- Joey’s tooth is coming up slooowly, and the one next to it has started to bulge and redden beneath the gum. He hasn’t bitten me while nursing; instead, he holds something in his hand—usually a blanket or my finger—and will stop nursing to gnaw on that, then go back to nursing. He sometimes switches back and forth several times over a few minutes.
- Everyone thought I was nuts for deciding that the snerkolater needed a haircut, but after it was done, I think most of them came around to my way of thinking—he had some goofy long stuff on top of his head. I think it looks like he has more hair now, but that could just be me.
- On the flights home from Illinois, he was having a pretty rough time, so I started singing to him softly. Too softly! He moved his head until my lips were in his ear, stayed still for a minute, then whipped around to give me this delighted, triumphant grin–then jammed his ear against my mouth again. On the second flight, he started experimenting with moving his ear around my mouth and switching from ear to ear. My tiny little scientist.
- On the second flight home, we were seated next to a man who was clearly unhappy about sitting next to a baby. Joey wanted badly to grab his denim jacket, and while I fended him diligently, there of course came a time when I was distracted and the snerks made his move. I moved him away from the poor man (again), apologized, . . . but noticed that instead of grabbing, Joey was using the open-handed “gentle touches” that we’d been practicing with my sister’s dog and felt ridiculously proud. Way to pet that jacket, son!
- He insists on feeding himself 90 percent of the time, now. He’s eating a wide variety of foods and getting used to being washed in the sink after every meal—we’re making it work. So far he likes almost everything, although he’s pretty meh about avocado and eggplant and dislikes peas. He’s trying to figure out how he feels about cheese; my sense is that it is delicious but also somewhat overwhelming. When he tries a new food, he shudders pretty dramatically; without knowing this, the Dowager Book volunteered that my husband did the same thing as a baby.
- Am I supposed to be teaching Joey to drink from a cup? He has a sippy cup and can handle it pretty well, but I’ve tried a real cup (toddler cups Sharon sent us, in fact) a couplefew times with predictably disastrous results. Should I just hand him a cup and stand by with a mop, or wait until he’s a little older? He’s mastered palmer but not pincer grasp, sits well, and enthusiastically flips cups over.
- Picture day went off alright. Joey had skipped both naps earlier that day, so he was disinclined to smile at new people—I think he’s started to worry about strangers generally as well, which is quite a switch—but I think we got some nice shots. You’ll know as soon as I do!
- Still no crawling. Give him something to lean on and he’ll stand, but the snerks has a process for getting to something interesting that carefully circumvents the possibility of crawling. First he reaches; then he complains and waits to see whether I will fetch it for him; then he rotates and rolls to get where he’s going. I have decided that he just won’t ever crawl or walk, and that he’ll be rolling off to college in eighteen years.
- I’ve taken to bribing our cat Aztec so that he will tolerate the baby’s interest. Every time he is put upon b the baby, he gets a little wet food. Aztec will sit to one side of me and pretend that Joey doesn’t exist, and Joey will smile, coo, and croak, trying to get his attention.
I was asked, and now I’m going to break it down: Not so hot.
It was only a week or so ago that I decided that no matter what happens, we’re moving to California when our lease is up in May. It feels pretty weird to me that I’m the one who decided this—we’ve talked about it for a long time, I’ve given input and waited to see what he wanted to do—but in the end, I made the decision. While I was in Illinois, the Mister was having a particularly bad time at work: the worst timing. And one night, I sent him an email that contained this:
You know what we’re going to be doing a year from now? We’re going to be shoving boxes into a truck, that’s what. And I will be sing-songing to Pete: Bye-bye, [Mr. Book’s work]! Bye-bye, customer service! The cat will be losing it, but getting enough treats and wet food that he’s just nervous and not a catastrophic poop monster; we will probably similarly be bribing Pete with (fruit-sweetened) popsicles. Maybe we’ll make plans to stop for the night halfway through so that Pete and Aztec both can get some rest. Maybe we’ll power through, pausing only to get Taco Bell that I can hand to you and then feed to Pete. It will be hot, but not too humid, and as we make our way south, it will get hotter and drier. Pete will be occasionally interested by our narration, but mostly (likely) bored and tired of the car—whenever we stop for gas, we’ll take a little extra time to let him run around and wear himself out. Maybe we’ll put the laptop on the dashboard in front of me and watch Yo Gabba Gabba together. When we finally arrive, we will be hot and sticky and tired, but there will be beer, juice, a/c, and a pool—and probably pizza from that place we went to with my parents. You will never speak to [your bosses] again, and while you’ll be looking ahead to a tough and schoolworky fall, you’ll be able to spend the summer finding part-time work and playing in the water with the baby, who will hardly be a baby at all.
And after he got that, he seemed to feel a little relieved. When I got home, after he’d had a bad night, I pushed it a little further: A year from now, I said, you will be done with that job forever, even if it means we sell all our stuff and buy plane tickets south (happily, that will not be necessary). I will drag you by your hair away from this place, and in a few years we will come back to a different life in this city we both love. And he seemed relieved again, and encouraged. A couple of days later, he told me that he’d been telling himself at work that he wouldn’t be there at the same time next year, and that it was hard to believe but still helped—and I confirmed that yes, a year from now we’ll be gone. And that’s how we decided.
On the one hand, since we’re moving to my family and my homeland in order to change his career, I have been pretty sure that Mr. Book needed to make the final decision about whether we actually go. On the other hand, I’ve been depressed the way that he is now, and I know how impossible it can be to believe that things will ever change. But things have to change; the function of his current job (as I said to him, hands on his shoulders, looking into his eyes) is to eat him. He is to be used up for the good of the corporation—and he is feeling pretty well chewed up these days. So I said that even if he doesn’t get into law school, we go south and spend the first year with him working part time and studying full time. Either way, though, I’ve got to get him away from his work—it is (of course) impacting every part of his life. Last night, when he got home from work, Joey kept staring at him without reaching out or smiling; Mr. Book wondered aloud whether it was because Joey could tell how upset his dad was. So I spent a little time coaxing my husband to play with the baby, and they both enjoyed it—but it’s not something the Mister can initiate these days. He just isn’t doing well enough.
My parents are delighted that we’re coming, and are remaking one of their guest rooms into a “kids’ room” (my mom is still ready for another grandchild, if anyone was wondering!). I know that there will be hard things about living with them, and Lord knows there will be hard things about law school and babies and a sudden lack of decent public transportation (fun fact: I can’t drive a car). But my sweetheart isn’t doing okay, and we’ve got to make a change.
Joey rolled out of bed (while napping on his own) twice in a week: time to move to the crib, clearly, especially when you add the fact that Mr. Book is ready to be done with cosleeping. The Mister spends a couple nights per week on the futon now, trying to escape the kicking baby. And he does kick—I have tiny bruises scattered across my body, including a now-faded perfect set of toe prints on my thigh. So, okay, it makes some sense to have him start sleeping on his own.
Or maybe not.
After two nights, I gave up and made some changes in our bedroom setup that that make it less likely that Joey will roll out of bed—and safer if he does. Those two nights were brutal; if we checked on him frequently, if we gave him more time on his own, if he had a nightlight or no light, Joey screamed and screamed. Finally, when I went to check on him and found him crying so hard that he was shaking, I pulled him out of the crib and started moving furniture in our bedroom. “You’re acting crazy!” said Mr. Book. “I am having a hormonal problem,” I replied—or agreed, maybe. Joey was a little extra on edge for the next twelve hours or so, screaming immediately when he woke instead of rooting or chatting as he normally would, but he has now settled back into normal sleeping habits. Mr. Book says that we can move him in November; I give him worried, mutinous looks. He points out that we both slept in cribs; I point out that neither of us had happy childhoods. He suggests that this is not a result of sleeping alone; I agree, but say that we’re hardly arguments in favor, either.
We’re not fighting, but we don’t agree. I am happy to have a slightly lousy night’s sleep if it means waking up with a cheerful, well-rested baby; Mr. Book is more focused on the fact that sleeping without the baby is much more comfortable, and that thousands of babies sleep well in cribs. I remember how, when he was a newborn, he didn’t start sleeping well until he slept in the bed with us. I am sure that he isn’t ready. But how can we tell? Before Joey was born, Mr. Book had voted that we cosleep for six months, and I proposed eighteen months—the sixth month is behind us now. We’ll have the conversation again in November, I guess.