Wednesday, September 9, 2009

pardon the silence


I have finally given up trying to take naps during the day. There were a couple of days that spoiled me. Finn would take 3 hour naps in the morning and I could go back to bed and wake up before he did wondering why he wasn't crying. And there he would be, just lying in his crib quiet and content and smiling up at me. This week has been a much different story.

Not to blame him, the teething is hell on a kid, but he isn't napping well any more. This morning his nap was 45 mins instead of 3 hours. The kind of thing where I was more exhausted waking up from than when I went down. I'll stop tempting fate. I can manage without the nap. And being woken up like that just ruins my mood. Which I can do without.

Which brings up the point that I have noticed some by listening to people I don't respect talking about their children and glancing over a few baby books that don't offer the best advice (that being trial and error; the kid has a better chance of breaking you that you breaking him) : guilt. Apparently it is quiet common (normal?) for parents to feel guilty about, well basically, everything. Guilt about anger or frustration when the kid screams. Guilt about not being able to fix every problem. Guilt about not knowing the right thing to do even when there isn't a right thing to do. And that is a problem.

I think the issue stems from the fact that most people want to think of babies as babies first and then as people. That babies are by their very nature exempt from all social rules and thus should be treated as such, and should bring about only exceptional emotions. That is total bullshit. Babies are people first. They are social beings and part of society and thus elicit such emotion as any other member of society. When someone at work screams at you, your first reaction is one of anger or resentment or fear. You suppress that emotion because it is not conducive to keeping your job to scream back, to fight, or to run away crying. Just as you suppress anger at your screaming baby, frustration at your failed efforts to soothe said screaming baby, &c. Having and suppressing your anger is basic part of the social condition. There is the knowledge that the job is just a job, that the teething eventually must end in glorious teeth, and so on. There are appropriate outlets. But you rarely feel guilty about being angry with your boss or coworkers or rude clients. So why is it common to feel guilty about being angry with children? Why is it inappropriate to express (calmly) that you are, in fact, angry? (Clearly there is no point telling a baby that you are angry, that would be for older kids, but your partner, your friends, confidants, &c.) Why do we feel that we cannot have normal emotions about babies? That we must not only suppress the emotion but the very fact that we have experienced it as well?

And then there is the contrast, the new movement (mainly of mommy bloggers or that is the impression that I get) of reveling in these "dark" emotions. As if they were somehow illicit instead of commonplace and dull. Who cares that you once thought to put your kid's head through a wall? That's like saying "I once thought that I might like to take a car up past 150 mph on the Autobahn." I suppose it is once again the case of American's being out of touch with their bodies/thoughts/emotions/whatever. But frankly, when faced with the choice of the guilt or the guilty pleasure I choose neither.

I guess no one wants to realize that life is dull. Even life with a new baby. It's routine and repetition and boredom. And when the only break from the boredom and routine is violent screaming, you tend to prefer the tedium.

To wit: life at home with Finn is, in general, a rather simplistic routine. I haven't been writing so much about it because there isn't that much to say. I've learned his routine, he keeps me to it. I know when he needs to be eating, when he should be sleeping, which of his play areas he wants to be playing in and when he wants to be moved. When to lull him into quiescence with my dulcet baritone reading voice and when to rile him up with fart noises and Chewbacca impressions. He eats, he sleeps, and he plays on a relatively standardized schedule and aside from shitting/pissing himself along the way, that is about all he does. The issue is finding ways to fill the time. Or, now that he is teething, finding ways to keep him quiet and on schedule so that I can keep my normal sedate calm. And I have been trying to get back to writing. Serious writing.

Writing a novel while your kid is napping is not as easy as you'd think. Especially when he isn't napping well. I am getting a lot of research done and clarifying plot points and crafting the outlines of scenes. But given that I am meant to be on his schedule, there is no real time for me to get into the zone and bang out 5-10 pages of prose. You can't stay in the zone while a baby is screaming for you from the next room. I'm still working on how to figure that one out.

In case you are interested, the novel is provisionally titled:

Who is Dexter Burroughs?
a mediated noir.

P.S.: In case you ever wondered if you can change a baby on the toilet seat of a Manhattan cafe onesie, you can. It is awesome!

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