(...the happiest baby on the block)
I haven't provided an adequate update on Rhys lately. I've only used his pictures to lure people into the maelstrom of my confused and misguided impulses.
So, he is changing, and quickly. The lessons I learned only a few weeks ago hardly even seem to apply any more. Each day I notice something new; some new awareness he has developed, or a change in his behavior as he adapts to mine. The things that work for Rachel don't always work for me. I have had to figure out much on my own. Some of it is obvious, some of it feels instinctual, and the remainder is almost predictively counter-intuitive. The easy thing is that what I am doing either works or it doesn't. It becomes relatively simple to isolate what is wrong with him and then act accordingly. Most days.
An infant is half octopus, its hands and feet are grasping and kicking everywhere, for everything. It's like a quadropus, a four-tentacled creature intent on disrupting whatever I'm doing, intent on doing damage. Try holding an infant with one arm while feeding it by bottle with the hand from that same arm. It's difficult to believe an infant child is even the same species as the adult male. I think we get worse at most things rather than better. He's already a pro at disrupting everything I'm trying to do. The kid will be beating me at thumb wrestling within the year.
I have learned to predict his sleep patterns. I can know that he will be getting tired soon based on when he has slept last, and for how long. His moans and unhappy gurglings build into a crescendo of dissatisfaction just before he drifts off to sleep. If he's in the baby seat in the car I can usually just let him work his way through the fighting of it and then I'll see his head start to dip, within a few minutes he's completely out. It's not entirely dissimilar from watching somebody drop out at an after party. They'll stop talking, or drift away from the conversation, then you can see them slouching towards the nether, eyes drooping, and then they're off, frolicking in slumberland.
It's different when I have to rock him to sleep before putting him in his crib. Because he's having more face to face time with me he'll fight sleep even more. He wants to stay up and hang out. Being awake is where all the action is. A swaddle still works with him but not nearly as well as it used to. For one, he's getting too big and he can easily break out, something he relishes. For two, it's getting hot and the discomfort of summer is starting to reduce the swaddle's effectiveness. I'll have to sway with him in my arms after I've wrapped him for some time. Rachel sings to him in any number of a wide range of fluctuating keys. I will often put on a local numbers station and let him try to figure it out.
I can usually tell when his head starts to fall towards me that my magic swaddle powers are taking hold over him. Then, I'll ever so gently lay him in his crib. This will either be his cue to fight out of it or to make eye contact with me in a last grasping moment of wakeful desperation. So, I've learned to do most of this with my eyes closed. If he sees my eyes then the game's over, he will try to use his infant powers of persuasion to plead with me not to make him go to sleep. Even after placing him in the crib swaddled I'll kneel next to the contraption with my hand on his chest to calm him and wait for him to drift off. I keep my eyes closed and my face turned away from him as best as I can. Every now and then I'll open my eyes just enough to see if he's dipping and he'll be staring right at me, waiting for his chance to deliver his sleepy-eyed plea for wakefulness. Pure agony.
Other times it's as easy as putting him in the crib with only his "binky" in his mouth to help him float away to his proto-dreams. I often wonder what he has to dream about. There must be a reasonably limited set of subjects and their interactions must follow a completely arbitrary order. I'm assuming here. But it would seem that until the mind has a collection of stories from which to draw the unconscious must be somewhat amorphous in its relaying of latent ideas and abbreviated events. Titties, titties and more titties... Bring me the titties says my sleeping mind.
Once he's asleep then I can come try to write an entry for this site. That's what I'm doing now. I'll try to navigate my way back downstairs through an obstacle course of children and dog toys. I, like Godzilla, wreaking intentional and unintentional disaster below, prepared at any moment to encounter Mothra from above. I march towards my desk like I'm fighting my way out of Tokyo Bay, bowling over every unlucky object in my path with atomic breath.
Sometimes I'll try to coax him towards sleep by walking him in the stroller. This produces intermittent results at best. Pushing the stroller through our barrio is like trying to run an obstacle course with eggs, the idea being to keep the eggs unbroken and heading towards sleep. There are garbage trucks and barking dogs and lawn maintenance crews and alarms going off when the trucks back up, chainsaws at the neighbor's house. Every morning I must protect Barkley and Rhys's life from cars pulling out of driveways, commuters rushing off to work, pre-coffeed and ready to kill. Then, when I finally get home and get the baby to sleep it is finally my chance to eat but there's rarely anything here that's easily available. Meaning, something that I can eat exactly as is, with little or no preparation. Yesterday morning I seriously considered mixing up a baby formula milkshake for myself.
Any disturbance will wake the child up.
How is it possible that they're cutting down a fresh tree every morning at 9am in our neighborhood? I live in the Amazon. I swear to it. Each day, for a handful of weeks now, there has been a chainsaw running, with the vigorous sound of it tearing through a tree, though nothing ever seems to be coming down. I wonder if they're just bored, or smoking speed, re-enacting their favorite scenes from films. Who knows.
Also, there is a group of music that I can no longer listen to when the boy is sleeping. The Orb, for one. They are a psychedelic group that uses a lot of familiar samples in their recordings. I never noticed how often they use the sound of a baby crying in the distance. It is maddening. The baby will be completely asleep but I'll have all of my attention focused on the sounds of infant wakefulness.
Rachel is Wonder Woman in that regard, a blonde Lindsay Wagner. I swear it. She can hear the child crying before he's even woken up. It is spooky. I'll see her attention snap-to and then she's off up the stairs, just before she hits the top then I'll finally hear the waking noises, the soft gurgling of consciousness returning. She could hear it in his sleep. I swear, I've seen it. The next time I wonder what the boy dreams about I'll know that somewhere floating through his dreams is the ever present scan of mommy radar, searching for any signs of the discomfort of impending consciousness, waiting to respond.
Oh, here come the warm titties to save me..... S.O.S.
S.O.S. mommy... S.O.S....
Now, get over here and gimme some titty...