The Mouth

November 27, 2009 § Leave a comment


I often wonder what it would be like to be a dog. I look at my dogs and wonder how my life would be different if I lacked hands. I wonder if I would be content to understand the world around me primarily through taking things into my mouth. They eat things, smell things, pick things up, pull things, move things, and break things almost solely with their mouths. What must that be like?

Finn, I believe, has taken it upon himself to put it to the test. Though his goal hasn’t been stated clearly, based on my observation of his experimentation Finn’s hypothesis is something along the lines of this: the world can best be understood—if not solely understood— through the manipulation of said world by the mouth.

The kid puts everything in his mouth. It started when he was little; unable to find his thumb, he’d stick his whole hand in his mouth. There were a couple times I had to pull it back out for him when it got stuck. Now, it’s multiple fingers, a fist, or sometimes even multiple fists. On the list of other things he has tried either successfully or unsuccessfully to put into his mouth: everything that can be listed.

And here’s the thing, he’s not even good at it. He rarely has the coordination to hold onto anything, much less draw it to his mouth. That sure doesn’t stop him from trying. He spends the vast majority of his time in a supine position, attempting a half sit-up, his mouth open and his hands reached in the general vicinity of whichever object he intends to become his latest victim. Lately, as we change him, he grasps onto our sleeves or our fingers as they whisk by his face again and again. He latches on with an iron grip, but from there his coordination isn’t quite good enough to get things moving in the direction he’d like.

And no one needs to tell me that it’s going to get worse; I can see it coming. Suddenly he’ll have coordination, and his batting average will increase exponentially. Add to that his impending ability to crawl and eventually walk, and he’ll have nearly instantaneous access to all the things he’s ever had his eye on.

This year the Christmas tree is safe. Next year is another story.

What a joy to watch him develop. Four months ago, it took all his efforts of coordination to squeeze your finger. Now, he’s grabbing that finger out of midair, and pulling it towards his open mouth with astonishing vigor.

He’s so in tune to what’s happening around him, too. Sometimes I’ll watch him observe a conversation between two people, and his head is turning from side to side like a spectator at a tennis match. He’s watching so closely, listening, the gears of his mind turning and processing, and then all of a sudden he’ll blurt out some nonsense, and I’m convinced he has something useful to add to the discussion.

He talks gibberish all day, and he watches the dogs dash around the room. From my lap he’ll look up at me when I’m talking—his eyes wide and his mouth open, and I swear I’ve never seen anyone so interested in what I have to say.

Every moment is a milestone. Every day a collection of firsts.



November 18, 2009 § Leave a comment


I used to lazily roll out of bed around eight, and it took me at least an hour of slow-paced readying to get myself out the door. I’d shower slowly, dress slowly, and eat slowly. I’d read a couple articles from Time or Newsweek and find my way into work sometime before ten.

Now, I get up at 6:45 in the morning so that I can beat Finnden to the punch. You never know when he’ll stir—sometimes 6:45 and sometimes 7:45. And you never know what mood he’ll be in when he stirs. Generally, he’s pretty happy, but sometimes he wakes up mad for no particular reason. It’s always good to be up a little earlier than him so that I can get a shower, dress, and maybe even pack up my things before he begins to demand my full attention.

If he’s sleeping, though, I don’t wake him until I absolutely must. Today was no exception. We needed to get to daycare by eight, and since he hadn’t yet stirred, I went to wake him at 7:45. He woke up happy. He was squirming, and rubbing his eyes, and digging his dimpled chin into his collarbone like he usually does, giving himself a double and a triple-chin. Then, as is his custom, he looked up at me and flashed a giant grin, and turned slightly to his left as though he were being shy. That’s what he always does. Adorable, but not anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps I should have noticed a little gleam in his eye. Perhaps.

I picked him up, grabbing him beneath the arms, and lifting him out of his swing. Then I placed my hand under his bottom. That’s when I knew. He was wet. I hoped, I prayed that it wasn’t what I thought it was. I pulled my hand to within a couple inches of my face and took a hesitant whiff. No such luck. It was poop. With a hand placed firmly under each armpit I swung him around to see just how bad the damage was. From his legs to his shoulder blades, from one hip to the other, there was not one dry patch.

I took him into the hall and laid him down on the changing pad. I quickly stripped him down and realized that there had been a major diaper fail. Without exaggeration, there was more poop outside the diaper than in it. It was everywhere, in wet little clumps all through his sleeper, under his arms, on his back and his belly, the inside of his legs…everywhere.

And I don’t know if you know this, but that stuff stains. So, I began to change him as quickly as possible so that I could throw it all in the wash. And then he began to pee…right onto his forehead. You should have seen the look on his face, not necessarily panic or even anger, more of a confused consternation.

I quickly cupped my hand over the fountain, and the stream immediately stopped. I went back to what I had been doing. And then it began again. This time he missed his own forehead, shooting over his shoulder to land on the changing pad, the coved surface of which sent the little rivulets right toward him and to the back of his head. So now he had his own pee all over his head in addition to his own poop all over the rest of his body. And then he looked up at me and smiled, a big, comical and wholly winsome grin.

Needless to say, Finnden and I were a little late getting to daycare this morning. After I had rinsed his clothes and his swing, pre-treated them, and thrown them into the laundry in addition to cleaning him up and getting him dressed, I was a bit behind. I still haven’t really started work. Something in the back of my mind told me that these are the kinds of moments I don’t want to forget. These are the kinds of moments that warrant taking a few extra minutes to write them down so that I can look back on them years from now and wish I could do them all again.


November 9, 2009 § 2 Comments

Finnden Smile
Finnden learned to laugh the other day. It was the day he marked fifteen weeks of life. It’s fascinating, really.

Perhaps what is more fascinating is the inability to laugh. How is it possible that we spend our first few weeks without laughter?

I’ve always been mesmerized by laughter. What causes it…really? What makes it impossible to resist? What makes funny so funny? How is it that we can control so much about how we feel and how we respond to situations, but we find it nearly impossible to control laughter? If we’ve learned control it, have we missed the essence of it?

Laughter is magical in its innocence. Beautiful. Automatic. Uncontrolled. And its all the more extraordinary when its emitted from your son for the first time.

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