Friday, February 26, 2010

Pirouettes and Rocket Science

            After playing with Celia for an hour, I went upstairs to grab a cable off the desk and she followed me up, sat at the computer and looked at me with puppy-eyes.
            “Okay, we can watch something,” I said.
            I moved the mouse to see what was on the screen. Michelle had borrowed some DVD’s from the library, and Swan Lake was halfway through. I pressed Play and we started watching elegant ladies in tutus fluttering about to delicate orchestral music.
            Celia and I were both riveted for awhile, then Celia began to raise her hands above her head. Amused, I watched her flap her arms a couple of times, and bob her head back and forth, then I said, “Let me see you do ballet.”
            I set her on the floor, and she began to bend her knees, then straighten up with her arms raised above her head, all the while lilting her head back and forth. She walked over to the mirror and watched herself. I grinned ear to ear. My daughter. Doing ballet. Who’d’ve thought?
            “Do a pirouette,” I said. Celia looked at me and lifted a foot. I laughed. That was pretty good, by my standards.
            It struck me that our kids are sponges. They soak up everything around them. If I wanted her to get into ballet, all I’d have to do is expose her to ballet all the time. If I wanted her to get into mathematics, I could teach her at a young age with all sorts of videos available at the library.
            It’s amazing to me that so many kids just get “whatever” instead of intentional choices for what they’re exposed to. Here we have an opportunity to see our kids grow in whatever world-class field we want, and we end up defaulting to dancing puppets. Entertaining? Yes. Brainless? Definitely.
            Makes me stop and think. I’m going to keep some ballet videos in the house, and maybe add a few more genres that catch my eye; wildlife films, Spanish stuff, rocket science. Why not? If my kid’s into it, the world’s the limit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Loss

            A friend of mine just passed away.
            I’m still in a state of shock. The last time I was with him was on New Year’s Eve, and he took all sorts of goofy photos of me blowing those cheap plastic noise-makers with a sparkly cone hat on my head and a frisky smile on my face. He had a way of bringing out the deeper stuff in me, and the photos show the same – there’s a good one of me blowing a noise-maker through my nose. Ridiculous.
            I smile as I write, but I’m sad at the thought that he’s gone now, forever. I can’t believe it. He wasn’t all that old, and it sounds like it was sudden – a co-worker found him at his desk.
            I feel a deep sense of wanting to seize the present life we have left. I want to rush to the small town I was born in and live near my parents while they still have energy. I want to take my daughter camping and sailing and hiking. I want to show her the stars, and tell her the stories of the constellations. I feel a deep sense of urgency to get out of the city and seize what little life we have.
            Who knows which one of the people dear to me will pass away next? It could even be me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eye Contact

            Michelle’s been telling me to, “Make sure you get eye contact with Celia” every time we play together now. She read it in a book somewhere. Apparently, it’s supposed to improve the child’s self esteem or something.
            At first I thought it was silly, a light-hearted and easy task. But then, when I started trying to pin her down and actually look into her eyes I found it a lot more difficult than it sounded.
            Celia is the epitome of energy. She squirms from one thing to the next without a breath in between. She’ll be chasing the cat one minute, and running back and forth with a ball the next. Then, she’ll climb up the stairs in search of something, back down again, start jumping at my leg like she wants me, then run away again when she gets that little spurt of attention.
            How on earth can a guy look his daughter in the eye when she’s that squirmy?
            One thing we do have going for us is reading. She absolutely loves books, and is spurred on by Michelle’s weekly trips to the library, after which there are two or three new stacks sitting on the coffee table.
            Celia will read through all of them in the first day. She absorbs anything in front of her (except for the ones with inadequate art), and eagerly asks for more. Problem is, she’s always sitting in the lap, looking away. No eye contact. So, yes, she’s calmed down and nestled in with us, but no, she’s not looking into the eyes. Hmm.
            Yesterday I told myself I’d put in that extra effort to lock eyes with her, even if only for three seconds. When I got home from work she leaped into my arms, and stayed there for awhile looking everywhere except my eyes. It’s harder than it sounds, I realized, as she pointed and showed me all the things that interested her that day.
            Then it was game time. She’s just starting to figure out hide-and-seek, so Michelle and I would take turns covering our eyes while the other one would go hide with her or vice versa. Celia took to the game with gusto, and although she isn’t particularly a good hider, we’d pretend not to see her for a little while before suddenly “seeing” her. At this point in the game everybody needs to shriek. Daddies. Mommies. Daughters. It makes things a whole heckuva lot more exciting and it brings a huge smile to my face every time.
            So, we ran around shrieking and hiding for a good forty minutes, until she was hungry. I thought, “Here’s my opportunity!” but no, alas, she is feeding herself these days and doesn’t really want to look at me while she’s doing it.
            She made her customary mess, then I cleaned her up in the sink and we went into the living room to read some stories. After a few stories she got the bulgy look in her eyes, and I knew it was time for soiling the diaper. Sure enough, she began to grunt, her face strained and turned red, and a certain smell entered the room.
            “Let’s go change your diaper,” I said to her, taking her hand.
            We walked into her room and I lay her on the changing table. In that moment, that unexpected blip of time where I checked to see how she was doing, we suddenly locked eyes.
            I grinned, and stared into her eyes as long as she let me. She smiled back and said, “Daddy.”
            “Yes, my Sweet Pea.”
            She kept looking at me as she started patting her diaper.
            “Yes, I’m going to change your diaper.”
            “Eeeugh!” she said, and looked away.
            And that was it. Short, but very sweet.
            I now understand why Michelle keeps telling me to make eye contact with her. It takes some effort, but the reward is huge, not just for Celia, but for me.
            I think I fell in love with her all over again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hockey and the Case of the Missing Curls

            I got my hair cut over the weekend.
            It was out of control, curly locks running all over the place without any sense of order. I’m doing some major business deals in the next few weeks so I wanted to look professional, and the big head of hair was starting to concern me. My hair gets quite a bit curlier the longer it gets, and although I thought it was endearing that photographs of me and Celia looked great, both of us sporting long curly locks, I was ready to cut it out and get back to something more apropos.
            Michelle had asked me to meet her at the park that day. She hadn’t known I was planning on cutting my hair. When I showed up her face turned white and she said through pursed lips, “I don’t like it.” Every time she looked at me for the next two days she winced.
            I didn’t really expect her to like it. She had been telling me every single day how great my hair looked, with the longer and longer curls racing wildly around. But I was surprised at just how much she was turned off by a short cut.
            I started observing other peoples’ hair cuts.
            Last night, as we were sitting around the kitchen table watching the Olympics on my laptop with a couple of friends, I observed every athlete with interest. I was surprised at how many had long hair. I hadn’t expected that.
            As we were watching, Celia turned to Michelle and said, “Hockey!”
            My eyes bulged. “Did you just say ‘Hockey’!?”
            Celia looked at me with a huge grin on her face and tentatively said, “Hockey.”
            “You said ‘Hockey’!”
            She grinned even larger and said it again, “Hockey!”
            “You definitely grew up in Canada,” I told her with a smile. “One of your first dozen words is ‘Hockey.’ Who’d’ve guessed?”
            “Hockey. Hockey. Hockey!” she chanted.
            I shook my head. She’s sixteen months old, and that’s one of her first two-syllable words. Unbelievable.
            “Oooh! Look at that guy’s hair!” Michelle said happily.
            I looked. The figure skater was definitely sporting a decent head of curls. I then realized that Michelle had been doing the same thing as me – looking at every guy and their hair style.
            Michelle’s in the “emotional” stage of her pregnancy. Everything seems to make her cry these days, whether it’s a TV commercial or an insensitive word. Good and bad, she takes it all in times a hundred.
            I turned to her and said, “Okay, Michelle. Starting today I’ll grow my hair out like that guy there.”
            “What?” Michelle started to cry. “That’s the best news I’ve heard since I knew I was pregnant!”
            My eyes bulged and my friends laughed. One of them said, “Make a note of this date. It’s the beginning of the new Ephie!”
            Maybe it’s foolish, but my wife definitely needed a pick-me-up. I’ve never grown my hair so long, and I’ll be curious to see what it turns out to be. So, I’ve decided to take a photograph of my head every day and stitch them all together at the end of it all to watch the progression all at once. And who knows, maybe I’ll actually like it?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Extreme Oatmeal

            I made oatmeal Saturday morning. Celia has been showing a profound interest in hot cereals of late, and when I stood looking at my breakfast options, I had a sense that it was oatmeal’s turn.
            As I stood at the stove stirring the pot, Celia grew impatient. “Eeeeh!” she called at me, tugging on my leg.
            These are the moments where language isn’t exactly necessary. Anybody would know she’s just being plain-and-simple-sixteen-month-old-impatient.
            “Just a couple more minutes, Sweetie,” I said, patting her head. She rampaged through the kitchen until, finally, at long last, I called to her, “Okay. It’s ready.”
            She lifted her arms so I would pick her up and put her in her high chair. I attached her bib and put the bowl in front of her with a little green spoon. I turned back to the stove to get my bowl and cut up some more bananas for myself. When I got back she’d started feeding herself.
            Interesting, I thought. Let’s see how this goes. Why not? She’s got to learn to feed herself sometime. Why not now?
            Halfway through the meal, everything about my daughter was a mess. Her gorgeous long locks of brown hair were coated with oatmeal sludge. Her hands were completely drenched in the stuff. And her face was a Picasso painting.
            “Bravo,” I told her.
            Just when I figured I’d seen it all, Celia stuck her finger right up her right nostril, pushing a big chunk of oatmeal at least one knuckle inside, if not two.
            My eyes bulged in shock and I laughed. “Are you sure you want to put that oatmeal up your nose?” I asked.
            Celia grinned at me. She wasn’t even picking her nose, she was just keeping her finger there. Maybe it was because of my reaction. Or maybe she just liked the feel of it; something new to play with.
            “Let’s eat some more,” I said. I put some on a spoon and held it out to her. She obediently ate the bite and took her finger out. “Is anything in your nose?” I asked. She looked at me inquisitively. “Blow your nose,” I said.
            She blew a little bit, but nothing came out. I just shook my head. They didn’t tell me in the user manual that my daughter would do such things.
            My daughter watched me calmly. I noticed a single flake floating in and out of her right nostril as she breathed. I grinned and wished I had a video camera. This daughter of mine certainly does make me smile! I suppose these will just have to be the moments I remember in my heart. The silly, unexpected messiness that raising a child conjures.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Midnight Wails

            When I got home from work I greeted my ladies and crashed onto the couch. I could feel in my bones I either needed a nap or a jog. Celia was wandering around and grabbed my nose. What the heck, I figured, I’ll let her decide.
            “Celia, do you want to go for a run to Trout Lake? Or do you want to play at home?”
            Celia’s bright hazel eyes looked into my own as she said, “Eeuuh!”
            I needed more clarification. “Celia. If you want to go to Trout Lake, clap your hands.”
            She started clapping awkwardly with a snack container in one hand. I looked up at Michelle with wide surprised eyes and Michelle grinned. Celia then paused, put down her snacks, and clapped loudly as she walked to the front door.
            “Okay,” I grinned, peeling myself off of the couch. “My daughter wants to go to the park.”
            We had a great time when we arrived, swinging and feeding the ducks leftover puffed-rice cakes. I was energized when I got home, as usually is the case, but weariness set in again after dinner and I knew I wasn’t going to make it very long. After putting Celia to bed we watched some Olympic figure skating and went straight to bed, hoping for good rest and a morning of more energy.
            It was just after 2am when Celia first started crying. When the crying got louder Michelle went down to console her. I looked at the clock after 3am, wondering when Michelle would return. It was almost 3:30am when Michelle came back to bed defeated, and Celia sounded even worse than before.
            I struggled out of bed and picked her up. She was frantic. Her lungs sounded raspy, which made me wonder if she’s sick, but I got this uncanny parental sense that there was something more. I think she was afraid.
            I scooped her up and held her tight. She was drenched in tears. I sang and prayed, then sang some more. She finally calmed when I held her in the rocking chair, patting her gently while her head rested on my chest.
            She dozed off. I grew hopeful that she would be okay, but then she jerked awake and started to freak out again. I stood with her. When she saw her night-light she screamed. I felt chills run up my back. “What’s wrong? Are you wondering about the night light?”
            I took her over to the night light and pointed. “That’s the night light. And next to it is the lamp, and all the electrical cables. Look.” I explained every item in the vicinity until she calmed down. I ended up reading her a story, singing one more song, and finally leaving her to fall asleep. She cried, but it felt more “normal,” less frantic.
            I collapsed into bed utterly exhausted as I listened to her cries die down and disappear within a couple of minutes. It felt like two minutes later that I looked at the clock and peeled myself out of bed for work. I’m amazed that I’ve actually been able to focus today. I just hope that my daughter is okay, and that these kinds of midnight wails are nearly over. I vaguely remember just how tired I used to be a year ago when she wasn’t sleeping through the night.
            I think I was more tired than this. I suppose I should be thankful.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Cuteness Factor

            Is it possible that my daughter somehow got cuter? I didn’t think it was possible to be cuter than she already was, but now when I look at her I am amazed at all the small things that add up in the “cuteness factor”.
·       She scrunches up her little hands and holds them up to her mouth when she’s feeling shy.
·       Her humongous toothy grin, far larger than you’d think could come out of such a small person, and complete with black gaps where there are still no teeth.
·       Squinting her eyes when she grins at the camera.
·       She takes off her shirt randomly and walks around bare-chested. You never know what to expect when you see her.
·       She bounces up and down when she likes the music playing.
·       She’ll now entertain herself by running back and forth chasing the cat, climbing up onto furniture (we found her on top of the clothes drying rack! Eek!), or digging into some new discovery (plants, purses, computer bags, etc).
·       I can’t eat anything in front of her anymore. She bounds over, lifts her arms and says, “Uuugh!” which is her way of saying, “Could you please let me try that delicious looking morsel in your hands?”
·       She sneezes 10 octaves higher than anyone else in the house.
·       She will help unload any groceries, even beer bottles. And she’s actually quite good at it, believe it or not!
Every dad finds the things they find adorable in their kid. I’m just amazed that every day the list keeps getting bigger!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dancing on Dumpsters and Scary Bits

            I just had the craziest dream last night. I was a chaperone taking my two kids, now teenagers, to a teenage party. What bothered me wasn’t the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. My kids looked at me with worried looks and I said, “I was a teenager once. I know what it’s like. Just make the right decisions.”
            The real dilemma came later when a young guy came into the restroom with a gun wanting to do someone in. I disarmed him and handcuffed him (not sure where I got the handcuffs, but hey, it’s a dream). When I told my son and his friends what had happened, they decided to let the guy go and make sure he wouldn’t do anything stupid later.
            The thing that bugged me was that this kid was volatile. Who’s to say he doesn’t keep some sort of vendetta and shoot me, or for that matter, my son, at a later date? I suddenly felt very vulnerable.
            I wonder if I had the dream because of what was happening last night. It was Chinese New Year, as well as the first night of the Olympics, being hosted right here in Vancouver. We started the evening off with a special feast at a friend’s house. When Celia got tired Michelle said, “Look, there’s so much free stuff going on tonight for the Olympics. I’ll take Celia to bed. Why don’t you go out with George?”
            Say no more! At this point I’ll take every chance I get. My favorite moment was coming across a fantastic funky band playing on the street. They were blasting the neighborhood with good grooves and had gathered a huge crowd. George and I climbed onto a dumpster and started dancing.
            Before that there was a free event behind fences and security that we wanted to get into. We saw a long line-up snaking around the fence, so we followed it to its end, only to find that there was no entry-way into the fenced area.
            As we were realizing we had no way of getting in, a couple of guys jumped the fence. I looked at George and said, “It’s now or never. Do you want to go to this show?”
            George nodded. We hopped the fence, along with an increasing assortment of people. It wasn’t until a security guard arrived that people stopped.
            As I was craning my head to watch, some young guy started pushing past saying, “Excuse me. Mind if I get through?”
            I put out my arm and shoved him back. “Yes, I do mind.”
            He looked at me stunned. He was probably around twenty, and a big guy, full of lots of energy. I looked him in the eye, “Who do you think you are, that you get to budge past all of us?”
            A younger woman spoke up next to him, “He’s my brother. Sorry about him.”
            Ah, only in Canada. Even in the craziest crowd dynamics, this country is the only one I’ve ever lived in where I’ve heard someone cutting in line apologize. I’ve heard more “Sorry’s” here in one evening that I’ll hear in a month living in the United States.
            I could see that the guy was a bit dazed, so I went on, “And if you’ll excuse me,” I pushed him aside to let George get through, “You’ve cut in front of my friend.” George scampered up next to me. I’m glad I stood my ground, because security cut off all those after us, including the young man.
            Just like my dream last night, I am reminded that young guys doing rash stuff can be volatile. It made me realize how we are releasing our children into a great big world, with relatively little protection.
            I can see why some parents get over-protective. They want to make sure their kids aren’t exposed to all the world’s messiness. I can feel the delicate balance of wanting to protect my daughter while at the same time wanting to expose her to some ugly stuff while I’m present to teach her about it. When we’re over-protective of our children at a young age, they’ll have a bigger learning curve when they’re older.
            Celia’s at an age right now where she likes to watch movies. As I sit with her and watch, I’m constantly amazed at just how many scary bits there are, especially the ones that I wouldn’t have thought were very scary, because she turns away and wants to do something else.
            I don’t want her to have nightmares, but I also know that she’s got to learn about the scary stuff at some point. If I protect her from it till she’s five, when she’s released into the first grade, then she’ll be the only girl who gets freaked out when they put on a simple Disney film.
            But for now, she’s only sixteen months, and my heart goes out to her. So I did some simple editing and snipped out all the scary scenes from her movie. I watched it over and was amazed. Although the plot is a bit confusing, and there’s no real tension anymore, the film actually works as a bunch of songs and happy interactions. Now I know she can watch it without worrying about any nightmares.
            For now, this solution makes me happy, but at some point, I do want her to become exposed. If I teach her at a young age about some of the world’s ugliness, by the time she’s a teenager and at some crazy party, she’ll have learned the lessons well and I won’t have to stay up worrying as much.
            At least, I’m optimistic about it. But my friends who have teenagers all have told me, “Raising kids, you don’t get sleep for the first few years, because they keep you up, and then you don’t sleep during the teenage years because you stay up worrying that they’re okay until they get home.”
            We’ll see. For now, I’m thankful that my daughter is sleeping through the night and that I have the chance to go out. I’ll take it one day at a time, because frankly, you never know what will happen around the corner.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Intentionality

            Seems like I don’t have any free time left. Work has me so busy I haven’t even stopped for breaks the last two weeks. And I’m starting to wonder if I’ve crossed that line from happily involved in many things to overcommitted.
            When you read all those time management books they say figure out your top priorities and make sure you have time for those. I think that’s a pretty good principle in general. But of course, even when you have your priorities in mind, life happens. Life is messy. Dirty diapers and achy backs aren’t exactly on my top list of priorities, but a happy baby and physical health are, so when these things come up I’ve got to make sure I have time for them.
            But I can tell that I’ve entered the danger zone. The place where my child is more mature and requiring just a tad less attention, which frees me up to think of other things – things like playing music, outside friendships, writing the novel I’ve been working on for three years. These things are all very good, and they’ve all had their time of hibernation, but I feel the itch. They’re waking and telling me they’re all a part of me and want to have themselves placed higher up the priority list.
            Problem is, when something goes on the priority list, then some things need to come off. Right now, I’m starting to realize that the first thing to go is the “nothing” time I used to have.
            Those time management books don’t talk about “nothing” time. They act like it’s unimportant, and say things like, “Everything must be intentionally planned, so that we make the most of every day.”
            But I’ve lived in Latin countries. I know there’s another way. I’ve deeply enjoyed time where we “hang out” and allow things to happen around us. When we aren’t busy racing around we have time to pay attention to neighbors, and have enough space in our lives for friends to drop by unannounced.
            I think it’s a very American/Canadian thing, to plan our days with so much stuff that there’s no time to do nothing. I think that’s one of the things I really appreciate about Michelle. I have plenty of friends I can do something with, but few who I can do nothing with. She, and my two best buddies in this city, are the only ones.
            It’s such a pleasure to do nothing with those you care about – to hang around noticing things, or reading independently, or simply chatting. That’s part of the joy of parenthood – it forces us to be in that space, that mindset of simply being present to another person and whatever may come up.
            I wish I had more time for some of the outside activities who’ve awoken – those grizzled bears emerging from their caves. I think I’ll have to limit myself to one or two, rather than four or five. Let’s be realistic here. I still have a little toddler, and another one on the way. Can’t be too overly ambitious. I need to have time to do nothing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Face-Plant

            I took Celia to the park today and she did a full face plant right on the sand. Ka-Bam! Sand up her nose and coating her open mouth. Her face turned deep red and her mouth was open in a silent scream for a good solid ten seconds before she finally gasped a breath.
            It took me awhile to console her. She’d let out a wail every time I tried wiping sand out of her left nostril or out of her tiny teeth. Eventually the crows saved the day. It happened to be that perfect time of day where the crows make their migration across town to their night-time abode, and stop at Trout Lake along the way for a snack. We sat on a park bench as I mopped up her face and watched a hundred crows gather on the beach. They cawed delightedly at each other as they found the remnants of seeds and crumbs people had been feeding the ducks throughout the day.
            Celia stopped crying and pointed. Always a good sign. She does the same thing when I pick her up from her crib after she’s been crying at the end of a nap. She goes from bawling all alone to suddenly being scooped up in her Daddy’s arms. The sheer shock of the speedy transition takes her a few seconds to compute. She sputters out a few more wails, then points at some random object and says, “Der?”
            “Yes, that’s a plant,” I’ll say. “And a beautiful one at that.” I’ll usually expound on the characteristics of the plant for awhile, and then she’ll point at something else and say, “Zat?”
            “It’s the bookcase with all our books on it.”
            She nods her head silently, enjoying the sound of my voice. The same happened with the crows. I looked at where her finger pointed and knew it was the sheer mass of flying critters that had caught her interest. “Crows, Sweetie. They’re taking a break before they go home.”
            We sat there for a few minutes watching silently. I rather enjoyed our little moment together on the bench. It’s hard to get her to settle down and just sit with you, except in the early mornings. And nowadays I don’t see her in the mornings at all except on the weekends, so it felt nice to have a calm daughter sitting there with me. Almost made it feel worth it, all the ugliness of a face plant.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ultra-Sounds

            It’s a boy!
            Yesterday we sandwiched in a trip to get an ultra-sound in-between work, shopping for the meal we cook for 150 needy folks, and a meeting I had at the church.
            It was a non-stop day, from 5:30am till 10pm, one thing after another. The stop at the lab was a moment of rest in many ways. We sat in the lounge for almost an hour, entertaining Celia and enjoying the way she approached everyone who gave her eye contact. By the time Michelle was called in, Celia was getting restless, and the extra fifteen minutes we had to wait before they let us in drew on uncomfortably.
            After she began loudly warbling to a new couple who’d just sat down, I scooped her up and began pointing at things and explaining them. “That’s a painting of flowers. Do you like those flowers, Celia?”
            “Ooooh.”
            “And that’s a painting of islands. In fact, I’ve been to that island. It’s just up the coast. It’s called Anvil Island.”
            Celia reached out and touched the painting.
            But before long, we’d seen everything there was to see. I instinctively began to softly sing into her ear as I strolled back and forth in the lobby. I felt her relax in my arms, and I changed songs. It was only after I’d been at it for five minutes that I looked at a woman who was watching me, and realized what I was doing. I grew a bit uncomfortable. It was so instinctive, I hadn’t even thought of others being around. But then I thought, that’s silly, they probably appreciate a bit of singing as they all wait for their appointments.
            I changed songs and continued singing into her ear until they called us in. I’d been preparing Celia for a whole week for this. She owns a book on expecting a younger sibling, so I was able to explain a number of times, “In the picture where you see the doctor putting an instrument on Mommy’s belly, and we get to see the baby… Well, that’s what we’re doing today.”
            When they called us in I said, “Now we get to see what the baby looks like in Mommy’s belly, and we get to know whether it’s a girl or boy.”
            Celia looked at Michelle lying on the table with interest. At first, the technician showed us how all the parts looked normal, and we got a good look at the baby as a whole. Then she paused and said, “It’s a boy.”
            “What? Where?” I asked.
            “Okay,” she adjusted her instrument, “Look there.”
            “Ahh. Okay, I’ve seen it. I believe it.” I smiled at Michelle. A boy. I don’t know what I expected, but I’m certainly thrilled. In all honesty, even though I’ve already had a baby, the whole pregnancy thing feels unreal to me. I still fail to grasp that I’m the father of another child.
            I suppose Michelle has an easier time at realizing it, since the little dude is squirming all over the place in there, but for me, it’s just a lump in her belly until he’s born. But now that I know his sex, and the name we’ve discussed for him, he’s starting to feel like a real person.
            I know some people don’t like to find out the sex of their baby before birth. My brother did that. For us, we figured it would help us mentally prepare and know who we’re praying for in there. And frankly, I’m just thrilled. It’s great to have another piece of the puzzle figured out.
            So, Celia will be a big sister in about four or five months. I’m sure she’ll be great. And the more I think of it, the more glad I am that we’re having a boy. Right now the house if full of females – my wife, my daughter, our housemate, the cat. Time to level out the playing field a bit – add some testosterone to things.
            Yep, I can feel myself getting excited already. It’s a boy. A little joy. Oh boy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Night Terrors

            At 11pm last night Celia woke up crying hysterically. As usual, Michelle creaked out of bed and went to console her. Usually Celia calms down as soon as Michelle becomes visible, but this time she continued to scream even after a couple of minutes. I crawled out of bed and plodded down the stairs to see what was the matter.
            Michelle was holding our wailing and squirming daughter down in Celia’s new bedroom. I looked at Michelle. “What’s wrong?”
            “I don’t know.”
            “Come here Sweetie.” I sat cross-legged on the carpet, reached out to Celia and gathered her into my lap. Celia desperately grasped for a nearby book before she nestled into my lap. I suppose the familiarity of Daddy reading her a book was her instinct to find some level of comfort.
            I read her the book quietly, and she calmed down, although I still felt her angst deep in her spirit. I finished the book and started to sing. At first I sang made up words, “I love you my little sweetheart. Everything’s okay. We’re here for you Darling.” Then, I sang her a familiar lullaby, “Lay down, my dear Celia. Lay down and take a rest...”
            I felt Celia calm significantly.
            After finishing the song, I prayed over her, passed her back to Michelle, and went back to bed.
            As I was walking up the stairs, I had a distinct sense of how privileged I am to be a parent. Of course, on a basic level, my daughter disturbed my rest. But on a deeper level I felt honored to be the one who gets to comfort her. Michelle and I are the ones she turns to for her deepest love, and as we give her that love we feel loved and blessed in return. What a wonderful gift!
            I still don’t know what was wrong. It could have been physical – indigestion, gas, or the ache from her new teeth coming in. It could have been psychological or spiritual – bad dreams or fears. I don’t know. A friend told me that the “night terrors” begin around this age. That could be it, I suppose. In some ways it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Celia knows she is loved, and that we’re there for her. And for me and Michelle, we’re been given a new reminder of just how much we love this girl.
            Yet another opportunity to share love in our family!