Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Jammin' until the break of dawn.

Back in high school, the ability to make up silly songs by writing new lyrics to old melodies earned me the nickname 'Ditty Queen'.  This skill was later fine-tuned by writing appropriately rude songs in honor of my friends' bachelorette parties.  But it's never been quite as handy as it is now that I'm a mother, although admittedly these days the lyrics are far more Mickey Mouse than they are Magic Mike.

Motherhood has made most of what comes out fit to the tune of Camptown Races, probably down to the huge giggle I get in reaction to each hearty 'DOO dah! DOO dah!'.  We have quite a repertoire too - gems such as 'Rukai's done a poo again', 'Is it time for you to eat' and the quintessential 'Why won't you just go to bed' are in constant rotation.  Chicago friends will appreciate the bedtime lullaby best, which for some strange reason has firmly affixed itself to the tune of a twenty-something year old TV car ad song 'the whole town's talkin about the Webb boys...'  I really have no clue how that happened, but alas this will be an early memory for our bubs.

Mornings are most fun of all, and mornings when Rukai decides he's going to be a crab ass all day take the cake.  Although I'm not entirely sure it's PC to sing anything to a baby based on the tune of 'What do you do with a drunken sailor', my latest creation just fell out: 'What do you do with a cranky baby'.

'Put him in the bin till it blows over' sung with a smile gets a gummy grin in return as if he's well in on the joke.  But what the hell, I suppose it really is best to laugh when you're being deafened by a scream.

We've also got a song for the days of the week, which comes out to that twee singsongy ad lovely 'little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky...'

Which goes something like: 'Hello Monday, how you doin', haven't seen you since last week, thanks for sunshine, where'd ya hide it cos the weather's been so bad...' Note how the end's got that very important lesson about how crap the weather is here in England.  Better we prepare him for it early.

I remember back a few months ago when I was ever so pleased with the bouncy chair bing bong song.  Today I realize it only takes 14,832 plays of the similar music living in the crib mobile before you want to chuck it under the nearest express train and smash it to shrapnel.  I am so tired of this music I was almost grateful to have partially deafened myself with a q-tip last week but that's an entirely different story.

Anyway and thanksbetogod Rukai is much more keen on the up-tempo: dance music, Mauritian Sega and reggae rule the roost in our house.  And I've learned with great joy in the past month or so that Ziggy Marley's Conscious Party looping off the iPod is a far better lullaby than anything coming out of that magic yellow box.  I am ever so glad we can mute old Mozzie and run the mobile on its own because aside from the bandanna whizzing around on the ceiling fan that mobile is his favorite thing.

Music has a far more important role to play for us, though, as I secretly hoped and secretly knew it would since I first found out I was pregnant.  Since the days le bump was growing, since the days I spurned Mozart for a tinny Stevie Wonder 'Master Blaster' played through a headphone into my navel.  I need Rukai to love music.  I need music to light him up and lift him.  And oh man, it does.  It so does.

In the same section of kitchen where I used to bop around with my bump, I park the ditties up in my head and pop on some real tunes.  I hoik him on my shoulder, grab his left hand with my right and we dance like no one is watching.  And he could stay up there for weeks, rocking and swaying, chin on my shoulder or bobbling in the air, steadier each day he grows stronger.  His huge brown eyes scan his surroundings, mouth in an excited 'O', taking it all in.

As for the music, I know he loves it but more importantly I know he remembers it.  I know I have been doing something amazing for him since he was on the other side of the belly.

'When you're moving in the positive, your destination is the brightest star,' says Stevie.

Rukai bops along.

We'll be jammin until the break of dawn.

Monday, 16 July 2012

That is my sunshine. That is my summer.

The gloomy weather during this summer-that-never-was has ensured us plenty of face to face house time.  Rukai is a learning machine - like a giant Chia Baby sprouting a new crop of skills just by adding milk and a play mat.  His progress would amaze the skeptics and I'd be lying to say it did not amaze me.  But this last bit also pisses me off.  Severely.  Because I should not be amazed at my son growing up like all babies do.  I need to learn to expect it.  I am severely pissed off that the bods planted those seeds of doubt that I've accidentally watered somewhere along the way.  Like the bad gremlins, multiplying and raising hell.  I need to smother those seeds in slug pellets, kill the weeds, plant a butterfly garden.  I need to do these things but the sun won't bloody come out and it is not helping my mood.

The only thing I should be amazed at is the mere fact that we actually created this boy.  Our precious squidge.  I look at him sometimes and just cannot believe that we made him.  I can't even make instant oatmeal without it boiling over half the time and here we created a person.  This magnificent person, full of promise, gunning to shatter the status quo.  And he will.

But I tell you what, this bloody SYNDROME is a pig.  I hate it and it just keeps grunting and rolling in the mud.  I am constantly obsessing about milestones, consulting Dr Google after Rukai's in bed to see if things are fairly common amongst other babies.  You know, the 'normal' ones.  And sure enough, they pretty much are.  I know clearly what I see and what he is capable of.  I know he is getting on just fine but still that negativity festers thanks to those aloof medical bastards.  Blue day, I'm afraid.  Tired of frowning.

Deep breath, work it out.  One day at a time.  Baby steps.  Any other motivational cliché to pull my head out of my ass.

I'm kicking myself furiously for not giving him more tummy time earlier, since his neck is still pretty weak for five months.  But maybe I'm just being neurotic - of course Doc Google came into play on this one but it sure seems this too is pretty normal for many his age.  Nevertheless, he now owns a bubba sized chair and he is probably more determined to be able to sit upright in it than we are for him.  Our daily sessions of 'roly poly' followed by those glorious press ups that make me grin ear to ear when I see the elated expression on his face in discovering this new amazing view of the world.  The important thing is that he's clearly cognitive of what he is learning and equally curious about the world around him.  I doubt very much that any syndrome is going to bring this to a halt.  Ever.  Nothing has a snowball's chance in hell of bringing this to a halt.  Take your stats and shove them up your collective ass.

The latest skills also include recognition that his left arm is attached and his efforts to control it.  So stretching his arm out and shouting at his clenched fist has become de rigeur.  Maybe he's practicing for the podium.  For Wimbledon.  For St. Andrews.

He's also figured out that he can fit his thumb in his mouth alongside the bottle, which has me in fits of laughter every time he does it.  What the hell, two for the price of one.  He loves his Mr Bumbles, his billy goat and his tiger rattle, having gummed them all to within an inch of their fabric lives.  He gets bored easily and is very particular about which activity he is interested in undertaking at a particular time:  want to look outside, want a cuddle, want to lie on the sofa, want to eat, want a clean nappy, want a cuddle, want to lie on my play mat, want my chair, want a cuddle.

Note how 'want to nap' is not in that list.  Doesn't come up unless we get him in the pram and go walking.  Damn.  The only way I can get him to sleep is to exercise.  Where have they put the hidden camera because this is surely some kind of practical joke?

He laughs and converses with the ceiling fan every evening before going up to bed.  We have tied a red bandanna around one of the blades which he thinks is hilarious.  I wish I was so easily amused.  He is getting used to the breeze outside and - now that he can bear to keep his eyes open outdoors - is becoming more interested in looking around.

He is five months old and doing just fine.  Now to convince my subconscious.

And other things are growing with him.  I'm not sure I can survive watching his father with him any longer, because my heart is going to explode.  The way they look at each other.  Rukai's expression says 'my hero, my teacher, my comfort'.  More.  The quiet cuddles, the conversation-free strolls in the back garden.  So much to say and so often not requiring a sound.

Dear lord, I could not love someone any more.  Some two any more.

That is my sunshine.  That is my summer.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Three cheers for the red, white and poo.

Rukai hosted his first Fourth of July barbecue last week.  Unfortunately his hosting skills consisted of a couple good gurgles and, natch, the requirement to be fed just as the grill was fully lit and ready to rock and roll.  So as he slurped away, his friends' mums magnificently jumped to action and got the food cooked for the lot of us.  While I used the spoken word to convey gratitude for their help, he let off a scream and a fart which I'm sure meant 'thank you so much, oh mummies of my friends, you are all so awesome and saved the day!'  Then too, maybe it was just 'hey, are you gonna eat all those s'mores?!  I may not have teeth but those marshmallows sure look gummable!'

The weather held, the nappies held, his temper held, he didn't need to be held.  I'd rate that a huge success.  Plus I got 13-1/2 hours of sleep out of him that night.  If that's the result of a big dose of fresh air, I vote we follow up with a Bastille Day picnic.


I think the Wimbledon final was on TV yesterday.  I say I think because I could only manage to watch 30 second spurts of it while engaging with Rukai in a rowdy conversation consisting of uhh-AAAHH!-mmnnngggg-AAAH-OOOO!!! and other such infant gems.  I'm not sure who he was rooting for but he passed out at the end of the match so he must've found it exciting.

This is one thing I don't recall any warning about pre-pregnancy: you will never be able to watch a live sporting event in its entirety ever - EVER - again.  Following that challenging attempt, I am now convinced that the inventor of Sky plus and the rest of those digital TV record-and-playback mechanisms was surely in possession of one very feisty infant.  So I have resigned myself to investing in an appropriate digital TV receiver and will hereafter completely avoid the news if I ever want to be surprised by sport again.

Until yesterday I was really excited about the prospect of watching as much of the Olympics as I want during my maternity leave but I am now entirely conviced Rukai will save his biggest exploding-up-the-back-shit to occur just as the last two pixie-like powerhouses are flinging themselves hither and yon in the battle to take home the coveted gymnastics floor exercise gold medal.

And speaking yet again of shit, since you just cannot help it while being in charge of an infant...

(If you tire of the subject, look away now and by all means, be sure not to procreate.)

I've heard of throwing a ball, throwing a fit and throwing your voice, but throwing your shit?  Yes, he managed to do a gargantuan poop the other day that completely missed the back side of the nappy but appeared up the front.  This is a new and very surreal trick that makes me want to call up Ringling Brothers and ask if they have any openings, because this life with young son is now officially well and truly a circus.  I'm ready for our intro:

'Now introducing Rukai the Amazing Crapshooter and his mother, the Bearded Lady!'

Unfortunately, they'll have to hand out ponchos and goggles to the front three rows which will significantly undercut our profit.


As those tooth nubs continue to do the 'coming-to-the-surface-jig' I have officially shoved aside 'Crusty BooBoo' in favor of his latest nickname, Mr. Dribbles.  I honestly do not know where all the saliva comes from.  It's like a bad day at the dentist and I'm probably going to have to buy one of those suction jobbers and affix it to him with duct tape if this keeps up.  Either that or dangle him from a jungle gym over a stack of muslins to catch the runoff.


Today is officially random cranky ass day.  After a half day of general malaise and whining (and Rukai's downright miserable too) I've decided to petition the government for an extra bank holiday, not to celebrate but to recover.  Thank god for my left arm and shoulder which seem, for now, a very effective sleeping potion.

Guess I best I go watch some sports while I can.