You realize you’re a REAL parent when … (Three Wise Monkeys)

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You realize you’re a REAL parent when you roll over in the middle of the night and find a board book wedged under your hip!

To this point, we have been grappling with parenthood – figuring out how to deal with the ever-changing needs of an infant and getting past those initial hurdles: “Will our baby keep sleeping through the night?” “Will I make it through the work week without collapsing on my feet?” “Are other infants really this BUSY?”

Then just this week, ten days before Tau’s first birthday, I realized that we have a little BOY living in our house. A living, breathing little monkey of a boy. And we are real parents!

An update on the monkey child …

SEE NO EVIL

It really is all about the seeing, and those baby blue eyes never stop moving. Not only are they the window of the soul; they are the rudder of that busy little body. And where the eyes rove, the body moves … in perpetual motion, which makes dressing and diapering near impossible these days!

Yesterday it took me ten minutes to dress Tau for daycare – thanks to his slick Houdini moves and instant body flips. When he was finally dressed, I realized he’d grown too long in the body for the dungarees I’d put him in and couldn’t bring myself to send him to daycare in uncomfortable clothes. So we did it all over again with a bigger pair of pants. Whew! Getting him into the car seat took another ten minutes. He does stiff back arches a Cirque du Soleil star would be proud of! Why? To reach and (of course) touch the car roof where he’s seen the oh-so-fascinating coat hook.

It’s the little and the big things: The umbrella-like spray of the garden watering system … the puzzlement of not being able to see a person when there’s clearly a voice coming out of the telephone … and finding out what’s really up Daddy’s nostrils.

Then there is the other kind of seeing – Tau’s growing perception of his own little capital-S Self. So you put pasta on his fork and hand it to him. He takes it and puts the food in his mouth. You sign and say, “More, Tau?” He reaches to give the fork back to you but at the last minute pulls it away and cackles like a crazy little man. Yes, it’s dawned on him that he has the power to take action … or not. And that he has the power to make you react: If you crawl to the TV, stand up and whack the glass, Mom will come running to say, “No, Tau, no,” move you away, and give you a toy. When you deliberately drop your bottle over the edge of the high chair, Dad will eventually reach down, pick it up and give it back to you. All this is very entertaining.

HEAR NO EVIL

The ear surgery, we are happy to report, was a great success! Tau is definitely hearing better and – touch wood – the ear infections are at an end as far as we can tell.

Having a child teaches you to hear differently. Babies don’t filter noise like grown ups do. Almost every sound is unique and interesting to them … until it becomes common-place and is added to the I-won’t-respond-to-it-unless-it’s-relevant pile. Favorite sounds this week: Water of any kind, the crows squawking outside, cars and trucks accelerating, the ring of the phone (and consternation when his parents screen for telemarketers and don’t answer it), the loud whir-screech of Dad’s cordless drill, and the lovely sounds of Mom driving into the garage at night.

Above all, there is the wonder of music – and the fact that he can now STAND UP in his play pen (aka baby jail) and bop to Bob Marley. But even better than that is when Dave or I take him in our arms and whirl with him around the kitchen. The look on his face is pure elation!

SPEAK NO EVIL

How do babies learn to talk? We recently watched a three-part documentary called The Baby Human. In the speech segment, they break down the various stages of language acquisition, and it all seems pretty mundane. But in reality, it’s a mystery and a wonder. Although Tau has been accumulating words for months now, he is all of a sudden starting to use language. He crawls over and reaches up when you say, “Come!” and clearly understands “No” and “More?” (has for some time actually). “Mama” and “Dada” are now used with meaning (and volume) all the time, and he’ll attempt other words occasionally … Na (No) … Ma (More).

But what amazes me is how much he understands: “Put your head down on my shoulder.” He does. “Give Daddy a hug.” Hugs Dave and sometimes even pats his back. “Out your car seat, please Mister.” He scrambles out. “Where is Mommy’s nose?” Right …. there.

And there is still lots of baby talk. We have loooooong conversations consisting of nothing more than “Wa wa wa wa wa … Ma ma ma ma ma … Da da da da da …”

So it goes in our house these days. As I said to my brother the other day, “We certainly caught ourselves a live one!”

Tau sometimes reminds me of the monkeys in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (at least, I think it was Midnight’s Children). There is that surreal scene where a million monkeys are scrambling all over some derelict building, throwing down stones (or was it money?) from turrets, screeching wildly and generally having a grand old time destroying the building. It always unsettled me a bit, but now, having Tau, I understand just how much fun it is being a monkey (and for that matter, a parent), climbing all over your mother and father’s tired old bones and pulling on their hair. And truthfully, some days I don’t have the energy to object. It’s easier, and way more fun to just tickle his tummy, laugh, and hug him close!

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