I’m a martial arts junky and a fan of foreign films of just about every genre. Last night little Grif wouldn’t go to sleep. I did the dance with him, actually dancing with him, singing in elaborate voices that sound more like Cartman from South Park than a real human being, and pushing him back and forth in his stroller in our small two-bedroom (he likes the car seat, even when not in a car).
I did everything I thought I knew I could before having to sit down on the couch. He kept grabbing, whining, smiling, making baby noises that creep out the neighbors. I was spent, so I turned on the Netflix, him dangling from my arms. I strolled through the offerings and settled on a movie about 17th century Mongolia. From the moment the movie started Griffin, now sitting up in my left arm looking like daddy, became fixated with the television. His eyes were wide, his mouth shaped in a small “o”, and he was still.
What I learned today (tonight) about being a father:
When mama grasps for peace and quiet she hands baby over to daddy. Being daddy is a mix of taking care of mama and baby, but when she relinquishes control of her child its double duty for daddy.
It’s important for mama to get her sleep and for us dads to learn how to take care of ous infants. But be warned, because everything I thought I knew up to this point went out the window. I ran through the list in my head titled “How to Keep Baby Quiet”, thumbed through chapters 1, 2, and 3, until the list went blank. Jackie got out of bed, twice, but each time she reached for him I told her “I got it.”
I really thought I did, and when I didn’t I gave up trying so hard, sat down and turned on the telly, and that’s when my miracle happened…silence.
What I think I know:
As new parents we trend on proven ways to calm our babies down. I had to watch a video before leaving the hospital, the 5 S’s (Swaddle, Side, Shoosh, Shake, Suck) and it worked for all of two days before my being daddy radar kicked in. From there I moved on to other things, like singing, humming, skin-to-skin, dancing, baby-walking, cheering on mama when she was about ready to nurse, etc. All those things were great, and here I am four weeks into his life and everything has changed again!
Being daddy is all about adapting and babies changing quickly. Sooner or later he might be a terror on the bike path, a car junkie, a rodeo clown or a professional skydiver but the one thing I know is that I have to learn now how to take care of him today. I never thought TV would be the answer, and I know that I don’t want it to be a staple in my sons life. Heck, when he was born we dumped our cable company for this very reason!
But it was dimwitted luck that I found success through my martial arts films, and even though I know it wasn’t because of the film, rather, it was because I used the one piece of advice I actually think helps from the 5 S’s film; I relaxed.
No amount of training or film study can prepare us for the changes in our children. We have to roll with their punches, adapt to their environment by creating an environment based on merits we choose and hope that some day they succumb to our wills, willingly or with force. But until then we can’t let our emotions get out of control. Their crying won’t stop the more anxious we get, so when the time comes find something that calms you down, and baby will take cue and follow suit.
Then enjoy some Stir Fry for lunch, and celebrate passing the lesson of being Kung Fu papa.