They Grow Up Too Fast!

Gianna in the Sunroom

It may surprise you, but I’m too damn sentimental.

Gianna and Clyde Looking into the Sunroom
Gianna and Clyde looking into the sunroom before she could get in there on her own.

I am. I may not tell everyone about it all the time, or show it, but I choke up way too often for my liking. All sort of things make me do it, but one of them is seeing Gianna reach milestones.

She’s growing up way too fast.

I took this shot a weeks ago when Gianna first figured out how to climb down the couple steps into the sunroom. She has been going up and down carpeted steps for months, but up until the moment I took this picture, she hadn’t tried to go down these ones. It was always a safe haven for the dogs and their loot.

[singlepic id=168 w=500 h=390 float=center]

Her first time climbing down the steps took about 30 seconds–and once she got down there, she was so damn happy that I had to laugh out loud with her. The second time took about 20 seconds (which occurred immediately after she explored the entire room as if she had never seen it before).

By the end of the day, she could climb down the steps in about 1.5 seconds.

Now her new pastime is recapturing her socks and wash rags (which Gretel has been stealing for months and taking in there to lick and bite).

Of course now Gianna is in the sunroom all the time, looking out the windows, licking the glass, harassing Clyde (apparently it’s a very fun room to spend time in). This morning I caught her pulling handfuls of dirt from a planter and feeding it to Gretel. At least she didn’t eat any.

I took this picture through Clyde’s legs (he walked into my shot).

Gianna in the Sunroom

It’s fun to see her reaching milestones right before my eyes. I never thought I’d be doing this or that it would be so much fun. She is certainly growing up too fast. I can see how people feel bittersweet about their kids growing up.

Time freaking flies! I have to say that nothing has ever really brought it home to me every day so much as watching Gianna grow, especially this winter. I have been home a lot since Christmas, so we’ve been spending the days together. I think that has really accelerated  how much I notice her changing. With spring coming, that will change. We’ll get back to work outside every day, and she will go back to my mom’s all the time. I’m curious whether I’ll notice the changes more or less.

We’ll see, I guess.

Check out my follow-up post here: They Grow Up Too Fast! Part 2

What Have I Learned in a Year?

Gianna Birthday Laughing

Last Saturday, my daughter Gianna turned one-year-old.

[singlepic id=148 w=500 h=240 float=right]

I can’t hardly believe it. I find myself saying this a lot, but time flies! You really see it when you are raising little kids, something I never thought I would be doing. They just advance at such fast rates, learning new things every day, and you’re constantly reminded that you yourself are getting older too.

One year.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were content to never have kids. In fact, Melissa and I have been together since 1993 (we got married in 1995) and never planned on having them at all. People had stopped asking us about it years ago, so it was a pretty big Gianna as an infantsurprise in general that we decided to go for it and see what happened. And once we made the decision to see if we could get pregnant, it happened almost instantly: Melissa stopped taking the pill and was pregnant 2 weeks later.

Boom!

Gianna was on the way.

If you can handle swearing and some harsh words, check out my post from about a year and 8 months ago, when I announced to the world that we were about to have a baby. Prepare to be offended, but you can read it here: And now we join one of my least favorite segments of society . . .

My viewpoint hasn’t changed at all in the intervening time. I still generally dislike many parents, although I guess to use current terminology, I tend to dislike their “parenting techniques.” I haven’t mastered parenting (there is no such thing, I’d say). But being as I deal with kid issues every day, I now have some practical experience with what works with Gianna, and I think I have a pretty good understanding of how easy it is to just let your kids to whatever they want. I still don’t like terribly-behaved little kids or lazy parents who think you should love their kid’ bad behavior like they do. Or who think you should also suffer through such crap like them.

Okay so on a more positive note, I do appreciate having a far better understanding of the huge commitment it takes to be a good Gianna and Clyde Watching Gretelparent. Once you have the responsibility of raising your very own human, and you spend a LOT of time watching them grow, learn things, interact with the world, etc.

Inevitably, it changes you, and I’m no exception.

I just hope it’s a change for the better and not for the worse. Thus far, in examining myself, it’s positive. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that I am a bit more empathetic. Contrary to my expectations, I feel bad when she gets hurt and I feel compelled to let her have fun, even when it wouldn’t be the best thing for her development. An example of this is letting her watch tv shows like Yo Gabba Gabba, which she loves. I’m surprised to find that I would like to make her happy by letting her watch some damn show, but I do want to. Often, this means I turn off the tv.

Another thing I’ve learned, is that regarding children, not everything is a battle you can win. You can try to always do everything right, or to have all the answers, or do the right thing, but sometimes, you just fail. In general I think I would have previously thought you could “win” interactions with your kid more often than you can, when winning isn’t the issue.

Good parenting is more about being consistent over time in how you raise your kid(s) so they become respectable, responsible, creative members of society. There are a bunch of other adjectives I’m shooting for, but those 3 are good ones.

I have always been introspective, but raising Gianna has also caused me to think a lot more about my actions and what effect I have on the world. It’s interesting to be put in a position where you really do influence someone else’s development–I think I weigh my actions a bit more than I did before (still making lots of impulsive mistakes of course, but I said I changed, not that I was transformed!).

This first year has been a good one, and I’m looking forward to watching her continue to develop.

You can check out my gallery of Gianna’s First Birthday Party

As always, I’m curious what you guys think. What are your experiences?

17 Kisses.

17 Kisses. That’s how many kisses I got from Gianna this afternoon when I tried to put to down for a nap.

Usually, I’m lucky to get one kiss from her in a day–she has mastered the art of withholding kisses from her daddy. In fact, she Gianna Playingthinks its hilarious to whip her head sideways and play hard to get when I try to get one.

Today, things were different as she apparently learned a new use for kisses–I stupidly mentioned the words “Yo Gabba Gabba” (her favorite damn show) while I covered her with her Yo Gabba Gabba blanket. She had been lying down in her crib, ready for the nap, happy and content.

Huh.

As soon as I said those fateful words, she sprang up and got to her feet as fast as she could. She tried a bit of crying to guilt me into slipping her out of the crib. This never works for her, but she still tried anyway. When I just stood there considering the situation, she leaned forward and stuck out her tongue in the beginnings of her baby kiss.

So I bent down and kissed her.

Right, I know. I shouldn’t have. But like a dummy, I did. Who’s going to turn down a baby kiss, especially from a munchkin who has mastered the art of withholding?

Apparently not me.

Then she kissed me again, laughed, and kissed me again.

I was truly so shocked that I just sort of stood there holding her, laughing. And she kept kissing me as she pointed at all the cool stuff around her room. She did her usual, and pointed at the Lord of the Rings poster that hangs on the back of her door. Instead of putting her back to cry (which is what she would have done), I indulged her and took her out into the living room. And she just kept kissing me–if I said “Did you just kiss me again?” she would do it again.

Over and over.Gianna Watching Clyde

So right now Gianna is crawling around the living room playing with her toys, when she should be taking a nap. As many of you know, she’s usually really good about naps and even walks herself into her room (she did this morning, in fact).

Boy, I hope she doesn’t think she can kiss her way out of situations she doesn’t like.

Next time that’s not going to work. I don’t know how I’ll handle it, but it’s not going to work.

What about you? What would you do? Tips? Tricks?

 

Video of the Day: Gianna Makes Me Laugh

Gianna's Tongue

Instead of a Picture of the Day, today I present to you a video of Gianna that just makes me laugh. I wish I had been able to capture her right before this, since she spent about twenty second caught between the couch and the chair and started crying. Instead of backing up, she always forges ahead and tries to force her way through. I got the camera up and running just as she managed to pry herself free.

From there, it was just silliness, since she can go from being angry and frustrated to completely happy in about 1.2 seconds. Then she decided she needed a nap.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stPsCAYOCoQ[/youtube]

I love this kid.

Gianna and the Lord of the Rings

Dragon Helmet

When we bought our house, one bedroom had a Lord of the Rings poster taped to the back of the door. Being a fan, I left it there.[singlepic id=22 w=320 h=240 float=right]

Years later, in an effort to expose Gianna to the mysterious and fantastic, I decided to keep the poster right where it was.

Thing is, it’s on the back of the door in a room we don’t hang out in, especially with the door closed. Time passed, and I totally forgot about the poster.

Recently, when I went in to get Gianna from her nap, she kept pointing at the door and grunting. It took me a second to realize that she must have been looking at the poster every day during her naps, and wanted to look at the poster up close. Ever since, I pick her up and let her point at the characters.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H5H2Pq0hOQ[/youtube]

Gianna Loves to Take Naps

I have said it a million times in the last year, but we are extremely lucky parents (thus far).

Most of the time these last few months, as she becomes more alert and more independent, she is actually often excited to get into her crib and take a nap.

This probably won’t sound like something important to most non-parents, but it really has been nice, especially compared to the months when she refused to nap at all some days. On no-nap days, she gets so damn tired that everything makes her sad, upset, needy, whiny, fragile, you name it. Usually this kind of thing ruins your evening more than anything, but still, to put it bluntly, tired babies suck to be around.

But lately, Gianna has been excited to take naps, and even hurries into her bedroom to do so:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCb8kGRMjN0&context=C36f85baADOEgsToPDskJUbCJpTjBf4mR1vVU4G-Lq[/youtube]

I tell you what. I sure hope this continues. Melissa says that since I took this video and posted it on here that she is never going to take a nap again. I sure as hell hope this isn’t the case.

*fingers crossed*

Uh Oh. Tantrums Already?

Gianna Baby

Ok, so kids become more and more independent as they get older, right?

I’m prepared for that (or at least I have been preparing for it), but now that Gianna is almost a year old–her first birthday is next Saturday)–I guess her time has come.

Throw Your Hands in the Air
Throw Your Hands in the Air Like You Just Don't Care!

It’s not that she is suddenly going through some new phase where expressing her anger or frustration is acceptable–it’s really not that. It’s just that as she becomes more independent, she is starting to assert herself more often, especially when she wants her mom (and can’t have her).

It’s not an issue at all when Melissa isn’t home, but can become a big deal when she’s close but just out of Gianna’s reach.

Yesterday morning, Melissa went on a cleaning rampage through our bathroom and didn’t want Gianna in there with her. Of course the kid fixated on being with mommy, and wanted nothing more than to hang out right next to her. In order to get things done, Melissa put Gianna in the living room with me and shut the door.

And . . . she threw a fit, complete with screaming, crying, and banging on the door like a caged chimpanzee.

I have to admit, that often throughout my 11-month stint of being a dad (wow, that still sounds so weird to me!), I haven’t really felt at a loss as to what to do. I have usually known how to handle most every baby-situation and I haven’t felt exasperated very often. The path has generally seemed clear.

But when faced with a screeching, furious baby, I had a bunch of options and I wasn’t sure which one to take. As usual, I jumped in and took charge of the situation. I got up off the couch and went over to her. When I picked her up, she got more angry and tried to push away from me. I tried a bit of nice-talk to calm her down, but that quickly went nowhere since she just screamed louder and tried to slip out of my hands.

At this point, here I was, holding her, thinking about my options and what effects they would have on her.

I knew I had some foolproof options that would silence her crying and calm her down: I could turn on Yo Gabba Gabba and numb her mind with tv, I could have dazzled her with pictures of herself (which would have really worked). I could have opened the door and stood there holding Gianna so she could watch her mom.

While I instantly knew that even though all these things would stop the current bout of crying, I also knew they would have done nothing to teach her how to calm down and deal with things she doesn’t like. If I started giving in to her tantrum now, she’d know that tantrums are the best way to get what you want–that’s the last thing I want or need. I refuse to agree that she should be indulged in throwing tantrums in any way.

That road just leads to more tantrums.

My solution thus far is to re-direct her attention to something immediate that requires us to interact. Tv is no good, since that’s

Baby Elmo Doll
Gianna's Baby Elmo Doll

just a crutch and is a convenient solution that will just help her become a mindless drone who you can’t pull away from tv (I see a lot of these tv drones these days). I also opted not to show her pictures of herself, although that would have worked very well and it would have required us to work together. It would have probably been just fine.

Instead I grabbed an Elmo doll and started playing with it. I kissed his face and tweaked his nose, loving him up. I had Elmo do the same to me, then when Gianna stopped crying and watched us, I had Elmo go over and give her a kiss too. Pretty soon, Gianna’s attention was diverted from mommy and into interacting with her buddy Elmo and with me. We played for about 15 minutes, switching to various toys. This pulled me off the laptop and away from what I was working on, but that’s good, since good parenting often requires us to give our kids attention when they need it. And once Melissa came back out of the bathroom, Gianna wanted to see her, but she wasn’t angry or frantic  to see her anymore.

My Elmo gambit worked! Luckily. It might not have, you know? It might not work next time, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Now, I could have ignored her and let her cry, hoping she would eventually just stop, although that never seems to work for other parents I see. I also could have babied her up and tried to soothe her into calmness–I sort of tried that at first, and just like whenever I do, it didn’t work. She usually just gets more mad that I’m trying to love her up when she’s angry. I think the problem with these approaches is that even if they work, they don’t deal with the problem. Especially the ignoring thing. Ignoring bad behavior from your kids (or your dog, for that matter) doesn’t teach them how to deal with situations they don’t like.

Oh Yeah!
Oh yeah! She's usually a happy kid.

So what do you all think? What would you have done? How do you handle this situation?