodes have resulted in BG’s very first time outs. They just haven’t been necessary until now, but now we’re putting him in time-out sometimes three or four times a day. Of course, these moments are appropriately brief. We place him in his crib in his room, repeat “No tail, BG! No tail!” and then close the door to his room. Sometimes he cries his way through the time-out, and sometimes he stands in his crib and giggles or babbles the entire time.

When we go back in to retrieve him after a minute or two, though, we always ask, “BG, why are you here?” He looks up at us with his big blue eyes, and requests, “Up!” So we ask again, “Why are you here? Why did Mommy/Mama put you here?” And usually after three or four times, he replies, “Tail.”

So he knows why he’s there, and I honestly think he even understands that what he is doing is wrong (I mostly think this because he has been known to go pull a tail in retaliation for not getting something he wanted). But he keeps doing it. The cats have gotten to a point now that they are fairly scared of him and run when they see him coming. Maybe this is best. Maybe it’s best that he has no contact with them at all for awhile until he can control this crazed urge to pull, pull, pull. I don’t know, and J and I are at a bit of a loss. We want the gentle, sweet, loving side of our son to prevail, and to see this side emerge is admittedly a little scary. Is it paranoid that I wonder if this is pre-serial killer behavior?

Worries aside, we have to get him to stop, so once again, readers, I ask for your infinite wisdom. What would you do/have you done about kids pulling tails? How do we get him to stop–short of wrapping the cats’ tails in barbed wire?

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Filed under advice, Baby Genius, behavior

night weaning update

Well, we’re past the worst of it, I suppose. It really was only two or three nights that the boy screamed when he wanted to nurse, and then he just started sleeping more, which is really good. When he wakes up, it’s usually around 11:30, and he lets me snuggle him back to sleep. Unfortunately, he only allows this to happen in our bed and not his, which means sleeping with him all. night. long. He then reawakens at 5am. Every morning. He’ll snuggle, and then point at the light. He’ll sit up, ask to nurse, and then lie back down again. Then the whole process starts over again until he finds some sharp object to play with and inevitably pokes me in the eye. But even then, he’ll periodically point at the light, say, “Ka!” which for some reason is his word for “light,” and ask again to nurse.

You see, we told him that he could nurse when the lights came on. He caught on very quickly (like the second day of this), and as soon as the lights would come on in the morning–at 6am–he would get so excited, smile broadly, and shout, “NA-NA!” as though my boobs had just walked into Cheers.

So while he isn’t crying, screaming, or otherwise freaking out about na-na being gone at night, he is expecting morning to come a bit earlier. Before all of this, he would start nursing at about 5am and would do this marathon thing while we kept sleeping. Now, it’s this struggle to get him to lie back down, snuggle with me, and go back to sleep. So far, it’s not happening, so we play this game until 6:00 when we turn on the lights, and NA-NA! arrives once again.

One morning,  I caught him at 4:30am trying to turn on the light. This boy thinks he’s found a loophole.

Some friends of ours who went through this almost a year ago say that this is what happened with their daughter at first–that she kept waking up at her normal nursing times even after she night-weaned, and that eventually she slept straight through. Someone out there, please tell me that eventually this boy is really going to sleep. I cannot subsist on five or six hours of sleep every night (and my work keeps me up until at least 11 most nights, or believe me, I would be in bed earlier).

Our next step will be bed weaning and getting the boy first to sleep all night in his portacrib in our room and eventually (probably after we move due to current neighbor noise problems) in his crib in his own room.

It’s exhausting this sensitive sleep training, but it is worth it, and it is working. He’s taking much longer naps most days (before, he never slept more than 40 minutes at a time; now he’s taking sometimes 90 minute naps all on his own and in his own bed), sleeping longer stretches at night, and when he does sleep well, he’s a lot happier and more even tempered. But somehow, I’m getting far less sleep than before (I became really good at sleeping while nursing, even during those all night nurse-a-thons), and I’m really ready for my kid to sleep and sleep and sleep when I am also sleeping. One day, right?

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Filed under Baby Genius, sleep

the monster’s mom

On Tuesday, I took my son to storytime at the library. We haven’t been in awhile, and since J has started teaching again, we’ve got long mornings to fill with activities. We’re also dealing with transitioning to one nap still, so BG was tired when it came time to go to storytime, but we made it a little late, and as usual, he enjoyed the songs and seeing all of the kids.

I don’t know if I’ve talked much about this storytime, though. It’s in our present town where there are lots of a certain type of mom. For them, storytime is an opportunity to put their babies/toddlers in their boutique baby wear, to show off their own latest $500 jeans, and to chat loudly while their kids run wildly around the storytime room (or rest in their identical Bjorns).

BG was excited to go toddle around the library, and I was glad to have the opportunity to let him do so. The kids’ area in our library is nice and big, complete with big soft blocks to play with. I hate the things (how can they sanitize these?), but BG loves them. When we made our way to the kids’ area, BG spotted a little girl on the floor, and immediately walked over to her and hugged her. He didn’t know her, and she looked up at him like, “Hey little Dude! You move a little fast for me!” Her dad, fortunately, did not find my son threatening, and he even laughed at his smooth moves.

We continued our toddling, and BG interacted with another little boy his age playing with the blocks. BG, tidy as ever, insisted on helping the boy put them away (little boy wasn’t interested in this). I quickly identified with the mom because she kept telling her son to be gentle. She was nervous about his erratic behavior and kept apologizing to me saying, “We’re working on being gentle.” I reassured her that we had the same issues, that it was hard for them to learn gentleness when they’re just so excited about things. It was a nice encounter, and I wish I would have spoken with her longer because she wasn’t one of the traditional moms there. Unfortunately, BG took off, and I had to chase him, so our conversation didn’t go any further.

A few minutes later, we made our way back to the kids’ area and those dreaded blocks. By now, a little girl–probably around two and a half–was playing with them and making stacks. As far as she was concerned, the blocks were hers, so when BG came and took one, she yelled at him, “No, Baby!”  He just saw that they weren’t in their bin, and he wanted to put them away, but each time he grabbed one, this little girl told him, “No!” and then tried to grab them from him. I kept trying to redirect him, but he was fixated, and in a split second, BG was grabbing for the little girl’s hair. He hadn’t yet managed to pull before I released his hands and pulled him out of the way. The little girl was fine, although she was annoyed that he had gotten into her space. Still, there were no tears, no sounds of protest, no sad or hurt face on her part. She was fine and about to busy herself with her blocks again. Honestly. I was telling BG that we don’t grab hair when the little girl’s mother, who was ten feet away or so chatting with her friend overheard me, ran over, picked up her daughter, sat down, and started rocking her and glaring at me, as she stroked her daughter’s head. I told her, “He grabbed her hair, but he didn’t pull. I was sitting here. She’s okay. Sorry about that, though!” She glared and glared at me, then looked at BG as though he were some rabid dog who attacked her child, and curled herself around her daughter (who again was fine, not crying, not whining–probably just feeling confused at her mother’s unusual attention), and rocked and rocked. Her friend also swooped in, and as she did, I picked up BG and told him we had to leave. The friend, who was bedecked in her own ridiculously expensive attire, gave me that fake grin that these women give, and out of her mouth dripping with venom came the words, “It’s okay. We understand.” But as I walked away, they were sitting there, “comforting” the child who was still fine and struggling to get back to her blocks, whispering to each other, and glaring at me and BG.

Oh this sucked. I got BG into his stroller, and walked out of the library as quickly as I could. I put on my sunglasses, made my way onto the sidewalk, and I burst into tears. I cried all the way home. I cried when my wife called to check in on us. Suddenly, I have become the mom of the monster child who hurts other children.

And yet, my son is the biggest lovebug ever, as evidenced by his need to hug the little girl he saw. He generally attempts to hug all new children he sees because he is so very affectionate. Unfortunately, he is also very tactile, and he has had this tendency to either grab or pull hair for a long time. Typically, my wife and I are his victims, and we have tried so many strategies to get him to stop. We have such a peaceful household, and we never play with hair pulling or biting either. We have tried various means of reprimanding, time-outs, separation, and more, but the fact remains that he is an id-driven 17-month-old who doesn’t quite understand that these actions hurt people and that this is something he should care about enough to discontinue his actions.

I just have this fear, especially after reading and hearing other people talk about their opinions of the kids who bite/pull hair and the parents of those kids that we’re going to end up loner parents, that even in our new community, we’ll never find people who want to be a part of our lives because our kid will have a reputation and because somehow that reflects on our parenting or our values or who we are. Like somehow we are biters and hair-pullers, and we’re just breeding more. I wish there was more support in our culture between parents, that instead of blaming and competing with each other, we would work together to find solutions for this very normal behavior. Because in all of my years around kids, I have learned that this is in the range of normal, that most children do indeed outgrow it, and that it just takes time and patience and persistence on everyone’s part.

So what would you do in a situation like this (beyond apologizing)? If you have a child who pulls hair, how do you work with that child to discourage the behavior?

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Filed under Baby Genius, parenting

night weaning: night six

As with everything having to do with sleep and BG, this hasn’t been as cut-and-dry as we thought it might be. After a few nights sleeping with just J, BG was sometimes sleeping longer stretches and was certainly not asking to nurse as much. In fact, he was startling to settle himself to sleep much more. Then he hurt himself pretty badly one day by falling with a toothbrush in his mouth (we are still beating ourselves up about this), so J and I decided that night weaning was on hold and that I would sleep with him and do what it took to keep him comfortable. Fortunately, he did not have an all-night nurse-a-thon, and in fact slept pretty well. The next night, J tried to take over again, and he simply refused to sleep after his first wake-up at 1:00am or so. This is unusual for him because despite his many wake-ups, BG has always been good about going back to sleep fairly easily and quickly.

We decided after that that a change was in order, especially because J had to go back to teaching today. This meant that last night, I was going to sleep with BG, and from the time he went down to around 6am, I was not going to nurse him at all. It had become clear from the previous couple of nights that even though the boy was sleeping longer, he still knew he could ask for “na-na” when he woke up. Last night, he could ask, but I had to tell him no.

Oh, did it suck to say no.

The first time he woke up, he asked to nurse and tugged at my shirt. When I held my shirt down, he started crying, but he would try again and again. After he calmed down a little and wanted to try to fall asleep again, he tried asking again, and I reminded him that na-na was for daytime that nighttime was for sleep. He replied, “Oh, nooooooo…” and melted into positively devastated tears. Eventually, J popped in, and he calmed for her a bit, and then I walked and walked and walked him to sleep.

Two hours later, he was awake again, asking for na-na, but this time he got mad and started pulling my hair. It took an eternity to get him back to sleep walking and swaying with him, but he finally did fall back to sleep only to wake up the moment I tried to put him down. We did this for an hour until 6:00 rolled around and J and I both decided it was enough, that we would turn the lights on, declare it daytime, and move out to the living room to nurse.

Today, he has nursed every five minutes it seems, just to make sure he still has access. I fear tonight will be another hard one. Every time I’ve read or heard others tell their stories of night weaning, however, it seems that after a few nights, they get it, so I’m hoping my son doesn’t take long. I don’t know how long we can all stand this. At least tonight my wife will have ear plugs to help her sleep.

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Filed under Baby Genius, sleep

bg is mobile

BG has been working hard to build his confidence to walk for some time now. For Christmas, his grandparents gifted him a push toy that has helped him realize that he can, in fact, walk. With the help of that, he has been practicing more and more, and has even taken steps between J and I from time to time. But this week, on Wednesday, he figured out how to stand up on his own without holding onto anything. And then he start walking across the room. Over the last several days, he has begun walking from one room to another, and while he still drops back down to crawl when he wants to quickly get somewhere, more often than not, he walks when he wants to move, and he does so with the most adorable smile on his face. Needless to say, we’re endlessly proud, and a little scared too. It’s weird to see this boy walking, to see him cover so much ground so quickly!

Below is evidence of his newfound mobility, but I think this deserves some setup. You see, BG loves to help with laundry, so what you will see is BG returning from his bedroom to the living room where I had just finished stuffing and folding his diapers. He likes to take his diapers to his room one at a time. As he walks back in the room, he is saying “More. More. More,” because clearly he is ready for the next diaper. Yes, we know how fortunate we are that our seventeen-month-old does chores.

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Filed under Baby Genius, milestones