July 24, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

14 month Boddeler, originally uploaded by hal(var).

The last week has been especially hard on the parental units, and even harder for young Master B. We don't even have any photos from this time period, because we were just too busy. So the one of Master B. on his bouncing Rody will have to suffice.

Once again we were battling a virus, complete with fever, body rash, and sad baby syndrome--you know what this is, a formerly bouncy baby boy who just wants to cling to you all day (and sometimes nights too) and whimper.

The poor kid could not get a break. Once his fever broke, he got a mighty case of the runs and a super diaper rash that even Boudreaux Butt Paste could not fix. I think the low point was when his little bum was so sore that he screamed in pain when we put him in the tub.

When your baby is sick, your whole life just stops. You become like a machine, keeping track of temperatures, medications administered, the amount of food eaten, the amount of liquid imbibed, how many dirty diapers over numerous hours, soiled blankets and pj's, trips to the laundry room, calls and visits to the pediatrician, etc. Somewhere in the midst of all that, you hope you can get some shut eye only to find that you're lying awake worrying about how the little dude is doing.

At any rate, I'm happy to report that Master B is now back to the land of the bouncy, baby boddler boys.

July 15, 2008

I No, You Know

14 month Boddeler, originally uploaded by hal(var).

In the continuing saga of the preverbal boddler, we've hit the no phase. No matter what the question we ask him, his answer is no. But here's the tricky part, he says no, but he doesn't yet grasp the concept of no. He's just saying no to say no. Imagine most of our conversations going thusly:

Parental Unit 1: Bertram do you want a cracker? (dutifully taking the opportunity to make the ASL sign for cracker.)
Bertram: No. (he takes a cracker.)
Parental Unit 1: Do you want milk? (and makes the sign for milk.)
Bertram: No.
Parental Unit 1: Do you want to play?
Bertram: No. (he starts picking up blocks.)

I immediately began to question how often we must say no to him. This is the very thing Positive Discipline warns parents to avoid. Of course, that tome is still on my mind with its "Emphasize what the baby can do, not what he can't do" approach. The reality is that when he does something like squeeze a stack of banana slices in his little fist so that rivulets of banana stream out between his fingers, which he then promptly wipes on the kitchen wall OR when he discovers how cool it is to use his little plastic bath bucket to hoist water out of the tub and on to the bathroom floor, the first word out of my mouth is a primal, if not slightly guttural nooooooooo. Of course, he could have picked up the word no anywhere -- he certainly hangs around his fair share of toddlers, at the sitter's, at the park. Oh, who am I kidding? He probably picked it up from us.

Still, I've tried to make a conscious effort to reduce my own use of the word. Not an easy task given that Aunt Flow is mere days away, and I feel like at any moment I could erupt into what Ayun Halliday calls "bitchmother." (The link to the illustration is so much better than any description I could offer.)

The no phase does have some perks. Hal (aka Parental Unit 2) and I can't resist these types of exchanges:

Parental Unit 1: What's your favorite Japanese theatre?
Bertram: No.
Parental Unit 2: Do you want to go out and party all night?
Bertram: No.

This no phase also makes me think about an artist friend in college who went through a yes! phase. Yes. Exclamation point. She shared a house, and her half was decorated with illustrations of the word yes in various formations and colors. You would be in her bathroom, and all along the mirror were index cards with a single Yes! scribbled hastily in ink. Maybe her yes! phase was a latent subconscious response to her "boddler" mind? I smell a New Age self-help book idea!

July 13, 2008

Beach Blanket Bipedal Boy

The alliteration of this blog title signals part of the two big moments from this week: On Friday, July 11, Bertram took his first steps without assistance from either of his parental units. Oh sure, he cruised, holding on to furniture, or our legs; he toddled along holding our hands. But now, he pushes away the comforts of our steady hands in favor of his own Frankenstein-like lurch walk. Bertram spreads his arms out wide and in front of his body as he takes each step.

He also enjoys holding on to his own stroller for support as we push it and our walking boddler ever so sloooowly down the street. I hope to post walking video footage soon.

On Thursday, a convoy of stroller toting comrades and I made the pilgrimage to Long Beach. Out-of-towners may not appreciate the complexity of undertaking such a journey on public transport. We had six moms, seven babies and a lot of stuff--three umbrellas, food, water, six strollers (including Young Master Bertram's royal "coach," the 18 lb. Peg Perego Venezia), two Ergo carriers, a bjorn, two hot slings, beach toys, blankets, and two baby beach pods. So imagine all six of us hoisting our babies and stuff up and down platform stairs, into trains, and then hauling everything over the sand, until finally, we reached "Polar Bear" beach.

Of course, on the train out to Long Beach, we met a random mom and babe team who were venturing out from Astoria to go to the beach solo for the first time. Let's hear it for this young, intrepid mom! I also have to mention that this lil' guest chubster had such a cute nickname. His momma called him, "Pocket." Needless to say, we grew into a beach party of seven moms and eight babies.

The water was cold, the sand got everywhere--in babies' mouths, under the diapers, in the fingers, you name it. The walking toddler and boddlers among us climbed up "lifeguard mountain," a great mound of sound where the young lifeguard sat perched in his wooden chair, blowing his whistle and telling swimmers to stay between the flags. The pre-walking boddlers enjoyed tasting sand and playing with (or chewing on) plastic sea creatures, pails, and shovels.

One mom commented that when she thought of the idea of a baby -- you know, back in that blissful, biologically driven phase of "baby consideration" -- the image of a gleeful, chubby baby at a beach, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and playing with the requisite brightly colored pail and shovel, was what came to her mind. I think my driving pre-baby image was of a mom in a fluffy pink robe and bunny slippers rocking a small bundle to sleep in a rocking chair. But I digress...

The babies were so excited by the sand and surf! None of the babies wanted to nap and the mighty Ergo had to be employed to help wind down the boddlers to their afternoon slumbers.

The eldest and therefore, most verbal child -- about 2 and 1/2 years -- in our group had his first city beach experience. Though he was shivering from a dip in the cold, cold ocean, he kept urging his mother to take him back, blue lips and all, to the waves. I can relate to my young beach companion. For my favorite thing to at the beach is to swim and be tossed about in the water. And, for 1o blissful minutes while Bertram was napping, a few of us moms ran into the icy froth for frolicking merriment. We yelled and yipped like we had never been to the ocean in our lives.

I do believe that an exhaustive and fun time was had by all.