The Kids

I have obviously been remiss, but for obvious reasons. It’s been a tough haul, trying to get enough calories and sleep and sanity for everyone involved, but overall, if I had to end the blog here, I’d say that the whole experience is hovering right around an A, with occasional pushes into A+ territory.

Oh, I am so tempted to let that be the last thing said about any of this, but I always get so frustrated when I go back through my blog to try to figure out how we were doing and what we were up to, and find a giant black hole where I decided to be cryptic and short instead of wallowing, so I’m gonna just push myself and try to let you, the reader (otherwise known as “future me”) know better what’s actually going on.

Marlena is a month old. In fact, she’s five weeks old today. Her existence is really much less of an individual one and much more of a bit of stimulus for us to respond to. Which is probably how it should be with a one month old, they don’t really do much. The difference, I think, is that for Barnaby’s first six months, I kept expecting him to be more than a fleshy, short-circuiting eat-poop-pee machine, but that’s all we really are, as humans, for that first half-year.

But if I go ahead and anthropomorphize her, then I should admit that she translates as being very sweet and really lovely. Her blue eyes have stayed blue, and turned even bluer, and she has a habit of laying on my stomach, facing out, and arching her head back so she can stare at my face. Whereas Barnaby always liked to be swaddled and in motion, Marlena sleeps with her arms over her head, and would rather be still than be swung. When she loses her shit, she likes to go straight to Defcon Disaster, but it happens very rarely, and never for all that long.

She hasn’t really screamed or cried for longer than about ten minutes, if we’re honest with ourselves. It always feels much longer, and we did a cross country car trip where her goat screams almost made me drive off the road, but that was the longest she has ever maintained that miserable noise. Usually it lasts for no more than five minutes, really. To balance that out, she likes to make little cooing noises while she sleeps, and she loves to stare, intently, at your eyes when you’re holding her. If you can put a pinkie in her mouth, she is perfectly happy, although she, like Barnaby, won’t really tolerate a pacifier.

Barnaby has been dealing with her better than we could have hoped. He’s either ambivalent or fond of her, depending on his mood, but he talks about her when she’s not there as if she’s a lovely little surprise he can share with people. He has said a number of times “I like Marlena!” He hasn’t held her or anything, and he’s mostly had fun playing with her feet, but we’ve had none of the “when is she going back” kind of conversations that I hear so much about.

Barnaby is a boy. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CLICHE BOY. He will choose the longest possible path between two points if it includes running in circles and crashing into things. He barely notices that any of his peers exist, but when they enter his frame of reference, they are immediately set to work in one of his schemes. He is just crashing through his life, really, with no concern about his wake or his noise level. It’s really wonderful to watch.

He’s also a complete boy when it comes to his feelings. Deep and utterly clear and simple, he feels things so much and just explodes with love and pain and anguish and joy. He has no ambivalence, he has no duality. When he’s hurt, he bursts into tears, holding on while the pain continues, and as soon as the pain is gone, it’s left him as if nothing ever happened. When he sees someone he loves, he screams, runs in circles, jumps up and down and hugs and then, a minute or so later, acts as if they have always been there.

He loves music in a way that I have never loved anything. He knows all the instruments of the orchestra, not just by sight but by listening to them on a recording. The radio was playing the other day and Barnaby said he heard an accordion, and I realized that it was a pop song with a hammond organ in the background, which sounds exactly the same. He is fascinated by instrumentalists, and loves to stop and listen to buskers in the park or in the subway. Of course, he likes talking to musicians in the middle of a performance as well, because he’s basically all Id at this point.

His asthma is under control, but still gives him a pretty persistent cough. We need to cover him in moisturizer at night or by mid-day he’s covered in little red bumps. He eats like crap, refuses to eat almost everything and judges new food with a default refusal to even try it. He won’t eat ice cream, candy bars, meat or chicken, any vegetables and most fruit. He’ll eat dried fruit and I can sneak veggies into his food either in pancakes or by juicing carrots and stuff. He takes in about a thousand calories on a good day, but half of that is bread. It is deeply frustrating.

But he loves being in the kitchen with me. He loves a project, no matter what it is. His teacher told me today that he would stay in the musical instruments all day if they let him, but if they ask him to do an art project, he’ll happily jump in and commit. If I pull out paints, he will paint. If I pull out a board game, he’ll play it with me. He likes having designed games and constructive goals.

That being said, it’s hard to modify his behavior with bribes. We can’t promise him stickers or lollipops or stuff because, even though he likes those things, he just has his own crazy shit to work through and he doesn’t want to be slowed down. It’s ridiculous how long it takes for us to do anything, every single step of doing something takes forever. Putting on shoes and socks can take ten minutes. Every moment of his life consists of a) the thing he’s doing, b) the thing he’s thinking about doing, c) questions about both the thing he’s doing and the thing he wants to do, d) negotiations about what other things could possibly be happening right now and e) running circles around the room.

I just got the high sign from Jordana that I’ve probably spent enough time writing. I’ll try to be better about updating, and maybe even try to be less humorless about it, but this is the stretch that we just have to survive, and I feel like we’re doing really, really well on that front. It’s just awfully difficult to find free time.