Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daddy Knows Best - Part the First

When the Snood was first born my husband, David, hadn't been around a baby for approximately two decades (since back when his youngest sister was an infant) so some serious rust had built up on any burping, swaddling, diaper changing, and assorted infant-related knowledge he might have possessed. He was, for all intents and purposes, starting from scratch and he made me....a little nervous.

One day, when Snoodie was about six weeks old, my best friend was over. As we sat catching up I kept one careful eye on my husband - making helpful suggestions as he and Snoodie got ready for a trip to the corner store.

"Watch his head when you pick him up!"

"Where's his hat? He needs a hat!"

"Remember - make sure the cars are really stopped before you push him out into the crosswalk!"

"People can look at him in the store but DON'T LET THEM TOUCH HIM!!"

David nodded with a smile as he closed the door on the last of my fleeting admonishments. As soon as he was gone, my friend turned to me and said:

"I bet if you gave him the chance, he could figure out a lot of this himself."

*lightbulb moment*

Turns out she was right! From that moment on, I made a concerted effort to squash any instinct to "help" when David was taking care of the Snood. He would occasionally ask a question, or share some realization like...

"Wow, you really need to cover up that kid's penis when you change him, huh?"

..but, for the most part he just took the reigns and went for it.

Not only that, but once I stopped giving him instructions, I noticed that not only was my husband not in need of constant supervision, but he actually had a thing or two to teach me about being a parent.

The first of these lessons is presented below, in a series entitled: "What I've Learned From Snoodie's Dad."


I have a tendency, when confronted with an opposing force, to dig in my heels and fight. This approach sometimes serves me just fine, but unfortunately, I found that it was highly incompatible with motherhood. Whenever I "took a stand" against Snoodie, I found that it only served to make both of us miserable. But then, one day when Snoodie was about 2-months-old, I was watching David on a car ride home with him -- AND I LEARNED SOMETHING!

You see, when Snoodie was little, this is how he would react to a car ride of any duration:

(actual baby Snood in his actual car seat)

As a result, one of us would take turns riding in the back with him, attempting to soothe him for the duration of the trip. On the night in question, it was David's turn in the back, and I listened in as he spoke to our shrieking son patiently:

"OK, buddy...let's try to stop screaming now, OK?... why don't you take your pacifier and just calm down... that's right, boy-o, let's try to quit crying now... it's gonna be OK, little guy..."

The only effect this had was to drive Snood into more pronounced fits of hysteria, but still David kept at it.

"OK, pal, it's going to be alright, I just want you to try to settle down a little bit buddy..."

After 10 minutes with no change in Snoodie's hysterics, David let out a frustrated sigh, which I assumed meant that he had simply given up. BUT NO! After a moment, he started talking again, in the same unerringly patient tone:

"That's right, buddy, you just let it out. Go ahead and express yourself. You just cry if that's what you need. Good job, buddy. You are doing great at letting us know how you feel."

From my perch upfront I started laughing so hard at my hubby's profound awesomeness that I almost drove us off the road. I understood, in that instant, that David had unearthed one of the true secrets of the happy parent -- and that is that sometimes the only correct possible response to one's child is to adjust your own perspective.

It took my M.I.T. trained husband to show me that, when it came to car rides, our inconsolable infant was not a variable, but a constant, and so the only possible solution was to redefine the equation.

Now, when the Snood is throwing food, instead of getting angry, I pull the food out of reach. When he fusses about bedtime, I explain that while I get, on some basic level, that he's not a fan of the idea, it is still what's best for him so he'll just have to deal. It's a lesson that just keeps on giving, feel free to use it yourself! I'll tell David you said thanks.

STAY TUNED next week for Part Two of the barely taped trove of wisdom that is my husband! "Daddy Knows Best - Part the Second" coming to a blog near you on March 3, 2010!