Archive for March, 2007

He’s walking!

March 21, 2007

Well, almost.

Today, while I was playing with Charlie during lunch we began with our newest game. Usually, he stands about a foot away from me and tries not to fall. This lasts about 10 seconds, and then he lands in my arms, laughing. But today, he stood for 10 seconds, then 20, then 30. Realizing that he was not falling, he took a step. Then another. And another!

Three steps! Running can’t be far behind.

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Just for fun

March 21, 2007

punk

What a crazy baby!

pen

In the pen…

Mom, go home

March 17, 2007

An excerpt from “The Opt-Out Myth” by E.J. Graff in Columbia Journalism Review:

So yes, maybe some women “chose” to go home. But they didn’t choose the restrictions and constrictions that made their work lives impossible. They didn’t choose the cultural expectation that mothers, not fathers, are responsible for their children’s doctor visits, birthday parties, piano lessons, and summer schedules. And they didn’t choose the bias or earnings loss that they face if they work part-time or when they go back full time.

By offering a steady diet of common myths and ignoring the relevant facts, newspapers have helped maintain the cultural temperature for what Williams calls “the most family-hostile public policy in the Western world.” On a variety of basic policies—including parental leave, family sick leave, early childhood education, national childcare standards, afterschool programs, and health care that’s not tied to a single all-consuming job—the U.S. lags behind almost every developed nation. How far behind? Out of 168 countries surveyed by Jody Heymann, who teaches at both the Harvard School of Public Health and McGill University, the U.S. is one of only five without mandatory paid maternity leave—along with Lesotho, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland. And any parent could tell you that it makes no sense to keep running schools on nineteenth century agricultural schedules, taking kids in at 7 a.m. and letting them out at 3 p.m. to milk the cows, when their parents now work until 5 or 6 p.m. Why can’t twenty-first century school schedules match the twenty-first century workday?

A sense of humor

March 15, 2007

The other day, on the changing table (I feel like most of my stories nowadays start that way…) CW was chewing on his foot. It was early morning and I was changing a particularly full diaper. I tickled his toes and said, “Let me see this foot. I need this foot.”

CW let go of his foot and then made the sign for “more.”

“More foot?” I asked. “You want more foot?”

CW laughed and laughed, and his twinkling eyes were saying, “No, silly, of course I don’t want more foot.” He made the sign for “more” again.

That’s when I realized he was hungry for breakfast. And “more” had now come to mean “more food.” “Do you want more to eat?” I asked. “Do you want breakfast?”

And CW laughed in agreement and made the sign for “more” again.

My baby can communicate using language–not just crying, grunting and twisting his body into odd contortions to get out of his coat. He even understands silly jokes like eating feet. Genius!

Mmmmm

March 15, 2007

Guess what ‘Mmmmm’ means in Charlie language? Cow!

cow

For a city kid, CW has several cows in his daily life (the cow jumping over the moon in Goodnight Moon, the cow saying ‘Moo’ in Noisy Farm, in his barnyard animals puzzle, and a plastic cow at daycare that he loves to chew on). We always ask him, “What does the cow say?” And then we answer, “Moo!”

So now, whenever CW sees a cow–sitting on a shelf, in a picture, on a toy–he says, “Mmmmmm.”

Dads

March 10, 2007

One of the blogs I normally read, On Balance, had an interesting post yesterday about dads’ roles in today’s family, in today’s workplace, and in revolutionizing public policies. The blogger, Rebeldad, said that today’s men are contributing to change by asking for and receiving paid paternity leave. Only if dads continue to request more flextime, more paid leave and better benefits will US citizens be able to revolutionize family policy. (It’s not just a women’s issue, so women can’t do it alone. Paid sick and family leave affects all parents.)

Rebeldad is right. Today’s policies, in the better companies, are a boon to families. Jesse’s paid paternity leave was a huge help after Charlie was born. He had one week off, and his boss was very understanding about allowing him to work from home, take long lunches or leave early in that first month. Every dad deserves that kind of chance to bond with their newborn and take care of their family. Some employers have a long way to go in providing what dads need, a journey that will never begin without men asking for change from their bosses and their government.

But I also think Rebeldad was wrong. Men have not suddenly, in the last few decades, decided they want an active role in raising their children. I think men have always wanted to take part in the emotional rewards of interactions with family members. Maybe they just haven’t had the chances–or the permission from society–that they needed.

My grandfather (known to everyone as Preacher Pawpaw) helped raise my dad and uncle; he and my grandmother worked alternating shifts at the cotton mill, one doing day shift and one doing night, so that the other person could be home with the kids. This was probably more about economics than true choice, but I can’t say that I ever heard him complain about the extra time spent with his children.

My dad did excellent work at a job he hated. I remember the papers of recognition on his walls for being the best in his area. And I also remember that his office was never off-limits to us. My mom brought me and my sisters to visit him when he stayed late at the end of the month or when she needed to run a few errands. We hung out and played with typewriters, stamp pads and office supplies while he made calls and printed reports. Maybe it was because he was the manager that he could get away with this kind of flexibility, but he never failed to be there if mom couldn’t pick us up from school after special events or for illness. Today, he works at a job he loves, and still he finds time to pitch in. My sisters and mom rely on him to pick up or drop off the grandkids, to have lunch with them sometimes, to take days off for special events, to answer phone calls when he’s not in a hearing and to always keep the welcome mat brushed off at his office. I think we could pretty much drop by just to say hello and get a drink of water, if we were in the neighborhood.

I’m glad dads’ roles in society are changing, opening up to new possibilities. But, in my experience, dads have always been much more to their families than merely breadwinners.

Baby sign language

March 8, 2007

cw saying more

(Click on the photo to see more action shots of “more”!)

We’ve been practicing baby sign language with Charlie since he was about five months old. At first, we did lots of signs–we were excited, eager and buzzed out on new baby songs that included hand movements. We signed and moved his hands in sign for some select words, but as he went on and on without signing anything back to us we scaled down to just a few: waving hello and good-bye, more food, all done, and milk. I’d pretty much given up on him signing anything at all. But just the other day, when he was eating yogurt and cereal, I practiced the sign for more with him. And he did it back to me…over and over! I was so excited! Yesterday at daycare, when I was feeding him lunch, he asked for more when the food was gone, so I started in on his afternoon snack of kiwi and peaches. He ate a few bites and then signed, “All done!”

He’ll be using full sentences in no time!

For his first birthday, Charlie wants…

March 7, 2007

Charlie in Toyland

Anything but toys!

(Click on the photo for more pictures of Charlie in Toyland.)

Papering the bathroom

March 7, 2007

One of my favorite stories from Jesse’s childhood (and he has plenty, most involving potential bodily harm—must be a boy thing) is the one he tells about toilet paper. It goes something like this: He heard about a kid who flushed a whole roll of TP down the toilet and he wondered, ‘What would my dad do if I flushed a whole roll of TP down the toilet?’ So he did. And what did his dad do? His dad got really, really mad.

Well, on Monday, when I was trying to get ready for CW’s appointment with the pulmonologist. (Everything is A-okay with him, except that we had to wait four frickin’ hours to see the doctor when our appointment was made more than a month ago…GRRR.) Charlie was a little tired, or a little cranky, or maybe a little anxious about attachment—whatever he was, he refused to be in any room except the one I was in or to even let go of my leg. So when he found the toilet paper roll, while I was combing my hair, I said to myself, ‘At least it’s not the toilet! Maybe he’ll be occupied for a minute.’ He stood by the roll, touching it, watching it jiggle, turning it back and forth…

And then he realized he could spin it.

Between one second and the next, he had toilet paper all over the floor and all over himself, wrapped around his hands and over his head. I fully intended to take a picture—so I could show CW’s daddy that his son takes after him. But Charlie then started to eat the paper and we had to call it quits for that game. (Too bad his cousin Ethan “Trashman” Yearwood wasn’t around. They could have shared a TP snack!)

Brusha, brusha, brusha

March 7, 2007

CW and I brushed his teeth (two up top and two down below) for the first time yesterday. I was worried that he would hate it the way he hates having his face and nose wiped. But the toothbrush must have been soft and tickly because he laughed at me brusha, brusha, brushing inside his mouth and over his tongue. (And yes, I sang the cute song from that scene in Grease where Jan does the imitation of the toothpaste commercial. That must have been why he liked it.)