The Somnambulistic Son

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The silence in the room was broken as a cry drifted down the stairs. Joe, an unassuming man who is convinced that Murphy’s Law applies to his everyday life, turned to look at Sarah.

As a stay-at-home mom, Sarah has developed an expertise in all things baby. On more than one occasion, Joe has found himself wondering if Sarah has some type of supernatural connection with the baby. He’s attempted to rationalize these thoughts. He knows that Sarah’s hearing is better than his. But how can she be in the kitchen, chopping up food, with a fan turned on and music playing in the background and STILL know when Tyler wakes up? And let’s be honest, Joe. Doesn’t Tyler always seem to know when Sarah’s nearby, almost like he senses it? It’s a two-way bond, between mother and son, and you aren’t a member of that club, Joe.

Tyler is the seven month old product of the the young marriage between Sarah and Joe. If you were to see his smile, you would see the sproutings of three teeth, with two more, maybe three, on the way. Tyler is also the owner of the cry that has Joe sitting up and looking questioningly to Sarah.

Sarah was gazing upward, head cocked ever so slightly to the right. Joe was certain that she was focusing her auditory senses on the room above, but that small, nagging part of his head thought otherwise. She’s looking through the floor, Joe. She’s watching Tyler THROUGH the twelve inches of plaster, wiring, joists, sub-flooring and carpet. And matting, Joe. She’s also looking through the matting.

In the silence that followed the initial cry, she said, “Maybe he’ll go back to sleep.”

Joe relaxed and let out the breath he didn’t notice he was holding. Yes, maybe he would go back to sleep. It was eleven o’clock POST meridiem, after all.

The answer to that particular thought came down the stairs in a more forceful tone than the cry that first interrupted the quiet evening. With a sigh, Joe stood up, walked to the stairs, and started up the fourteen steps to Tyler’s room, stepping over the three creaky ones. It was a habit he picked up shortly after Tyler was born. In the darkness of the second floor, he turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. They live in an old house that has settled over the years. Joe has combatted the non-levelness of the house by placing shims under one or more corners of the furniture. The door to Tyler’s room also falls victim to this non-level nature and will swing open without any external force. It stops only upon hitting the doorstop with a BANG……. BANg…. BAng… Bang.. bang bangbangbangbang, as it bounces off the stop with decreasing force each time it connects. Only a week ago did Joe have what he considers to be the brainstorm idea of placing one of Tyler’s stuffed toys against the doorstop. Now, the only sound from the door is a quiet “ffff”.

Tyler was in his crib, sitting, crying. Joe could just barely make out the shape of the pacifier in the darkness. It was laying on the floor, about a foot or so from the crib.

“Big surprise”, Joe said under his breath as he bent to pick it up. He mused on whether this small piece of plastic and silicone was the source or the cure for the Tyler storms that have a tendency to materialize seemingly out of nothingness.

“Here you go, buddy. Shh shh shh shhhh. Let’s go back to our night nights.” More times than not, night nights comes out as “nigh nighs”, and this was no exception.

With his eyes now adjusted to the darkness, Joe got a better look at Tyler and saw that, sitting in his crib and crying, his eyes were still closed. He asked in barely a whisper, “Are you still sleeping, TyTy?” In fact, the whisper was so faint that Joe would later wonder if he even said it aloud at all. He picked Tyler up an inch so he could lay him down again. Tyler’s eyes never opened. They never even fluttered. Convinced more than before that Tyler was indeed still asleep, Joe placed the pacifier in Tyler’s mouth. Instantly, Tyler fell still and silent.

Shutting the door and walking down the stairs, a swarm of thoughts flooded Joe’s head. Sarah looked at him, waiting for a status update, and although Joe was certain that she watched the entire scene unfold through the ceiling/floor combo that seperated the two rooms, he said “That boy is going to be a sleepwalker.”

The End

somnambulistic (som-nahm-byoo-lis-tic): a parasomnia or sleep disorder where the sufferer engages in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness while he or she is asleep or in a sleep-like state.

Six Months… Already?

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Tyler’s first faux-hawk

Tyler recently celebrated his half birthday. Upon being asked by any passers-by how old he is, Tyler can now say, “Zero and a half” with the air of excitement that kids have when they know they’ve crested the mountain, and are now barreling downhill towards cake and presents. His first birthday is still 6 months out, and Sarah is already making plans for it.

Tyler’s half birthday had me in awe of the fact that I’ve been a dad for 6 months. And then, I thought to myself, “already?”

It really feels like it’s only been a month. He’s already 6 months old. That’s way too close to 18 years old. I’m not ready for him to move out yet.

Is time going to continue to move this fast from here on out?

Tyler had his well-baby checkup last week. The nurse asked the typical questions about his diet and his poop. She asked if he’s been sick. We told her that he’s had two colds that he caught from his cousin. She followed up with a question that appeared to be more of an assumption and statement.

“And he was treated by Dr. Woods?”

I paused for a second, and found myself unable to answer. Who goes to the doctor for a cold? I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. It was a cold; a simple, let-it-run-its-course-because-there’s-no-other-course-of-action cold.

Me: “Uhh, yeah doc. Tyler has a cold. You know, a cough, sniffles, and mucous.”
Doc: “Okayyyy.”
Me: “So, what can you do about it?”
Doc: “Nothing. Leave your $25 copay with the receptionist.”

Sarah bailed me out and told her that we took care of it from home, by ourselves. I mentally appended her sentence with, “because we’re not completely brain dead.”

The appointment went well. Recently, I mistakenly told someone that Tyler is 25 pounds. He is, in fact, only 23 pounds. He measured at 72cm. He is still in the 95th to 97th percentile for height and weight (read: tall and heavy).

“Wow Tyler. That makes you,” I said, pausing for a moment, “28 and a quarter inches long.”

The nurse turned to look at me. She had a look of utter confusion on her face when she said “that’s right”. She didn’t see that I had just punched some numbers into the calculator function of my phone. Either that, or she didn’t expect me to know that there are 2.54cm/in. Maybe that isn’t common knowledge.

The doc commented on how adorable Tyler’s chubby thighs were. Then, she put a glove on and said, “ok, it’s time to count to two.”

Confused and intrigued, I leaned in a little closer to see what was going on. It makes sense to me in hindsight, but it never occurred to me that they would need to verify that Tyler has two testicles. I find myself hoping that Tyler develops a crush for her when he gets older, so I will have yet another bullet to fire at him from my “embarrassment gun”.

We did have one concern that we wanted to discuss with the doctor. Tyler, for the last couple months, has had some red bumps around his left eye. Some days, they’re more pronounced than others. After looking at them, doc said that Tyler has eczema. We followed her instructions of carefully applying hydrocortisone (1%) to the area, and keeping fragrance-free lotion on his face. It started looking much better within a couple hours. A few days later, it’s completely gone. Sarah and I cursed our collective ignorance. We had no idea it was that important to keep baby’s skin moist. I really hope it didn’t itch too much, or cause excessive discomfort to Tyler.

On an unrelated note, it appears that Sarah and I may have cursed Tyler with our sleeping habits. We cannot sleep on our backs. Sarah often sleeps on her side, and I on my belly.

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How or why Tyler felt the need to turn a 180, and put his head where his feet should be is beyond me.

The decisions that we make

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I love his faces
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I sometimes wonder if, when I started this little blog of mine, maybe I should have set it up a little more anonymously. Some of the blogs I frequent use letters to refer to their loved ones. Tyler would be T, Sarah would be Ess… You get the picture. I tend to be more along the lines of the full-disclosure type along with a couple of the other blogs I follow. There are any number of reasons why somebody would want to maintain a level of anonymity on the internet. You could have worries about the executives within your company knowing about your personal life. Maybe you work for the shadow government and are under constant surveillance. Maybe you’re delusional, and THINK you work for the shadow government and are under constant surveillance. The list goes on.

My reasons for thinking I should have gone the anonymous route are simple. I don’t want you to call Child Protective Services on me. I don’t want to be exiled from my small town. I don’t want to be ostracized by my friends or outcast from my family. But, in the spirit of full-disclosure, I’m going to tell this story anyway.

Tyler is a brat. Maybe “is” is the wrong term. A better one would be “can sometimes be”. Tyler can sometimes be a brat. He caught a cold last week. As a result, he cried a lot, didn’t sleep very well, and ate poorly. If you were to pile all that into a bucket and take it to your local 4-H fair, it would win Best-in-Show as the “Fail Pail”. Needless to say, we’ve had a rough go of things over the past few days.

Yesterday was no exception. Due to his over-tiredness, Tyler would cry and fuss through feedings, and he fought sleep very, very hard. And, due to Tyler being fussy and over-tired, Sarah was fussy and over-tired. She finally decided to take Tyler upstairs, and they would both (try to) take a nap together, because they both needed it.* I stayed downstairs. I had been vegging out on the couch all day, on account of me being sick also, watching MMA fighting.

Two hours later, the dogs come tearing down the stairs. Ten times out of ten, this means that Sarah is coming down as well. I paused the TV – DVR is modern man’s greatest invention, possibly the greatest of all of mankind – so I could see how her and Tyler were feeling after their nap. But there was a problem; Sarah didn’t have Tyler with her.

After a big stretch, she says, “man, I needed that.”

I reply with, “Is TyTy still sleeping?”

“He. Is. OUT.”

Sarah goes off into the kitchen to start dinner – meatloaf, smashed potatoes, and a fruit salad – and I continue to watch Enoch Wilson beat the snot out of some other guy.

About an hour goes by. I finished watching the fights and was looking through the guide, and I had this… feeling. Staying calm, and doing my best to keep my composure, I start up the stairs, careful to skip the first one because it creaks the worst. I count each step as my foot lands on it. “2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.” And if you’re wondering, yes, I do count stairs everytime I’m on them. It’s my slight OCD kicking in. I could dedicate an entire blog post to the number of steps in houses, buildings, and fire escapes, or on the color coding and design of parking structures. But I wouldn’t do that to you.

Upon topping the final step, I quietly walked into the bedroom. I see Tyler, smack dab in the middle of our queen sized bed, chillin’ like a villian. Out. Cold. I stare at him for a moment, but don’t see his belly moving up and down. Terror washed over me. I sprinted to the side of the bed and knelt down. I stared, senses sharp as a razor. Nothing, no movement. I’m in a near panic at this point.

And this is where you dear readers will say to yourselves, “What is wrong with that man’s head?”

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve got only a nano-second to make a decision, but it seems like millions of thoughts and scenarios have time to swim through your mind? For example, you’re putting away dishes, when a plate slips from your fingers and goes flipping downward to the ceramic tile floor. You have just a moment to decide whether to let it hit the floor, whether to try to grab it, or whether to position your foot so that it will break the plates fall and hopefully save it from breaking into many tiny pieces. All those thoughts go through your head in a flash. Or a dog dashes out in front of your car. You can brake, go left, go right, or go straight. All in the span of a lightning flash, you rationalize everything. Go left and you could get into a head on crash, go right and you sideswipe the minivan next to you, brake and get rear-ended by the Prius that’s tailing you. Go straight, and you take this dog’s life. As morbid as it is, it happens.

Well, I had one of those moments as I tried to see Tyler’s belly move. On one hand, I was petrified that my beautiful baby boy wasn’t breathing. I wanted to (HAD TO) put my hand on his chest/belly and feel for his breathing. I had to put my ear next to his nose. I had to know. My head was swimming in thoughts. Ambulances, hospitals…. worse. But… hold on just a second… on the other hand… I didn’t want to wake him up. If I put my hand on his chest, he may jerk himself awake, and the boy really needed his sleep. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!

Thank the heavens above, I didn’t actually need to make that decision. Just at that moment, his fingers twitched. I let out a deep, deep, quiet sigh of relief. I put my finger on his palm and he grasped it. And stayed asleep.

*I want to note that I’m not calling Sarah grumpy or anything here… I’m just saying that they was tired and needed some sleep.

Nothing personal, pal. It’s just business

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He should do this more often
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I fully admit, sometimes I can be rather irrational. I even toyed with naming my blog “Irrational Dad”, and I may still do that. “Who’s Your Daddy”… I may as well be named “John Smith” for the amount of originality in that title. I didn’t come here today to discuss titles with you, though.

Sarah was gone all day yesterday. Her sister is ill, blah blah blah. Read yesterday’s post if you don’t know the background. Well, Sarah called me around, I don’t know, 6ish to tel me that they were heading to the hospital because her sis wasn’t doing so well.

Oh hey, look, a tangent. Mind if I jump on it? I love all of Sarah’s sisters (3 of them) as if they are my own sisters. Heck, I consider them my own sisters. It breaks my heart that she’s hurting, and I sincerely wish her the best. I’ll be giving her a giant hug tomorrow.

*jumps off the tangent*

So, Sarah’s at the hospital and will be on her way home soon. Fine by me, no problem, take your time.

She got home around 8p or so. After giving Sarah her X’s and O’s, I scooped Tyler up to give him some lovins too. He responded by screaming.

After a bit, I read him “The Alphabet Book”, by Dr. Seuss, and “I Know an Old Lady”. Tyler still had wide eyes, so I sang the alphabet song to him, forwards and backwards (yes, I am that good. Sarah asked how the heck I did that, the first time she heard me. I don’t care if you can say the alphabet backwards, you have to sing it to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”), and then read him some farm book. I dressed him in his jammies, and carried him upstairs.

I put Tyler in his crib and told him that I love him forever and ever… And he screamed. I gave him his paci and he calmed down and closed his eyes. Upon crossing my left foot over the threshold between his room and freedom… errr… I mean the hallway, he spit the paci out and screamed.

He continued to scream at me while I held him, quietly shushing him and telling him it’s time to make his night-nights come. He continued to scream while I walked with him, swayed him, and rocked him. That’s about the time where I became “irrational dad”. I started wondering why Tyler doesn’t like me, if he’ll ever learn to love me, and what I did to make him feel that way towards me. I can’t be the only person to have ever felt that. At least, I hope I’m not the only one.

The logical part of me (94%, according to some bloodwork I got back in March) tells me that I’m being, well, irrational. I know that he’s used to being put to bed by Sarah. I know that he prefers to fall asleep at the boob, although we *try* to discourage that. BUT… Irrational dad is screaming at me, telling me I’m a horrible father, and he’s quite convincing.

Tyler finally fell asleep, so I put him in his crib. I headed downstairs so that Sarah and I could watch a couple episodes of Dexter (awesome, albeit a little dark, show. We’re halfway thru season 1). About 10 minutes in, something caught my eye. I looked over towards the coffee table to see what moved. Nothing. Must’ve been my imagination. But, wait, I see it again! The arch of lights on the baby monitor flickered. Just the first light. I watched the monitor with suspenseful anticipation, as if it was going to sprout legs and start dancing any moment now.

“Please Lord, let it just be a fart.”

As if on cue, all 6 lights sprang to life. The flickering lights, a perfect visual compliment to the cries that seemed to be originating from the upper level. Watson, my dear friend, I do believe that our guest has awakened. The word that formed across my lips starts with an “s” and rhymes with “hit”. On I trudged my way up the stairs, I mumbled something about my son hating me.

I put my hand on Tyler’s chest. After telling him he was safe and that his mommy and daddy were still here, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

About 10 minutes later, something caught my eye. A glimmer of red light. Do you see where this is going? Sarah said she’d go up. A few minutes later, she brought him downstairs and put him to the boob. He ate very lazily, then fell asleep.

FOR 7 HOURS. Is it considered bad form to call one’s own son a jerk? I’m pretty sure he did that on purpose, just to spite me.