Hey guys! I have a wonderful guest poster for you this week. She’s relatively new to the blogging scene, but she’s good. Not to mention, she’s from my small hometown in Western Massachusetts. So without further ado, please welcome Carolyn from Fumbling Toward Naptime!
Parenting With A Techie
My husband, Dan, is a computer programmer. A dyed-in-the-wool techie. It’s not just his vocation, it’s his lifestyle. His worldview. And, on some level, his approach to parenting. I, on the other hand, am a psychologist. Okay, FINE, I’m a research psychologist, so I spend a fair amount of my day in front of a computer too. But I do have a psychology license. So I am qualified to give people a penetrating stare and say things like, “So, how does that make you feel?” Granted, I am usually asking the IT guy when he comes into my office to fix my computer. (By the way, I think he’s in a really good place in his life right now.) But my point is that, unlike Dan, I don’t dream in computer code. Or get giddy every time Apple produces a new version of the iPhone. (FALL OF 2014, BABY!) Or believe that “shutting down and rebooting” solves everything. Suffice to say, we approach many things differently.
Enter children. No matter how well you know your spouse, you really have no idea what it will be like to parent with them until you have a child. Then the baby arrives. And you suddenly realize that for the next EIGHTEEN YEARS you are on a team together. And the mission of your team is to keep a little person alive and happy. And the little person isn’t always logical. Or appreciative. And the little person regularly uses tactics that violate the Geneva Convention. (Read: sleep deprivation.) Suddenly it occurs to you that even though there are two of you, you are somehow outnumbered. (Don’t overthink it. I’ve checked the math. I’m right.) THAT’S when you find out what kind of parent your spouse is. Before having a child, Dan referred to babies saying, “For the first two years, they’re basically a little blob that occasionally freaks out.” Do the paternal instincts echoing through that line make you misty eyed? Me neither. But here’s the thing: the moment our first child, Jacob, arrived, four years ago, my techie husband immediately became a dad. He was on it. (Well, in his own way, anyway.)
Challenge #1. Jacob was a terrible sleeper. My approach: read everything I could get my hands on about how to get a baby to sleep. Talk incessantly to other people who had infants. Make sure everyone around me knew how tired I was. (Parents, you with me?) And buy an assortment of swaddling blankets, binkies, sleep positioners, and loveys. None of it did much good. Dan’s approach? Find the right gadget to get the job done. We did notice though that every little creak in our very old house seemed to set Jacob off. White noise machine? Nah. Dan rigged up an iPod mini with speakers, downloaded a 20-minute track of white noise, and put the iPod on “repeat”. Voila. Great solution. Until Jacob learned to crawl and found the bright red iPod irresistible. And occasionally disabled the repeat function. Without our knowing. So, twenty minutes after gingerly laying him in his crib, we would suddenly hear Italian opera blaring through the baby monitor. HOLY HELL. I have never run to Jacob’s room so fast.
Challenge #2. Jacob was constantly outgrowing his clothing. So one day, Dan came home from the store with approximately 2,015 SOLID WHITE onesies in a variety of sizes. Now let’s overlook the fact that a white onesie will only remain white until the baby’s next meal. (After that point, it will be a white onesie with a mushed peas Rorschach on the front.) But seriously, why buy that many solid white onesies? Dan looked at me blankly. “What??” As far as he was concerned, problem solved. “How about dressing the baby to, I don’t know, LOOK CUTE, once in a while?” I asked. (Or at least to not get lost in a snow drift.) Dan rolled his eyes. As far as he was concerned, he had purchased the appropriate technology. What was my problem?
I shouldn’t have been surprised. In the great battle between form and function, Dan lands on the side of function nearly every time. I like to think I’m practical. But maybe not THAT practical. Dan once saw me trying on clothes as I was packing for a trip and asked, slightly irritated, “Why do you have to try those on? Don’t you know what you look like in your clothes?” Then he walked out of the room. I stood there half-dressed and speechless. Then I peered into my husband’s closet. Oh, right. Dan’s wardrobe consists almost entirely of white t-shirts and jeans. Because, apparently, “It makes it easier to match.” GAH.
Challenge #3. Someone needs to watch the children. We currently have a one-year-old and a four-year-old. And they are delightful. But I get it. Sometimes parenting can be a bit . . . tedious. Games that a four-year-old finds riveting— for HOURS— can be mind numbing for the rest of us. I try to be a good sport because I am acutely aware that if I blink a few times, all I will see is the back of my children— suddenly teenagers— disappearing into their rooms and slamming the door. Dan takes a different approach. Don’t get me wrong. He is amazing with our kids. In short, concentrated bursts. But when he’s in charge of the kids for long stretches of time, I’ve noticed that “Dan watching the kids” starts to look an awful lot like Dan checking Twitter. Or Facebook. Or plotting his next move in a multi-player online game. (iPhone, is there nothing you can’t do?) Fortunately, he looks up often enough to make sure that Jacob isn’t coloring directly on the furniture and Emma isn’t teetering her way up the staircase. But, by the time I return, the living room is usually trashed from whatever they WERE doing. Dan is happily oblivious. And, ironically, he is usually busy tweeting something about parenting.
At the end of the day, I can’t complain . . . too much. Even though a disproportionate percentage of our income will always be spent on upgrading Dan’s computer. And phone. Even though Dan now uses the children as an excuse to buy the latest iToy. (“I think Jacob really needs an iPad . . .”) Even though Dan’s version of planning for our children’s future is to buy them each their own domain name. (Yes, that’s right: he made sure each of our children could someday have a website with their names in the web address. I know, I know— I’ll give you a moment to wipe away the tears.)
For a techie, that’s pure love. Hmm. How does that make me feel? Works for me.