Thursday, July 23, 2009

23 July 2009--Birthday Boy

Today, my First Born is 45. Still has the same big smile, albeit he has pearly white teeth to show now. The barely-visible, silky hair on his 3-month-old head in the above picture is white. As he grew, the white hair became blonde and visible. When he was born, however, everyone made me furious by saying, “Il est chauve!” (He’s bald!) They’d be almost right today. He’s got that classic Male Pattern Balding going for him, and definitely has more than a few white hairs, too.
I have no brothers or sisters, had never babysat for children under the age of three, so First Born was, to say the least, an entirely new experience. He was also the source of some frightening learning experiences. Like the time I gave him his first bath.
The Canadian Mother’s Handbook said not to give a baby a tub bath until the remains of the umbilical cord had fallen off.
“Spread a large towel on your lap," said the CMH authoritatively. "Place the baby on the towel and carefully sponge him down, avoiding the naval area and being careful not to allow soap to get in his eyes.”
My husband was the oldest of three. His sister was four years younger and his brother almost seven years younger than he. Figuring the whole sponge bath thing would be a piece of cake for him, I stationed him by my side, relying on his (Hah!) superior knowledge to fill in if anything went wrong, I began the ritual. (I learned later that he was never interested in such proceedings being performed on his siblings.)
I undressed our precious FB, placed him on my towelled lap and touched him with the warm, soapy, wash-cloth the CMH had prescribed. Instantly, FB let out a bone-jarring scream. My husband, who could field-dress a moose with only a little assistance, screamed even louder, “Tu lui fais mal!” (You’re hurting him!). FB started sliding off my lap. “Help me hold him!” I screamed back. “Je n’en peux plus!” (I can’t stand it!) my Intrepid Man of the Great North Woods cried as he ran out of the bathroom. I started crying, wrapped FB back up securely and decided the First Bath could wait.
My mother died when I was 5½, and the grandmother who took over raising me had died two weeks before I was married. I called my mother-in-law for help the next day. She calmed me down and had her FB drive her over to our apartment the next day.
She made the whole operation look easy, and gave me the confidence that I could bath FB just as proficiently as she did. I threw away the Canadian Mother’s Handbook, because DML had totally ignored its instructions, and obviously knew better than any handbook I could've turned to.
As for Intrepid Man of the Great North Woods, he developed confidence too, although he never gave baths to either of his sons. He preferred doing the dishes while I did the baths.

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