Month 7: Earth to Mars

Every once in a while, a shocking thought occurs to me: I am raising a boy. A BOY. I have nothing against boys in general. I grew up with one. I was raised by one. I married one. I’ve been friends with a whole bunch of ’em throughout my life.

Maybe it’s because of my familiarity with the male gender that I’m worried about what’s in store for me as Miles gets older. There’s just no denying that boys are different. They act differently than girls do, they think differently, they pee differently …

Listen, I’m not one to perpetuate gender stereotypes. I jump down C.’s throat whenever he says some baseball player “throws like a girl.” I bought my niece-to-be plenty of non-pink clothes. But you can’t argue with hard evidence.

My mom likes to talk about how it was fashionable in the ’70s to give toy trucks to girls and baby dolls to boys. What happened? The boys would shoot at each other with the dolls and the girls would put the trucks to bed. And then there are the physical differences. If there’s an obstacle in their way, girls will daintily pick their way around it, while boys will barrel right on through it, my mom observed. She calls it the “Marine mentality.”

If you haven’t been forwarded that e-mail about raising boys, it’s pretty funny. Yet scary. Because I have no doubt it’s true. My husband, his brother and their friends used to jump off the roof into their swimming pool when their parents weren’t home. Can you say “lawsuit”?! The mere thought makes my hair gray.

Even when they’re grown up, boys are capable of baffling behavior. I’ve compiled a little list to start off the discussion. YES, these are all true, and NO, these are not all veiled references to my husband.

-- One guy told his wife he was “stopping by” a friend’s house after work (5 p.m.) and was annoyed when she called him at 10:30 p.m. to find out where the hell he was. “I told you I was stopping by a friend’s!” he says. Never mind the fact that his wife had been up with both children since 5 a.m. that morning and he hadn’t bothered to call home.

-- A mom came home from work to discover half a onesie hanging on the doorknob. Apparently, when faced with a diaper blowout of magnificent proportions, dad had decided the best course of action was to cut the dirty garment in half rather than pulling the poopy part over the baby’s head. OK, but did he have to hang it on the doorknob?!

-- One guy, with a baby on the way any day now, decides it’s a great time to buy a flat screen TV and spend all his free time – which could be spent, say, doing stuff that’s actually helpful – researching and shopping for the damn thing. Oh, and he also decided it’s the perfect time to scrape and repaint that lead-paint-covered radiator in their bedroom. Who cares if the car seat’s not installed yet and the crib’s still in the box?

-- Another dad fed his 6-mo.-old butternut squash while the baby was wearing his best white shirt, because dad claimed he couldn’t find any bibs even though there were two – count ’em, TWO – bibs directly beneath the sports section right there on the kitchen table in front of him.

-- Then there was the guy who unplugged the freezer full of breast milk to plug in the Shop-Vac … (OK, OK, C., I’m sorry! I know it was an accident and you felt horrible and apologized a million times over.)

Before anyone gets all up in arms about my man-bashing (some guys actually DO read this), I know we women do plenty of stupid and/or inexplicable things, too. But what do you know, I’m out of space! Darn. :)

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Keep a wet washcloth in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. Give the frozen cloth to your little one to chew on (take it out of the bag first) to soothe teething woes.


Month 7: In the Groove

You know how people are always saying that kids grow up so fast, so enjoy them while they’re little, because before you know it they’ll be teenagers, and boy are you in for it then, and you just want them to shut up because all you’re focused on right now is getting your baby to please, dear God, please sleep through the night for once? Well, it’s true, people. They do grow up fast.

OK, so my baby’s only 6 mos. old. Maybe that doesn’t make me an expert, per se. All I know is I saw a couple of newborns this past week and, oh my goodness, were they tiny. My friend JF’s baby, Laura, looks like a fragile little baby bird, all pink skin and stick legs. I was afraid to hold her, and I just had one of these things myself less than half a year ago! JF was asking me questions about sleeping and feeding and I honestly could not remember what Miles was like at one week old.

I know he once looked like Laura – we have the stick legs documented on film – but when I look at the photos now, it doesn’t even look like my son. I thought he was cute then, never imagining the beaming, shrieking, chubby-thighed baby he’d be in just 6 mos. I got a little misty looking at those newborns, I have to say. Then I saw their parents’ frazzled, dark-circled stares and thought, “I wouldn’t trade places with them in a million years.”

I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of this parenting thing. Oh, sure, I’m in tears weekly over something or other, and I still cling to “What to Expect the First Year” like it’s the Bible. But I actually feel much more relaxed and confident these days. I know how to make Miles laugh, and how to get him to stop crying (usually). I can tell his bored cry from his tired cry, and I can tell when he’s just about to lose it (the maniacal laughter is a sure sign). He’s much more predictable now. And when someone says “Mom,” I no longer look around for an older lady wearing sensible shoes. I’M Mom!

Not that I’m getting complacent. See, Miles is working on his first tooth. And he’s decided to go ahead and try to crawl. And he’s showing a keen interest in technology.(If you can call rolling over to the DVD player and kicking the buttons an interest in technology.) I’m just trying to keep up with him. And to enjoy every moment while he’s still small.

NEW FEATURE: TIP O’ THE WEEK: In an effort to make this blog, um, useful or something, I’ve decided to add a bit of practical advice to each entry. This week’s tip is to keep a stain stick on the changing table next to the diapers and wipes. The reason should be obvious.

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