babies

When was your first memory?

dalifirstmemoryThis thought has crept to the surface recently, riding within the waves of discussion on whether or not to celebrate Rory’s first birthday and have a big party. It has been a surreal year of firsts for both him and us, many moments that Marilyn and I will never forget as new parents, and the notion of celebrating his first birthday party was another timely decision to make.

Before realising the complexity of organising anything involving little children, I was certainly all for hosting a party at the local park. However, now that I know the logistical nightmare and possible stress of just leaving the house for groceries these days, I have erred on the side of – there’s no need for a party because what will Rory remember of it anyway?r22

Rory has learnt many new things and remembered to keep doing them, such as crawling, standing up; walking with the aid of anything to hang onto, making raspberry noises (thanks grandparents); and gleefully putting lids on his containers. His daily arsenal is growing with each sleep. However, from all this activity, I gather no visual aspect of these experiences will be stored afterwards in his memory bank. Does anyone have a true recollection of their first year? Except for (hopefully), a sound platform of love and confidence for them to build memories upon.

Marilyn and I, did what I suspect many first time parents do, and deliberated for some time on whether to have a first birthday party for Rory. As the day got closer, it started to feel like it would be more a day for us than him. I’m sure he’d enjoy it (he loves to party just like his dad), but then like the rest of his days so far, they will become a blank space in his memory bank, or at best, filed away somewhere in deep storage, its location lost over time.

My first memory, which I confirmed just recently with my Mum, was when I was two. I had made my way up onto the dark wooden dining room table, and proceeded to use the vase that occupied its centre as my first writing instrument. This was to be my first memorable mark in the world, my first art piece, the first thing I did that made an impression, if only on me and the dining room table.here'sjohnny

I remember the scene close up, and strangely enough from an overhead view, which has probably been a later addition, a bit of mental editing. The main visual sensation I get from recalling the incident, is the dark wood becoming lighter with each grind of the heavy vase. I don’t remember getting up. I don’t remember getting caught. I don’t remember getting into trouble…but I do remember the act – and it is a fond memory. The closest memory after that was when a Rhino relieved itself in front of me at a zoo. As the urine cascaded over the concrete enclosure, gushing like a fire hose, I was filled with awe at the amount that flowed everywhere. Were these really the only two memorable moments of my first few years of life? I’ve clicked on search and it seems to be the case – art and a big piss are the earliest most noteworthy moments of my childhood (some would claim they are both one and the same).rhino

Anyway, back to my point of not having a first birthday party, an idea that was helped along with a close friend’s own experience, his advice being, “You’d be crazy to, you’ll have plenty of stress with future parties, at least wait until he can enjoy it.”

I do wonder, does the fact that Rory won’t remember it, take away from his enjoyment of it?

As I’ve said, I enjoy a party, and have had some great nights out that would surely fit into the category of enjoyment over memory. The memories of such nights would have surely been lost if they had not been shared amongst friends the next day, and maybe this is why we don’t have such memories early on – we have no way of sharing them the next day. Early re-enforcement certainly works when we want to remember something, anyone that has studied can attest to that. It would be interesting to ask a three year old to see what his/her first memory is, would it be from a week, a month, or even a year ago?lonepine3

For our celebration, we finally decided to take him to Lone Pine Sanctuary, with only close family attending, as it was where I was taken for my first birthday all those years ago. I thought I would start a nice tradition, and maybe he will do the same with his first born. I don’t think there are any Rhino’s at this park, but who knows, maybe he will experience a koala with a really full bladder. Once we are able to communicate and share past experiences, I’ll ask him, just in case I missed it; as it will be great to share such a memory with him one day. Until then I’m happy to wait and enjoy each and every moment, and soon enough I’ll be able to tell him all about it when he can truly listen, and then I can reminisce and enjoy it all again.

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Two front teeth – Someone opened their present early…Now what do I do?

Check these chompers !

Check these chompers !

It seems that just like his Mum, if little Rory wants something, he just goes and gets it, which makes him, like his Mum, rather hard to buy for. I had planned to get him his two front teeth for Christmas, thinking I had plenty of time considering he is not even 5 months yet. However, true to genetic form, he has already got his two front teeth. What am I to do now? Chew it over I guess…

There has been a lot of discussion lately about non-gender toys, no more pink for girls, or soldiers for boys, so it makes the decision even harder. I’m sure many fathers before me hadn’t given much thought to what toys to buy a little one, and just bought what was put forward to them. I believe that most toys are typically seasonal and aren’t played with for too long anyway, as each child is constantly looking for some new treat. How else do you explain such a big toy industry, and in most homes, overflowing toy boxes full of stuff hardly touched anymore? Unless of course you call tripping on the strategically placed plastic lounge-mines and then putting them away, as touching. So what do I get a little one that doesn’t even know you exist once you’ve left the room ?..it’s a tough call. 912_3

To be honest I won’t be searching for something pink, but I also won’t buy him something typically male oriented. Even though I totally agree that gender stereotypes shouldn’t be forced on our young, so much so, that I intentionally wrote my first children’s book to be non-gender specific – I never refer to the central character’s sex. (Insert shameless plug for The Tale of Kangaroo Point here). But seriously, I feel this discussion of non-gender buying to be a little left of the mark, because either way, most of the toys that are made are pretty much useless bits of plastic that will end up in some land fill, or hopefully a second hand op shop to be recycled. I think the real discussion is, what will be the long term benefit of giving such an item ? Experience should be seen like currency, and I don’t want to be buying something that has no long term benefits, and quickly becomes worthless once you leave the store. I feel toys should be a capital investment in my little one, and therefore I want them to promote growth and yield a high return. Perhaps there is a little accountant in me after all, this would please my parents.

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Same beach, same family.

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New generation, new millennia.

Looking back, I can see that my Mum and Dad didn’t buy me anything they saw as pointless, even the board games I received tended to be like Boggle, or Scrabble (the original Words With Friends),  because they wanted me to learn during play, and probably also being an only child, they didn’t want to be playing something with me that had no point to it…ironically, The Game of Life sat in this category.

This Christmas, the decision for me on what to get, probably isn’t so important, as the little guy seems pretty occupied by his toes at the moment, but as his interests evolve it will be up to me to help guide him, like my Dad did for me. For the moment I’ve noticed he likes banging his hands on anything; tables; his thighs; his mum’s face; my crotch (ouch), so I’m thinking maybe a little drum or keyboard with sound effects might be a winner – try to channel that inner beat and rhythm. I will let you know how I go post summer equinox.

Anyway to wrap things up…yes I went there (it’s ok, I’m a Dad now), I put this to you little Rory – when you are old enough to read, and you are asking for the latest plastic crapenator, I will refer you to this little piece as to why you received a telescope, a chemistry set, or something sport like. If I feel a toy doesn’t help you learn something, you won’t be getting it from me, but feel free to buy it yourself with your earned pocket money, because Son, that’s the value of currency, if it’s your own, you can get what you want, and if it’s not, be thankful you get anything at all xxx

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Stuff you have done lately

1. Said Dad three times (yes I can lay claim to the first word), not sure if you knew what you were saying but like any good Aussie, I’ll claim it. It took you some effort to get it out and much concentration, but it went like this NnnnnnnnnnnnnDaaaaaaaaaad. Too cute and your Mum can vouch for it also. You have also said No to Avó…cheeky monkey.

2. You have had your first couple of flights, and you’re a good little flyer. I’ve only had to by earplugs for a passenger once, and you prefer bosoms for a pillow (Cornershop’s song holds true).

3. You like to smack your Mum in the face to wake her up.

4. You are not big on being left alone, even for a minute. Hence your Mum has dubbed you the ginger whinger, only because it’s easier to rhyme than auburn.

5. You are getting better at tummy time, although since you have learnt to roll, you much prefer to do that.

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6. Your farts stink ! Like a little stinky malinky poo poo monster.

7. You love spinning, rolling, and being thrown and caught. Your face lights up and you start giggling with glee ( Your mother hates the up up catch game but it’s our little secret;)

8. You love the boogah song and all its re-mixes. He’s the boog boog boogiddy boog.

9. You can hold your own bottle, and have learnt how to get monkey to play his music by pulling on the handle.

912_1110. You have swum in the ocean and a pool. You weren’t really sure about it both times but you did have a little kick kick.

11. You adore your Avó and her big pillows, and love nudey nude time during your daily bath with Mummy.

12. Your yoga skills have become enviable, you can actually put your foot in your mouth and I don’t mean by saying the wrong thing, that will come later.

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With our little boy teething, his sleep has become even more precious. To help soothe and settle we use shooshas (dummies) from the freezer, and if needed we put a little (as directed) bonjela on the bottom of the shoosha and rub the area affected before bed. I’m not game to put my finger in after hearing his Mum’s cries. Occasionally, if he’s really irritable and all else fails, we use baby Panadol liquid via a syringe. During the day it is all about taking his mind off the sore little gums with plenty of play and love.

In Da Club (New Parent Remix feat. My fifty cents)

indaclubYou’re probably starting to think that I’m getting a little gangsta keeping with the R&B theme, but a good club beat is hard to knock. I loved the song, In Da Club by 50 cent when it came out, it bridged a gap across my mainstream musical landscape. It let me experience another side to life. Nodding my head, I felt like I was in da club, even if it was for a fleeting moment.

It’s a lovely place to be, in a club, a place where you can share an experience, or a time of your life with another. Especially, when it’s your love. I used to own a Kombi, I dubbed it Blue Moon, and I was absolutely stoked when I could finally drive something I loved everyday. The Kombi is of course, loved by many, and I had unexpectedly found myself in a new da da da da da da da club. I would drive down the coast, or just around town visiting friends, loving the feeling of sitting up high on the road, turning a bus wheel, and listening to da humming of the engine. Other Kombi drivers, knowing the joy I was experiencing, would wave when passing, or chat about it at parks or parties, lovingly sharing the finer details of our motor babies – Is yours a pop top too? How good are they!! kombibeard

It was such a nice connection to a greater unknown community. Random conversations with people who I didn’t know, except for the fact that we shared a love, and each time was a pleasant and interesting encounter. I’m sure everyone can relate, we all have our loves and hobbies.

Although I ended up having to cash in at this club, selling my beloved blue moon to finance another beloved which involved an extended stay in Ireland, I knew that the club would be fine without me. It has plenty of members, I would miss it, but in the end I was just happy to be a part of it.

I’m now over the moon, in more ways than one, at being a new devotee to the long awaited (especially in my mum’s eye) parent club, and it’s the best club ever ! Better than any club by a mile and half, with a membership greater than any club I can think of. I am finding it so very true in what they say, you’ll never love something more. It’s amazing the capacity for parents and strangers to connect over common loves, and the most common love that we have as humans, I now believe, is the love of our own child, perhaps the love of a good sleep coming a close second. As a fresh club member, and perhaps feeling a little enlightened from the initiation of sleep deprivation, I now understand this common love, and love to share this love with all other members – old, new, soon to be, and want to be. It’s a great way to bond.

Just today, Marilyn and I had a wonderful discussion with a Mum, and her 1 year old, Connor. It was so interesting to see another bub hitting his first year milestone, especially when compared to our just turned four week old bub. We could see a little bit into our future, and were eager to hear stories of what was to come, the mother more than happy to chat to new club members to share her experience.

Another time, we met with close friends at New Farm Park down near the river, and one of the couples had a two year old, Leo. Again for us, it felt like looking into the crystal ball and seeing the future. Greg, Leo’s father, is probably looking ahead at 4 year olds, and marvelling the steps Leo will climb.

From just these two experiences, it was crystal clear, the huge advances our little ones take in the first couple of years. From our little Rory, still sleeping, grumbling, and a little unsure, to Connor, sitting up at the café tables having his first babyccino and waving at other clientele, to Leo, standing tall, playing games with adults, and showing signs of the little man he is to be.

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I’m ready for the car !

I can’t wait to see little Rory become the little man he is to be, and he’s already showing signs that he’s enjoying the journey. Hopefully one day, down the track, he will have the pleasure of joining this new parent club too, and myself and Marilyn, a grander club again.

Tip of the Ice-blog #8

Bouncing baby boy, this old adage is so true. Our little guy loves to bounce, and it is one of the best methods for getting him to calm, burp, poop and sleep. My other mates who are fathers have said the same. If all else fails, bounce in da club ya hear !