The following is an excerpt from Dad Up! by Steve Patterson. Copyright © 2021. Reprinted with the permission of Penguin Random House Canada.
So far in her younger life, Norah has not been bullied. I consider this can proceed to be the case as a result of, as a Leo, she is already exhibiting lion-like qualities.
As Norah’s mother and father, we’ve got been very affected person. After all, we had wonderful coaching throughout Scarlett’s babyhood. Also, Scarlett, for the most half, has been a really caring massive sister who understands that Norah is a child and doesn’t know what she’s doing when she grabs our hair, sticks her fingers in our eyes, or in my case, rips my studying glasses off my face and throws them to the flooring at each attainable alternative.
Scarlett would possibly consider that is simply regular child behaviour. But I’m not so positive.
Is Norah simply being a child, or is she going utterly alpha to determine her dominance over our family? I imply, who rips studying glasses off somebody’s face, throws them on the flooring, then smiles as if to say, “What are you going to do about it?” Who grasps a cup of water, seems to be at you, and when you say, “Don’t throw that!” laughs like a maniac and gleefully chucks it at your face? Who goes as much as somebody who’s sitting down, minding his personal enterprise, and punches him proper in the testicles?
Sure, she technically can’t type a fist or make a punching movement (but), plus so far as I do know, she is unaware of the male anatomy (which, if I’ve my manner, will stay the case properly into her twenties). But truthfully, I typically suppose that Norah is aware of precisely what she is doing and is having fun with all the “she doesn’t know what she’s doing” time that she will be able to. Sure, she’s taking part in. But it’s an influence play for management of the home.
To be honest, as I write this, Norah is teething, which, if I were going by way of it, would most likely make me wish to punch individuals in the testicles too. Of all the baffling issues in human growth, the manner that enamel come in must be the most inexplicable (and painful). Imagine you’re a child with good delicate gums that you have simply gotten used to smacking collectively to make a percussive sound that solely you can really admire. Then all of the sudden, these gum-drums of yours are penetrated by sharp projectiles which are apparently capturing up from INSIDE your personal mouth, and by the manner, are hooked up to you now. That’s not anatomy—that’s a horror film! So infants react in the manner all of us would in the face of such a terrifying state of affairs: they scream at the prime of their lungs! As a father or mother, you attempt to console your screaming child by holding her near you and reassuring her that it’s going to be okay. But your child is understandably skeptical about that, as a result of these arsehole enamel simply maintain coming in! As this drags on (for weeks and months, in reality), neither you nor your child is definitely positive issues are ever going to be okay once more.
This seemingly explains why Norah’s favorite factor to do whereas she is teething and I’m making an attempt to console her is to place her fingers in my mouth and attempt to rip my very own enamel out. I maintain telling myself she’s doing this as a result of she believes she is saving me from ache—form of a “Dad, those are the things that are attacking me from the inside! Let me rip those out for you and then you get mine out of me, okay?” But the defiant expression on her face typically tells a distinct story. The look appears to say, “it’s going to be okay, is it? Does THIS feel okay, old man? Huh? Does that feel okay to you?” Then she yanks on my entrance enamel like she’s a middle-aged dad making an attempt to carry out a correct chin-up for the first time in his life.
So sure, teething is hard and just about any behaviour a child reveals throughout this time can most likely be chalked as much as the ache and discomfort she’s going by way of. This is very true when the enamel make their grand entrance whereas the child is sleeping. Imagine if you were woken up by the ache of one thing stabbing you from inside your personal mouth. You’d be pissed off and in search of somebody— anybody—to assault. Which is very dangerous information if you’re that child’s mom and are sleeping beside her, with the essential meals supply so temptingly near her face.
Nancy has tried to clarify to me what it’s prefer to be bitten on the nipple by a child with new enamel, and whereas her explanations have been eloquent, I’m positive I nonetheless don’t fairly realize it. For Norah, it’s merely a matter of getting used to those new physique components which have entered her life so painfully (and rudely). She does this by chomping down on a physique half that isn’t hers however may be very acquainted to her. Compared to this, an unintended punch by a child’s tiny hand to my (average-sized, I feel) testicles is de facto nothing. Well, I imply it’s not “nothing,” however I can’t attempt to inform Nancy it’s in the similar ballpark. Pun supposed.
So teething infants get a cross on behaviour we wouldn’t tolerate from any grownup and even any toddler with a full set of enamel. But I’m nonetheless undecided Norah isn’t milking this second like, properly, a child chomping on a boob to get milk.
For occasion, in addition to tearing the glasses off my face at any time when they’re inside vary of her tiny arm, Norah has additionally not too long ago taken to tearing the remaining hairs out of the prime of my head once I put her on my shoulders. She does this whereas screaming with delight (it’s a distinct scream than the teething scream, as a result of she’s laughing whereas she does it). She has additionally taken to straight-arming me and Nancy like a Hall of Fame operating again avoiding a sort out at any time when she doesn’t need to fall asleep—which is all the time, as a result of she by no means desires to fall asleep. In reality, typically she’s going to lull me into considering she’s virtually asleep after which rouse herself to get away by pushing off me like she’s doing a backwards dive off a excessive cliff. This makes me maintain on to her even tighter so she doesn’t dive head first into the flooring, after which she responds by screaming out with the frequent child name of “Mamamamamamamamamamamama,” which roughly interprets to “Mother! This idiot is trying to put me to sleep. I’m not ready for sleep, obviously! It’s almost time for Saturday Night Live!”
The second Nancy comes into the room, Norah mainly jumps into her arms, smiles at me as if to say, “I told you she would come,” and stops screaming. Experts say it’s because infants want their moms rather more than their fathers, particularly once they’re teething. Those similar specialists additionally say, “She doesn’t mean anything by it— she’s just a baby.” But I can inform by the look in her eyes that this child is taking part in me like a fiddle. And not the foot-stamping, hand-clapping, joy-filled fiddle you would hear on Canada’s East Coast. I imply like an out-of-tune, ominous fiddle from a horror film soundtrack.
So typically, when Nancy can’t see or hear me, I’ll get proper into child Norah’s face and shout-whisper into her tiny ear, “Hey! I’m your dad. You’re a baby. You have to listen to me!”
And she’s going to reply by ripping my glasses off my face and laughing like a maniac.
Steve Patterson is a slapstick comedian and the host of CBC Radio’s The Debaters and the net sequence The Smartass-ociates. His earlier e-book is The Book of Letters I Didn’t Know Where to Send.