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Discovering agency

B is learning that he has influence on his surroundings, the world isn’t just something that has to happen to him.

It started maybe a month or so ago when I was gently leaning him back to put him in his sleep sack. He suddenly threw his hand out and caught himself, preventing me from lying him down. Actually, even a bit before that he started pushing away his bottle when he didn’t want any more.

Now he’s grabbing at the pages in his board books, trying to turn them.

It’s pretty fun to watch.

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Homework from Larry

It’s a beautiful, premature spring day today. Mid-50s in the sun, and might even reach 60F tomorrow before it drops back down for a bit.

B and I picked up some cupcakes from Ladybird and I stopped to feed him on the bench outside. An older guy was sat on the neighboring bench reading Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism by George Hawley, but mainly holding court. He asked me B’s name, and we got talking about books and movies. Larry gave me some homework:

  1. Listen to the Octavia E. Butler interview on Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast. This is a tough one… I had a look for it but couldn’t find it. Perhaps he meant the episode with Anthea Butler and Arlene Sánchez-Walsh on Sister Aimee? I don’t think so though since he said the interviewee was talking about spirituality and sci-fi. I scanned through all of the episodes before Butler’s DOD and didn’t find anything. Perhaps it was a different radio show? I’ll have to ask if I run in to him again.
  2. Watch Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a PBS documentary presented by American Masters. You need a membership to watch it, but there are some short clips on YouTube as well.
  3. Watch The Hustler, a 1961 film with Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, and Piper Laurie.
  4. Watch Days of Wine and Roses, a 1958 episode of Playhouse 90 on CBS with Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie. He said it is on YouTube but unfortunately I can’t find it. Perhaps it was taken down. He also recommended the film from 1962 with Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick.
  5. Read A Clockwork Orange, the film isn’t enough. Anthony Burgess was his teacher.
  6. Check out Thomas Nast’s editorial cartoons.
  7. Check out Alice Neel’s portraits. He mentioned a retrospective at the Whitney that made a huge impression on him, when I look for it online it looks like that was back in 1974. Looking at her paintings now online, I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before. Shame to have missed her retrospective at The Met last summer but c’est la vie, we weren’t in Brooklyn yet.

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A few more grays

An abrupt, hilariously stereotypical physical change over the past six months or so: the major uptick in gray hairs since B was born. I’ve been plucking them. Honestly, I’m not that bothered by them, at least not yet. I’m not removing them because I’m worried about going gray, it will be a while before that happens in all likelihood. (The lady doth protest too much?)

It’s just… satisfying, I think. My hair is dark, identifying and removing this silvery thread to restore the even brown gives a tiny bit of pleasure. But now I’ve got these random, short gray hairs poking out here and there. Probably time to stop.

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First snow

Black and white illustration of people dancing

Last Friday, it snowed properly for the first time. At least the first time this year, the first time since we moved to Brooklyn, and the first time ever for B. He’s still too little to make much of it, but it was fun taking him in to Prospect Park to stomp around a little, and to see the sledding and cross country skiers.

By the next day, the snow piled up on our neighbor’s wooden arbor had melted in to these swirling shapes, it looked like people dancing.

The snow’s gone for the most part, now it’s just frozen mud and slush puddles.

The holidays were more lonely than we had planned, but we got to have Christmas dinner with a new neighbor/friend. That was unexpected, and special, especially considering the circumstances.

B’s still out of daycare because of Omicron. It’s wonderful to spend all this time with him, but in terms of the personal and work plans I had for 2022, it’s pretty stressful.

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More plans cancelled

We were supposed to go to the UK for Christmas so that B could meet his Nana and Grandad, his Great-grandma, his auntie and uncle and cousins. So that he could meet Billy and Rae, and our friends. So that we could go for walks on the moor and sit by the fire and visit the Stanza Stones and cook with family.

We’ve had to cancel it, with the new variant.

When will this end? I’m so tired.

At least B has no idea what’s going on.

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Keeping up with fuzz head

One of the main reasons I’ve kept writing here pretty consistently since 2014 is because it is an incredible memory aid. Being able to refer back easily anywhere, whether it’s to show something to someone else or to myself, is invaluable.

More recently though, I’ve been finding it hard to write things down. Extra frustrating because I want to refer back to this time possibly more than anything.

I think part of it is just the lack of time. It is incredible how much time it takes to care for a little person, even when you have help (daycare three days a week right now in our case, and I’m working those three days).

And the sleep deprivation… it’s interesting, we’re pretty fortunate, I’d say. He’s a very decent sleeper, but it’s still so hard.

B is about 4.5 months old. He goes down between 7 and 8pm and is waking up 1–2 times a night, sometimes once as a bit of a yelp and resettling on his own, and almost always once properly where he needs to be changed and fed. Once his needs are met, he tends to go right back down without rocking/bouncing, which is amazing.

Sam’s job is more demanding right now in terms of a strict schedule (I’m working part time, though that will change soon), so I’m handling nighttime wakeups. For me, that usually means 1–5 hrs of sleep, a brief wakeup when B yelps since I hear it on the monitor, then another 1–3 hrs of sleep. Cumulatively, I generally get 4–7 hours, usually around 6 or 7 I’d say. That sounds alright for a parent of a baby, and it is! But when it happens to be multiple 5 hour nights with a random 4 hour night thrown in… it gets rough.

You can feel the shift. You’re a very different person on not enough sleep than you are on 7–8 hours a night. I get short, blank, forgetful.

Forgetful is the thing I hate the most, I think. I’m relying on apps like Reminders more than ever, not that it totally works. The forgetfulness and lack of patience are the worst. When I lose patience, I have to try to remember that my frustration often isn’t logical, it’s purely lack of sleep. But it’s hard to make that small mental leap in the moment.

All of this is an important reminder of how much even tiny changes in an environment can shape one’s identity, behavior.

Anyways, back to the original point.

I’m learning so much right now. I never grew up around babies, so this is a whole new world for me and it has been fascinating. But it is so hard to keep up. The moment I “learn” something, that thing changes and before I have a moment to jot it down, that knowledge has exited my head and I’m off to learning about the next thing B has thrown at us.

It’s a trip. Keeping up with our little fuzz head, and everything else.

Edit: I had to go back and fix more typos on this post than any other I’ve ever written 💀

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4+ month update

It’s been a little over four months since B arrived. These are some of my experiences or things I’ve learned so far, plucked at random.

I’d say that the books, conversations, and classes prepared me pretty decently in theory, but the physical and emotional reality is almost impossible to prepare for. Being a parent has been much more visceral than I expected.

A woman walking in to James Turrell’s “Three Gems”

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