Moments of Permanence

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and now I demand those points Apr. 16th, 2017 @ 01:28 pm
I think a wound, even a little scratch on your finger (that still bled a lot) deserves bonus points if it was inflicted by a baby herbivore.

In very much related news, am back from going down south for the weekend. I did a number of interesting things, but the one that left a mark was helping feed a calf who is bucket-fed but very much wishes she wasn't. In her earnest yearning to suck on my fingers in the apparent conviction that they would be more satisfying than the bucket of milk I was holding for her, she managed to make a divot in my left ring finger with her baby herbivore grindy teeth.

Also, we went to see puppies. There is a labrador who, very very recently, had puppies.

Ten puppies.

They are tiny and snuffly and their eyes haven't opened yet and they make little squeaky squealy noises and one of them kept trying to wriggle elsewhere in the pile and getting it wrong and flipping over a sibling and rolling several inches away and having to try and snuffle his way back to the pile.

They are, unsurprisingly, aggressively cute.

so tiny so snuffly and squeaky and just a pile of so many puppies

Brains are weird Jan. 5th, 2013 @ 08:42 am
So, yesterday afternoon, I went and babysat my friend's two young boys. They were asleep for the first couple of hours after I arrived, so I chilled out reading a book.

I had a moment to freak out very slightly when I went to collect the younger one from his cot. See, the boys have these special clocks in their rooms, to tell them whether, if they wake up, it's time to get up, or they should go back to sleep. The faces light up softly with a picture of a sun if it's time to get up.

The one in the fifteen-month-old's room was in his cot, with the cord going around his neck.

This didn't panic me outright only because the baby was awake and greeting me. However, naturally, I made a firm mental note to tell his mother because seriously.

And yet, by the time she came home, an hour or so later, I had completely forgotten. Until this morning, when a line I read on the internet made me go: oh hmm that reminds me of something what was it OH YEAH [baby] nearly strangled himself how did I not tell his mother.

So I immediately phoned his mother, so I would definitely have told her before I forgot again.

She mentioned where she puts the clock, which, coincidentally, was pretty much where I put it when I took him out of the cot, so she wouldn't have picked up on things being wildly amiss. She was surprised he could reach it from his cot, at all. So am I, actually, but apparently he can, so she really needed to know that.

In which I was born to turn my parents into Bad Parents Jun. 29th, 2012 @ 06:21 am
(Note on recent silence: I've been sick. Still am, but not as bad, finally.)

So, I just read a thing about how it's apparently bad for babies in comprehensive ways to let them "cry it out". (It's all pretty reasonable and seems all scientific and stuff, except in the addenda the post's author has some comment about co-sleeping that seems in favour of it and I'm a bit, wait, doesn't that sometimes get babies killed? But anyway.)

At the same time, I have some issues with it. One, it sort of seems to leave the implication that if a baby is crying, the parents screwed up. They missed some pre-crying indication of the baby's need, and babies aren't supposed to cry - the author says something about how crying would signal predators, which to me, misses some fairly obvious points about human development. And, well, animals in general, actually. Babies of most species cry. Baby *birds* cry. Most animals with vulnerable young set up their young in conditions where they'll be protected from predators, humans very much included.

And humans have been establishing "home" conditions, protected from predators, for a VERY long time. Human infants are more vulnerable, for far longer, than any other species' young because of our crazy brain development stuff. But when that kicked in, we also had smarter adults to set up protections.

And sometimes, babies cry. Yes, the kind of distant, essentially neglectful parenting the column mentions is all bad. Babies need to be held, they often need to be comforted, and so on. But babies cannot be prevented from ever crying.

I adore babies. The probable reason I got sick this time around, initally - although the total collapse of my body appears to be centrally based on my cold kicking off a serious asthmatic meltdown, and I have a raft of new inhalers to prove it - is because a couple of weeks ago, I spent an entire day, pretty much, cuddling a baby I know because he had a cold, and he was miserable, and when he was awake, he wanted to be being held, because it made him feel better. (Understandably, really.)

It was my day to visit my friend and her two young sons, and babysit the boys so she could run errands and things. That day I spent extra time there, hanging out on the couch, snuggling with the baby so his mother could get some things done while she had two hands available. (When I arrived, I was instantly asked if I wanted to hold the baby, in a not-really-asking tone, because she was giving his older brother breakfast, and had not had a free hand yet to eat her own.)

Despite the week and a half I've been super-miserably sick, including stuffing up my head so badly I've got persistent vertigo and suchlike, I still have no regrets, because: I spent the whole day snuggling with the baby, and I even made him smile, when he was mostly just miserable otherwise. I love babies in general, I love him in particular, and it was just worth it. (Plus, eh, it's early winter, there's a cold going around, even if I'd managed to weather [personal profile] velithya having a cold without getting sick myself, it was only a matter of time. Could have done without my lungs shutting down though.)

Anyway, I establish my baby-loving credentials to point out that it is no dislike for babies that leads me to say that sometimes, babies cry. One even develops a discernment of their crying when spending a lot of time with a particular baby. Sometimes, a single cry will yank at your hindbrain and you will race to comfort them with all speed. Sometimes, they will wail, and you will think: yeah, nice try, buddy, but no. (Sometimes you will think: Oh, honey, if only you could understand. Specifically, when they're getting tired, but don't realise it, and are clearly upset that this doesn't feel good, and they don't want to be put to bed until they feel better, and seem to think that any attempt to persuade them that going to sleep will in fact be what makes them feel better is an attempt at rank betrayal. It's like they've learned to recognise that "I feel bad in some way" is something that adults fix, like if they're hungry they get fed, and so on, and so they want the adults to fix this one, without having made the connection that sleep is what fixes being tired, and the adults putting them to bed are in fact trying to do exactly that.)

The first three months of my life, I cried. I screamed. I had well-developed lungs and an underdeveloped digestive system, and I just screamed, for hours, non-stop. My parents tried everything to comfort me, and they couldn't, because I was in pain, pain that they couldn't fix. No-one could.

It's not impossible this damaged my brain in all the ways the article says, and contributed to the degree to which my brain is, these days, broken and malfunctioning, but I kind of get raised hackles at the implication that this was in any way a failure on behalf of my parents. My parents weren't perfect at parenting, no-one is, but I am damned sure that if they could have helped me in any way, they would have done it. Letting me cry was something they had no choice about doing, until, at three months, I suddenly stopped. (Apparently that was really, really disconcerting.)

The baby I was snuggling the other week is sometimes allowed to cry. He doesn't do it much, in my experience; far less than his older brother, who would wake up, cry for a couple of minutes, and go back to sleep, during naps - but not go back to sleep if you picked him up, or anything like that. (Except the first time I babysat him, when the treacherous little ratbag went back to sleep about two minutes before his mother came back for him, like he wanted to pretend he'd been asleep all the time. ADULTS HAVE VERBAL SKILLS, kid, I told her what you done.) This doesn't seem to have affected either boy's bond to their mother; they're trusting, joyful kids, they're kind of amazing. Because when they cry for a reason that needs attending, she attends to it. If the baby wanted to be held non-stop, all the time, he'd have to get over that, and he might cry, and that, I think, would be okay. But he can have being held all the time when he's sick, because being sick sucks.

At the end of the article, the author mentions her own history with emotionally distant parents. I think sometimes people overcompensate for ways in which they were parented badly, and develop conclusions based around ideas that the behaviour that their parents over-did must never be done at all, and sometimes that's right, but often, no, in small doses that may be a good thing.

Children May. 13th, 2012 @ 07:47 am
I just came across this blog post talking about why it's unfair to call kids "shy" as easily as people do.

Mostly I agree with it, with a small caveat: I don't quite agree with this paragraph:

That said, in most cases we should have a choice about being touched. Instead of siding with the “stranger” and urging little Billy to “say, ‘Hi’” or “hug Uncle Louis,” it would probably be more productive to let their relationship develop at its own pace. Uncle Louis is a grown-up, he’s just going to have to accept it when you instead say something like, “Billy will say ‘Hi’ later,” or “He’s not ready for hugs.”

See, once a child is old enough for independent movement, whether little Billy hugs Uncle Louis is totally his call. However, urging little Billy to say hello is teaching little Billy the rules of social society, and humans are social creatures. Say hi, kid, it won't kill you.

The author does ascribe a little more damage-infliction to the "shy" label than I would, but I've never suffered from being labelled shy, so I'm not going to say that it's unwarranted. I was a friendly child, and I didn't really have a problem talking to adults. (I don't remember being encouraged to physical affection with adults I didn't know, but then, my family are first-generation immigrants, so I didn't have a lot of contact with unfamiliar family members.)

The toddler I babysit is old enough to answer when you ask him if he wants a cuddle, so he gets to decide that now. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn't. His decision. But he doesn't get to decide everything, because he's a toddler, and the biggest thing he has to be doing right now is learning.

I love the little rugrat no end. I realised how much I truly, truly love him on Friday. I'd been giving him and his little brother a bath. I'd washed the toddler, let him play with his bath toys at the other end while I washed the baby, and then had dried off the baby and was letting the toddler play some more.

I was sitting next to the tub, and had turned my eyes away from the toddler to check on his brother. I glanced back, and realised that suddenly the water was full of poo. He'd pooped in the bath. (For the first time in his life. Because I swear, these kids have started coming up with new and exciting poo-related adventures for my babysitting visits.)

I freaked out, very slightly, which manifested as yanking him out of the water, and telling him very, very firmly do not move, not one step, stay right there as I dashed out and fetched wet-wipes with which to wipe down his legs, and a nappy to put him in. Nap-time was nominally next.

I came back and he was frozen in place, looking mystified about what Sami was doing, since normally when I bathe him I towel him off then dress him with no drama such as this.

Anyway, after a fair whack of drama, I had his brother ensconced in safety while I put the toddler to bed, and took the toddler to his room to get him tucked away. I was kind of exhausted, and grossed out, and did not feel like smiling.

But here I had the toddler, gazing at me trustingly, despite the fact that for a good ten minutes I'd been being stern and bossy. "Stay right there. Don't go in there. Come here. Hold still." And he was still just going with it as I went to, "It's nap time."

I felt like I needed crowbars to force the smile onto my face, but I got it there. "I love you very much," I told him sincerely, and gave him overdramatic mwah! mwah! kisses on both cheeks till he was smiling and giggling. "Okay, time for bed."

I put him in his cot, smiling with less effort, and gave him his sleep-companion-toy. "Sleep well, darling. I love you."

I closed the door.

I leaned on it for a second, eyes closed, and let the sentence finish itself only in my head: I love you, but I'm sick of you, so I'm really, really glad it's time for you to sleep for a while.

You can love someone and still really need a break from them so very, very hard.

I blame [personal profile] velithya for this Apr. 29th, 2012 @ 01:31 pm
(because they're her nephews, and I bet she TRAINED them to do this)

So. Today I am babysitting, aged 6 months and ~21 months. I fed them both lunch, and then, a few minutes ago, it was time for their naps.

Whereupon, when I went to change their nappies, I discovered that BOTH of them had undertaken poosplosions.


I am exhausted, and I still need to clean up where the little one threw up while I was putting the bigger one to bed.

(I'm glad I have Babysitting Paranoia. The little one isn't quite able to roll back-to-front yet, and I left him on his back on a sort of play mat thing. Notably, I had previously had this mat on the table, next to where I was sitting using my laptop, but when I went to put his brother to bed, I moved the mat and baby to the floor. Sure enough, when I got back from tucking his brother in - which took quite a bit longer than expected, due to the poosplosion - he'd managed to wriggle quite some distance towards the edge, despite not really moving earlier. TOUGH SHIT, KID, YOU CAN'T FALL OFF THE FLOOR NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU'RE TRYING TO MAKE ME FEEL LIKE THE WORLD'S WORST BABYSITTER.)

Also, what with changing and dressing both boys again, and all the poo, and whatnot, in the last half hour I have washed my hands often enough that it feels like I don't have fingerprints any more.

Current Location: poosplosion ground zero
Current Mood: exhausted

Pencils, Children (not related) Aug. 9th, 2011 @ 09:42 am
My new pencils finally arrived! Staedtler Mars Lumographs - a tin set of 12 (one in each grade from 8B to 2H) plus a 4H and a 6H. Because :EU: the entire back of the tin is taken up with the label of:
Soft pencils of premium quality for professional sketches and drawings. The finely graded degrees from (8B to 2H) generate diverse effects with varying contrasts and effective shading.
Mars Lumograph pencils are especially break-resistant, easy to sharpen and erase. Mars Lumograph pencils are available in 16 degrees, ranging from particularly soft (8B) to very hard (6H), obtainable as a set or individually.

In really quite small font, you understand - it's just printed in German, English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon I babysat for a one-year-old boy. And I found myself doing something I'd never had to do before, in all my time spent supervising small children, and which I felt weirdly conflicted about.

I babysit J. regularly, and he and I get on very well. He seems very fond of me, and I adore him utterly. It has reached the point of familiarity where in a range of circumstances I am utterly unmoved by him crying, but I'm not conflicted about that.

To explain why, I shall give you an example set of events:
Babies and crying and why sometimes loving guardians don't care. )

Anyway, yesterday, he was supposed to have a nap. He doesn't like afternoon naps, a lot of the time (and may be transitioned shortly to just "afternoon quiet time", supplied with a toy, but he really needs to rest and chill a bit or he becomes a somewhat unhappy baby for the rest of the day anyway). Yesterday afternoon, he spent the entire period he was supposed to be napping grizzling, except when he decided to escalate grizzling to crying to a full-blown tantrum. He worked himself up into such a state that he cried so hard he choked, and then was hyperventilating.

Obviously, that's not something I ignore; I ran to his cot, scooped him up, and soothed him until he was calm. But I did it sitting next to the cot, in his father's computer chair (for complicated, but *extremely valid*, reasons, J. is currently sleeping in his portacot, set up in what was, until recently, his parents' study, rather than his bedroom). It was actually time for him to be allowed to get up, and not be in the hated-only-in-the-afternoon cot.

... And then I put him back in, and left him there for another fifteen or twenty minutes. (During which he was relatively quiet. I think he may even have slept, although briefly.)

I knew he didn't want to be there, and in theory, he didn't have to be, any more. But I couldn't let him out, then - he'd just thrown a baby tantrum, and I couldn't let him think that that was what got him what he wanted. The only thing giving in to a tantrum does is generate more tantrums, because the kid then knows that it works. As a friend to his parents, I can't teach him that lesson - and hell, as his regular babysitter, I don't want him to throw tantrums at me when he wants something I've refused him.

But I felt really bad about it. This is what children do. They make you feel guilty for looking after their long-term interests when it conflicts with their immediate wants. Children are evil.

I have a video I took yesterday on my phone that kind of hilariously demonstrates this: it starts with J. halfway across the room. He looks towards me, his face lights up, and he charges towards me, crawling at speed, clambers up my legs, and, giggling, appears to attack. It's adorable, but if you imagine that a child is some kind of deadly monster, it could be terrifying.

(J.'s personal evil was clearly demonstrated the first time I ever babysat him, when he was a few weeks old. His mother dropped him off at our place so she could go to an appointment. In theory, he was supposed to sleep the whole time. In practice, he woke up literally seconds after she left. I spent about an hour and a half trying to get him back to sleep; he went back to sleep five minutes before she came back to collect him. He was totally trying to pretend he'd been an angel baby, sleeping soundly the whole time; I was having none of that, and told his mother *exactly* how much he hadn't slept. (Because mothers of newborns need to know that kind of information.))
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dear USB ports: I hate you Dec. 15th, 2010 @ 07:45 am
So, my current laptop has three USB ports. 1 (front left; is a USB 3.0 port), 2 (back right), 3 (front right). (2 and 3 are USB 2.0.)

For no apparent reason, ports 1 and 2 stopped working. Anything plugged into them got USB power but the computer didn't recognise them as devices. (Tested with my mouse and a pocket hard drive.)

I've managed to fix port 1, by reinstalling the USB 3 drivers, but the others are proving more challenging.

Then I had to leave it for a bit, because I was going out, to the house of friends who are moving. I'm now writing this at their place. They're shifting stuff to the new place this morning; I'm supervising their infant son so they don't have to to try and juggle a four-month-old baby while they do their stuff-shifting.

I have, in this process, realised something about just how much I pretend to be a grownup.

While they were getting ready to leave, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop. (Baby is currently asleep.)

The instant they left, I moved to sit cross-legged on the floor instead, with my computer on the coffee table in front of me.

My non-grownupness is such that I STILL haven't adjusted to sitting in a proper chair. I find them just too boring.

... meanwhile, if this were Supernatural, I would be about to die horribly (although the baby would be fine, even if his cot ended up stained with my blood). The house is silent, and there's a weird noise coming from the ceiling.

This being reality, I'm pretty sure it's a possum or something in the roof, but in case I'm wrong: whoever finds my corpse and looks at my open laptop to find what happened, IT WAS IN THE CEILING.

Meanwhile again, in "that's going to be disconcerting" news: Heard a crying baby. Thought it sounded distant and not quite like baby J's cry, but went to check anyway; baby I'm supervising is fast asleep. Crying baby is presumably next door.

I am sitting here listening out for crying babies. Having the wrong baby cry is messing with my head, I feel like I should be checking on him even though I know he's fine and fast asleep and gah...
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