Letters to Holly

Thursday, October 14

Problem Solving

After three months, I'm still trying to encapsulate what it feels like to be a parent. The closest analogy I can get is a video game, a more tactile version of Tamagotchi.

When the deputy is content, you can take him anywhere and do anything. When he's a little antic -- when he becomes Mister Everywhere -- you set him down and let him flail. When he's crying, the mental checklist pops up. You inspect him and change the fluids and see if that quiets him. He's a constant experiment in problem solving. When he's not currently wailing, you check your supplies. It's exactly like a role-playing game. Replace bullets and arrows with diapers and milk.

Such games were crucial to my development. The lessons of constant evaluation and trial-and-error, those sprang from the Nintendos and Segas. Competing with my previous scores burned away my weaker tendencies to stomp around and decry the game as crap and broken. I noodled through. I learned how to focus and adopt a zen mindset to get the job done. That's simply what we do with the kid. Our baby books are cheat manuals. None of this of course considers emotion, excepting frustration. He still throws curveballs, usually right when you think you've got the pattern scouted.

Last night, for instance, he had a bad dream. He bean crying in his sleep about an hour after we put him down. That can suggest a bad diaper, but he was changed just before he nodded off. So that's an eliminated option. He couldn't be hungry after downing six or so ounces before nodding off. He was dressed warmly, so he wasn't cold. His outfit wasn't new, so he shouldn't be any hotter than he was the previous night. This was a different experience for us. But I noticed his eyes were still closed, and that's unique. Even in his most violent tantrums, his eyes are open. I figured he was having a bad dream. I put my hand over his torso to comfort him, and he grew still and quiet. His snoring resumed, and his crying was done. He stayed out for another ten hours. Bad dream? I guess so. Now we know that's possible for him and how to handle it.

I haven't been able to finish the book I chose to read to him. He gets cranky within a few pages. I close up the book, scoop him to my shoulder, and walk around the nursery. I sing to him. I don't know what Your Sister serenades him with, but I'm going with Radiohead and Alan Parsons Project. Progressive rock not only contains gentle harmonies, it also can put you to sleep quickly. It works, I'm here to tell you.

She's debating when and how to make him curious about solid food. His new bedtime removes him before we sit and eat, depriving him of the spectacle that's supposed to entice him to want our food.

I chose a new recipe last night and discovered in almost every step of the way required more work than the length of the recipe suggested. For instance, the rice had to be cooked beforehand. That's another half-hour needed. Boiling the peppers seemed easy enough until the cookbook demanded it be done in a kettle. A kettle? I scoured the kitchen to find one, and what we have will only accommodate three peppers at a time. Now I had to schedule the boiling and subsequent cold shock in ice water alongside the rice and combining the raw ingredients. This was more than I expected, but the dish came out without tasting too horrible. It's essentially lasagna with rice instead of noodles. It's simple, really, but it ain't quick.

Your Sister is annoyed that a local private school didn't inform any other area schools about their planned motorcycle run this weekend. She wanted to join in. But with such short notice, she doesn't think it's feasible. Also, she confesses, she's not sure she can handle a 150-mile ride after being away from the bike so long. She just got it inspected anew this week, her first time on it since she learned she was pregnant.

I'll soon post my art in progress for the convention collector card. I'm seriously thinking about getting a second drawing table for the main part of the house.

Picture of the Day
The new behind-the-scenes book on Empire contains a heap of new photos, like this one. I couldn't get my hair to do that. Is that lock feathering?

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