Newborns have 2 speeds according to Woody – No matter what it is they either hate it or they don’t hate it.
For the first 10 weeks I’d like to think we have acted like most new parents (with some notable exceptions including tongue clipping, cat nannies and duct tape) who will do anything to turn off the “hates it” speed and flip it to “doesn’t hate it”, especially in a public place. When Finnja is not happy (read: being a hater) we will do anything possible to alleviate his fussiness and pretty much anything goes with the exception of booze (for the baby, not us) and duct tape. Actually EVERYTHING seems to be off limits these days. What the hay did people do in the olden days? According to most “experts” we shouldn’t even leave Finn alone with the cats for an hour to go on a dinner date. Tango and Cash are fully trained in CPR and “letting the baby cry it out” so I think this is ridiculous, but what-EVER! When his squawk reaches a decibel I fear might incite an Orca Super Pod revolt in the Puget Sound, I find all my predisposed notions about the correct way to rear a child have flushed themselves down the toilet and all that’s left are their screams of “save yourself” and “abort mission”.
Now let me tell you, when this sweet little miracle was stewing in my stomach for 9 months I made all kinds of promises about things I would never do like letting him drink out of a plastic BPA bottle, be parented by a battery-operated toy or video or, god forbid, eat anything not organic. Oh hell no, this child would be worn in a sling on my body and exposed to educational opportunities 24/7. Well that’s all out the window and I mean on the outside, because it’s freakin’ cold here in Seattle and the windows are not being left open. The nursing problems have left the boy drinking out of the plastic Dr. Brown’s bottles because the nipples (yeah I said nipple) and the distribution system are the ones he doesn’t hate and the new Dr. B’s glass bottles keep selling out before we can buy them. But our biggest surprise is the Fisher Price “Flutter and Chime" vibrating, musical chair, A.K.A the “Blue Bird”. We were promised magic with this hand me down, but I was dubious because my kid hadn’t been fooled by technology yet. Boy was I wrong. This kid can cry and writhe in our arms and he will only stop when we put him in this chair. Finn thinks he has found his soul mate. I mean he is really in LOVE. I have no idea what he is saying to that blue bird, but she makes him laugh, she listens and she’s monogamous so she’s okay with me.
I credit my sister Kelly with the term, the “shut up factor” and it may sound cold, but it speaks to all the expectations flushed down the toilet and out the window. It’s a rite of passage and the ultimate and ongoing test for all parents. It is always something to consider and it is always on the table. When the baby is losing weight am I really going to worry about whether his formula is organic or what bottle he drinks out of? No, I’m going for the “shut up factor” which also happens to be help him gain weight in this case. When I am exhausted and just need to make one phone call am I going to worry about whether I should be reading Mozart sheet music to my baby? No, I’m going to consider the “shut up factor” and let him sit in his chair and coo at his hootchie blue bird. He’s happy and I’m sane for a few precious moments.
I know that as he gets older the there will be many more shut up factors to consider on a daily basis. Do I let him play video games when he should be outside playing? Do I give in to the tantrum and let him have the sugary treat or toy in the store to avoid a public melt down? Do I let him borrow the car when…? Oh my god I can’t even go there yet. It’s liberating to acknowledge that I don’t have the answers and I don’t care about being Parent of the Year (just kidding I really do need all of your votes). For now I’m content to just roll off the sanctimonious high horse that I rode in on and slug it out in the poop ditches with the other parents.
I’m happy to report though that Finnja has moved beyond the 2 speed world into a fabulous world I like to call the “Baby Crack” zone. He’s got that full body smile going where he writhes in ecstasy and laughs when he sees me and it’s SUPER addictive. I’m told I can’t wear a hole in his head from kissing him, but that sounds like challenge to me…