Suburban Butch Dad Report, 7/20/2010

This weekend, my house of worship was a lush green lawn under a majestic cherry tree.  My alter was two saw horses, upon which I laid my sacrifices.  The instruments of prayer were tape measure and carpenters pencil.  My ceremonial garb:  gloves, work boots and a ball cap.

My sacrificial objects were sturdy half sheets of plywood, destined for my attic, trimmed to fit by my circular saw.  In all 8 pieces of 2′ x 8′ plywood were lifted up into our attic and nailed into place.  with a few pieces of ship-lap fitted around a venting pipe, we gained almost 144 square feet of storage.  Much of it is under the slope of our hip roof, but even so, we’re almost giddy over how much more stuff we can store above our heads.

It was an excellent weekend to worship at the alter of home improvement… amen.

On Sunday, we all took an hour long drive to deliver ElderSpawn to Girl Scout camp.  She’s gone all this week, learning to canoe and getting lots of swimming time in and bonding with girls from all over western Washington.  We’re all missing her and hoping all is going well.  I’m sure she’s already made a whole new batch of best friends.  This Saturday, we’ll drive back up and attend the closing ceremony and get the whole scoop.  I’m really proud of my big girl.  She earned her way to camp through cookie sales and has been very excited about this opportunity.  It will be the longest time away from family and there aren’t even other girls from her troop there.  Can’t wait to give her a big hug at the end of the week.

As much as I talk up my love of family and promote myself as a parent and devoted family man, I’m fuck up sometimes when it comes to being a good co-parent with my wife.  On the drive back from camp, Mrs. Kyle and I had a chance to talk about just that.  She had expressed some serious frustration earlier that day about how ElderSpawn and I deal with the baby, and how that’s affecting her in a negative way.  She’s very conscientious about keeping the noise down when ElderSpawn and I are asleep, even if that means she’s dealing with the baby until 3 in the morning.  ES and I aren’t always as good at keeping the baby quiet in the morning, when Mrs. Kyle is trying to get her sleep.  That one of the very legitimate gripes she has.  She’s also asked before that we don’t consider her the default childcare person.  I am ashamed to admit that I gave that lip service previously.  Now I have a better understanding of what she means.  She means, just because she’s in the room with the baby, don’t assume we can all leave her to it for hours on end.  She’s got the baby all the time, she wants more of a break and I don’t blame her.

We had a good long talk, we did some strategizing and I did some apologizing.  We agreed that more communication was going to be a big part of the solution.  We need to be a little more open about who’s taking the primary responsibility for Little Bit at any given moment.  We need to recognize that even though I’m working 8 hours or more a day, parenting is 24/7 and neither of us should have to cover the entire shift of that work.   And, even though it’s work, I’m getting out of the house and interacting with adults.

On top of all that, Little Bit is a very different child than her older sister.  Whereas ElderSpawn was often content to play by herself and was pretty self contained, Little Bit seems to need an audience, or at least companionship, most of the time.  That old wiring, the old pattern of setting the baby to play and then stepping out of the room for a few minutes, doesn’t work very often with LB.  She notices almost immediately that she’s alone and heads for a baby gate to protest her solitude in high decibel screech that rivals members of the animal kingdom.  Now, to be clear, sometimes we’re gonna let that happen, at some point she’s going to have to learn that yelling at the top of her lungs isn’t the proper way to get what she wants.  However, the time to work on that lesson is not before noon.

The ElderSpawn was high maintenance due to her preemie entry into the world.  She was on a 3 hour feeding schedule until almost 2 years old, however, she was not prone to get into every fricken thing she could in order to wreak havoc on the household.  Little Bit is high maintenance because she’s always reaching above her head, trying to grab things she can’t see off of any horizontal surface she can reach with her scrabbling little fingers.  She’s always testing limits, boundaries and our ear drums.  And she does it with the most excruciatingly cute smile on her face it’s almost impossible not to laugh and smile back at her.

So parenting this new one, even though we’ve got 10 years of parenting experience, is a whole new ballgame.

Baby Funnies:  Little Bit is preternaturally motivated to getting certain items we generally keep from her.  One example is any of the remotes.  If you do step out of the living room for a moment, or even turn your back, she moves with lightening speed to the side table where the remotes are kept.  She usually gives herself away with a slightly insane and wheezy giggle as she snatches up her prey and begins to press buttons and conduct taste tests.  Last night she was playing with her back to the table and about 4 yards away.  My wife got up to change the tape in the VCR and before she could turn around again, Little Bit had a remote in hand.  That kind of persistent motivation will surely serve her well in life, but for now, it’s just going to drive us bonkers.


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