A year ago I wrote that a Foreign Exchange Student was coming to live with us in November. She got here 173 days ago.
(I’m not actually counting, but the “how long ‘til she gets here” tab is cookied and it also counts how long it’s been.)
She’ll be six months old on the 20th. She can sit (if you prop her right); she kind of likes smushy vegetables (not cereal and certainly not bananas — though kind of, neither do I); she’s moved on from “goo” sounds to the very advanced “th”; she can shove herself backwards, (exponentially faster if you let her go on the slick wood floor in footie jammies); and she has a dimple on the right side of her chin when she smiles.
And 173 days in, she doesn’t seem so Foreign anymore.
The second in (because two makes) a series, The Friday Afternoon Governess, in which we attend to the cultural edification of a young lady. First, it was the Ethel Merman episode of The Muppet Show. Today, it was a PUPPET SHOW.
These fancy posters were up all over town, so I took it as an invitation. I take pictures of stuff I want to take home and translate later — this one, I got most of right away, the “most” part, being Pippi.
What a weird and wonderful series of now-classic books that is. And so, with the baby-friendly clues that anything that happens at 4:30 in the afternoon, and lasts less than an hour is probably okay, we decided to brave it.
Not crazy or dumb, it turns out.
I didn’t know it was going to be puppets, my translations didn’t get that far, but SO CUTE. It was a pretty full house, with a table up front selling popcorn and juice boxes, and there was audience participation.
Admittedly, I got the bigger kick out of understanding, “Oh! We’re counting now!” and, “OH. That’s a very…vintage portrayal of a person of island heritage,” but the young lady lasted 21 whole minutes, or an act and a half. She wasn’t that into it, I think the puppets were a little small to grab her attention, but hey! She was a good audience member, and liked seeing all the kids. (We stood at the back and beat it as soon as she’d had the inkling of enough.)
Someday, I’ll take her to Annie on Broadway. Today, we saw puppets in Enkenbach. No small parts, and all that.
Someday, I imagine a tantrum, “BUT MOM. I have to start my ENTIRE INTERNET HISTORY from SCRATCH. Nothing comes up when you Google my name. NOTHING. It’s like I DON’T EXIST.”
The decision not to put her on the internet was easy. Too many kids are exploited every day on blogs and Facebook, moments of growing up that should be private, are too often put in an album or sponsored post for all of eternity. I remain steadfast that though kids live in your house, they aren’t yours. They are the tiniest of humans who don’t yet have agency to object to you tagging an unflattering photo of them.
With real power, and all that.
And so, no photos of the kid on the internet. It’s a wise decision made with her best interest in mind, and I stand by it…
Except, on days like today, when she’s WEARING BABY SUNGLASSES it’s pretty dang hard.
Not even in the same solar system as the relief felt on the other side of the ocean, but a tiny bit of my own nonetheless. Ryan’s finally home, and with that a week of taking care of a baby in a foreign country all by myself, is over. A week of horrible, grim news outside of the home making anxiety within, and going to sleep silently reminding myself “It’s not 9-1-1, it’s 1-1-2,” is done. And I’m very thankful.
It wasn’t fun, but we did okay. Better than okay if you’re doing your tallies in trips to the gym and fixes of slow shower drains — if that’s the case, we did outstanding. And we were kept good company by the John Cleese episode of The Muppet Show…
But by now you better believe my new stag head tumbler has been well broken in with a celebratory cheers.
Step 1: Don’t put the baby in the suitcase.
Your bag would never make it through their ridiculously tiny sizer that way.
Heavens to Bunnies, I have strategized, agonized, and ruthlessly edited in order to fit everything to clothe a baby and a lady for a whole holiday weekend in one tiny carry on.
Step 2: Make sure all her friends make the flight.
On her side she has:
2 pairs of jammies; 2 cardigans; 2 sweaters; 4 pairs of pants; 4 long-sleeved onesies; 6 pairs of socks, a stack of dipes; a pack of wipes; 1 Easter dress with shoes and headband; 1 tiny towel; 2 burp cloths.
Otherwise known as:
Kitty; Elephant; Owls; Duckies; Monkeys; and Hearts.
Step 3: Pack your stuff to swap out if slimed — or worse.
Scarves. Stretchy. Flat. Matching. Don’t forget baby shampoo in a tiny bottle in with your toiletries.
Step 4: Remember your purse has to go INSIDE your suitcase.
Make it a small one. And you probably won’t want to get in the whole suitcase if you can possibly help it in case of diapery needs, so add a handful of wipes in a baggie, plus one dipe — plus entertainment for her. Conspicuously bring NONE for you, because if you even dare to bring a magazine, that shows the universe that you’re cocky. I am not cocky. I will be staring at the seat back in front of me, praying for boredom.
Step 5: Hers and hers.
One side for her giant wardrobe, one for yours. A divot for your purse. A mental note to add your makeup kit later. (Also going: blanket; stroller/car seat/car base.)
Step 6: Worry.
Allow enough time to know that no matter how well you’ve packed or planned, the first flight with a baby… let’s just hope we ALL get Jr. Pilot’s Wings.
We haven’t had enough time at this to be able claim any parenting successes, but I do know we have a little girl who’s pretty hard to say goodbye to.
I think she was being sized up for quite a few carry-on bags this morning. It’s rotten, this revolving door of seeing people leave. She is a pretty fun tour guide, after all.
But if having to say goodbye is inevitable and inevitably hard, it just means that Frankie got to meet more people to love, and people that we’ll see again soon. So we can look forward to another, “Hi!”
That’s a much nicer thought.
(And there are even more “Hellos!” waiting for us in England this weekend.)
I suppose if I was keeping track of pithy adages that might pass as wisdom gleaned in the past four months of parenting, I might include:
“Keep making big plans — but keep your shrug handy when things don’t go according to.”
This year’s 25 Book Challenge, for instance, is looking more like a “Collect 25 Books to Read in the Future” quest. While my current Have Read tally is zero, my future perfect tense is teeming with pre-orders, the above, most especially. I will be delighted with past Zoë someday when my attention span comes running back.
Speaking of, there were no racing shoes laced up this weekend. There were only soft baby sweats and tiny warm fuzzy boots. Frankie has her first case of the snarfles and it’s dreadful. How little babies can even be eligible for colds without the ability to blow their noses is one of the top cruelties of the universe. At race time, we were sitting in the bathroom with the shower blasting steam, singing songs, and trying to make it to the finish line of this crud.
And on books and finish lines, if one survives childhood with a name not found on miniature license plates, one eventually gets rewarded.
Now this is a book I can make it to the end of.
If so-called “Digital Natives” were born with a silver app in their collective disk drive, and “Digital Immigrants” are the olds who still double click EVERYTHING, let us have then a moment for the Digitals in between — those who grew up precisely alongside the computevolution.
The Digital Pioneers.
It was always there, its primitive form mirroring the user, the maturation of tech and techie simultaneous.
They took this journey together, river fording and all.
How does one qualify for Pioneer status? It’s a finite slice of well-timed humanity.
You’re a Digital Pioneer if you started first grade along with the first bank of school library computers, hulking machines whose chief occupation was to make you “WAIT FOR THE GREEN LIGHT TO GO OFF BEFORE YOU TOUCH ANYTHING!!!”
There was a lot of waiting for that light.
You’re a Digital Pioneer if computer games came in one color and possessed one function — and you had to wait your turn to play during “Computer Time.”
Bonus Digital Pioneer points if you remember the precise cost/price formula to net the biggest profit margin from your Lemonade Stand.
You’re a Digital Pioneer if you were in the first class to be transitioned from “Typing” to “Keyboarding.” You got your first email address issued with your college freshman orientation packet. You “researched” subjects online before Google. You got your first job with a desk and internet access when there was almost enough content around to keep you occupied. And you Friendster->MySpace->Facebooked at the appropriate life moments to keep most of your late adolescent humiliations analog.
This is key.
And finally, you’re a Pioneer if you start having Jr. Pioneers and suddenly care about giving them that precise odyssey experience. Not a byte or bit more before one is ready.
Previously, young children had to be shown by their parents how to use a mouse or a remote, and the connection between what they were doing with their hand and what was happening on the screen took some time to grasp. But with the iPad, the connection is obvious, even to toddlers. Touch technology follows the same logic as shaking a rattle or knocking down a pile of blocks: the child swipes, and something immediately happens.
As I’m sure our Immigrant parents lamented our occasional virtual lemonade stands in lieu of the real deal, now the struggle is to keep anything actual at all. The next leg of our Pioneer journey is to navigate limits (and effects) of “screen time,” to instill the antique ability of patience in a world where everything can download in the time it takes to finish an “I want…” sentence, and in essence, to reverse our journey.
To make sure they know that the Oregon Trail goes about 140 years further back in history than just some 8-bit dysentery.
(If you haven’t blown all of today’s screen time, the Atlantic’s “The Touch-Screen Generation” is a worth a read.)
It’s like this song, but with 100% less Jamie Walters and 6000 times more complications.
I have no earthly idea how this is supposed to happen. I’ve been flying by myself since 1988. That I can do, no problem…
Frankie has a ticket to go meet her UK cousins and great auntie and uncle for Easter… I mean, I’ve SEEN people do it, I just would have much rather the baby class covered this skill instead of diapering and all that nonsense. I had dolls. Diapering is child’s play.
Getting everything two adults need for a weekend, PLUS figuring out burning questions like, “How many diapers do we take?” “Can I stuff them about my person so they don’t take up my entire RyanAir-mandated Draconian Shoebox in lieu of Luggage?” This should have been addressed before we left the hospital.
And seriously, so like the stroller thing. The car seat clicks into it, but you have to take the base to put in IN a car on the other side. I have never seen anyone do this. Do people do this?
I can pick out cute outfits to pack, but after that?
I need an adult.
UPDATE: Apparently, what you do is have delightful relatives who, the second you start to wonder about “how?” respond with an email containing all the solutions. So, so lovely. It seems all we’re really going to have to do is fight over the armrest.