Pretty much amazing

I feel bad that the only words I’ve written about Kayleigh over the last couple of months revolve largely around her deciding to have a major meltdown upon entering the “terrible twos”. The reality is that our little girl has been blossoming into a a truly wonderful person to be around… most of the time. She just has a habit of showing off her worst side just before I get a chance to write about how much I love her. 20 minutes of uncontrollable screaming somehow manages to nearly wipeout an entire day of joy.

Kayleigh

We’re talking blood curdling screams because we forgot to let her grab the diaper out of the bag before changing her. Or dropping to the floor and sobbing when we don’t let her press the buttons on microwave while rushing to get food prepared. Sometimes she can be such a… you know… baby.

Kayleigh

But it really isn’t fair to the girl she has become to harp on those moments. It’s easy for kids to get pigeonholed for certain bad behaviors they develop. We still often think of Kayleigh as a bad sleeper even though I can count on one hand the number of times she hasn’t slept rather soundly through the night (or at least put herself right back to sleep) the last few months. And yet the habit of tiptoeing through the house and jumping at every rustling sound on the monitor is hard to break.

Kayleigh

Just as our little mop topped moppet regularly beds down at a regular time with significantly less fuss than, say, 6 months ago, she has also grown as a person. With each passing day I can see in her a desire to connect with people – to connect with me. Leaving the room for too long provokes calls of “Daddy, Daddy” as she comes up with some little endeavor to demonstrate, just because she wants the company. She takes us on adventures throughout our house, acting out cartoons from the previous day while re-purposing various rooms to represent imaginary locales. Her little chair with the fuzzy cover has become an easel to accommodate her interest in “painting” with a basting brush. If we are so inclined to join her, a chopstick may be offered for our artistic contributions.

Kayleigh

After months of being pushed away in defense of her personal space, the walls have been crumbling as she begins to reach out more and more for contact with people beyond Mommy. And while she remains a timid child (still requesting our support for navigating even the smallest of slides) a rambunctious side has broken through in the form of jumping on Daddy with great delight.

I haven’t done a good job of chronicling the changes this remarkable little scutch has gone through over the past year or so. Trust me when I say that it’s pretty much amazing.

Two

About twelve hours ago my little baby girl officially turned 2 years old. A few hours before that she made her official declaration that the terrible twos had begun. Alright, it wasn’t an official declaration; after all this has been building for days. Somewhere along the line Kayleigh went from constantly asking for help when encountering obstacles to throwing minor (and occasionally major) fits whenever we even suggest she need our assistance. Today the issues just happened to be complicated by a lack of sleep.

Kayleigh does a much better job these days when it comes to the tricky subject of sleep (not counting naps). The incidents of middle of the night or, indeed, any pre-6:30 AM wakings have practically vanished. At most she may inconvenient us with an hour of bizarre monologues streaming across the monitor sometime in the vicinity of 1 or 2 in the morning. Fortunately these tend to lead to later wake times. But today she decided to combine all of the issues into one. To be fair, that might have had more to do with the contents of her diaper rather than a personal decision. Regardless, a 4 AM wake time is simply no good for us or the little one, even if she did continue to perform her 1 baby, off-Broadway improv show for 1 and a half hours before it was time for me to kick down the door.

Even with a 2 hour nap in the middle of the morning, the day was filled with little tantrums around every corner. And we’re not talking “whining because we won’t let her watch TV” tantrums. No, we’re talking full blown freakouts because I had the audacity to answer the phone rather than check to see if she wanted to first or some kid briefly touched a toy that she was no longer playing with. Navigating this behavior is normally pretty rough, but doing it on a day when most of The Woman’s family was around for her birthday exaggerated the issues even more. I rarely look as forward to bedtime as I did this evening.

But that’s enough complaining. Really, I love my little girl.  But days like today push that all to the limits. Still, I can’t express how much my love has grown over these 2 years watching my little girl grow up right before my eyes. Thank you Kayleigh for another wonderful year of being my daughter.

Why it is important to watch your language around kids

Scene: The Woman is changing Kayleigh’s diaper. The tube of Balmex just exploded out the bottom.
The Woman: Oh my god! That’s why the Balmex wasn’t coming out.

Scene: 5 minutes later. Kayleigh is watching Thomas & Friends.
Kayleigh: Oh my god! It’s Thomas! Oh my god! It’s Diesel! Oh my god! It’s Thomas again!

I’d give her some credit for using it properly, but it really wasn’t that surprising or exciting that Thomas or Diesel were on TV when we had clearly started an episode of Thomas & Friends for her. And let’s be honest, 3 times in less than 20 seconds is beyond excessive. I guess it still makes more sense than her constant declarations of “that’s possible” as though possible was an adjective you’d use to describe objects around the house.

We may run out of band-aids soon

I’ve told this story too many times in the last couple of days, but since it involves my little Kayleigh, a large mirror, and a huge welt on her head I guess it bears repeating. Actually, I can’t even tell the whole story because I wasn’t there for the incident and The Woman didn’t really see what happened for sure either. It’s a bit of a mystery – one that isn’t all that mysterious.

The  long and short of it is that our bedroom is not truly child or baby-proofed. In some cases it appears as though we are actively discouraging our toddler from harboring any feelings of safety in certain areas of our house. Hey, if we can’t be very comfortable in our own room, why should she? Anyway, there’s this dresser with a big mirror on it. They are not attached. That is, apparently, a safety hazard. Who knew?

So Monday afternoon I got a frantic message from The Woman. She had moved the dresser a couple inches to reach something. The mirror fell. Kayleigh was under it. Panic ensues. By the time I got home, Kayleigh was somewhat comforted but rather sullen while curled up next to Mama. Oh, and there was a huge welt with a cut on her forehead. Head injuries are fun for the whole family! Fortunately she didn’t black out, throw up, or become overly irritable – which meant that she most likely didn’t get a concussion or attend a kegger. Sighs of relief ensue.

While the doctor said there was no need to take her anywhere since all signs pointed to A-OK, we still needed to treat the wound. All attempts to put ice on the new appendage growing out of her skull were rebuffed. That idea was abandoned as it only seemed to fire up the irritability factor. But there was concern for the cut (although it wasn’t bleeding) and we had to push forward with bandages.

She fought the good fight against any kind of healing potions being applied to her head, but I eventually whipped out my notes from Parenting 101 and realized that this was the perfect time to apply some TV knowledge. That’s right, I played the ol’ “Daddy needs a bandaid, too” card and got her to accept one after both of us put them on our own foreheads. I feel like I earned some serious daddy cred by using that method successfully.

Even with her new lumpy head she’s adorable. And that’s how she was able to milk this for all she wanted. Which is why we headed over to Whole Foods for a bunch of blueberries and to see her favorite cashier (seriously). It’s also why we head out to Panera in the morning for breakfast – where she gets to enjoy all of the butter she can cram into her mouth in the 10 seconds we give up trying to stop her.

Are you going to say no to that face?

After 3 days I feel pretty confident in saying that we dodged a bullet. Kayleigh seems happy and healthy – black and blue mark and all.

Music soothes the savage beast

Last night was just another hiccup in what has become a much easier nighttime routine for our little brat… I mean precious little one. Seriously, I’m kidding. Kayleigh’s been acting out lately but it’s the usual stuff. She’s still a wonderful joy to be around in the right increments of time…

Anyway, the little scutch had opted for a short nap which meant that half an hour before her bedtime she was already overtired. For those of you without kids and unaware of the concept of them being overtired, it’s the same thing as with adults – they get “punchy.” She was briefly lucid enough to give her grandparents goodnight kisses and willingly come upstairs in my arms to brush her teeth. But somehow between the bathroom and her bedroom the whole ordeal became too much for her to handle and, again, with the wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth.

This is how diaper changes become a 2 person job – assuming you don’t have a good restraint system in place. When a toddler switches moods, it’s easy to lose site of the tricks of the trade picked up over months of parenting. Frustration wins out over common sense and suddenly there’s two grown adults trying to to figure out how to pin down a 22 month-old without resorting to wrestling moves. Then it hit me: doesn’t this kid like music. So I broke out my dulcet tones, often described as a cross between Tony Bennet and Frank Sinatra (assuming that by crossed you mean “literally smashed into one another”), and tried to remember the opening lines of Kayleigh’s most recent most favorite song:

And amazingly, she shut up. So I passed the third line to The Woman because I don’t want to prevent Kayleigh from continuing to enjoy music (also because it’s a miracle if I can remember more than two lines of any song) and the rest of the process proceeded with little fanfare. That’s not to say the she went to sleep easily, but at least the portion that involved diapers and pajamas and books was uneventful.

Once again Jim Henson has come to my rescue. The fact that Kayleigh not only enjoys Sesame Street but can also identify characters such as Kermit and Fozzie Bear is a source of some pride for me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of the newer kiddie entertainment with my little girl, but watching her shake her groove thing to the psychedelic sounds Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem is a lot more fun that singing that damn Caillou song for the umpteenth time in a row.

For the record, “I don’t know how to thank you guys”/”I don’t know WHY to thank you guys” is still one of the greatest comedic lines in a movie. And while Kayleigh might not get all of the humor, our daily viewings of “Movin’ Right Along” have slowly morphed into watching more and more of The Muppet Movie together.

I just can’t wait for her to actually get the “fork in the road” line and laugh with me.

See Daddy in the window

Looking back over the last year or so, it’s rather amazing to see the changes in Kayleigh’s behavior around people. Especially me.

When Kayleigh was a newborn she was very easy going around me. In fact, being held in my arms and hearing my voice often got her to sleep faster than anything else. But as any parent can tell you, newborns, babies and toddlers are very different creatures. After a suitable number of months passed by with her mother and I filling ye olde traditional family roles, her attachment issues became rather singular. Gone were the simple days of letting her pass out in one arm with a beer or Wii controller being put to use by the free one so that I could give Mommy a break. Instead it was “huggy Mommy” this and “huggy Mommy” that.

To make matters worse, my work schedule eventually ran afoul of her sleep schedule. Kayleigh fell into the habit of an early bedtime, and that meant that getting home past 6 PM ran the risk of the “nighttime routine” already being in progress. At the very least we began the procedure shortly thereafter. And thus she made the connection between my getting home from work and the dreaded state of sleep coming soon. Much to my dismay I began to be greeted with tears and wailing and moaning and gnashing of the teeth.

But like I’ve said, life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop… no, wait… Ferris Bueller said that. I said something about newborns and babies and toddlers and how different they are and how much things change. So more change happened. Kayleigh bedtime moved later and later until we weren’t even heading up stairs until after 7:30 most nights. This gave me the chance to actually play with my little girl after tossing off the shackles from the daily grind. Now my arrival became a time for rejoicing, not lamenting.

She may not willingly admit it to anyone at this time, but Kayleigh seems to really like her old man now. Daddy coming home gives her even more options for amusement with Thomas trains and juggling balls and oven mitts. So as it gets close to the right time, she starts asking (or telling) Mommy to “see Daddy in the window.” And that is The Woman’s cue to pick her up and let her walk in our bay window. From that perch the wee lil’ one gets to jump up and down excitedly and ask for high fives through the window as I come up the walkway.

Kayleigh isn’t going to be mistaken for a Daddy’s girl anytime soon. Her preference is still obvious to anyone who spends more than 5 minutes around us. But she has at least started to express a preference that I remain a part of her life and spend a little time with her under certain terms – and that’s a big deal after the past few months. Just the other day she asked The Woman if she could “See Daddy at work”. That phone call was a major high for me. Even if all of my co-workers weren’t completely enamored with her I’d still say yes. Fortunately they all are, which makes her visits to the office a nice break for everybody – right up to the diaper change.

Parenthood

Anybody else catch that new fangled dramedy NBC’s been hyping like they suddenly had a massive hole at 10 PM and their late night ratings depended on it? It seems like I couldn’t watch TV for more than 10 minutes without catching an ad for Parenthood these past couple months. That wouldn’t have been so bad had the commercials occasionally used more than the same 5 or 6 clips. Regardless, the show seemed to be up my proverbial alley and thus piqued my curiosity enough to set the DVR. And with 2 episodes down the verdict is… not in.

Not that I expect every new series to perfectly sell itself immediately, but Parenthood has left me a tad befuddled. The thing is, I like most of the characters. Alright, I don’t necessarily like them as people, rather they are all somewhat flawed characters that are being forced to deal with their limitations. That would normally be a pretty solid formula for success in the world of dramedy except for one tiny detail – the conflicts setting the stage for their growth are all INTENSE and IN YOU FACE and coming at you at 100 MPH!

Like I said, there have been 2 episodes. In those 2 episodes we’ve had the single mom move her family back home with the grandparents, 2 teenagers get arrested, another runs away, yet another is diagnosed with Asperger’s, one of the arrested girls gets held back in her new school, the slacker/carefree brother finds out his girlfriend is trying to get pregnant then finds out he has a 5 year old son from a previous relationship, all while the career-minded sister begins to realize her daughter is more attached to her stay-at-home dad whom she begins to suspect is cheating. Oh, and Craig T. Nelson still has condoms in his desk drawer. Did I miss anything? That sounds like material for a good 6 or 7 episodes, not 2 hours of TV viewing.

Maybe it’s the new parent in me, but I was kind of hoping for a show that touched upon the minor and major issues that families face. Does everything always have to be an emergency? Possible the only “normal” kind of situation was Peter Krause getting angry over a possum that kept waking him up at night. Everything else has been meltdown-worthy. Then again TV shows these days often seem to be nothing but disaster after disaster. Can we get a little subtlety, please?

I’m not going to give up yet. I do like Lauren Graham’s character as the single mom, as well as how they’ve handled the aspergers situation with Peter Krause playing a father who has to overcome his feelings that kids like that are freaks. Craig T. Nelson is annoying, but in the way you might expect an “overly supportive” father/grandfather to be. I’m having a hard time buying Erika Christensen as part of the same family, but she had a particularly cringe-worthy scene this week so I’ll cut her some slack.

Parenthood has a lot going for it, but I’m afraid that at this pace there will be hostage situations or mysterious comas by mid-season. Why do I have a feeling that NBC can’t help but screw up a solid idea like this?

I’ll miss this when it’s done

Kayleigh has been teething for the last… oh… 6 or 8 months. Maybe not continuously, but it sure feels that way. As soon as one tooth makes its way through, about 3 or 4 follow right behind. By my calculations she’s gotta have at least 40 or 50 in there. This has to end soon, right?

Alright, this latest bout appears to be on the mend, but if not for the Motrin – the patron Saint of parenthood sleep – I’m not sure our sanity would have made it through. Not only have the sharp objects poking through her gums been driving her bonkers, but her recent attempts at staking a claim to some amount of independence has occasionally made it difficult to sympathize. I am not necessarily a strong man, so let’s just say that it’s a good thing she’s too young to understand certain diatribes that may have been spoken out loud.

As much as I curse the day she began making diaper changes a stressful activity (after 18 months they suddenly bother her? wtf?) and look forward to a time when she’ll sometimes answer with a “yes” instead of the constant barrage of “no”, the reality is these things just aren’t that big of a deal. Already my memories of 3 AM wakings with her curling up in my arms while I skip another 3 or 4 hours of sleep for her benefit have developed a sense of fondness. Even those horrible nights in Florida when she rarely slept more than 2 or 3 hours straight and forced us to watch Brainy Baby videos in the middle of the night seem sweet today.

Why?

Like I said, this is the easy stuff. As much as parents grow anxious to ditch the diaper days, how many are excited by the prospect of dealing with the teenage years? I’m not about to romanticize the overwhelming lack of sleep, but how many of those really difficult life situations Kayleigh faces in the future will be solved by rocking her for an hour in the middle of the night? Do you think some Motrin hidden in apple sauce will get her through junior high?

Last night I came close to losing my cool during another butchering of our bedtime routine, but reminding myself that she’ll get over these new teeth soon enough and a couple bad nights really aren’t a big deal certainly helped me in the face of tonight’s disaster. We’ll get through this together – one look at that face and how can there be any doubt?

What are you looking at?

Almost a wonderful day

One of these two turned a year older today. The other one threw a fit in the nice restaurant that we went to for breakfast. Can you guess which is which?

Cuddly Kayleigh

Being upset with a 17-month-old toddler is a crappy feeling. Especially when her outburst was fairly uncharacteristic and she was very well behaved almost the entirety of the weekend besides the incident this morning. I look forward to her turning 18 months when I assume her separation anxiety will magically disappear overnight.