Category Archives: Parenthood

Welcome to Parenthood: Eleven Months

Happy Lad
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It’s been a while since I wrote much about my young apprentice. Contrary to some ugly rumors, this is not because we keep him confined to the crawlspace beneath our living room.The name “crawlspace” certainly implies that this area would be ideal for Kyle, given his current mode of transport. Nonetheless, he remains blissfully unaware of the space and its grisly history. Laura and I have had some discussions as to when Kyle should be made aware of it. Laura seems to think that I’ll send him in to retrieve various stored items as soon as he is able to walk (a reasonable assertion, as I have to fold myself in half to maneuver through the crawlspace). I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that the existence of a hidden room beneath our feet is something that ought not be revealed until the boy is old enough to appreciate the threat of exile to said space when he misbehaves. He lives among us, exploring his own personal microcosm (which is approximately eighteen inches high and spans across the living room, dining room and kitchen), except on those occasions when he rides atop my shoulders, something he enjoys a great deal, if the shrieks of delight and excited fist pummeling my cranium are any indication.There was an unfortunate incident involving rather a lot of vomit and my cornflower-blue shirt last week. Kyle didn’t seem too bothered by the contents of his stomach suddenly spilling out onto my shirt and pants, the wall and carpet in three distinct hurls, but I learned an important lesson: when it sound like he’s gonna puke, it’s probably because he’s gonna puke. Also, don’t put a sick boy on your shoulders; he may puke.

Until recently, the Xbox, DVD player and home theater receiver were all within Kyle’s microcosm, protected from his eager little fingers by a baby gate across the front of the entertainment closet. We were all too aware that those little fingers were capable of reaching through the gate and pressing buttonsKyle is particularly fond of turning on the Xbox (which pleases me) and he removed the shuttle knob on the DVD player (which didn’t please me so much).but I put off addressing the situation until last weekend, when I was watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Kyle began cycling through the surround sound options. He flipped from stereo to all-channel stereo to Dolby Digital to orchestral and so on, and so I scooped him up, plunked him down in the Pack-n-Play and spent an hour and a half wrestling with the tangle of cables necessary to connect the various components to one another. The end result: Kyle will not be able to reach the Xbox until he is able to stand; the remaining components will remain out of his range until he is five or six years old.

After the cable-wrangling was complete, we watched The Incredibles and then played Marvel Ultimate Alliance for a while. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that Kyle figured out how Spider-Man’s web-swinging ability works before I did. This shame is only somewhat alleviated by the fact that the Kyle-controlled Spider-Man spends much more time running into corners than he does web-swinging.

Speaking of super heroes, one of Kyle’s favorite toys is a plush Spider-Man with flat, rubber, chewable hands. Kyle has been teething on and off for several months, so anything that can be chewed will be chewed, and Spider-Man’s wacky hands are perfect.

Just yesterday, Kyle was introduced to another super hero: Batman. Miscellaneous G™ gave him a two-foot tall Batman pillow, complete with cape. Batman is a bit taller than Kyle, and he looks very stern, but the important thing is that he’s soft and cuddly (not exactly the image the Dark Knight was going for, I’m sure). Check him out…
Batman Pillow

Kyle was very pleased with the gift. The only thing he needs now is his own Robin costume. A billionaire benefactor wouldn’t be bad, either.

Welcome to Parenthood: Nine Months

Kyle: Happy in the Hood
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When my young apprentice emerged from his growth chamber, we made an agreement: if, after spending equal amounts of time inside and outside of said chamber, either of us felt that further gestation was warranted, he would immediately be returned to the growth chamber for a period to be decided at the time of demergence.I know, “demergence” isn’t a real word; but it sounds better than “re-insertion”.

Per our agreement, Kyle and I conducted our nine month evaluation on Friday the 13th of this month, and we have both arrived at the conclusion that no further gestation will be necessary. Laura received this announcement with no small measure of relief.

Welcome to Parenthood: Six Months

The Young Apprentice

Kyle is six months old today, and it’s true: he has no job. I’ve been trying to help him with his résumé, and I’ve come up with a fairly impressive list of skills:

  • rolling over (back-to-tummy)
  • grabbing own feet
  • grabbing daddy’s glasses
  • drooling/slobbering
  • burping/barfing
  • assorted cuteness

He is also working on becoming fluent in babble and is taking a class to master tummy-to-back rollovers. His short-term goals include achieving mobility and getting a good grip on daddy’s beard.

Welcome to Parenthood: Happy Father’s Day

My first Father’s Day as the honoree has come and gone, and I’m quite pleased. Kyle gave me a big smile when I came down in the morning; he always does that, and it always makes me feel fantastic, but yesterday it was a Father’s Day smile, and that made it even better.

A big smile wasn’t all I got for Father’s Day, either. I also received:

  1. Membership in the William Shatner DVD Club: William Shatner has “assembled a series of films that run the gamut of Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy, including underground hits, genre classics, and even some gems pulled from the far reaches of independent cinema.” Each month, one of these gems will be delivered to my mailbox. The long and short of it: more movie reviews.
  2. A pair of Arizona Jean Company Rapids: Sandals to replace my current pair, which have served me well over the last several years and taken a lot of abuse. The new pair is very nice, but I won’t be getting rid of the old ones; they’ll be relegated to lawn mowing.

I’m pretty sure that Laura helped Kyle with the selection and purchase of those items.

To escape the heat and humidity of the International House of Johnson, we fled to the Manhattan Deli for breakfast, then assembled at my in-laws’ air-conditioned abode for a day of Carpocalypse, Ultimate Obstacle Course and drag-racing.Kyle and I also watched a show about the bloodline of Dracula on The History Channel, but we both fell asleep on my father-in-law’s comfy recliner about halfway through. Our involvement was fairly passive, but it was Father’s Day, and I understand that it is my duty as a patriarch-American to sit on my fat ass and watch TV all day.I’m very good at my duty.

After an afternoon of watching television, we enjoyed shishkebab for dinner, followed by homemade strawberry shortcake. My in-laws gave me a Superman Returns alarm clock, a picture of which I’ve been unable to find on all of the Internets.EDIT: It would seem that my searching of “all the Internets” was a bit lacking in scope. In fact, I did only a Google Image search. Thanks to my other apprentice, an image of the alarm clock in question has been located. Laura, Kyle and I gave my father-in-law a new, wireless Microsoft optical mouse.This was my suggestion, and a fairly selfish one, as my primary motive for giving the gift is that I don’t like cleaning the mouse every time I sit down to run maintenance on my father-in-law’s computer. He really did need a new mouse, though.

Late in the evening, we returned to our sweltering abode and I closed out the day by taking out the garbage and then shooting some filthy Communists. Not bad for my first Father’s Day. Not bad at all.

Welcome to Parenthood: Five Months

Five months have passed since my young apprentice emerged from his growth chamber, and I am most pleased with his progress thus far. While not yet able to roll over, sit up without support, or do a proper endo, Kyle’s advancement is nonetheless most impressive. Just look at these stats:

Name Kyle Abraham Johnson Level: 1 Class: Neophyte Age: 5 months
Race: Human Alignment: Chaotic Cuddly Size: Small

My Young Apprentice

STR 5 (-2) Special Abilities & Equipment
DEX 4 (-3) Enhanced Spit-up
CON 10 Improved Grab
INT 16 (+3) Infectious Giggle
WIS 15 (+2) Stinky Feet
CHA 17 (+3) Baby Blues

The physical stats may seem dismal now, but I expect them to improve rapidly. I’ve already seen significant advancement in both Strength and Dexterity after only five months. The boy’s Charisma cannot be overstated; friends, relatives and strangers alike fall under his spell, reduced to grinning, babbling fools with a mere smile.

I get chills when I think about the power those blue eyes and the soft, cooing voice have over people. With Kyle at my side — or in the Snugli — the possibilities are endless. We will rule the cul-de-sac as father and son!

Welcome to Parenthood: Shutterbug

We haven’t taken nearly as many pictures of Kyle in the last few weeks as we did way back in January. Laura snapped a few on Friday, including a couple of Kyle and his father spending some quality time together. Swing on over to The Photo Album for a peek.

I also took some video of Kyle’s first bath last month, but due to some technical difficulties I’m not able to digitize video at this time. Once I get the problem straightened out, I’ll see about posting some highlights.

Welcome to Parenthood: Too young to begin the training.

At seven weeks old, my son Kyle isn’t quite ready to watch Star Wars yet, but I have given the matter of his first exposure to George Lucas’ space opera some serious thought. The core question is this: which episode should be Kyle’s introduction to the Star Wars films? The idea of my own flesh and blood watching the prequels before the original trilogy gives me the willies.

I was four years old in 1977, so I didn’t see Star Wars in a movie theater. In fact, Return of the Jedi was the first of the original trilogy that I saw on the big screen. My first viewing of Star Wars was on HBO. We didn’t have a television, much less cable, so the whole family piled into the car and drove twenty-five miles to Hancock, Michigan, where my aunt and uncle lived. We watched Star Wars on a big, old, cabinet-style television and the movie completely blew my pre-adolescent mind. It must have been at least 1980, because I do recall asking my aunt to let me know the minute The Empire Strikes Back was on HBO so we could all come over and watch it.

I seriously doubt The Phantom Menace would have had that effect on me, and that’s part of why I am loath to begin my son’s Star Wars indoctrination with Episode I.

Then there’s the fact that the prequel trilogy utterly ruins what is arguably the single biggest reveal in the history of film. What kind of a Star Wars fan would I be if I just trotted out the series in numerical order, thus transforming what should be the ultimate “Oh… my… God!” moment into a “Well, duh!” moment? To say the idea rubs me the wrong way is something of an understatement.

So, we should begin where it began for me: Star Wars. Call it Episode IV or A New Hope, but to some of us it will always be simply Star Wars. Laura and I have a pre-THX, pre-Special Edition copy of the original trilogy on VHS tape; a copy that was rescued at the last minute from the pile of VHS tapes we were bringing to Half Price Books. This version is as close as I can get to what I saw on HBO twenty-odd years ago.

Of course, it’s not as simple as sitting Kyle down in front of the television and pressing “Play” on the VCR, is it? The world is full of people just waiting to talk to my young apprentice and ruin everything. In order to protect him from the prequel trilogy, I’ll have to lock him away until he is of sufficient age to appreciate Star Wars. This idea is attractive because I would be protecting him from any number of dangers that the outside world holds; attractive and most likely illegal (or, at the very least, frowned upon by Children’s Services). I guess I’ll just have to accept that there are factors outside of my control. Kyle will one day go to school, and what he learns about the Star Wars universe there may not be to my liking. It’s a risk that simply cannot be mitigated.

External influences aside, I’ll do my best to ensure that my young apprentice’s first Star Wars experience is as memorable and awe-inspiring as my own was. I think I’ll go home and burn my copy of The Phantom Menace, for starters.

Welcome to Parenthood: Friday’s child is loving and giving…

Friday the 13th’s child is apparently bad luck, if you’re a 1994 Pontiac Sunbird.

Laura has taken Kyle out three, possibly four times in her car, the aforementioned 1994 Pontiac Sunbird. On two of those occasions, we had to have the car towed.

On Wednesday of last week, after bringing Kyle to see me at work, Laura found herself at an intersection in a car that would not go. The car ((I used to call my 1980 Chevy Malibu—which was totaled on Groundhog’s Day, 1995—”Puff the Tragic Wagon,” and I would transfer the name to Laura’s car, but I don’t want to incur any more unfortunate vehicular woes.)) would start, but stalled as soon as she put it in gear. Laura called the police and a cruiser shortly arrived to push her out of the intersection. AAA sent a tow truck to transport the car to our mechanic, and one torque control convertor, two front stabilizers, a couple of transmission hoses, two front rotors, four brake pads, one oil change, two days and six hundred junior bacon cheeseburgers later, Laura had her little blue sedan back.

Now it is today. Laura ran some errands with Kyle in tow. ((Actually, he was in a car seat.)) At the insurance agent’s office, she noticed that the car appeared to be… leaking. She drove a (very) short way to Panera Bread for a late lunch and called me. I advised her not to move the car anymore and drove out to meet her and assess the situation. By the time I arrived it looked as though Laura had parked on top of a hobo; the ground beneath the driver’s side tire was soaked with transmission fluid.

One tow truck later…

By the time we got to the mechanic, they were long since closed, but they know the car will be waiting for them in the morning. I’m hoping it’s just a hose, and I’m hoping that they’ll just fix it and send us on our way without requiring additional junior bacon cheeseburgers. After all, the car certainly wasn’t leaking transmission fluid before they fixed the transmission.

Perhaps Friday’s child is attempting to do away with the 1994 Pontiac Sunbird, fearing that it might pass into his possession on 13 January 2022. If that’s the case, it strongly suggests that his telekinetic powers are already quite well developed.

Where did I put that damn midi-chlorian count tester?