Thursday, July 20, 2006

A poore, infirme, weake, and dispis'd old man*

Alive ... but just barely. Today was a bad one, and I say that knowing that my 10 to 12 hours each week as a stay-at-home dad hardly qualify me to say much about what it means to be the primary caregiver 24/7, but still ... oh man, today was ugly.

Both girls woke up within minutes of each other, and neither woke up very happy. I think Quinn would have liked to have gotten back to sleep, but it wasn't happening; and Celeste's pacifier had fallen out of her bed, which brought on a state of near hysteria.

All day, Quinn looked a bit distrustful of me. She wouldn't take more than an ounce or so of milk at a time, and when she was clearly tired, she still fought going to bed to her last.

Celeste was exhibiting several signs of sibling rivalry: trying to steal Quinn's bottle from her mouth, trying to insert herself between Quinn and me when I was trying to calm her down, trying to cry louder when Quinn was crying, usw. The only bit of it that was funny was that just about every time I put the bottle down, Celeste would swoop in to steal it (which was better than when she'd steal it from Quinn's mouth); I kept asking her if she wanted a sippy cup of "mumma milk," but she would decline in favor of furtive tugs on the bottle.

The worst came after Quinn woke up mad from her second nap of the afternoon. Celeste was already acting a bit fragile — she was really spooked every time a helicopter passed overhead, which, since our house apparently is in the flightpath between NSA and the White House and/or the Pentagon, is several times a day — and she really wanted to be the focus of my attention. Quinn was irritable and not eating, just tolerating life if she was in the BabyBjörn. I managed to get her to take a few tugs at the bottle, while at the same time getting dinner together for Celeste.

Celeste really, really wanted a plum, but earlier she'd talked about peas, so I had a bowl of peas ready for her to work on while I stoned and cut up the plum. (Quinn in the BabyBjörn really interfered with my knife skillz, I must say.) By the time I had the plum ready for her, the peas were being thrown across the room.

This may be a violation of the Article V Seconds Rule of the Geneva Conventions, but I told Celeste she couldn't have the plum until the peas were picked up. I gave her a bowl (which for a moment looked like it was going to be thrown to the floor) and then took the peas from the floor and put them on her highchair tray. I told her to put the peas in the bowl; instead, Celeste ate every one of them. She then demolished her plum, a bit more than half of a mushroom burger with cheese, two bowls of blueberries, and a bowl of yoghurt with blueberries and wheat germ.

After dinner, with Quinn back in the BabyBjörn, Celeste wanted me to crawl under the table to fetch her doll pram. I tried pointing out to her that with Quinn strapped to me, I couldn't really do it, but that she was more than capable of getting it herself. I even offered to talk her through moving the one or two items that were in her way. She started wailing ... of course Quinn was still wailing too ... so I pretty much was ready to start crying.

Fast forward about 40 minutes, and Evelin was home. Yah Evelin! Quinn brightened up immediately and had a very long feeding session. Celeste was happy and got a bit of mumma time as well as some one-on-one time with her old man (weirdly enough, she pulled a copy of King Lear off the bookshelf and told me to read it — there might be a caution in there somewhere ...)

*King Lear, Act III, scene ii

At one point, while Quinn was in the BabyBjörn and crying and Celeste was begging to be picked up, I said to myself "Oh man ..." Celeste immediately picked up the phrase and started saying in a lebensmüde tone that mimicked my own pretty well, "Oh man ..."

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