Because I would definitely say that for the record, Owen is not one. He was on and off colicky his first five or so months, and although we did get past that phase, in general Owen’s default mode is grumpy. Sure he has a great laugh which he displays often, as well as a smile that he will show if we work for it. But he always seems to return to curmudgeon, whereas I keep hoping that he will discover pleasant.
Of course we have learned to work with his moods—we know, for example, to do any kind of activity on the nearside of a nap and not the farside. We’ve learned that he can be reset with a walk, and with music, be it live or recorded. The Bugaboo usually works, too, even if it’s the middle of the night, so one’s stroll is around the dining room table. But there are still times when even though we have all been living together for ten plus months now, Owen will throw us for a loop and we’ll feel like we just brought him home from the hospital and barely know which end to diaper and which end to feed.
Take yesterday, for example. Owen was taking a nice, normal afternoon nap, and all of a sudden woke up screaming his pain cry. I went upstairs to get him and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except that he could not be consoled. We tried food, we tried entertainment, we tried baby Tylenol, and nothing worked—he continued to cry and arch his back and escalate his tantrum at each thing we tried to do to end it.
After two hours of this, Sean finally strapped on the Baby Bjorn and took Owen out for a walk in the rain, and although he fully expected to walk down the streets with Owen screaming his head off, Owen immediately got quiet and enjoyed the walk. And then came home happy.
Meanwhile we still have no idea what was bothering him in the first place—teething? Intestinal gas? Existential angst?
Basically, I like to be good at things and it is frustrating to have to take a touch and go approach to something that seems so important to get right. I’m beginning to think that people go on to have a second child just so they can erase images of their own ineptitude and replace them with recognition and skill – ah, the middle of the night crying jag, for example, I remember how to solve this! The diaper blow-out, I can do that one-handed! Etc.
I am exaggerating a bit—there’s plenty that we both do well and do naturally, and there are also many ways in which we do have it easy with Owen. But in the meantime, Sean keeps adding to the list of chores Owen is going to have to do when he gets older to repay us for his infant attitude. And I continue to wonder how thirty pounds of personality can be such an enigma.