Sunday, January 24, 2016

First time parents are a funny lot

Having been a father for many years, I find it amusing to hang out with people who have just had their first child.
I call them frantic first timers because they are always frantic about the state of their offspring.
I have to admit I was the same way when kid No. 1 came along.
Every peep Junior made would send me scrambling to make sure he was OK.
If he suddenly started crying in his crib, I just knew a giant anaconda had escaped from some zoo, made its way to my house and was about turn my beautiful baby into a serpent snack.
Or perhaps a pack of jackals had some how gotten past me and snuck up the stairs, opened the door to his room and were licking their chops in anticipation of the defenseless meal that awaited them.
I would go charging into his room, ready to battle the evil creatures who dared threaten the safety of my child.
The evil creature most often turned out to be a full diaper – which was only evil to the person changing it. What did the kid care, his work was done.
I still remember changing the first diaper of my life. My wife took pictures and greatly enjoyed the look on my face when I discovered what the diaper held.
It was kind of a combination of revulsion and stoic shock.
Anyway, a fresh diaper, something to eat and he was as happy as a little kid can be.
When kid No. 2 came along, I possessed a much greater understanding of children and realized they are not going to spontaneously combust if their crying was not tended to in less than three seconds.
I also came to the conclusion that roaming packs of anacondas riding jackals were extremely rare in Canada.
Instead of dashing up the stairs every time he made a noise, I would wait a couple minutes to see if he would go back to sleep, which he sometimes did. If not, I would head upstairs and tackle the terror of the diaper. Once again, Junior would emerge happy.
And once again I would be repulsed by the diaper content, but the more diapers I changed the faster I recovered.
By the time kid No. 3 came along, I was a cool and calm and had a pretty good grip on the whole baby thing. Diapers were no more mentally damaging than wiping a runny nose or cleaning the all impressive ‘spit up.’
The joys of parenthood just never seemed to end.
So, she would start crying in her crib and I would casually stroll up to get her, with no more urgency than is warranted.
Try explaining this morphing of attitude to someone who is still tending to kid No. 1.
They look at you like you are nuts.
A few years ago we visited some friends in northern B.C. who had just had their first child.
She was a beautiful little girl who hardly made a peep, but when a peep was made, parents would scramble.
She slept for several hours the first day we were there and her dad checked on her many times.
Apparently he too had heard of the anaconda threat and was making sure his daughter was safe from the roaming band of vicious vipers.
After watching him quietly open the door and peak into her room, I tried to impart some parental wisdom on my friend.
I debunked the anaconda theory, and told him not to worry, that at six months old, she would let him know when she was awake.
He nodded in agreement, digested the information and then took a break from our conversation to sneak down the hall peak in her room.
Frantic first timers are an amusing lot.
After she woke up we decided to go for a walk to the corner store and while my three children ran down the park trail, their bundle of joy was in a stroller.
The walk should have taken about 15 minutes, but because the sun was shining, Mom had to turn the stroller, adjust the shade cover and make sure the evil rays from the glowing ball in the sky never touched her child, so it took more than 30 minutes.
I didn’t mind. It was a nice day, my kids were having a good time running around in the woods and the live entertainment was so much fun to watch.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

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