SxSW is upon us, and with it is a lot of weird, new music. I listened to part of a playlist NPR put together (man I’m cool) and here are a few I enjoyed.
Holds remote to head, ‘hello?’
That’s right boys and girls, ladies and gents, the kid is mimicking us more and more these days. And that includes phone impressions.
Today I’ll be sharing about the 17th month which had some really awesome, and really unpleasant firsts. Let’s dive in.
One of the great firsts happened one morning on a whim. The kiddo was playing in the kitchen, and I was sitting on the floor either looking at my phone or admiring him (really, it’s one or the other … and I ought to kick the phone habit). I held out my arms and asked, ‘can I have a hug?’ and what do you know – he stopped playing, crawled over to me and onto my lap. I was blown away. First – YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT I JUST ASKED? And second, you actually DID what I asked? Amazing.
Later in the day I had my wife ask the same question and sure enough, he responded again … so it wasn’t just some fluke.
I told my mom about this and she mentioned a similar story with my brother. She was laying on the floor near him and realized he needed a change. She said, ‘oh I’m so tired … will you just grab a clean diaper for me?’ And lo and behold my brother crawled over to the diapers, grabbed one, and crawled back.
It’s incredibly strange to spend months, months and months and months talking to this tiny person and then all the sudden one day boom, here they are responding to whole sentences. I feel like I can see my son trying to focus more on what I’m saying, too. And sometimes I feel like I’m responding with a few too many words. If you have traveled to a place where you speak a tiny bit of the language, you might have experienced what I imagine my son (and all kiddos) experience in life for a while. Where they do or say something and they expect you to respond with a word they know like, ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ But instead you say a BUNCH of words rapid-fire like, ‘well not right now darlin’ but maybe in a bit when mom’s out of the shower.’ My son just stares and I can practically see the eyes saying ‘does. not. compute.’
My wife was watching the little language man one day when she noticed he looked tired so she asked, ‘do you want to take a nap?’ and he nodded yes. Amazing. It’s been fun to get to ask more and more questions, and see him respond. He helps pick up toys, he kicks this big red ball we have (with mom and dad’s standing assistance) and more.
It is varying levels of helpful, too. For example, he will clean up toys with me … which is wonderful, and then he’ll grab the box, turn it upside down and dump it. That is less helpful. I also asked him to help me put up dishes one day. ‘Will you take this spoon, and put it in that cabinet?’ (Note: we don’t keep our spoons in a cabinet, but he can reach the cabinet so …). And what do you know, he actually took the spoon and put it in a cabinet! Not the cabinet I asked, but still, pretty good! Now it’s almost like a mystery when you open kitchen cabinets to see what strange treasures you’ll find.
And now switching topics entirely, one of the most fun days of this past month was when we were still in the Phoenix area for Christmas. We headed to a fancy new acquarium there which the kid LOVED. He would stand at the glass, making his most delighted faces, squawking his most delighted squawks, and in general just eating up every bit of it. A large shark would leisurely glide by and he’d press his face close and say ‘woah!’ (A new word which is a favorite. And It’s not like just sharks inspire that, dropping his pacifier aka ‘baba’ also inspires saying that word … or seeing Dido, our name for our robot vacuum …)
Another hysterical and strange and sweet moment came with some of the kiddo’s cousins. He has a 6 year old and almost 3 year old cousin we stayed with for a few nights* and he adores watching older kids play. The 3 year old and him had a strange very close staring contest that led to … kisses? Maybe? The kiddo gives kisses now (something that kicked off right after 18 months) but it is just him pressing the general mouth part of the face against your face. There are no kissy lips, just a sort of vague notion of a kiss. (It is adorable, by the by.)
*Ok so. The few nights at my sister’s place. As mentioned my sister has two kids and one night after everyone had gone to bed, around midnight or so, the little monster woke up. No worries, let’s comfort him, hand him a baba that he inevitably throws out of his crib (he starts the night with five in there, and often by the time you get him up he’s down to one). Ok, ok … nope, didn’t work. My wife and I were concerned about staying very quiet so we brought him into our bed with us and that just seemed to wake him up. He went from sleepy to PLAYTIME. After maybe 30 minutes of failing with that my wife headed to the couch and I stayed in bed with him because I often have better luck getting him to konk out. There was a brief period where I thought, ok … ladies and gentlemen … this … could … be … But then he sat up, took out his pacifier, said ‘BOWWWWWWW’ and then threw himself onto my chest**. (He sorta plays my chest like a drum and I respond by saying ‘ow! oof! ouch! oh no! whoof!’ to every hit … It’s pretty fun.) I head out to the family room where my wife had taken up on a couch and it’s about 2 am. He’s WIDE AWAKE, we’re baffled, and we figure he needs to cry for a while before he’ll settle and sleep so we decide to head to my parent’s where we won’t wake the house with his cries. Of course, this created a strange morning for my sis and her husband when they woke up to a deserted room and no word from us. But hey, at least they got a solid night’s sleep.
**The Jason Bourne movies have a real enjoyment of what I’ll call improvised weapons. Whoever the fight scene coordinators were really liked Jason Bourne being in some environment, and then Bourne would pick up any old item around him and use THAT as a weapon. Tea spoon? Try LETHAL tea spoon! Old sneakers? Try old sneakers of DEATH! Anyway. The thing is, my son is like this, only he makes anything around him a toy. It’s 2 am, he’s supposed to be snuggling with me to soothe him and put him back to sleep but then, woah dad … your ear is so BENDY! That’s super cool! Let me just see how many directions I can bend it! And woah, look at how smushy your nose is! I should try smushing it, then taking out my pacifier and saying ‘nose nose nose’ and then smushing mine and saying ‘nose nose nose.’ It’s not ideal when you’re trying to get him to sleep, but kudos, kid, on the improvised toys.
And now for another quick transition we’ll jump back to Colorado, where vacation is over, and it’s the kiddo’s first day at a new classroom. Scary! This is just a chance for me to express my gratitude to the teachers there. The kiddo had some very sad dropoffs which are awful ways to start your day. Saying goodbye to your darling little creature who is crying and reaching out for you. The teachers would take a picture of the little fella playing happily or smiling or just some variation on the opposite of how I last saw him. I’d drop him maybe 745 and then around the time I got to work and got settled, boom, there I’d have a picture of my sweet little fella. It just did wonders for me not hearing his cries bounce around in my head as I began my workday.
One sort of amusing at this point (key: AT THIS POINT) thing that the kiddo has started is what I’ll call ‘tantrum light.’ This takes a few forms:
1 – sitting on his tush, legs out front, arms to his sides, and he twists his torso back and forth swinging his arms wildly while making a very frustrated/unhappy face and he makes generally ‘not pleased’ noises
2 – getting into the crawling position and then kicking one leg out randomly at the air (this was short lived but a real treat to witness)
While these were and are entertaining … boy do I dread the day of the real tantrums.
The kiddo is an only child, and it shows in many ways. Probably lots of them are ways I don’t even realize. But one that I do think exhibits the fact that his every need is catered too probably too quickly is his use of the word ‘help.’ Or ‘hep’ as he says it. He’ll go up to one of our couches and try to climb up while saying, ‘hep hep hep’ over and over because guess what, we probably will come by to help him. (Although now he CAN climb up if he goes to the middle where it’s sunken in.) Likewise, when trying to open any of a number of containers he will continue to struggle mightily while chanting ‘hep hep hep.’ It’s like a tennis player’s grunt at this point. Is it helping? Maybe not, but they’re going to do it all the same. (Same goes for the word ‘open’ … this is heard especially frequently in front of the kitchen pantry door. He’ll just sit there, trying to pry it open while saying ‘open open open’ … But bad news as of next month, he can now open that door. Shoot.)
Oh boy. This is already a whole lot of words and we’re about to embark on a crazy story. Future self, I hope you’ve got some free time.
One day my wife called because our daycare had called her, the kiddo was sick. She was wrapped up for the rest of the day and I was able to flex, so off I headed. I said confidently to my coworkers, I’ll get him, put him down for a nap, then work more. One guy said, ‘IF he naps.’ Oh indeed, friend. When I got to daycare he had thrown up a second time, and he was by himself (away from the other kids for good reason) looking just absolutely wiped out and a little afraid. He was sort of whimpering and just the saddest little sight. I picked him up and comforted him as best I could. When we got out to my car I was a little afraid to drive home because I thought he was about to throw up again, but eventually we hit the road. Once home we let the dog out and boom, the mood struck and out came a good bit more vomit. The poor little guy perked up after that though and he was feeling very playful briefly. Eventually that stopped and I calmed him down and put him down for a nap. Thirty minutes later he woke up immediately upset and crying, I ran upstairs, picked him up and there came the ‘I’m about to throw noise’ (hereafter known as ‘the noise’) so I rushed us to the bathroom where he threw up some on/in the tub. Phew, crisis mildly contained. I got his and my shirts off (puke was on them) and then I wrapped us up in a blanket and laid down to have him nap on me. Twenty or so minutes into his nap he’s up and the noise is again with us, so we rush to a tub and he again throws up, but now it’s much, much less. Having gotten that out he snuggles in and we lay back down … twenty minutes later it’s the same story. My wife had called our pediatrician who advised us to come in after a certain number of times throwing up and we had hit that point and then some.
At the doc we had him take a drug that was supposed to settle his stomach so that he could begin to take on fluids instead of rejecting them (always a plus). He and I begin walking around to see if the drug will hold before we try some water … And that was a big nope. He threw up maybe three or four more times during our doc visit, at this point he was ‘throwing up’ (there was practically nothing coming out) every 15 – 20 minutes. The doc had another doc look for a second opinion and they said, ‘ok, head on home, hopefully with a familiar environment he’ll relax and be ok … But if he throws up JUST ONCE MORE … Head to the ER, get him hooked up to a bag of fluids with an IV and he’ll be a-ok.’
Fingers crossed we got in the car and began the … doll, doll … he’s throwing up on me.
We didn’t even make it to buy Powerade for the little fella.
We got to the ER at maybe 6 and we left at maybe 9 or 930. His bedtime is usually around 630 so this was quite a night for the little guy. When we told one of the ER docs that he did want to drink, he would point to cups and say, ‘awa, awa’ she said that was heartbreaking and you know what? I’m inclined to agree. Really, this would be a tough thing to write if I wasn’t just listening to him giggling and playing happily with my wife.
The IV was rough for the little guy, and his little arm would bend and it would stop the drip. And BOY did his belly go from depleted to as big as I’ve ever seen. They ended up doing one big bag, and a smaller bag, and the first bag had zofram (to settle his stomach). I managed to get him to fall asleep on my chest which was great for letting the drip do its work without interruption. After the first bag, I think, he woke up, looked at a big hanging light over our bed and said, ‘airpane.’ It was wonderful to hear because it meant he’d finally come back to himself a little bit. The little fella had been INCREDIBLY dehydrated and it happened so fast.
It was a heartbreaking evening seeing his poor little body on that big hospital bed, his little arm with an IV hooked up, knowing how absolutely wiped out and destroyed his body had gotten with dehydration. But wait, the fun didn’t stop there …
The good news for my wife and I, not only did we get to see him experience this awful bug/sickness/whatever … but we got to experience it first hand too! My wife’s folks happened to have a visit planned for the weekend after all this and my wife’s stomach was off all weekend, then I was hit HARD on Monday night (4 hours of everything leaving my body, to the point that body parts started to tingle … that was new. Apparently a sign of dehydration – neat!). And then my wife’s mom got sick after their visit. Our own little cruise ship.
BUT! Aside from spreading germs the trip was a smash hit because we took the kiddo sledding for the first time! It was a blast! I think he enjoyed it, we’ve got pictures of him making little silly faces and/or smiling while sledding with mom or dad. And I KNOW he loved watching myself or my wife sled by ourselves. It really amused him watching us. He is very good at being entertained by other kids at play, and for once mom and dad were seen as kids.
One exciting thing that happened this month (last thing – promise!) is a new set of swim lessons. It’s the same class he and I had done before, the class runs for 6 – 18 month olds, and previously all the kiddos were around his age … but this time he is THE BIG KID! (For once in his life! He’s perpetually tiny at doc visits.) And one thing that’s fun is he really gets the instructions much more. I sit him up right outside of the pool and he actually wiggles a little to fall in to the water toward me. And we do this thing where we form a circle and pass a ball around and he just constantly reaches for the ball no matter who is holding it (it’s pretty funny). The other little babies don’t care, and here is my greedy little kid reaching out saying ‘ba … ba … ba.’ We also do some things where you hold the kiddo and have them kick and … whaddya know, he actually started kicking on his own, too! He’ll be swimming in no time! (I mean … we can dream, right?) The most fun thing though was blowing bubbles. The teacher stressed the parents doing this over and over so I did and dunked his face so that his mouth was underwater but not his nose … he loved it, even though I’m pretty sure he was drinking pool water 90% of the time. But then … BUBBLES! He actually blew bubbles! And the next time my wife gave him a bath (the next day maybe) I heard him busting a gut laughing and it was because he’d blow bubbles in the bath, then laugh hysterically. Such an absolute delight to hear.
Ok, till next time chatty dad.
It’s the week of Christmas … or, it’s the last week of December for you. Either way, I hope you have a great week. You won’t find any posts here this week – but check back next week, eh?
I’m working on the Entertaining Speaker series for Toastmasters and I recently completed speech number three: Make Them Laugh. I ended up going a fairly different direction than what I wrote here … but I’m too lazy to re-write this for the sake of the blog. Just know that a large part of the speech was the terrible joke at the end, which I have NOT written out because: 1, I already knew it, and 2, if I ever meet someone in person and they make the mistake of asking me to tell this joke to them I will relish the opportunity. It is truly a terrible joke, and I love telling a very long version of it.
Enjoy the speech?
Make Them Laugh?
This speech is for ‘make them laugh’ from the entertaining speaker series, and frankly, I find that ridiculous. Make them laugh!? Make them LAUGH? As though that is not perpetually my objective.
As someone who strives to be funny more often than not, I can tell you that it warms my heart when I get a good laugh, it makes me happy in the moment and later. But, I’ll add, as someone who strives to be funny, I have been not funny … A LOT.
A lot a lot.
Part of that is sense of humor – it’s a subjective thing, and I have something of an odd one.
I can’t tell you any secrets behind humor, or how to make a speech funny, but I can tell you two things: first, times I have thought, ‘this’ll be good’ … and it wasn’t, and having experienced that particularly cruel silence after a failed joke MANY TIMES, I can also tell you how to handle it like a champ.
I had managed, somehow, to successfully interview for something called the Engineering Leadership Development Program at my last company. It was competitive, and a fair amount of work. The program lasted three years, and during that time you worked your regular job, and then took night classes, and got a master’s, and had a big work project that was all on your own time. One week every year we had a conference where all these type A high-strung, highly competitive people would get together, take classes, and size each other up.
And also, I was there too.
The program was oriented towards young engineers, I think you had to have less than five years of experience to join. In one of the conference classes the instructor was telling us how we really had more experience than we thought … I found the lesson corny.
He had everyone say how much experience we had and then he wrote the number on a flip chart. ‘Four years, 1 year, 2 years, etc.’ Up went the numbers. Then he asked, with the skills of a very unmotivational motivational speaker, ‘and how much experience does that add up to?!’
I immediately answered, ‘three?’ Because that was SO CLEARLY the wrong answer … and that’s the joke. Right? (big sigh)
Welp. Instead he replied, with the tone of voice you’d expect someone to use on the slow kid in class, ‘oh, it’s higher than that, keep counting, buddy!’
There’s a bright note, though. Which is that I find it very funny, now, that I told a joke that failed so miserably in such an annoyingly competitive environment.
And my failures at humor continue to this day. Toastmasters speeches have provided me plenty of opportunities to reflect, after I leave the stage, and think, ‘huh, no one laughed at that.’
My favorite example of that was my Tall Tales competition speech. I know that is a unique environment because everyone is competing and it’s a tense situation … but I really wanted people to, most of all, find my speech quirky and amusing. In my speech I talked about my grandpa and I spotting a bunch of aliens coming to Earth, us going to investigate, and then, what do you know, I’m involved in an intergalactic dance off. And part of that I ACTUALLY DANCED.
I thought, ‘this is so weird! And strange! And fun! The audience will really enjoy this change of pace!’
In the back of the room were Liz, Melanie, Jodi, and my wife, smiling and offering encouraging vibes. But eeeeeeeveryone in front of them? Not so much. I found myself dancing, doing the ‘string knees’ as I stared out into pair of eyes after pair of eyes staring blankly at me.
It was very strange, and I am happy I got to experience that.
Generally my failed jokes aren’t in classrooms, or during speeches. The vast majority are conversational. When I told my wife about this speech idea I said, ‘I’m trying to think of times I told a joke and no one laughed’ and she said, ‘oh yeah! There was a terrible one you told the other day!’ She said that excitedly. Love, eh?
The good news is – there are ways to handle these situations.
You could take a sort of … aggressive, quickly fading to a small, simmering self-pep talk approach … ‘That was funny!! That was funny. Right? That was funny.’
You can try to join in with everyone else in not enjoying the joke … even though you just told it. (Step to the side.) ‘Dude … lame joke.’
How about a diversion? (Point like you’re following a bird flying by) ‘Is that a change of subject?’
And of course any combination of weird noises … (Clear throat weirdly for a bit) ‘Hairball.’
My point! If I even have one … Is that humor is ridiculous. ‘Make them laugh’ is ridiculous. There are tried and true ways to go for safe humor, any sitcom can show you that. A lot of those jokes rely on stereotypes and tropes that you’re already so familiar with that you can predict how a joke will end.
That’s not a bad thing, either. Sometimes it’s fun to go for a ride to the punch line even when you know it’s coming.
BUT! You also have to be true to yourself. If you don’t find your speech funny, how will others? Make them laugh is a gamble, make yourself laugh is much more fun. With that in mind, I’m going to close with a joke.
Let me warn you, I have told this joke a few times, and it has NEVER gotten a laugh. It’s gotten a few amused hmph’s … but no outright laughter. But I love this joke, and you all are stuck sitting there listening to me.
<high school prom joke>