Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year End Observations of Parenthood

2006 marks the end of my first full year as a parent and boy what a ride it has been. Among the obvious changes that being a parent brings--namely the shifting of your primary function in life from a selfish thirty-something man to guardian of your child for the next 18 years along with infinitely more responsibility and copious amounts of used diapers-- there are more subtle changes that manifest themselves in your persona over time only to surface when you least expect them.

Here are a few that I've witnessed this year:

* While waiting in a doctor's office or other waiting area, you and your wife/girlfriend/partner or whatever know instinctively when to come over and relieve the other from watching your child. This parental instinct which somehow senses fatigue or distress surfaces at some time after the birth of your child. Are words used to communicate this? Nope. Its all second nature. You just know when it's time to go over and help out. On October 13th, I found out that I possess this intuitive power.

* I now have no problem carrying my wife's purse in public even if its around my shoulder in times when I need a free hand and she is otherwise occupied. Two years ago, this would have happened over my dead and rotting body.

* My son's favorite word is "BALL". I have learned over the last 6 weeks, the word ball can be used in 73 different contexts. After weeks of in depth dialogues with him, I now know 32 of them with the other 41 still presently unknown.

* Urinating used to be a thirty second break from everyday activities where I could relax and not be bothered. Now, I need to covertly plan when and how I leave the family room in order to do the old number one. Of course, the best laid this case, foiled by said 18 month old. Consequently, I've learned to hold my son back so that he doesn't break the pee stream with his hand thinking that it's a faucet.

* After 42 episodes of 21st century Sesame Street under my belt, I now appreciate its comedic value and eagerly await the next day's episode especially the segment where Cookie Monster devours the letter of the day. He's a real bad ass. On a related note, my wife sat through an entire episode of America's Funniest Home Videos and told me to hold all of her calls. Since when did staged skits showing grandpa doing a back flip off of the trampoline into a flowerbed become funny? This now constitutes cutting edge entertainment for my wife.

* Never in a million years would I have thought that my future 18 month old son would crave MUSTARD. He makes frequent trips to the fridge to scam a dollop of the stuff which he promptly licks off the tip of his finger as he strolls out of the kitchen.

Freaky stuff.

My week entails watching my son for 6 hours a day. In order to get things done around the house, careful manipulation of each situation is of the utmost importance so as to garner as much time as possible in completing the task before he realizes you're not paying attention to him and he searches you out, finds you and pulls you away from said task. Having experienced this dozens of times, I felt it about time for someone to create a unit of measure quantifying this time interval. I am that man. My new unit of measure for this is called a TLP. T for the latin word for TIME (TEMPUS), L for the latin word for LOCATION (LOCUS) and P for the latin word for FATHER (PATERNUS). For reference, one TLP is approximately 15 seconds. My son is good for 10 TLPs. Do the math. I've got a little over 2 minutes to complete any task.

2007 will no doubt be filled with more interesting discoveries.