A few years ago, Lindsey and I made the trek up to Nashville (everyone please stop calling it NashVegas IMMEDIATELY) for a wedding. On the way back, we stopped in Memphis to spend the evening with some of Lindsey's friends who were the proud parents of a child who was somewhere between the ages of two and three. This kid was everywhere but not in an out of control way, more like a slightly hyper, entertaining way. I thought he was HILARIOUS. His parents ... not quite so much. This was still fairly early in our marriage and we weren't thinking about kids yet but we dutifully asked what it was like to be a parent, what sort of changes they had had to make, etc. And I will never forget one of the responses, when our friend, a reasonable, normal human mother said, "I just sometimes wish that he would stop touching me." I get it now.
We have an awesome baby. The greatest baby, even. His issues and deficiencies are minor as compared to some other babies I have been around or heard about in Parenting Lore. He could be a colicy baby and cry all the time. He could be a Maggie Simpson baby and never STOP being a baby. (Homer and Marge don't get enough credit for keeping it together even though their children NEVER get older.) Or he could be Rosemary's Baby and be, you know, the devil. He is none of these things and for this, I am grateful. But that doesn't mean he doesn't get on my proverbial last nerve from time to time. Or sometimes, all of the time.
In the last few weeks, Cooper has picked up a couple of bad habits. First of all, he's stopped sleeping as well as he once did. He's still not a bad sleeper, per se, but say a kid who sleeps for 7-8 straight hours each night is at 100 Percent Sleeping Capacity, Cooper was once like a 75 and is now closer to a 60. Obviously I'll take 60 over 20 but when your brain adjusts to 75 and thinks the worst is over, that 15 percent difference is killer. Second, he has developed an incessant need to be cuddled. Once upon a time, he needed to be held for five minutes to fall asleep but now it's suddenly a long drawn out process wherein he falls asleep beautifully but wakes immediately if removed from his chosen cuddling position. A five minute process performed two or three times a night has turned into a 15 or 20 minute process performed half a dozen times. Third, and perhaps most egregious among the charges I am levying against him, is his sudden devotion to clutching, grabbing, and clawing at his parents in the most obnoxious ways possible. It's bad enough when your baby won't go to sleep in a timely fashion; when he also spends that entire time pushing your buttons, it can be almost insufferable.
Worse yet, he has sized both of us up and identified our weaknesses. For Lindsey, it's the hair. If she's trying to get him to fall asleep, his first line of action is to grab the edges of her hair and pull with all his might. Now you might be thinking, "He's a baby, how strong is he?" And if you are thinking that, clearly you're not a parent. Pound for pound, babies are the strongest humans on the planet when it comes to pulling and grabbing things. A baby can OWN you with a simple grab and pull.
His method for aggravating me is to focus exclusively on my throat which he pinches and scratches with glee in an effort to stay awake and then holds on long after he's actually fallen asleep but before he's ready to give up the fight. Now look, I realize that this may seem like a small thing. But guys, I really hate things touching my neck. I blame this partially on a childhood fear that someone would rip out my larynx which I know is both horrific and oddly specific but a cousin of mine saw it on Dateline and told me about it and it terrified me. If I was a spy and I was being tortured for information, all my captors would have to do would be to force me to wear a collared shirt with the top button buttoned for more than an hour. I'd spill the beans quicker than Chunk with his hand in a blender. I sleep sans shirt not because I am built like an MMA fighter but because the cuff of my shirt touching my neck would keep me up for hours. I HATE things touching my neck. Somehow my child knows this and uses this information for evil.
It is in these moments when I feel like I am at my worst as a parent. I am patient when I put him down to sleep the first time, a little less patient the second time, and downright aggravated should the task be required a third, fourth, or fifth time. I grin and bear it while he attempts to Dateline me the first go round, remove his little hand over and over again the second time around, and contemplate tying his hands behind his back the third time. I grow more and more frustrated with each whine and attempted throat rip which in turn makes me feel incredibly guilty after the fact. After all, the truth is all this little being wants is some extra time with his dad (and maybe to remove my larynx but I can't really prove this) and yet all his dad wants is to get back to playing Clash of Clans on his iPad.
I imagine any of you who are parents no doubt understand this situation all too well. You love your kid and you love spending time with your kid but these little grievances (and let's be honest, most of the things that drive us crazy are little things, even if your kids are teenagers) push you to moments you'd like to take back. I don't have some grand solution to these missteps or an inspirational quote that will DEFINITELY keep you from putting your baby in a straight jacket. This post is more of the, "Hey, you're not alone; I sometimes hate my child, too" variety that maybe brings you a small moment of relief in the midst of all the hair pulling, throat ripping, or whatever it is your child does to make you insane. And maybe it we're lucky and we all band together, we can convince the children to stop touching us.
Can babies have Nyquil? Brian