Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Pie and Humble Pie

I am finally adjusting to the fall and can’t believe that Thanksgiving is already here! Ever since I can remember, my family has always had two Thanksgiving celebrations. Poor Stewart – not just one celebration with the in-laws but two! The celebrations begin tonight with my family’s annual Pre-Thanksgiving dinner hosted by my dad and my step-mother, which is now held in the city and includes all 5 of us kids, our families, my two step-brothers, and their families. Then tomorrow, Thanksgiving afternoon, we go to my brother David’s house in New Jersey to celebrate with my mom’s side of the family. This is an even bigger celebration; besides the immediately family, extended family and all of their relatives join in -- around 40 people in all. On top of the two celebrations with my family, Stewart, Max, and I are then going to Stewart’s sister’s house (which is near my brother’s) in the early evening to celebrate with his immediate family: his parents, sister, brother, and their families. We consider ourselves very fortunate that our families live relatively close to us and very close to one another.
Max gets a head start on the holiday
Tonight’s Thanksgiving-Eve dinner features a thoughtful and contemplative tradition that my step-mother Ellen introduced, in which everybody around the table states what they are thankful for each year. Naturally, I give some thought to this question -- unlike, say, some of my teenage nephews who manage to get away with being thankful each year for the Devils, Jets, or Yankees. At least that’s better than one particular nephew, who is forever thankful for the Red Sox -- to this New Yorker’s ears that is just plain wrong! I’d be a little more forgiving if they mentioned my teams – the football Giants and the Mets.
But I digress. This year I obviously have so much to be thankful for. Not only am I thankful for Stewart and Max, but for Christie and her family as well. Last Thanksgiving-Eve, Stewart and I shared that we were thankful for Christie and that she was carrying Max in utero safe and sound. This year we’re thankful that after Max’s birth she has remained, and will remain, such an important person in our lives. If you have read Christie’s candid and witty post you will understand what I am talking about, and if you haven’t read it, I advise you to do so now.

As our first Thanksgiving dinner fast approaches, I have begun to ponder the other things that I am thankful for. Since becoming a parent I have definitely had my share of disastrous days. However, I am grateful that lately they have been seldom. This might be because I have learned from some of my mistakes. While practice might not make perfect, I have had more time at this thing called “parenting” to smooth over the rough edges. But more likely, this seeming improvement is due to the fact that my definition of what a “disastrous day” is has changed over the last few months. Many things can go wrong in a day parenting Max and the day can still be considered a good one. For example, any day that witnesses multiple massive spit-ups from my son can’t constitute a disastrous day, or every day would count as disastrous! Why can I look past his daily, multi-colored vomits on my best clothing? Mostly because I have entered an official love affair period with Max. As the books say, I am experiencing a tight bond with Max at this 6 month period because he finally gives me what I call the two R’s -- Reaction and Recognition. In short, he is all smiles these days, and that’s all I need.

Notice, however, that I said that disastrous days with Max have become “seldom” -- not non-existent. They do still exist to be sure. The last truly disastrous day that comes to mind occurred about a month ago. It was the first cold day of the fall, and somewhat unexpected at that. I had ventured out of the apartment to bring Max to “story time” for 0 -18 month-olds at a bookstore in an NYC neighborhood called Nolita. This was the first public kids event that Max and I were attending. We were both underdressed for the cold windy day. As I strolled Max to the “story time”, it seemed like every other baby we passed had on a winter hat, was in a muff and had a plastic shield drawn down on his or her stroller. I even saw kids wearing mittens! I called Stewart from the street and said we have to buy Max a muff, some booties, some mittens and a winter hat. We had received a muff as a gift, but since Max is a huge kid for his age, it was too small and we had to return it. And while we planned to buy Max a new, larger, one, we hadn’t yet since we never dreamed we’d have to use it as early as October!

But despite my worry, we made it to the bookstore for story time without incident, and I thought I had dodged a bullet. Not so fast! The event was already packed when we arrived, but luckily one mom said I could have the seat she was saving for her husband because he wasn’t there yet. As we started to get going -- maybe we were on the second or third baby book being read -- I started to smell a big poop. I looked around my immediate circle, praying that the offender was someone else’s precious baby; but, of course, it became obvious that the big pooper was Max. I promptly made my way to the bookstore’s sole bathroom to change Max’s diaper, but not surprisingly with this audience, there was a big line. When I finally got inside, I discovered that Max had not only pooped, but had pooped through his diaper onto his clothes -- poop seemed to be everywhere! Despite that, I plowed ahead, and at first was very impressed with my speedy change of diaper and clean up job. Then I looked at his socks. They had been white socks when I dressed Max that morning. Now they were an odorous brown and there was simply no way of salvaging them.
I had no idea what to do. I had a change of clothes for Max in my diaper bag, but no socks. All summer long I had an extra pair of socks for him, but for some reason on the coldest day of Max’s existence so far I did not have an extra pair of socks for him. Just great, I thought, how am I going to stroll Max home in the cold from Nolita to the East Village – easily a 15 minute walk – with him barefoot. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t Max’s poor feet I was so worried about, but the thought of how many mothers we would pass by along the way that were going to yell at me! As you know if you follow this blog, there’s nothing I hate more than perpetuating the “clueless dad” stereotype. To make matters worse, there wasn’t a baby store in sight that I could simply run into to buy a stop-gap pair of socks.

Luckily, as I led Max back into the story time group, I saw two moms that happen to attend the same new parents play group that I do. I made a bee-line for them and explained the situation. While neither of them had an extra pair of socks on them (which I must admit in a way made me feel vindicated!) one of them had a pair of baby foot muffs in her bag. So she literally exchanged the socks on her kid’s feet for the foot muffs and gave me the socks so that Max could wear them home, which was really sweet. As I was putting the socks on Max, I breathed a sigh of relief that I was going to get out of this whole situation discreetly. Unfortunately, some other woman nearby said very loudly: “I overheard your conversation about your crazy ordeal in the bathroom” -- and all of the sudden the ten women around her all turned their eyes on me expectantly, waiting for me to explain! And so I did explain to them the whole story. Clearly this seemed like a more interesting story to them then sitting through “The Wheels on the Bus” for the umpteenth time!
If my worst disastrous day is pooped stain socks and a little embarrassment, I do indeed have a lot to be thankful for this year. All of us parents do. So have a happy Thanksgiving, whether you’re celebrating just once like a normal family, or three times like us!


  1. happy thanksgiving to you're very lucky to have a close family around you both and your baby.

    Funny poop story...and it won't be your last one either! Small kids and poop stories go so well together! Wait until the accidental bath one!

    I remember with my last daughter when her dad was bathing her and shouted from upstairs "ooh..she's poop in the bath!" and I said calmly, so? (remember I had had 2 other kids by this time) he said,"what shall I do?" I said take her out and clean it up. :)

    And isn't it a sigh of relief to realise that other parents aren't as organise either?

  2. Yes, it is a big sigh of relief to realize that other parents also don't have their stuff together.

  3. SAHD since 2006. My son is also named Max. Dude this is going to be the coolest job you ever had. The talking/Walking thing is amazing. The only sad part about being a SAHD is they grow up so fast. People will tell you that alot' and you'll be to busy to belief them, trust me it's true. Enjoy this rare gift. My Max will be going to kindergarden next year.