Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Natural Parent

Several people have asked, now that Ezra is a few weeks old, how I have made the initial adjustment into parenthood.  Prior to his birth, I was unsure what it would be like living and caring for a new baby. The last infant I had lived with was my sister. I was four when she was born so I was obviously not her primary caretaker (or secondary, tertiary, or even “there is no one else to call” backup caretaker).  So to say my experience with an infant was limited is an exaggeration.  It was non-existent.  I was unsure how to pick him up, hold him, comfort him, dress him, change his diaper, feed him, burp him, bathe him – pretty much everything before he was born, but the first time I did any of these things was as easy and natural as if it were the millionth time.  Everything about caring for him has seemed very intuitive.

The one adjustment that I have yet to make is that I keep forgetting that Ezra is not a dog. 

To be clear, I know he is not literally a dog, but the amount of experience I lacked with infant care I made up with in experience with dogs.  So, I cannot help but speak to him as if he were a dog which sounds worse than it should; I really like and respect dogs.  I foresaw this being a possible problem at a baby shower with our families.  Several children were attending and Amanda and I organized an egg race.  My three-year old cousin froze, mid-race, with her egg.  I tried to coax her to the finish line, yelling “Come, Maddie, Come!”  I’m so used to calling Piper this way that I didn’t notice what I was saying until I was taken aside by several guests who pointed out that she is not a dog. 

But actually, several recent research projects have compared toddlers to dogs and have found that they are much more similar than people want to admit.  You can read about them here and here.

Since Ezra has been born I have had several slip-ups especially the first week.  I often give him an encouraging “Good job, pu. . .” and stop myself before finishing with pup.  I mentioned a few times our need to take him to the vet then remembering that his doctor prefers to be called a pediatrician.  I have accidentally called him Piper several times and Cadet (my sister’s dog) a few times.  I speak to him in short clear phrases.  Sit. Speak. Stay.  He has not yet advanced to roll-over.

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