Dodging Trains

The bedroom of our new apartment overlooks the house’s modest backyard, followed by a small municipal parking lot, then by the elevated platform for the N/Q subway line. Trains come and go about every two minutes or so, all day. Seven-month-old Maggie is riveted.

This presents a challenge: We change her diaper on our bed, which is about four feet from the window. When Maggie hears a train coming, she immediately transitions from normal squirmy to championship-caliber squirmy, flipping over and around to see the shiny trains rumbling in to the station. Suddenly every step of wiping and diapering is free run 3.0 v4 interspersed with having to twist her tiny body back to face-up.

Trains triple not only the time needed to change her, but also the chances of spreading a mess.

Thus, changing diapers has become a task of opportunity. If Maggie is not upset about the secretion she’s sitting in, I am behooved by waiting for the station to be trainless. Once the tracks are quiet, I rush her into the bedroom and try to swap diapers before the next arrival. It’s a race against the New York City transit system that I rarely win.

So I’ve learned to change diapers faster. This helps not just with my train dodging, but when I’m busy with work, too.

My process:

  • I calmly explain that Daddy will win almost all of these little battles, so she may as well cooperate. She smiles at me and giggles.
  • I keep the essentials on the bed throughout the day. This would drive my wife nuts, as she prefers household items to be properly stowed at all times; she’d be great on a sailboat. However, having the diapers, wipes and A&D on the bed and ready to be used saves me precious seconds.
  • I give Maggie a job. Her hands are like kittens, roshe run curious and impossible to herd. If left to find her own interests, she would grab everything she can, including the dirty diaper and a handful of vitamins in goop form. So I give her a toy. Or I hand her a diaper with a request that she hold it (“Can you help Daddy?”). With her attention (i.e., her hands and mouth) briefly focused,  I can work faster. And I can work cleaner, which translates into working even faster than faster.
  • I withdraw the required number of wipes before opening the dirty diaper. This helps expedite the cleaning when the mess is exposed, reducing the odds that she gets a hand or foot in it.
  • Rather than placing a new diaper to the side, I open it and slide it under Maggie before removing the old one. That means that once she’s clean, the replacement is already in place. Also, if Maggie decides she’s not done doing whatever she did, the bed is protected. Again, any measure for cleanliness potentially saves time.
  • If Maggie is particularly squirmy, I can throw a light blanket or T-shirt over her face for a faux game of peek-a-boo, which usually buys a few seconds of stillness. This also works on alligators.

Usually before this is all over a train has arrived anyway, and despite my best and quickest efforts, Maggie is rolling over to observe it.

But sometimes I succeed.  Then we can just calmly watch the train together, as daddy and daughter.

Coo Calling

Have you ever tried to play a piano with a kitten in the house? Or type? Either way, clanging or clacking on the keys is a sure way to lure the feline. You can’t get through a stanza or a paragraph before the cat is stepping between your fingers, composing its own gift to the world.

That’s what it’s like making phone calls with a baby in the house.

Part of my job is reporting, which means I need to ask people for information to report. I’m not a rush-down-to-the-police-capt’n-for-the-scoop kind of reporter, because I don’t work in newspapers, air jordan 12 femmes and I don’t work in the 1920s. I’m primarily a magazine and public relations writer, which means I collect most of my information from polite, neatly scheduled phone conversations that involve a lot of “please make that sound better when you write the article” requests.

So I spend some time on the phone. And, lately, that’s when Maggie starts hootin’ and howlin’.

During family time, my wife and I have been habitually responding to Maggie’s cooing (along with her newly added skills of squealing and whooping). Doing so is reputedly a way to encourage a baby to learn the concept of conversation. So perhaps when she hears me speaking on the phone, she thinks it’s talk time. She can’t see anyone else in the room, so Daddy must be speaking to her, right?

Alas, the last five phone interviews I’ve done — five! — have at some point included tangent phrases such as, “How old is your baby?”, “Sounds like someone needs Dada” and “Uh oh, is it diaper time?”

In every instance, I felt as if the interruption shredded any semblance of professionalism. I suppose my fear is that one day I’ll be talking to some super-serious, self-important source who doesn’t have the time to be patient with a writer who’s being background-vocaled by a baby, and he or she will blow me off, leaving me stranded on a story with an impending deadline.

Like most fears, though, the reality is likely far different. And so far, it has been.

Each time Maggie joined my phone interviews, it resulted in some off-the-topic chitchat about babies and kids and the joys of parenthood and such. Anyone with experience interviewing knows how roshe run hyp important rapport is, and Maggie’s background banter has donated oodles of it to my calls.

So I suppose instead of shushing her (which, yeah, works great on a five-month-old), I should be thanking her.

Still, there’s a challenge found in this arena. In an upcoming write-up, I’ll discuss some strategies for making phone calls with a baby in the room. In the meantime, any suggestions are welcome.

To Poop or Not To Poop

Captain’s Log: Seven days ago my 4-year-old daughter dropped something into her princess potty that looked like a lump of clay someone would give you in a pottery class to spin into a salad bowl. It’s not the first time this has happened.

Seven days have passed again and we are back in the same spot. Code Brown! Code Brown! What is going on here? Lydia is ducking off behind doorways with her legs cross and refusing to go air jordan 5 anywhere near the bathroom. It looks like she is straining to try to hold it in. I am just a regular guy— I didn’t major in child excrement behavior.

Meanwhile, work responsibilities are calling. Several hours later it’s 10:30 p.m. and I am working five feet away from the bathroom where my wife is doing everything she can to coach Lydia into letting it go. She sounds like a midwife in a birthing session. Can I really tell my customers I can’t talk because I am waiting for my daughter to poop? That’s not going to fly. Prioritize, change schedule, communicate to customers and keep chopping away at this workload, that’s what I have to do.

At midnight I can still hear my daughter waking every half hour or so. I decide to call the doctor. I am shocked when he tells me he has seen children go as long as 18 days like this. He settles my biggest fear by telling me that this problem should pose no health threat to her.

“The body has its way of working air jordan 3 femmes these types of things out,” he says. “She will eventually go. Don’t worry unless she starts to run a fever.” He goes on to tell me that in most cases this problem is psychological. “Children can be much more manipulative than people think.”

I hang up the phone, relieved but baffled. Lydia is supposed to start preschool in the fall and we have been telling her that she has to be good about using the potty or she will not be able to attend. Is she so afraid of school that she is doing this to herself?