Friday, January 27, 2006

Parenting Lessons I've Learned

Now that I have a few years of parenting under my belt, I feel that I've learned a number of things that I'm now prepared to pass on to you. Those of you without children, but thinking of obtaining some can use these nuggets to prepare yourself for the ordeal, er, journey ahead. Those of you with children can hang your heads in shame because you know that you've done similar things but you're too afraid to share your knowledge. Be afraid no more!

Hand Lotion and Snow Globes Don't Mix
So there we were, the day before we were going to take Ben to a family party for his grand unveiling. Up until this time, Linda's parents were the only people in her family who had met Ben. Her parents were throwing a July 4th party in upstate NY for the family to meet Ben and my brother-in-law's soon to be wife and stepson. I'm against facial and head trauma on general principal, but even more so when you're meeting people for the first time. I've never had an introduction go well when one or more parties have gaping head wounds. Your experiences may vary.

So it's the day we're leaving and it's my turn to put Ben down for his nap. Given that it was a bath day, I decided to give him a bath before his nap, rather than before bed as we were flying up that day and I wanted him to be able to go right to bed that night should the traveling prove exhausting. As any good parent knows, you can't just bathe a child, you have to slather them with lotion, post-bath, lest you dry out their skin and they crumble into dust at the slightest breeze. This invariably makes your hands slippery for several hours. I once gave him a bath, put him down to bed and then used the bathroom, where I was trapped for 9 days because I couldn't open the doorknob. If this were a poorly made thriller, the camera would be lingering on my slippery hands for several shots, as if to tell you, the viewer, that something important was afoot.

Ben used to have this John Lennon Imagine snow globe in his nursery.
Note the faux rocky base, as this too will be important. It matched the decor of his room and played a soothing lullaby rendition of "Imagine" when wound up. The usual routine was to put Ben in his crib, wind up the snow globe so that he could see it, place the globe on the dresser and then leave the room. This morning, for reasons unknown to me, I decided to give him a closer look at the globe after I wound it up. He got a closer look all right, as after I showed it to him, I lifted it up about 6 inches to remove it from the crib, it slipped out of my lotion-y hands and promptly proceeded to nail him in the forehead, faux rock base first. Ben looked at me stunned for a second, as if to say "did you just drop a snow globe on my head?" and then proceeded to scream his head off as if to say "YOU JUST DROPPED A FUCKING SNOW GLOBE ON MY HEAD!!!"

Now, accidentally injuring your child is bad enough, but showing said injury to the child's mother is about a million times worse. This is especially true if a) the child has never had anything of real size dropped on their head b) the child is going to be unveiled to a significant portion of the family soon and c) whatever fell on the child's head appeared to have left a permanent indentation in said child's skull in the form of faux rock. Linda was not pleased. Ben was not pleased. By extension, I was not pleased, especially at the notion of telling multiple family members that the reason my son's forehead has been cleft in twain is because I dropped an ornamental music piece on his head. Doubly so because this was my wife's family, and relations between them and I had been rocky in the past so bludgeoning the only grandchild would not endear me to them. After checking to make sure he didn't have a concussion, we iced and treated the wound and put him to bed. The rest of the day went by without incident. The trip was successful and when I told people what happened, they looked at me as if to say that by this time they expected me to have sold the baby for cd money, so this was a minor infraction. There was no permanent scarring, but to this day, when we play "Imagine", Ben drops to his knees and clutches his forehead.

Bath Time Is Not Fun Time When Blood Is Involved
If it's not apparent yet that I really have no business raising, caring for, or even being left alone, for even a minute, with children, allow me to spin another tale. Abby absolutely hates to have her face wiped, washed, or in any way subjected to moisture. Even the slightest wind on her face makes her scrunch up her features as if someone had just dropped a snow globe on it. Prior to a week or so ago, this behavior did not extend to the bath, which was odd, because water is one of the defining characteristic of a bath. We've tried bathing them in tubs of dirt and that seemed counterproductive.

Last week, as Linda was giving Abby a bath, I heard screaming from the bathroom the likes of which one would attribute to a child being savaged by wolverines. I checked the wolverine pen and they all were accounted for, even crazy ol' Zeke who likes to try and gnaw through the cage as he hungrily eyes your tasty neck flesh. Oh Zeke, you're a hoot. Anyways, after the bath I asked Linda what forest creature came and devoured the baby and she told me that a little water got on Abby's face and as a result she cried to the point where her head popped off and rolled around the bathroom floor like a little purple turnip. Being the attentive father that I am, I filed this info for future baths.

Fast forward a couple of days and it's my turn to give Abby a bath. Things are going smoothly enough, and I've been able to keep water off of her face by letting her play with a hair dryer as she splashes around. What? Oh, right. Don't worry, I put it on the "Cold" setting. Anyway, as I'm cleaning her, a single drop of water leaped angrily from the washcloth and proceeded to speed through her hair, over the crest of her skull and land on her face. Fearing that this was but a precursor to a Niagara Falls type deluge, she proceeded to scream. Loudly.

Now, I'm usually one to let my kids cry it out, because as children, they spend 95% of their time crying about something and frankly I can't be bothered to deal with ministrating to their various concerns. I paid for them to get here, I'm paying for them to go to college, the in between is mostly up to them. But, this being a bathtub, and she being a small squirmy baby, I figured that I should make some small effort to calm her down. This is when I always get into trouble.

I grabbed this plastic swimming dog thing to make it dance around and splash in the water to mollify her. I moved the dog forward, looking away for a second to pick up the washcloth, she moved her head forward at considerable speed and dog met baby skull with a force slightly more than what I would have intended. This time there was no pause before the screaming, but I think it's because she was screaming already. She did bring her volume level up to a point I've never heard before. I can assure you that her lungs and vocal cords work just fine. I quickly finished the bath and got her out of there, where she promptly calmed down and played with a brush, none the worse for wear except for three somewhat noticeable scratches on her forehead.

Again, the worst part about the ordeal was presenting the injured child to her mother. Why this woman stays married to me I have no idea. Guys, head trauma is not something your spouse will "get used to" so don't think that she'll just brush off the second busted baby skull as the same old, same old. I think she was actually more upset this time because Abby is a girl and Linda has to give Abby a bath next, so you know, good luck with that one. The next day I had to explain to the daycare coordinator what happened. Strangely enough, she looked quite concerned with my fitness as a parent until I told her about how I caved in my son's skull with a snow globe, then it seemed as if she thought that head trauma was just a parenting tool we utilized, like family beds or time outs. "Oh, the Cackowski-Schnell's? Yes, they hit their children about the head and neck. It works wonders!"

Thankfully the baby doesn't seem to have suffered any ill effects, which is important as she's walking now and we want her to be able to retain her balance. Thank the gods we're not having any more children. At this rate, I'd have to figure out how to drop a refridgerator on the third on.


Asphyxiate said...

This might be your best post yet. I was actually laughing out loud in points. Not that, er, you're not usually witty and /or a good parent. Or maybe I'm just cold but damn, injuring babies is funny to me because I think I can imagine the look in Linda's face as you had to admit to the SECOND mishap! Tee he ehee.

suburbanjoe said...

Certainly not my finest moment. I really considered trying to hide it, but I think Linda would question why the baby was wearing a burlap sack on her head.

Bones said...

Oh man I've been there. My son will be two next month and it's a miracle that he's made it that far. Under my flawless surveilance, he's suffered bumps, bruises, held his breath until he damn near passed out, and when he was only a couple of months old he managed to scratch himself right under his eye. Imagine the terror of hearing your infant screaming only to run into the room and find what appears to be tears of blood streaming from his eye. It wasn't until I saw the cut that I was convinced that my son wasn't suffering from stigmata.

Kojubat said...

Been there, conked that. ;)

Watching that video, how many alcoholic beverages did she have before the 'week after' portion?