Friday, December 04, 2009

Baby Gaga

Blake is a big fan of Baby Einstein videos. He worked his way towards the more advanced ones for older kids and is already bored with some of them. He gets to watch one or two a day after a meal. It is a delight to hear him giggle from downstairs or see him get excited over a musical segment.

Since he started walking he'd often walk into my room and show interest in what I'm watching on my computer. He instantly fell in love with the end credits music video from  the game Plants Vs Zombies.  Since the song is sang by a Sunflower, that was Blake's first word, only it came out sounding more like "safa". I also made him a seven minutes video based on videos of him that I filmed during his first year set to Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. He watches one of these two every night just before going to bed, sitting on my lap in front of my Mac.

A couple of weeks ago two new clips entered his list: Poker Face and Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. He would often come to me while I'm doing something entirely different on the computer and slap my knees. He knows that I know exactly what he means: put me on your knees and give me some Gaga! Can't blame him, I think Bad Romance is a great song with a fantastic music video.

 Walk walk, fashion baby. Work it, move that bitch ka-razy!

The other day he was playing in daddy's study. I opened the TV on a music channel showing the top twenty singles knowing that Bad Romance should be there somewhere. As expected he pretty much ignored the TV until Bad Romance started playing. He immediately dropped everything and walked to the screen in fascination and excitement. He never saw that on a big screen. I tried putting him on my knees, but he wriggled away and walked closer to the screen. As soon as the song ended he lost all interest and resumed playing with his toys on the coffee table. That Lady Gaga knows what she's doing, getting them while they're young.

He's still not really talking, but I won't be surprised if he'd start saying Gaga a lot soon. Too bad he's too young to go see Lady Gaga at the O2 Arena in February next year!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Night of the Living Dead Papa

As I mentioned before (as the millions of followers of this blog clearly remember after memorizing every instant cult classic quotable post) Blake is an easy Baby. He sleeps through the night from two months and the bad nights are very rare and often results in a disturbance of no more than an hour or two. So I shouldn't really whine and complain about it, but then again if I didn't what am I going to write about?

We had a bad night on Tuesday night this week. Since I teach on Tuesdays and Wednesdays it means early mornings and long days with no nap opportunities, so I value my six hours of sleep those nights.

So just as my head hit the pillow the cries started. Sometimes Blake cries in his sleep or wakes up for a second unhappy after banging his head as a result of performing somersaults in his sleep. So I waited for a few long seconds, knowing better than to run into his bedroom and pick him up. As expected (otherwise, that would be a really short and dull anecdote, while instead it's a long and dull one) the cries didn't stop. Oh, another one of those nights.

I went to Blake's bed and picked him up in the dark. Immediately the cries stopped. I took him to his daddy's study and we sat down on the sofa. He gazed up at me in the dark as I sang to him Wheels on the Bus and I'm the Music Man with my mesmerizing, beautiful and haunting voice (I'm thinking of starting a new career as a pop singer with the stage name Lady Papa). Actually I can barely hold on to the right note with a lot of considerable effort, but looking at Blake's response to my singing you'd think I was Edith Piaf. If I want Blake to come I can call his name until I am blue in the face, but if I sing he'd beeline towards me from the other side of the house. So as I was going through these two songs for the millionth time he just lay there and smiled sweetly having the time of his life.

Usually when Blake wakes up in the middle of the night, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I used to assume that he was in actual pain from teething, gas or something else he couldn't communicate to me. That would usually result in giving him Calpol and sitting him in the kitchen in front of the laptop to watch Baby Einstein while waiting for the medicine to kick in. Since that worked like a charm it was easy to assume that the medicine took the pain away, but it was more likely that it just knocked him out as a side effect, giving him just the right nudge needed to go back to sleep. The thing was, he only cried in his bed. As soon as I picked him up or took him to our bed, he'd quiet down. Obviously he wasn't in real pain.

It was then very clear that he simply woke up in the middle of the night wide awake and bored to death. He didn't like lying alone in the dark cooped up in his cot so he'd scream and scream knowing that he will be eventually rescued. I took him back to his bed and decided to let him cry it out. I shouldn't help him develop bad habits. There was still some light in his room from the night light and he had a few toys in his bed. It's not as if I buried him alive in a coffin - though you might think that hearing his screams. I waited until his screams subsided and he fell asleep - only to be woken up several times each time his screams started again. Like many other parents I decided to postpone the development of my child's habits to a different unspecified time and took him into our bed.

I stuck him in the middle between Miron and me. He lay there happily for a few seconds, enjoying his triumph. I enjoyed the lack of screaming, so I thought it was a fair deal all around and dozed off into sweet bliss - only to be woken up with a swift kick to the head. Again and again. At some point Miron tried to grab Blake and hold him close which was party done out of sheer affection and partly as a sweet attempt to protect me from the little ninja. It was no good. For the next fifty minutes I kept falling asleep only to be woken up by kicks, slaps and bumps as Blake was having the time of his life. This must be against the Geneva convention: Letting an exhausted prisoner fall asleep only to wake him up abruptly again and again is a despicable form of torture. Eventually I had enough and decided to take Blake back to his bed as suddenly listening to his screams seemed like a great idea.

I carried him to bed and placed him on the mattress and... Nothing. He silently rolled onto his side. I rushed to bed and fell asleep before anything else happened. Four hours were still better than none. Blake woke up extra early the following morning, costing me additional fifteen minutes on the other end  of the night, but who's counting?

Seasoned parents probably expect a twist that takes this to the next level. What, that's it? That's what I'm whining about? Well, yes. Being woken up from deep sleep physically was an immensely unpleasant experience. I guess being so lucky with Blake means that when those bad nights happen they have a more significant effect since I'm no longer used to them.

So I'm not really sure if I'm seeking sympathy or showing off...


Super Awesomeness!!!

I just wrote a long blog post for about thirty minutes and then comes lovely little Dexter with a dirty toy and dropped it on the keyboard just after I marked all the text in order to format it. All the text disappeared and before I could do anything Blogger's helpful feature kicked in: Auto-save! Yay! It's all gone.

All gone!!!

Little bugger is very lucky that he's so cute and beautiful..!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Parent of the Year Award Part 1

Having a baby is scary. You have this fragile creature in your hands and you are so terrified that you’ll make some stupid mistake that will hurt him or worse. You try your best, but no matter what there will always be brief lapses of judgement, oversights or a combination of circumstances outside your control that will make you a nominee for parent of year award. Maybe some parents are so careful and so lucky that their babies grow up all the way to old age without a scratch. I am not one of those parents.
Just before Blake turned one month old, days before his second visit to our local paediatrician in Toronto, a red mark appeared on his left armpit. It looked red and nasty. Immediately we started panicking and wondering what might have caused it. What kind of stupid thing have we done to our tiny little baby? Was it from the one time I pulled him up from the front of his onesie? Did we leave some object in his bed? Theories were flying around and soon so were accusations. Oh God, the embarrassment facing the paediatrician with this injury. They were right all along: Gay people shouldn't be parents!
It turned out to be a perfectly normal birthmark that should disappear in a few years. Maybe Blake won’t be able to model sleeveless shirts any time soon, but that was all it was. We did nothing wrong after all.
The next scare, I’m afraid, was entirely my fault. Probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done in my entire life, and boy I have done dumb things. Even now, almost a year later, thinking about it gives me chills. It was December and Blake was only six months. We came back from a visit to friends out of the city and we just drove back and parked outside of our house. The dogs were in the very back of the car and I was sitting with Blake in the back seat. It was cold and drizzly outside and I had to take Blake out of car seat, put him in his little snuggly snowsuit and go home. Then again it was literally a twenty seconds walk. Should I really bother dressing him up and then undress him back inside for twenty seconds? Less if I walked faster. I suspect you see where this story is going.
Ignoring my husband’s request to dress my son up, I was very clever and simply took him out of the car and walked home fast. No, not walked. I think I actually dashed. Then happened something that has never happened to me in the six years I lived in that house in Finchley. I slipped. There were wet winters before, there was even ice and snow. But I never actually slipped and fell crashing into the ground. And this time I was moving fast and holding the dearest cargo in the entire world in my hands. The entire world shook and WHAM. There I was on my knees with a screaming baby in my hands.
I wobbled up to my feet mumbling “on no” again and again. Miron came out of the car and was entirely calm.
“What happened?” He said quietly. “Shall we go back into the car and drive to the hospital?”
Miron usually freaks out if a glass of juice spills on the carpet or if I forget to take the wet washing to hang and it get all wrinkly. So when he’s cool as ice I know he’s beyond freaking out. Complete and utter shock, you might say. There we were standing in the cold, dark and wet driveway outside our house completely helpless.
“He’s crying, I guess that’s good.” I was saying without convincing myself. I looked the screaming boy all over, especially his head. No bumps, no bruises, no bleeding. He looked fine.
Then I looked down and realized why. My nice trousers were torn at the knees and my knees were all bloodied. Falling down I grabbed Blake close to my chest and broke the fall with my knees. What I lacked in common sense I made up for with paternal instincts. 
We walked inside and I put Blake in front of Baby Einstein. He immediately calmed down and stared and the screen with wet eyes. I looked him all over very careful. He must have got a bit of a jolt and a scare, but he was fine. But what if I didn’t break the fall with my knees, what if… Too awful to even think about. That night we checked on him every thirty minutes or so. For the next week I had a difficult time climbing the steps and couldn’t go down on my knees to change diapers, instead having to get down and up in an awkward and uncomfortable manner. I totally deserved these little reminders of how stupid I was.
I was just lucky. Some parents pay the ultimate price for the tiniest mistake, the briefest lack of judgement. It was the dumbest mistake I have done as a parent, probably as a human being, but unfortunately not the last…
To Be Continued!  (Go to part 2)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'll Get You The Moon and the Stars

Blake loves bath time. He also loves the bathroom in general. The door must be closed otherwise Blake will wander in and throw anything that's not nailed down into the bathtub. Or he might walk out sucking on some shampoo bottle before spilling it in my room. Or decide to run around with my shaving razor.

A couple of days ago we were having a very lovely bath-time. Papa (that would be me) and Blake in the bath and daddy was sitting outside. In the bath Blake likes to play with a set of three squeaky toys, purple octopus, green frog and blue whale. There's also a small squeaky pirate captain, among other floating bits. The highlight is a set of foam shapes that were a gift from a good friend who also designed the illustrations on them.

When wet you can stick them to the tiles and they'll stay attached fairly firmly. At first Blake's only interest in them was to stick them in his mouth and leave little bite marks on them. I'd stick them to the tiles and he'd watch with interest. Later he'd reach out and pluck them off the wall... And stick them in his mouth. As long as he wasn't biting me, I was content.

Then one day Blake decided to attempt sticking them on the tiles himself. The problem was that he had a finger between the sponge and the tile, so it never made full contact with the wall and fell to the water when he let go. Blake wasn't visibly disappointed or annoyed, he simply studied the results of his careful lab experiment. Eventually there were several successful attachments.

So two days ago as we were having our bath, I was inside with Blake helping him stick sponges to tiles. He then took the squeaky purple octopus and tried sticking it to the tiles. Needless to say, the big heavy lump of rubber dropped immediately.

'Oh, Blake. There's nothing I want more than for that piece of rubber to stick to the tiles, but it's not going to happen.'

'There are far more important things in the world than this toy sticking to the tiles.' Daddy said with a smile that was both forgiving and patronizing.

It was a somewhat silly statement on my part and it was certainly not true that wishing a rubber toy to stick to the wall was in fact what I wanted more than anything else. But then I looked at Blake as he attempted to stick to the wall another toy and I realized that I felt that way regardless of how pointless it was. It made me finally understand what it means to promise someone the moon and the stars. This unrealistic desire to fulfil a loved one's most impossible wishes.

Because at that moment the world ceased to exist for Blake. It was just him and his experiment. The only thing on his mind was whether the toy will stick to the wall or not. The toy falling into the water was surely a disappointment and a failed experiment, but a necessary part of growing up. For babies and toddlers pretty much any action they take is an experiment in which they learn basic physics and the world around them. Sometimes these experiments could be painful and sometimes just disappointing.

So seeing Blake fail at something, even if it's something as simple as sticking things on the wall, breaks my heart just a tiny little bit. I want him to have a magic touch and defy the law of physics to his own delight. I know it's not going to happen, but I still feel that way.

This utterly ridiculous anecdote is a good example to just how weird people get once they become parents. Or maybe it's just me... Apologies if you expected a funnier payoff to this anecdote like Blake maybe taking a dump in the bath or something.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Blake ver 1.5 Preview

Blake is going to be a year and a half in a week. Like all parents we think a lot about his development. Is he reaching his milestones on time? Ahead of time? Is he breaking records? Is he providing me with fantastic anecdotes that I can use to obliterate the self image of fellow parents and send them running and screaming back to their "What To Expect" books?

To be honest, I don't really care. I'm not researching on-line to see what Blake is supposed to be able to do week by week. I don't try to compare him to other babies at that age, including what I used to be like. There are mainly two reasons for that. For one thing I don't want to broadcast to him any anxiety. I don't want him to feel inadequate or slow. For the most part, though, it's simply the fact that I really don't care if my son is the strongest, tallest or smartest (he is the handsomest, though). I'll leave that second-hand achievement chasing to other parents. For me it's far more important that he'll be happy, healthy and a decent human being.

Mind you, I'll totally update my Facebook status to show off if he won a Noble Prize. He is more than welcome to become an Olympic gold medallist or create a pill that cures all forms of cancer overnight. Don't get me wrong, I don't want him to work night shifts at Tesco all the way to his pension, it's just that I prioritize other things above a successful career. I assume that part of being happy means doing something you like doing (or at least don't hate) and getting paid for that fairly.

With this chunky disclaimer out of the way, I can concentrate on little Blakey-Cakey at almost one and a half. What is he up to? How developed is he?

Well, he can't talk yet. Not properly. There's lots of ababababawapapa and making fart noises with his mouth. He also tried saying sunflower (which is really two words) as his first word a couple of months ago, but it came out more like safa. This pretty much sums up his speaking efforts for the moment. Oh, there was also the brief period where he enjoyed making a noise while sucking in air which was quite startling as you don't really expect a one year old to gasp. Repeatedly.

On the physical front he's doing very well. He's not walking as much as running. He always zooms about the place and always with a clear sense of purpose. Got to pop into the guest room, climb on the bed and peek outside through the window. Then through the kitchen to the wash-room where he needs to go check on the washing machine. Run to the living room and push his train and throw some balls around. Then must run back to the kitchen and splash the dog water all over the place, slip on the puddle he made and cry. Occasionally he'd climb the stairs to the first floor and close the baby gate after himself. He'd even sometimes stop halfway through and attempt to go down a stair or two by carefully finding his footing. I suppose he remembers the unplanned tumble down the stairs from a few months ago (a story for another time).

Blake spends most of his time conducting scientific experiments. He's very good with technology. He only needs to be shown once what each button does. Right now he knows how to turn the iPod in his room, play pre-recorded tunes on Daddy's electronic piano and his own toy piano. He knows what button turns on any of the phones and the fax. He even called the police too a couple of times and no, they didn't think it was cute. He manges to turn on alarms and disable playlists on the iPod, something that took me quite a while to figure out how to undo. His latest tech achievement was creating a custom chat room in World of Warcraft called 433fj1i019. Conquering the field of electronics isn't enough, though.

A budding physician Blake likes taking objects and test their rollability on the coffee table in his daddy's study. Balls and tube shaped objects roll quite well. A glass full of grapes juice rolls exceptionally well and makes a fine sticky mess on the white carpet underneath. Books and eyeglasses fail the rollability test, which makes them ideal test subjects for breakability. He found that standing by the child's gate on the top of the stairs he could throw pretty much anything down below through the gaps between the posts. If something happens to be too big to fit between the bars all that needs to be done is push the object up slowly and over the railing. The foot of the stairs now looks like a landfill with toys, clothes, discs, TV remotes, phones and whatnot. So far the only casualty was a plastic pig toy. All in the name of science.

Blake also loves flipping the pages of books. And eat them. He especially likes taking a book and placing it first on our bed or the coffee table and why wouldn't he? I sometimes try and sit with him to read the words for him, but he flips the pages a bit too fast and I can only manage to squeeze in the first few words.

This is just scraping the surface. There's so much else that he does and I'll need to probably follow up this post with another. This is just a taste of Life with Blake right now and I can tell you: the boy is delicious!


Friday, November 06, 2009

Where's the Mommy?

The first time I was asked "where's the mommy" was when we were still in Toronto. Blake must have been one or two months old. I was in HMV on one my of my excursions to the local shopping mall. There I was pushing the pram and browsing DVDs when a young man stopped me and asked me "where's him mom". His half shut eyes and slurry tone (not to mention the inappropriate question) made me assume he was mentally handicap in one way or another. Whatever it was, I felt no need to dive into the full story and just said "at home". Since then I rarely had that question asked whether I was with my husband or just me and Blake.

The next time it happened was already in London. Not quite sure how long ago, maybe around Blake's first birthday. I was at the local Thorntons stocking up on some chocolates when the nice lady behind the till asked me if it was mommy's day off. Again, not wishing to go into detail I just smiled and nodded instead of asking her if it was her brain's day off. That was it for a while.

The worrying thing is that this week I had two incidents in a row. Last week while shopping for a new wallet I let Blake down off my shoulders for a second and then had to chase him. "Are you babysitting today" asked the saleswoman at Tie Rack with a somewhat patronizing smile. The implication was obvious. There I was your typical father, like a fish out of water. Letting the mother take care of all the difficult day to day child rearing and then occasionally help out with the baby just to get some sort of pat of the back for a token contribution while realizing what a difficult job it actually is. "No, I take care of him all the time. He's my little buddy." I replied to her and added in my head "you presumptuous, sexist, nosey, little bitch."

And just today at Waitrose I was at the cashier. Blake was sitting in the shopping cart chewing on whatever was near enough to his mouth. "Is his mother at home?" She asked, God knows why. "He doesn't have a mother. It's just me and his father." I said briefly. I didn't quite want to go into detail with the whole story, but I was immediately aware that it wasn't phrased very well. The kind woman was resourceful enough to fill in the blanks. "Oh, he's very young for that. What a shame. Parents separated?" She was babbling with a disapproving sad face. "Are you shopping for the father?" Utterly perplexed, I just smiled and nodded.

I've decided that the next time someone asks me where's the mommy I'll just say "he doesn't have a mommy" in the saddest voice I could muster, maybe a tear or two, and leave it at that. Let them assume she died in a plane crash or was disowned by the family after being thrown into jail for dealing drugs to schoolchildren. What if I was a widower who just lost his wife? What if I was divorced and it was my turn with the kid? Why do these people think they can just ask anything that crosses their minds?

Better yet I can write a pamphlet with the following text in several different languages to hand over to nosey people who think my life is an open book for them to leaf through.

"Dear nosey person. I'm gay. I'm married to a man who's also gay. Our baby son may or may not be gay. We don't hate women, some of our best friends are women, we're just not into them that way. Thanks to a kind surrogate and the egg donation from one of our best friends we managed to bring our beautiful son into the world. His biological mother is part of his life and it's up to the two of them to establish what type of relationship they'll develop between them, but as it is my husband and I are our son's only legal parents. I hope this satisfies your utterly inappropriate curiosity, but if you're also going to ask us who's top and who's bottom I'm afraid I'll have to punch you in the face using my foot. Kind regards, Michael."


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The poop post.

Haven't been writing my intended one post a day since I sunk my teeth into a "proper" writing gig, a book to be exact. I might write about that process in future posts as it's taking a huge chunk of my life now and I have a lot to say about that too.

But before that, it's time for a Blake post.

I don't think I've written about poop yet, so here it is: The poop post. And I can write it now able to look back at thirteen months of poop.

Blake was born 411 days ago. Assuming I changed four diapers a day, it means I did 1,644 nappy changes in a little over a year. Sure, my husband helped with quite a few of them, but take into account that the first few months had as many as eight diapers a day and the fact that I'm the main diaper changer, the number should be still quite close, probably a bit higher. Now, Blake didn't poop every day, but almost. So roughly one diaper in five was poopy. That's 328.8 poopy diapers (I wouldn't want to be the one handling that dirty 0.8 diaper!). Again, the number is probably higher as there were times where Blake pooped more than once a day.

(In a few years time when Blake goes through this blog's archives I bet he's going to LOVE reading about his papa talking about his pooping habits. Don't be embarrassed Blake, we all poop!)

Before the birth, changing poopy diapers (sounds better than saying shitty) was one of the things I dreaded. I didn't need to, really. I had two Great Danes and they poop BIG. Having to scoop after them or clean an explosive diarrhoea (as they say, shit happens) off the kitchen floor and cupboards has prepared me for the worst of it. There was nothing Blake could do with his poo to faze me. Even when he did his world famous double-poo in his early days (tip: if your baby just finished pooping - WAIT BEFORE YOU UNPACK. He might not be done yet!)

Now he's thirteen months, walking and running. He's really still a baby, but he's looking more and more like a little boy with every passing day. So it's quite odd to suddenly hear grunts from the hallways, come over and see him standing on all four, his bum in the air, pushing and grunting.

The day has come.

We're ordering a potty from the Babies R Us website.

To be continued!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bedtime Stories

Blake has been sleeping through the night from two months and ten days. Even though he was our first child we knew how lucky we were. He was still occasionally a handful during the day, but at least I could once more sleep through the night.

The fragmented sleep was certainly the worst thing in the those first two months. Inconsolable crying came a close second. Of course often you would have your sleep disturbed because of inconsolable crying and get a fantastic combo.

Getting up in the middle of the night from Blake's hungry screams, I had to scrape myself out of bed, change him and warm up the bottle on auto-pilot with my eyes half shut. When I was finally done feeding him I would be completely and utterly awake. Not enough energy to do anything worthwhile, but too awake to fall back asleep. That was when I fell back into playing World of Warcraft (a bad habit I kicked since, hopefully for good) and watch various movies and TV shows.

So it was a delight when Blake started sleeping through the night. But somewhere along the way, I'm not even sure at exactly what point (Eight months? Nine?), Blake would scream his head off every time I would try to put him to bed. The look of terror and betrayal in his eyes would tarnish what could have been a wonderful day spent together. He would make me feel like a real bastard for sticking him in bed and walking away. It didn't matter if I tried singing to him or put the lullaby music on. I was Darth Vader. Often he'd fall asleep within a minute or two, but sometimes he would cry for up to fifteen minutes, getting into a frenzy and I would have to take him out and give him another thirty minutes or so to roam free and really get tired.

And now, about a week ago, just before Blake turned thirteen months, the most amazing thing happened. He stopped crying. He would just turn to his side and be ready to zonk out. Absolutely amazing. Putting him to bed and walking away without being accompanied and haunted by his screams... Heaven. Not sure why it happened, though.

The fact that he can now walk, practically run, probably has a lot to do with it. He tires himself much more. But at the same time I also decided to give him a little nighttime routine. Up until recently we would just let him roam free and do whatever he wanted and come ten o'clock (forget putting him to bed any earlier) we would just lift him, disturbing whatever activity he was doing, and stick him in bed. I can see how that can be a bit jarring. If someone did that to me I don't think I would be that happy about it either. I did try reading him stories, but he is too young to show interest. He would usually listen for a few seconds and then smack the book out of my hands or try to eat it. He is also getting into turning pages in books nowadays. It doesn't matter what else, it's all about the page turning action.

A few days ago I edited all the video tapes I had of Blake so far. I wanted to fit the first year into seven minutes with the Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah playing in the background. It turned out quite well if I do say so myself. So that what Blake watches every night now just before going to bed. It works wonderfully. He sits on my lap and we watch it on my computer. As soon as it starts he immediately goes limp and relaxed. He sees himself, the people his love, his home, his dogs, his toys. The music is very soothing. As soon as it's over I just take him to bed. So far, almost a week and he hasn't protested once.

It works for now and that's all I care about. What will happen next we'll see. I suppose eventually this will transform into bedtime story time when he is ready.

Now the only problem is little Dexter. Our excitable little pup needs to be taught NOT to bark late at night outside of Blake's room and wake him up screaming...


Monday, June 22, 2009

Where did my baby go?

Ever since my son was born I was eagerly awaiting the next milestone. Quite frankly, the first few weeks were quite boring. It was amazing to hold him in my hands and look at him, but that was pretty much what I got to do (other than feeding, washing, changing etc.).

Each new milestone just gave me appetite for more. Suddenly he was smiling, laughing, sitting up, crawling, walking a few steps. Waiting for the changes felt like forever and a new milestone sneaked up on me when I least expected it.

Not anymore. Only three weeks ago he started walking, three steps at a time and then falling back on his bum where he felt safe. Every single day I could see a change. Walking a bit longer, a bit faster, a bit more confidently. Yesterday we went to the park and for the first time, rather than me carrying him around to various attractions, he was walking all over the place on his own. Walking? Almost running.

Suddenly my baby is gone and there's this little boy who looks a lot like him. How long is he going to stick around? Suddenly I'm no longer in a hurry for the next few milestones. They can get here whenever he is ready. I am going to make the best out of every day, every moment.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Multi tasking

Doing college work in my small study. Blake is roaming the upstairs floor so I locked the gate. The dogs are lying in the landing and present an obstacle for Blake to overcome. Dexter comes over to say hi. Due to a double operation he had on his eye and ear he's wearing a big satellite dish on his head which makes him even more clumsy than before, knocking down anything in his way like a bulldozer.

Blake cries. I run over to find out he got his fingers pinched and stuck in the hinges part of the door to the toilet. Can't lock the damn thing. Fortunately no real damage and a few verses of Wheels on the Bus calm him down.

I have lots of work to mark for college for tomorrow's final assessment, so I get back to it. Thankfully I don't need the computer for that. Blake comes over and takes over the keyboard and mouse. He smacks the mouse and drops it. It's now dangling off the keyboard, swaying back and forth with a little glowing red light that fascinates Blake. He slaps it a few times and moves away. He walks over a pile of essays I left on the floor, gotta move them.

Gotta go and stop him. He picked up something he shouldn't. Maybe I'll finish marking the work once he sleeps!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time flies?

One of the biggest lies most parents will tell you is that time flies. One second you are holding a newborn baby and suddenly he is in his thirties and has his own children.

That's simply not true. When I look back at my son's first year in this world, it feels like much more than a year, to the point that I seem to be able to only vaguely remember what my life was before Blake came along. When I see pictures of Blake at three months old, super chunky and unable to even roll over when lying down, it feels like years ago.

Thinking about him as a new born feels like a lifetime ago.

But here's the thing: It doesn't matter if time moves fast or slow. Once it passed, it passed forever and there is no going back.

Blake changed, literally, under my nose. It wasn't a case of him suddenly going "poof" at the end of every month, shedding his skin like a snake to reveal a new version. The change was constant and gradual. So without noticing it, several versions of Blake (all of which I totally adore) disappeared forever without even saying goodbye. Looking at some videos from the first year, a wave of nostalgia crashed on me. It was as if I just remembered an old friend I haven't seen for a long time and figured that maybe it is now a good time to pick up the phone and rekindle the relationship.

Only you can't do that with past versions of your child...

And now Blake is amazingly cute at one year and I know I'll miss this version so much once he moves on to the later stages. And certainly once he fords his teenage years towards adulthood.

When I first held my son in my hands I finally understood my parents in a way I never did before. Now that he is one and I have seen him go through all those changes I understand them even more.

That is how they see me. That is the first impression I made on them. My mom would tell me how she misses me as a baby and I thought she was just being silly. Oh, how wrong I was.

Twelve months old Blake is going to turn into thirteen months old Blake in less than two weeks, but in my heart there will always be a shrine dedicated for each one of those versions. The pictures, the videos, the blog writings, my memories... He's not going anywhere anytime soon.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Blake at one.

When I first met Blake he was a little lump of flesh that cried, ate and slept (peed and pooped goes without saying). It was not love at first sight, it started out as sheer awe and fascination. As he started growing and slowly developing his unique personality that was when I started to gradually fall in love with him more and more. Now at one year my heart is on the brink of bursting with love and yet I find the capacity to love him more and more every single day.

So at one year, who is Blake? What can I say about my son? How do I describe him to someone who never met him?

Blake is a wonderful creature. The first thing you notice about him is how gorgeous he is. I know all babies are the most beautiful to their own parents but with Blake I can safely state that he is objectively the most beautiful boy in the entire known universe. He has a heart-melting smile with eight beautiful pearly white teeth, one of which was chipped a little a few days ago in Barbados, but ended up only adding to his charm. He has soft flowing brown hair that glides perfectly into place at the slightest touch. Big gray eyes just complete the tiny little package of perfection.

Blake is an easy baby. I never had any other baby to compare, but I heard the war stories from other parents. Blake is a delight. He sleeps through the night since two months and one week with the odd exception for when he’s feeling off for whatever reason (teething being the most common reason - thank God for Calpol). He’s very good at keeping himself entertained with toys and by exploring the house. When we put him to bed he might cry for a couple of minutes, but will soon be out for the night. He’s well behaved at restaurants, though nowadays it helps if you distract him by placing him facing the door or window so he could watch cars passing in the street outside.

At one year he’s now off baby food altogether with the exception of formula. He eats whatever we eat: eggs, bacon, steak, chili, pasta, fruit, rice, fish, shrimp… Anything with the exception of small hard things he might choke on and extra spicy stuff. Medium spicy food makes him giggle. His spice tolerance is already higher than my husband’s… Liking adult food and being able to walk means that I can no longer snack or eat in front of him without sharing. Especially if I eat something sweet… Blake would come over, lean forward with his hands on my knees and get a silly little smile on his face, his eyes saying to me “go on, give me some”. I’d start putting bits of snacks in his mouth and his little smile will turn into a big grin as if to say “good stuff!”. This is actually good. Since I wouldn’t want Blake to snack too much, I’ll have to cut down on snacking myself now that he expects me to share. Well, it's far more likely that I'll just end up doing midnight snacking when he's asleep...

Blake loves watching Baby Einstein. He watches a program after every meal (unless he dosed off by the end of it and then he is carried up to his bed). By now he’s old enough to watch all of them, but he has his favourites. If he disapproves of a certain program he makes a lot of noise until it is changed. As soon as he finishes his food his highchair is turned towards the laptop in the kitchen and the fun begins. We travel with the laptop so Blake could watch his Baby Einstein wherever we are in the world. As soon as the show ends, during the credits even, the protest starts. Blake naturally dislikes sitting in front of a switched off screen. Sometimes, Windows being Windows, an application will launch itself to the front of the screen and interrupt the video, but Blake will be very resourceful at getting someone to come over quickly to sort it out for him. I tried showing Blake other cartoons: from classic Disney and Loony Tunes shorts to Dora and Diego. He shows interest in those, but it lasts only for a couple of minutes.

One of the coolest things Blake does is something I’ve seen no other baby do and I have no idea where he got it from. When he is excited by something, like a good Baby Einstein session, he makes an adorable pout and start twirling and twisting his little hands as if he dances some exotic east European dance. He’s being doing it from five months and I dread the sad day when he would suddenly stop doing it.
Blake been speed crawling for months now. He quickly learnt to stand up by pushing himself up using his hand and then to get up just using his legs. Just before our holiday in Barbados we made it very clear to him that if he doesn’t start walking before Barbados, he’s not coming. So he started walking just before we left. His record his twelve steps. He still feels more comfortable to crawl the big distance and then walk the last few steps, but it’s a step (ha!) in the right direction. The split between crawling and walking is now almost a 50-50 split and he walks faster and more confidently every day.

Blake doesn’t speak yet. At nine months he said “aba” and we wondered if it was the Hebrew (we speak it between us) word for daddy/ papa, or just a noise. We assume it’s just a noise and that none of his random sounds were actual words yet. His vocabulary so far includes “aba ababababa bwaaaa”, “eeeee” and “ppfffffft”. He loves razzing.

Since coming to London with us at three months, Blake always had two Great Danes with him (not the same two, sadly Kato passed away in February). So Blake must think that every baby has two giant dogs to hang out with. Leo is a bit jealous and wary of Blake and keep his distance. Dexter the-almost-seven-months-old-puppy is far more in sync in Blake and loves giving him big wet slurpy kisses. Blake, on his part, loves pulling and tagging at the dogs’ faces and crawling over them.
Like most babies, Blake loves going out. I take him in the stroller to Tesco for quick shopping or to our nearest playground where he adores the toddler swings. In Barbados we went splashing in the clear water twice a day, but alas that’s not an option in London. We’ll probably look for some nearby swimming pools, but after having your first ever dip in clear Caribbean water, nothing else is good enough, certainly not a mixture of chlorine and urine. Car rides are also welcome, especially now that he sits forward and has a better view.

Blake recently developed a fake cry. He would look and sound upset, but as soon as he got what he wanted or was efficiently distracted, he’d get a silly grin on his face.

What else? There must be a million other things. When Blake is contemplating he sucks his thumb and twirls his hair. He loves grabbing my hair and pulling or sticking his fingers in my mouth and scratch my teeth while he likes trying to eat Miron's nose. He can win wet t-shirt competitions when drinking from his sippy cup, but he’s perfect when drinking his bottle. He’s obsessed with phones, keyboards, gamepads and mice and would grab any as soon as he sees them (I wonder how many of our friends god international calls from Blake). He dislikes clutter and will throw every item off the table one by one. He knows how to hold a 360 controller properly and turn on the machine – or any other machine that is remotely operated for that matter. Dexter managed to destroy some of Blake’s toys, there’s a learning curve there… But Blake has repaid the dogs by taking over their big chunky rubber tire. He loves picking it up, standing up and then letting it fall to the ground, bounce and roll.

This can go on forever. If bothered to write all year I would’ve probably been able to expand on many of the things mentioned here in more detail. That’s what I’m going to do from now on. For all I know, Blake has already changed and some of the things I mentioned in this long post are probably no longer relevant anyway.

Stay tuned for more Blake!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gayrenthood – Year 1

My son is now one year and two weeks old. That's how long I've been a papa.

I was looking forward to writing about my adventures as a gay parent, but as any regular follower of this blog (ha!) knows, the updates arrive less frequently than a decent Dreamworks animated feature.

The main reason is the simple fact that being a gay parent, at least in the first year, is a lot like being a non-gay parent - only gay.

Many exciting things have happened in the last year, but those are things that are only exciting for the child's parents and close friends. The first time Blake sat up on his own, then the first time he pulled himself up, then the first time he stood up just using his legs. The first few steps, vocalizing, holding his own bottle, using a sippy cup... Tons of little milestones that blow your mind away even though you know they'll happen. The thought that I'm going to have conversations with Blake soon still make my head spin.

But that's not very exciting to write about. Just look at my most most recent blog posts. Writing about Heroes, baby mobiles and my feeble attempts at creating self-published comics that will be read by five people (including myself).

The simple fact is, we have not encountered any real problems as a gay parented family - yet. Blake is still home all the time, taken care by either one of us or, rarely, babysat by some close and trusted friends. His encounters with the real world are restricted almost entirely to the playground and since I'm don't leave the house with a "Gay Dad" sticker on my forehead, it's not noticeable to the other parents. The only time we did point out that we're gay was when we went to visit a possible school for Blake and we were reassured it shouldn't be a problem and in fact we just found out he got in! Yay!

So even though it would have been far more "interesting" to write about our battles against discrimination, so far our parenting life has been quite easy. Please let it remain this type of “boring”.

But things will get more interesting now whether I like it or not. He's older now. He’s no longer a chunk of dough that pees, poops and eats – he’s a little boy. We'll start going to more places. He'll start going to day care in a few months. He'll start talking soon and with that come questions. Then it’ll start being more “interesting”.

If I won’t write it all down, I’ll forget the small little details. So from on I’ll try harder to write regularly. Hopefully Blake will supply me with a constant flow of anecdotes!