Admittedly, I am not daring enough to stick my finger in Jack’s mouth to see how hard he will bite down. But my wife, Jill, is.
Having seen the “Charlie” video, she stuck her finger in Jack’s steel trap, and sure enough, Jack knew right away what to do:
“Ouch, Jack!”. Just like Charlie, Jack started giggling. He thought it was pretty hilarious each time Jill did it, until her finger hurt too badly; and that didn’t take long.
Do baby boys come preprogrammed knowing that painfully biting someone’s finger is universally funny?
I’m thinking so. It reminds me of the way that babies like to “accidentally” drop food and/or toys off their high chair repeatedly, looking down at the floor until a cooperative adult picks it up for them.
Babies are funny. But it’s not always that they actually understand why what they did is humorous.
Evidently, a ten month old boy can comprehend that hurting a family member is funny. No blood, no fowl.
I’ve made mention before that one of my many weaknesses is that I’m horrible/inexperienced when it comes to anything mechanical. My deficiencies in this department aren’t for a lack of interest or a lack of trying, though. A couple of weeks ago I attempted to change the back tire on my mountain bike, since the tube in the tire exploded from the summer heat.
Fast forward a few paragraphs into this story and it turns out I went to the bike repair shop and was told that the cost of repairing the bike would be more than the cost of the bike itself. I evidently am that bad at fixing even the simplest of things!
Fortunately, the girl at the repair shop was wrong and they were able to fix what I messed up for only $27. (It would have only cost me $10 to let them repair the flat tire in the first place.)
My son, Jack, on the other hand, will most likely not suffer from his old man’s bad luck with understanding mechanics. He currently is sort of obsessed with trying to figure out how mechanical stuff works. Jack loves taking things apart.
I can just tell already his brain is working in ways that mine never has.
Another thing about Jack that I can’t help but be aware of is that he will likely end up being an athlete; something I tried to be a few times as a kid, then eventually turned to art, music, and writing- activities that were more my speed. Even today, the physical activities I involve myself with, mainly running and mountain biking, are noncompetitive hobbies.
But Jack is simply built like an athlete. He’s a tank. He’s a 1940′s wrestler.
A few weeks ago at his 9 month check-up, we learned that he is in the 90th percentile for height and 75th for weight. Maybe as he gets older he’ll end up adopting the skinny, bow-legged Italian body style that his dad had. However, I think he will grow up to be the opposite: a tall, large-framed, coordinated boy who is picked first on teams in gym class.
It’s safe to say I’ll eventually become a sports fan and learn a lot more about doing home repairs, thanks to my son.
How did this athletically-built, mechanically-minded boy come from me? All I can say is that it figures. I’m still laughing at the irony that a fair complected, blue eyed kid could ever be the offspring of dark-featured, olive complected parents like his mom and me.
I wonder in what other ways Jack will be the opposite of me . . . I’m sure he’ll be a whiz in math and science.
A few weeks ago when we were visiting my family, Jack had access to different toys in my parents’ living room. I have no idea where they even came from, but there was a set of Mattel’s “Little People” there. He was instantly drawn to one who we call “Nerdy Gerdy,” choosing her over the farmer and the firefighter. (A quick Google Image search just taught me that her real name is Maggie.)
She has remained one of his favorite toys ever since. In fact, it’s a ritual that I place Nerdy Gerdy in his right hand when I load him up for the trip to and from day care; he keeps a tight grip on her the entire time.
As I strap him into his car seat and pull the belt over his right shoulder, he transfers Nerdy Gerdy to his left hand so I will have enough room to clear his right hand. Subtle, but pretty impressive; to me, at least.
Jack does the same thing with Nerdy Gerdy when my wife dresses him in the morning; his hand won’t fit through his shirt sleeve until he switches her to the other hand. It’s funny because he can be in the middle of crying and he will still do the switch for my wife or me.
I’ve pointed out before how naturally easy it is to believe that your own child is the most beautiful baby in the world. On the same token, I’ve learned that it’s just as easy to believe that your child is ahead of the curve when it comes to their level of intelligence.
Of course, I realize that the “Nerdy Gerdy switch” does not qualify my son for the status of baby genius; neither does his ability to make a tire squealing noise as he pushes his snail-on-wheels, though at nine months old, he has no idea that boys should make screeching tires noises when they sharply turn their toy car. And that’s also not to mention the fact that he already responds to “no.”
I get it. I’m noticing the highlights of his advancements, not the things he is “behind the curve” on. As far as his ability to speak, “doy-doy-doy-doy” (toy?) is the only recently added word to his already existing vocabulary of “mehm-mehm-mehm-mehm” (Mommy) and “dada-dada-dada-dada” (Daddy).
Is my kid a genius? No, but for the fact he can operate a TV remote better than I can, I have to give the bambino some credit.
I know my dedicated readers are accustomed to me giving away books every so often, but today, for the first time, I will give away a free toy. But not just any ole toy that you’ve heard of before: “Brush with Genius” by Colorforms, a toy company that is celebrating its 60th anniversary this November.
When your child dips the Brush with Genius in paint and moves it along a piece of paper, it can make a variety of sounds based on how your child touches the brush and the recently painted paper. The sounds I heard included a squeaky mouse, a creaking door, and a soaring UFO.
Here’s how you can be the one lucky one who gets one mailed straight to your house. Be the first person to leave a comment naming the very small town where we picked Jack’s first Christmas tree. Additionally, you must follow-up by emailing me (email@example.com) your name and mailing address. Hint: The city starts with an “s”. (There is a search box on the right side of the page.)
Congrats to Kristen in Colorado! You earned it. Thanks for reading The Dadabase so faithfully- your genius gift is on its way
A couple of weeks ago while shopping at Super Target, I was standing in the baby food aisle, resting on Jack’s stroller as my wife finalized her selection. I looked down at the shelf beside me and saw a hilarious looking, white shag carpet accent pillow. It had obviously been abandoned in the wrong section. As I picked it up to examine the weird thing a bit closer, Jack immediately began laughing; he thought I was about to playfully ram him in the chest with it. So I did.
I should point out the that Jack loves to have random objects fly toward him and bump him, especially in the head and chest. It makes him laugh hysterically; always has.
The other reason that the sight of the pillow made him laugh was probably because it looks like the two dogs he has met in his life, one of those canines in particular reminds me of Falcor from The Never Ending Story. He has laughed at the sight of shaggy white dogs he has met, so he just associated the pillow with them.
Jack is at the age now where the kind of toy he needs most is a learning center with gears and gadgets for him to pull on. I realize that technically, that’s not how we should have spent $12 that day. But I just had to do it.
So that was a few weeks ago and I must say, I incorporate the stupid shag carpet bolster pillow into Jack’s daily playtime- I sort of feel obligated to. Fortunately, he’s still crazy about the random, bizarre, giant rabbit’s foot.
I have this theory that some of the best toys you can buy for a baby boy are actually dog toys. After all, isn’t this story a bit reminiscent of when I bought Jack the sock monkey dog bed when he was a newborn?
The truth is, I call Jack my “baby puppy” on a daily basis; especially when he follows me around the house with a big grin on his face. So I throw him a bone. Well, not actually a bone, but a two foot long, somewhat awkward-looking pillow.
I’m not sure what he really thinks the pillow is. Maybe he thinks it’s a friendly dog in the form of a cube. Or the head of a giant Q-tip.
He’s sort of weird for liking it so much. I’m even weirder for buying it for him.
For certain, I am overly aware of all the things I’m not good at; a few of which include math and anything involving numbers, all home repairs, anything to do with cars, anything requiring athletic talent, navigating without getting completely lost, knowing when to say “my wife and I” versus “my wife and me,” and pretending to care about the newest “shocking” thing that Lady Gaga did, said, or wore.
But I do think one of my strengths is communicating and empathizing with other people; or at least it’s something I’ve gotten a lot better at in recent years. I keep in mind that when it comes to relating to others, it’s not a matter of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Instead, the rule is “do unto others as they would want you to do to them.” Because I can’t assume the other person is inspired by the same things I am. Instead, I have to put myself in their shoes.
It’s a matter of knowing what motivates and discourages other people. It’s a matter of reminding myself that listening is typically more effective than speaking. People often need to be and feel understood before they will want to receive advice or instruction.
Despite me being hard-wired to always want to “fix the problem,” I have definitely improved my ability to sincerely listen to my wife when she airs out what is going through her head, without trying to save the day by providing a reasonable and logical solution; or even asking “what can I do to help?” But I still have to remind myself that 99.987% of the time, listening itself is the best way to fix the problem.
But there are certain times where there actually is a legitimate issue that needs to be handled and my wife actually does need my help to fix it. She is keen and conspicuously clued in enough to know how to present the problem to me in a way that doesn’t come across as “nagging.” Instead, she knows that the best way to effectively communicate with me, in that instance, is to literally ask for my help. Because I always want to help her. It makes me feel good as her husband.
We are not manipulating each other but instead are simply acutely aware of the way we need to be communicated with. And this concept doesn’t just apply to my marriage; it works for all relationships in my life: friends, family, coworkers, and even people I don’t even know that well.
Do I need to issue an obligatory disclaimer admitting that my wife and I have only been married for three years and therefore I have not earned the right to give out marriage advice? Am I only triggering some readers to respond with, “Well you just wait until you’ve been married longer…”?
I admit; I have far to go and much to learn. If I am an expert of any kind, it’s in not being an expert.
So I am just a normal guy having to figure out these things as I go, especially when it comes to marriage and fatherhood. Constantly I am realizing that if I only knew yesterday what I just learned today, things would be a lot less complicated and frustrating.
As a husband and father, I have a tendency to be as clumsy and misunderstood as Jack Tripper from Three’s Company. Similarly, I also unintentionally make a habit of stumbling my way out of the current crisis within 30 minutes, right before “Come and knock on my door…” starts playing again for the closing credits. Maybe my life is just one big sitcom!