This evening, while getting ready for bed, Sean pointed out the lamp on his dresser and said "I have a book about that bear."
The lamp in question is a ceramic sort of thing, the body painted to look like a tree, and the broad base painted to look like grass. On the grass there's a rather mopey looking Eeyore, and Kanga and Roo, and about three quarters of the way up the tree there's a somewhat faded bear, trying to look innocent, with a paw buried inside a hole in the tree.
It's quite an old lamp – I'm pretty sure my mom bought it to decorate my room before I was born, or perhaps a bit after – and it's the reason there's a Winnie the Pooh theme to Sean's room.
Sean has never so much as mentioned it before, ever.
"Yes," I said, "I'm pretty sure you do have a book about that bear. Would you like to read it for bedtime?"
Sean frowned. "No, the book is at school."
(Sean has a very… proprietary relationship with the small classroom library at his pre-school.)
"We have one here too," I explained, and pulled out a very hefty Complete Winnie the Pooh hardcover book from the bottom of his bookshelf. "Do you want me to read you a story?"
"I wanted a super hero story…"
"Well," I said, checking the clock, "I can read you one of each, as a treat."
He considered this, somewhat suspiciously, but seemed moved by the offer of extra stories. "Okay."
So I read the very first Pooh story, in which Pooh climbs a tree for some honey ("Like on the lamp!") and falls back down, and gets help from Christopher Robin in a rain cloud-based bee deception. There was a lot of giggling and complete concentration from Sean.
It's pretty long for a four year old: twenty pages, with only small illustrations, and probably the longest single story he's sat still for, as far as I know.
We finished the story and, as I've done in the past, I told him the title of the next story in the book, so he'd know what to look forward to, and turned to check out the selection of "Golden" super friends stories.
Sean kept looking at the opening illustration of the next story (something about Pooh getting stuck in the door at Rabbit's house… you might have heard of it), and fingering the pages.
"Do you want me to read another Pooh story, or a super hero story?" I asked.
He paused, really giving it some thought. It's no small thing, if you're this kid, putting Batman on the back burner even for one night.
"I want another Pooh story," he whispered.
So I hid a smile, we read, and when we were done Sean climbed up, retrieved a stuffed Pooh-bear from a shelf above his bed, and tucked into his pillow without a word of complaint.
First couple steps into the hundred-acre woods. A pretty good night.
Some folks have a project they’re working on, and for this project, they want everyone involved to produce some old photo from when we were kids.
“Doyce can just bring in one of Sean, though,” they say. “It’s basically the same thing.”
Obviously, they’re delusional.
I’m sure I have no idea what they’re talking about.
Nope. No idea at all.
Crazypants. That’s what they are. Crazy. Pants.
Sean is pretty great. Born in late January, by November and early December of last year he was already picking up works like “ball” and “milk” and was a few days away (I felt) from the big ones like Mommy and Daddy.
Christmas came around and, with it, a whole lot of traveling. It seemed almost inevitable that at least one of us would wrap up the holiday season sick, and in this case it turned out to be pretty much all of us, in different ways. Sean’s particular ailment was an ear infection, his first. This was something I’d been dreading for awhile because ear infections plagued my childhood, cost me the hearing in one of my ears (a particularly nasty infection that lead to a fever of about 104 and some pretty vivid hallucinations), and remain a perennial problem even today. Kaylee dodged this bullet (she got her mother’s mouth and sinus structure, I guess, which means no ear infections but a lot of time at the dentist), but Sean… not so much. By the time he turned a year old, he’d been to the doctor three times for ear infections, all of which seemed to get progressively more difficult to treat, and ever since then it’s been a constant struggle — he’s pretty much been taking some kind of medicine for the last 3 months, non-stop, with very brief windows where he’s totally okay. It’s screwed with his eating, his (and our) sleep schedule… it’s just been exhausting.
Also, he’s pretty much stopped talking. He rocks sign language (which the daycare teaches all the kids), but while he’s got no problem making lots of sounds, he’s not making words — in fact, he’s pretty much lost the few he had.
The last time we had him into the doctor (we’ve been there so often that the nearby pharmacy staff recognize us all on sight and ask after Sean by name), he suggested that we bring him in the next time he was feeling well, so he could get a look at his ears when they were clear. Kate did that on Wednesday.
But his ears weren’t clear.
No infection, but there was still a lot of fluid. His eardrums basically weren’t moving at all, because of the fluid pressure, and the doc told us to get in to see a specialist, which (wonder of wonders) we were able to do the very next day (yesterday).
Long story short: Sean basically hasn’t been able to to hear us clearly since Christmas. Obviously, this would be a problem for any kid, but in our house — where songs and sound are such a big part of pretty much every moment of the day; the primary way we interact with him — it feels like we just found out he can’t see us.
(Related story: When I was in high school, someone asked me which sense — sight or hearing — I would choose to lose, if I had to choose one or the other. Without hesitation, I said I’d rather be blind than deaf, because to me sound just seemed so much more important. Ironic, given the condition of my ears today.)
The good news is, he can hear perfectly, if the fluid isn’t a factor — the normal hearing tests indicated hearing reduction on the far side of “moderate”, but when they put a bone-conductive ‘headphone’ speaker on him, his reaction to the sound was like seeing someone flip on a light switch.
So they’re going to drain that fluid with a procedure, put some temporary millimeter-wide tubes in to keep the ears clear, and also do some work on his adenoids, since they seem to be causing the whole problem. It’s a little scary, obviously, because it’s a medical procedure on your little guy.
But at the same time I’m excited.
Sean is a happy kid; you can look at the picture at the beginning of this post — a type of picture that is in no way unusual for our son — and see that. When he’s not sick, he’s a delight, and even when he is he’s still pretty damn great.
But to be able to fix this? It’s going to be — I think — like getting him back. All the way back.
I want him to hear our voices. I want him to know our names.
I want to hear him sing.
My life has been roughly analogous to that tired duck cliche: churning madly beneath the surface, but kind of boring and not blogging very much up above. Let’s see if I can’t provide you with a clear view of my feathery, web-footed underside.
Obviously, this is the most important news. Sean Douglas was born on January 25th, which mostly explains my lack of internetting during February.
I’ve walked the Daddy Road once before, and while much of it is familiar, every kid is different, and there are all kinds of Sean-shaped cul-de-sacs and loops and trails and dead-ends that I’ve got no previous experience with whatsoever. Still, Kate seems to think I know useful tricks and baby-optimized kung-fu, and I hate disappointing her, so I soldier on.
I’m tired, obviously. Neither Kate or I can really work on anything for extended periods of time without interruptions unless our counterpart takes one for the team for awhile.
And it’s undeniably awesome.
In a nod to parent nerd solidarity, I’ll mention that I was very disappointed that I really had no record (or clear memory) of the first few months of Kaylee’s life, other than a few crappy cellphone pictures, so I’ve endeavored to find a better way to outsource my exhaustion-depleted brain for Sean’s early days. I’d originally bought a nice calendar/notebook to use as a journal (because who doesn’t love to have an excuse to buy another nice notebook?), but in the end the solution we’re actually using is the nerdiest: a private Twitter account on which Kate and I both post notes about our day-to-day challenges (and retweet relevant stuff from our main accounts to capture that information as well), which is then compiled and archived in a blog (again, private).
The end result is a dated journal of thoughts and notes that we can access and update from pretty much any device we own, including our kindles. There may have also been some early use of Google Docs spreadsheets to track feedings while we performed them, but I’m not saying.
Kate was sure that as soon as Sean was born I’d get a non-contract, long-term job offer, simply because that would be the point were it would finally be convenient for me to be home.
Kate’s very smart. I did in fact get an offer the day after Sean was born — a proper job at a place I’d done some short contract work in the past, so that’s kinda cool.
I hit an age milestone in February, took stock of my condition, found it moderately functional, but in need of a tune-up, so I’m back to tracking my calories using Livestrong and hitting the elliptical whenever the very idea doesn’t make me weep. I don’t know if it’s doing anything other than make me feel better — I’m fairly certain that’s enough.
Gaming and Entertainment
Pretty much none of the gaming we did prior to 1/25 has survived impact with the diaper genie. Basically, most of those activities required (or benefited from) larger chunks of mutual uninterrupted time than we currently have available; other things have swept in to fill that void for a time — things that can be enjoyed in snatches, abandoned in mid-play without serious consequence, and still produce the dopamine kick I rely on such things to generate. Solutions for this include EVE Online, Parallel Kingdom, and (just lately) a crash course in the wonderful comedy television stylings of Community — oh my god that show is funny. If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragon (it’s Advanced!) or know someone who has, you owe it to yourself to at least watch the AD&D episode (do it soon before it falls off their ‘recent’ list).
(Speaking of AD&D: I don’t know if I have an immediate solution for the current lack of face to face gaming, but I have high hopes for Yikerz. We shall see.)
Unfortunately, we have time to watch Community DVDs because our DVR harddrive died and took with it entire unwatched seasons of Fringe, Walking Dead, Leverage, Chuck, and… I dunno. More.
I’m not entirely (or even mostly) silent on the internet. I’m writing regular columns for MMO Reporter and somewhat less regular things for Green Dragon Inn. Of course I tend to do most of my casual online chatter on Twitter, which is one of those go-to places to visit during a 2am feeding.
There continues to be book-related news that I can’t really talk about yet.
I’ve got a pile — an actual pile — of things I want to write about, including more Letters to My Kids, but right now… well, while I certainly could find the time to write them, I choose to spend time on other equally-important things for a little while longer.
That may be it — I’m more than a bit hazy in the graymeat-memory-head-area thing, so I’m sure I’ll remember something else soon. Until then, let’s revisit this nerdrage-inducing image that never fails to make me snicker.