October 4, 2005

What I Learned on My Vacation

As you know, Beth, Mia and I went to the beach last week. Now that we're back and we've regained a smidge of sanity, I can talk about some of the tasty nuggets of knowledge I walked away with. Lessons-learned, if you will.

Lesson One: My parents are compulsive news watchers. They don't take the concept of a 24 hour news network as a suggestion. No, they take it as a command. It's like there's some seriously Pavlovian thing going on. Like Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper abducted them one night, strapped brain control machines on their heads and conditioned them to only watch CNN at the loudest possible volume. And if the television isn't on, they head straight for the closest computer and refresh the hell out of CNN. That fire in California last week? It was as if they lived a mile away. Instead of having the relative safety of an entire continent standing between them and the West coast inferno.

Lesson Two: The media is stupid. Okay, I know it's not the first time that's come out of my mouth. But, because of my compulsive (and possibly brainwashed) news-watching parents, I logged a lot of time with CNN. Now, the mainstream media only covers stories that really directly impact us. We're a "me" society. Starving people in Africa? No so interesting. The Demi/Ashton marriage? Woohoo! Instead of covering stuff that's happening in the rest of the world, they actually show reruns. Sure, they package it real pretty but I think you lose some credibility when you're broadcasting stories about preparing for a hurricane that hit two weeks before. But that's just me. Oh, and Larry King is officially past it and Ann Coulter is a shining example of how batshit crazy people can somehow function in everyday society.

Lesson Three: Parenting with an audience pretty much sucks. No one wants their kids screaming their heads off with other people around, even family members who really probably don't care. You? Well, its nothing new and it goes with the territory. But other people didn't sign up for this. Even worse than that, though, is displaying your mad parenting skillz for everyone, especially parents...especially your parents who you just know are biting their tongues trying not to interfere. Now, Mia and I are still working a few things out. For instance, I think she's incredibly cute and I love her unconditionally. She thinks I'm evil. She can be a perfectly placid, happy child in her mom's arms but the second I get the hand off, she turns bright red, opens the valve for the screaming and the tears and it becomes clear that I'm one evil sonofabitch. I have, however, perfected a method of calming her down which has somewhere around a 65% success rate. With her head on my shoulder, I drop straight down, gently bending my knees. The tears stop, she catches her breath and starts to relax. After a few minutes of this, I start doing lunges. Eventually, she sleeps or at least relaxes. The side effect of this is that I get a little exercise. By the end of this, my legs will be as thick as the trunk of a mighty oak. But, imagine doing this in front of people. There I am, in a house full of family, in turns squatting, rocking and shaking my ass whilst singing a mellowed-out version of AC/DC's For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) all in the crazy attempt to quiet my child...only to turn around and realize there are seven pairs of eyes on me as I do this. It's a little odd.

Lesson Four: Traveling with an infant is hard. You're forced to haul half the inventory from Babies R Us with you and the net result is that the kid is thrown off and doesn't enjoy herself and the parents, well, the parents are stuck in the same old routine without any of the comforts of home. And do you know how many times we actually hit the beach? Once. I'm pretty sure it was there the whole time. After all, I heard it. But I can't say for sure. That's why I don't think Beth, Mia and I are going to go anywhere for a while. We'll stay home.

Posted by Chris at October 4, 2005 8:02 AM

At least you can rub that in her face when she gets older! "No Mia, you can't come to the beach..last time we took you was hell on earth and Daddy can't handle anymore squats!" Maybe when she's old enough to drive she can take herself....but I am quite sure the beach was there...like you said at least you could hear it..unless someone was playing a really nasty trick on you and had a tape recorder hidden somewhere with one of those soothing earth comps in it!! Ahh, the beach. It's a love-hate situation.

Posted by: Michelle at October 4, 2005 9:01 AM

Lesson One: And if the said parents aren't compulsive news watchers, they are compulsive cops show watchers (IE my MIL)

Lesson Two: We agree, Mainstream Media Blows

Lesson Three: Parenting with a audience makes you want to hide. Children have a unwritten code among themselves. No matter what you parents says about you. PROVE THEM WRONG. Wait it gets worse with age.

Lesson Four: You traveled with one baby. Imagine me traveling with one High Maintence Toddler, and two girls. Yeah just multiply your gear x 100.

Have a great day!

Posted by: Angelia at October 4, 2005 9:05 AM

Yeah. Ah, the memories.

I always found it weird to be with my parents when I had a baby because I sort of expected them to still be the parents and me the kid, so the fact that I had to be the parent? It was weird.

Posted by: jen at October 4, 2005 9:09 AM

I find that the older generation in our family switch from news to weather and game shows. My mother was absolutely obsessed with the weather. I'm not sure which I dislike the most.

And travelling with your kids gets better when they can pack their own suitcases. (just kidding, kind of)

Posted by: cassie-b at October 4, 2005 9:25 AM

99% of our "vacations" are spent at home. My husband takes time off of work and we just do nothing at home becausef you go somewhere with young kids, it's not a vacation at all. It's just an exhausting trip with nice pictures. I can't wait til the kids are older though and we can go on real vacations! As for now, we'll just keep putting up our cardboard cutout palm trees in the backyard and relax :)

Glad you guys didn't crack! And the pictures were great, as usual.

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at October 4, 2005 9:35 AM

Parenting with an audience (especially an audience of grandparents) is the absolutely WORST!

(PS - traveling by plane with an infant is worse.)

Posted by: Queen of Ass at October 4, 2005 9:51 AM

My mom is both news and weather obsessed. She's planning hurricane evacuation routes. She lives in CT!

As for the parenting skillz, at least your parents were trying to let you do your own thing. There's nothing like hearing from your MIL that you're doing it all wrong.

Posted by: wendy at October 4, 2005 9:57 AM

>> the media is stupid

For a lefty who doesn't like right-based generalizations, you sure do make a lot of 'em :P

Prime-time, broadcast media.. I can't argue. Luckily, that's just one small slice of what compromises 'The Media'.. most of which I think has an important job to do (think NYT, WP, NPR..). And enough of them do it well enough, professionally enough, responsibly enough.. to warrant not being lumped with those who don't.

Posted by: Tonya at October 4, 2005 9:59 AM

It's always so much fun trying to keep others from staring at you like you're an idiot as you try to parent. Welcome to the club!

Posted by: Theresa at October 4, 2005 10:27 AM

You know, I worry about the grandparents interfering with the parent child rearing issue. My mom, on occasion has stepped in to interfere with her comments while they were disclplining their kids! Ohhhh, am I gonna be a bitch with that one! I normally don't enjoy confrontations unless someone is telling me how to do something that is MY project.

Yup, gonna be the BIGGEST bitch with that. Well, maybe it will only take one episode of me coming unglued for her to back off. I can hope, right?

Posted by: Colleen at October 4, 2005 11:03 AM

Don't worry about the thing with Mia. There are some babies that react certain ways because of touch, smell, and believe it or not how loud your heart beat is.

Example: A while back a good friend of mine had a baby with the worst case of colic imaginable. I came over one afternoon while she was in one of her fits and my friend was completely distraught. I went over to the crib with the screaming baby, picked her up, and she immediately stopped crying.

I am not the first person someone would say is great with babies but for some reason they don't cry in front of me.

Frustration and confusion must be the main theme about being a parent.

Posted by: Lee at October 4, 2005 11:29 AM

My dad has the same obsession with the news. Only he tries to get as many sources possible, and at the same time. There's the FM radio, the AM radio, the XM on his car, BBC.com on the laptop, Hechos (mexican), and CNN on satellite TV.

Posted by: ava at October 4, 2005 11:40 AM

my mother in law compulsively watches the news. Then she will sit us down and tell us what she has recently seen on the news. And then proceeds to get every detail completely wrong.

"Did you know Sandra Day O'Connor was FIRED!"


Also, she will glom on to any health news update and incorporate it into her lifestyle immediatly.
Even if they are contra-indications of each other. ESPECIALLY if they are contra-indications of each other. Bottles of Aspirin and Bottles of Red Wine means she's heart disease free forever. Right? (Sure, aspirin and red wine will stop you from myocardial infarction, even if you continue to smoke a pack a day.)

Also, she won't stop talking about The New Pope And How Brilliant He Is.

I think she's the most awesome person in all the lands.

Posted by: melati at October 4, 2005 11:42 AM

Can I rub in your face that I have the perfect child?
Ok I am anyway....
My son loved car rides as a baby. The minute the car started he would sleep. Music on and all. I would drive to Mexico ( about 3-4 hour drive) non stop with no problem. Untill this day ( he is 4 now) he still rides in a car without a peep coming out of his mouth.

Now I must say I'm pregnant again. I'm due in January. Why in hell do I have a gut feeling i will pay for the years of bragging I've had?

I kid I kid...she will eventually grow out of it...or you will never have a goodnight sleep untill the day she gets married.

Posted by: veronica at October 4, 2005 12:59 PM

Does this mean there is a lunch in my future? You know if you keep waiting for true sanity, it will never happen. I will meet you at 6 AM for coffee if that works better for you.


Posted by: goodsnake at October 4, 2005 1:46 PM

Lesson One: turn off your TV now!!! nothing good hardly ever comes out of that thing anyway.

Lesson Two: Media was created for people who have no lives. and sit around and watch TV all the time.

Lesson Three: i love that whole parenting experience. and if you worry about everything you do in public with or to your children to placate them, just crawl under a rock right now! because when they start talking its a whole new ballgame. i think your solution may make you famous someday.

Lesson Four: NEVER EVER CARRY ALL YOUR BABIES R US STUFF WITH YOU! Now you are going to need diapers and wipes. exta clothes and bottles. and pacifiers if you are going that route. But if your child is as smart as you and your wife, they lose interest in toys quickly. and its just a wasted effort. i refuse to be a "traveling circus" with the babies things. make it a point to find things that interest her in the place you are. Teach her about the world around her. Create a thinker. Just a suggestion!

great entry.


Posted by: melanie at October 4, 2005 1:54 PM

CNN drives me crazy. It is on at work in the mornings. One thing happens and that is ALL they talk about for weeks. I am quite possitive there is more than that one thing going on in the world.

Posted by: Adi at October 4, 2005 3:32 PM

i've seen the exact same thing (ie baby being happy with mama and screaming bloody murder with papa) with other babes when they are mia's age. wait until she gets a bit older, she'll want no one but her papa.

Posted by: chlamygirl at October 4, 2005 4:19 PM

Uh...can I please be abducted by Anderson Cooper? Please?

Also, I don't know you in person and I'm not really experienced with babies, but maybe it's your size compared to Beth's that sets her off? When I was born, my dad had a full beard and I was terrified of him, rumor has it, until he shaved it off. Then I started liking him. :D

The squats/lunges probably force her to take a breath, which in turn calms her down (this is me, ass-talking again because you know, me not so much with the having babies thing).

Posted by: Rhonda at October 4, 2005 4:34 PM

I have no doubt that Mia will become a daddy's girl eventually. Right now however, all she probably thinks is "NO BOOBS! Where are the BOOBS! I've been TRICKED." Her world is occupied by two giants--BOOBS and NO BOOBS. Of course, she is going to have a favorite, but I doubt it's anything personal.

Also--totally in agreement that mainstream media blows. I just cannot watch it, even without the commericals, it is still too much to bear--I get hang overs just from Airport CNN. The only thing our TV gets used for is DVD's. I'm quite okay with being under-informed given the choices. Information overload is becoming a real problem. In fact, I'm betting that right now at Eli Lily or another pharmetutical giant, the market department is trying to figure out to make information overload a "disease" and then treat it. Of course, turning off the TV would cure it, but that would be too easy.

Posted by: wavybrains at October 4, 2005 5:03 PM

As sweet as the little ones are...mine were the most fun between 4 and 10 years old. At those ages, there was no diaper bags, they could hook themselves in their car seats, going to places like disney world was fun for us all. But they are awefully precious as babes - especially when they are sleeping.

Posted by: Theresa at October 4, 2005 5:48 PM

The drop-to-the-floor-now-lunge! thing? Is hilarious.

I am going to have my man try it, as our two-month old alternates between fascination and terror of his dad.

Posted by: Kristin at October 4, 2005 6:14 PM

Man oh man, this why we aren't doing babies again! (At least not on purpose.)

At least the parents are trying not to interfere. We spent a week that lasted six months at the family cottage with my uncle and his wife who are parents of three, perfect, almost-grown children, and kept trying to discipline Nico when he was three. Jeff had to tell her off. And we left early. Needless to say, we now avoid them like the plague. And their youngest might be facing charges following a bar fight. (ha.)

As for news, well, I'm a print news junkie. I've been known to spend most of my vacation chasing after the Globe and Mail.

I don't think we went anywhere for two years. Whatever you do, don't go camping! (Oh my god, the stuff you need.)

Posted by: Nat at October 4, 2005 7:20 PM

Hey stranger!!! Been missing you tons...work is overwhelming but I am hanging in there. I managed to read this post and check out your slide show...anything else you did in my absence that you deem readable, please direct me to it!!! Seems that all is well...hope it stays that way....I'll try harder in the future to be more committed to all that is Chris!!!

Posted by: Kate at October 4, 2005 7:31 PM

am thinking your version of ACDC is begging to be audioblogged ...

Posted by: Kathryn at October 4, 2005 8:02 PM

CNN is so lame. I hate picking between the scrolling things and the news. I know everyone complains about it, but it's TRUE!!!!

Posted by: Greg at October 4, 2005 9:47 PM

I want a picture of the lunges! And of the meeting between you and Goodsnake. I love me some Goodsnake. I am jealous. :)

Posted by: Zandria at October 5, 2005 2:36 AM

Now you know :::evil laugh:::

Posted by: That Girl at October 5, 2005 4:49 AM

I fully intend to sing AC/DC songs to my children. Whatever it takes, right?

And yes, the media is stupid and on the verge of making themselves irrelevant with their narrow focus.

Posted by: bad penguin at October 5, 2005 10:40 AM

Holy God, Microscope parenting sucks eggs! My mam was at the birth of my daughter and my parents stayd (staid?) with us for the first few days.
Then, when little miss was a few months old we went to visit them in the Netherlands.......
Nobody can say we didn't try but the result of mutual frustration (us with their advice and them with our refusal to follow it)has been that there have been no baby visits in over a year......

And don't worry, Mia will warm up to you, you won't know what hit you when she does.
Wait until your better half either goes away for the weekend, or is sick or something and it's just you and Mia. She will turn just as Daddy-Mad as she is Mommy-mad now.
My daughter "switched" between parents for months! (We have now found a happy balance)


Posted by: Nynke at October 5, 2005 10:58 AM

My husband has the exact same 'issues' with our 9-week old daughter. I swear... if she could talk.... she would say "don't touch me a-hole. where's my mom?"

Posted by: Steph at October 7, 2005 8:54 AM

I TOTALLY know what you mean about the parents watching 24 hour news networks! EVERY time I talk to my parents, Greta van Susteren or Anderson Cooper or, God forbid, Bill O'Reilly, is blasting in the background. Granted, I watch Fox News and CNN quite often, more often than my boyfriend would like, more often that I want to admit, but I have my limits. My mother never. turns. Fox News. OFF!!! It drives me berserk. If I have to hear one more rundown on Natalie Holloway or Hurricane Katrina I may scream.

As for traveling with babies, I hear ya' on that one. We had to evacuate Houston, and my sister and her husband had to pack the car up with everything for their ten month old daughter. MY car was even full of her crap. It is so sad when a toddler has more clothes than I do, and crazily enough, her suitcase was bigger than mine. But it all worked out good.

Posted by: Katie-be-bored-at-work at October 8, 2005 3:20 AM