The Power of Touch
I should have titled this section “The Power of Physical Contact” or“The Power of Physicality” or something that sounds smart and more clinical. Touch- I feel like that has a weird connotation in today’s society. How many people do you touch on a daily basis? SEE!? That sounds weird to ask!
What I mean is, how much physical interaction do you get with people? Is it a few handshakes? Some fist bumps? A couple of awkward bro-hugs where you go in tough, bump shoulders, and maybe throw in a pat on the back for good measure? Maybe a couple of quick pecks on the cheek from family members and a quick hug?
See, it’s not weird touches I’m talking about, like if you’re on the subway and someone is too close and you’re thinking, “Dude… what… what are you doing? I can feel your breath on the back of my neck and we’re the only two people on this car.” That’s weird.
I bring it up because I realized that I love, whole heartedly, when my daughter holds my hand. She doesn’t do it when she’s awake; only when she’s sleeping, and she doesn’t know that she’s being adorable. For the most part, she’s pretty adverse to letting you enjoy her cuteness. She’ll turn from the camera right when you’re about to get the perfect shot or she’ll turn her cheek when you want to give her a little smooch. It’s kind of a harsh burn for Kelly and me to be rejected by our progeny. At night, though, as she’s drifting off to sleep, she’ll often wake herself up looking for her binky, or realizing she’s turned a whole ninety degrees in her sleep and is no longer comfortable. So, when she cries, we rush to her side to make sure she’s alright and for God’s sake, stays asleep.
That’s when I find myself lying there next to her, placing a binky within reach, adjusting her to a normal sleeping position (in adult standards), and rubbing her back or placing my pinky in her hand with the hopes that she’ll hold onto it like a little circus monkey. That’s when it hits me- when her little digits clasp down, and I’m locked in a Chinese finger trap of love.
Aside from its cuteness, it unlocks a whole aspect of my being that I don’t think is possible to know until you have children. It’s like a warm light washes over when your child reaches for you, holds you tight as you carry them in your arms, rests their head on your shoulder and falls asleep, or unconsciously clasps their tiny hand around your pinky as they sleep. In that moment, between feedings and diapers and tantrums, when your little person just wants your attention or needs you there, that’s when you feel like it’s all worth it. Those little physical interactions are so wholesome, and I don’t think people get enough wholesome physical contact.
Sleep Training = No Sleep for You
Lying next to her, Chris? How is that possible in her little crib?
Yeah, no. We actually haven’t had any success getting baby girl to sleep through the night in her crib. We’re sleep training at the moment, which consists of a methadone like approach to wean her off things like sleeping in a comfy grown-up bed or being carried around for 45 minutes in her harness as she drifts off to sleep. Apparently, we were doing it all wrong when it comes to sleeping arrangements. We’re not alone in this battle, though. Plenty of other parents have gone through this and many more will, too. Did you know that there are several methods of sleep training for a baby? Yeah, several because no one’s figured out one solid, sure fire, 100% guaranteed way of getting a baby to sleep… legally. So, we’re starting with more naps in the crib and no more harness, because apparently the issue is that Em is dependent on us to fall asleep.
We gotta break that dependency because it’s breaking my back. Literally. I’ve been wearing a back brace for 3 days now because my daughter has a desire to be held 24/7. (I’m trying to figure out why back braces work. Your back hurts? Let’s squeeze the crap out of with this elastic band. It doesn’t seem like it should, but it works).
“You hold her too much” (I can hear my mother and Silver Fox saying as they read this). Yes… I know. She cries if I don’t and the crying doesn’t stop. Ever. Unless I hold her. I know she’s exercising some sort of control over me. I know I should be stronger. I just can’t. It’s bananas. Parenting is hard AF, y’all.
I just want to lay there in the warm light of an afternoon nap as my baby slumbers off and holds my pinky like a little circus monkey… quietly.
But noooooo. I have to put her through baby sleep camp methadone clinic. I need to stop using the tools and techniques that I’ve been using for 7 months to keep her happy and quiet. I need to start pissing her off on purpose by denying her things she wants, like being held, sleeping in our bed, falling asleep in her harness. I need to, according to her pediatrician, lose out on my afternoon naps because she’s crying for two hours instead of sleeping because she needs to learn to do it on her own.
Do you know what happens to an infant that’s just learning to crawl and climb (like – you guessed it- a circus monkey) and hasn’t quite grown into a pair of stable standing legs yet? They throw a tantrum until they’re tired and fall over and hit their head. And since you’re not holding them like you want to and like they want you to you’re the jerk for not catching them.
Give up my afternoon nap? Please.
I need my afternoon nap. I’m juggling several clients at the moment and work till 2 a.m. some nights. If I don’t nap, I might die. I seriously might die.
Stay- at-home/ work-from-home-dad tips: Learn to say “No” to jobs if you need to. It’s OK. But if you can’t, because let’s face it, paying gigs can be hard to come by, and you have to juggle a lot of tasks, I recommend using something like Trello to organize your tasks. Or if you need something more tangible try a Word notebook. They’re small, pocket-sized ruled notebooks where each line starts with a unique bullet that you use to denote that something is either a bullet point- by making a dot, important- by drawing a circle, in progress- by drawing a line through it, or complete- by drawing an “x”. I believe Benjamin Franklin used a system like this, but don’t quote me. The point is, get organized or take on less jobs, especially if you have a child that eats up a good ¾ of your waking hours.
(If you’re connecting all the dots, my schedule sucked so bad last week that I didn’t do a blog post, a comic, or a drawing of me and Emma. Get organized or you’ll have to sacrifice your hobbies… or lose clients. Either way, it’s no bueno).
Watch Your Head
So yeah, my kid is crawling and falling. She’s only tumbling over like 12 inches because she’s small, but still her head is like half her body. If gravity is using half your body weight to force your noggin to the ground don’t you think that’s gotta hurt?
The science on that is bad. Don’t try to figure it out.
If gravity only affected half our weight/mass we might move around like astronauts? (Read this week’s “Emma” strip to see why I’m no good with science.)
I don’t like the idea of her getting hurt. Plenty of people have told me that it’s unavoidable, get used to it, you can’t protect them from everything.
I CAN TRY!
Soothing a crying baby is one of those primordial responses we inherited from our cave dwelling ancestors. Keeping a baby safe, protected, fed, and quiet were all things our greatest ancestors did so they wouldn’t get eaten by T-Rex. (I know that’s historically inaccurate, but I really want to draw that so it’s staying).
So, she fell over. What do I do? Get her a helmet? She’ll never make friends that way.
“What’s with the helmet, Emma?”
“Oh this? My dad sucks.”
No, that’s not how her interactions would be right NOW. Yes, I’d make her wear the helmet throughout junior high… so then. That conversation would happen around then.
I’m tired of people telling me that babies are tougher than they are. How would they know? Have they fought a baby and lost? Have they run them through some sort of obstacle course in their backyard especially designed to weed out the weakest babies? And who are these people putting their babies through this creepy obstacle course? No one knows how strong a baby really is because no one fights babies.
Fight a baby. Go on. Then tell me they’re tougher than I think, because I think I could beat a baby in a fair fight. Until you fight a baby don’t assume you know that they’re stronger than they are. And don’t project your assumptions onto my daughter. As for me, I’m going to put my daughter in a helmet, harness her till she passes out, and let her hold my pinky like a circus monkey while I take a nap next to her, because I’m running on 3 hours of sleep and cold coffee. Not iced coffee like some fancy hipster kid… cold coffee from my coffee pot from this… yesterday… two mornings ago.
Parenting is hard. If you have any advice on making it easier or if you have a particular tool or strategy to help you stay organized and multi task like Trello or Word notebooks, please share in the comments below or on social media. As always, thanks for reading and Happy Parenting.
PSA- DON’T FIGHT BABIES. It just a joke people… I shouldn’t have to tell you not to fight a baby, but I feel like there’s one guy who’ll read this and think to himself, “Gee, you know, I really don’t know how tough a baby is. Here, hold my beer.”