Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Goodwill Agent

I have recently discovered a phenomenon: Clay is improving my social life. I enjoy taking him out shopping and on errands -- mainly to spend some extra time with him. As a fringe benefit, I've found that he makes being around other people infinitely more pleasant.

For the uninitiated, I'm a bit of a social misfit. I'm not much for, say, talking to people, interacting with people -- pretty much not interested in people. I'm the guy they had in mind when they invented internet shopping and self-checkout aisles. Get in, get my stuff, get out -- in as few syllables as possible. Think less misanthrope, more hermit and you're getting the idea.

With Clay in tow however, I'm a different man. He's pretty charming most of the time, and folks tend to be on their best behavior around him. They loosen up, they smile, they say nice things to him. As his father and biggest fan, that of course puts me at ease and the conversation just flows from there. I swear, I have had more conversations with random people in the last 24 months than I had in the preceding 30 years.

Chalk another one up for children improving their parents.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I'll Take This One, Please

Lisa and I were discussing over the weekend the reality that Clay is growing so quickly. Of course, having Brennan around now makes his big brother seem infinitely older.

We both agree that, if we had the luxury of "freezing" Clay at a particular age, I think we'd want it to be right now. He is just so much fun -- constantly learning and accomplishing new things. He's attempting to say almost every word or phrase we say, and not doing too bad a job. He's understanding so much more -- you can ask him to get something or put something away and he's eager to please.

He loves to wrestle and play, to give hugs and kisses. He seems to truly enjoy being around us, but is also willing to go off and entertain himself when we're doing chores. To top it all off, he seems to be past the fits we were seeing when Brennan came home and we're getting a little break before the "terrible twos" really begin.

So, we'll take him like this forever, I think. That's an option, right?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

With Apologies to T.S. Eliot

This is the way year ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Scott spent New Year's eve and New Year's day curled up in a ball. Just as the Redskins were finishing their dismantling of the Cowgirls, his stomach began to rollover -- and stayed that way for the next 36 hours. To reassure my brother and sister-in-law, there's no way anything I ate at your house could have hit me that fast. I'm sure it was a bug I picked up in the days prior.

As a result, Lisa got her first opportunity to "go it alone" -- two days earlier than expected. To add to her list of responsibilities, she had a mewling husband upstairs while she reigned over the circus that is our two young boys.

Beyond my disease, things are going well at home. Clay seems to be fully adjusted, even whispering "Mommy, Baby" when he knows they're napping. He still insists on giving his brother a kiss when heading off to bed. The only wrinkle is that he's taken to mimicking his brother's cries -- which can be pretty overwhelming when you're hearing it in stereo. Hopefully that novelty will wear off soon!

Brennan is doing very well, eating and growing like a champ. At one month, he's already comfortably wearing 3-month clothes and continues to show strong neck and leg muscle development. He's also improving on his sleeping -- needing to be held less and less at night and sleeping for longer stretches in his cradle.

Lisa seems to be handling things very well -- I think this rotation has been easier than the last. We'll see how things go now that I'm back in the office full-time, but fortunately my parents continue to chip in on a regular basis and provide some much-needed respite care.

For me, the biggest challenge has been the emotional adjustment to Brennan. Since I rarely see him, and can't do much for him at this stage, the emotional bonding hasn't really begun yet. I have no doubt that it will naturally happen over time, but sometimes it's a challenge to interact with Clay and not feel concern over the difference between our bond and mine with Brennan. Of course, if I could turn the clock back 21 months and remember how I felt about Clay when he too was a cute lump then I'd probably find a very similar emotional temperature between us. In the meantime, Lisa and I are both making a point of setting aside time for Brennan and I to bond and build our relationship.

One of the other challenges is that, as a problem solver, it's sometimes difficult for me to be patient with some of Brennan's little issues that will need attention. His mild hypospadias won't be repaired for at least another 5 or 6 months (the initial appointment with the pediatric urologist is in a few weeks) and we can't even get an appointment with a dermatologist until mid-May to take a look at his birthmark. We think it might be a sebaceous nevus, but it's all hypothesis until then. My strength has never been in waiting for answers -- so this has been a mental challenge for me and will likely continue to be so!