Saturday, April 24, 2010

Great-grandma Jones

Every young family needs a Great-grandma Jones. Dad U's Grandma-in-law was at least 75 yrs old (and our first child was still very much a figment of our imagination), when she offered the single most practically useful tip for babies (ie 3-12 months) Dad U has ever heard. Great-grandma was the sort of lady who had grown up in a small hick town in the middle of nowhere, the most important feature of which were train lines to somewhere else, yet was an adventurer at heart, traveling the world with Great-grandpa as empty-nesters. Back in those days you had to first get on a boat, stay on that boat for quite some time, then an indeterminate amount of time later you would end up on a camel somewhere. She had volumes of photo albums to prove her claim to "I've been everywhere man" status and was full of tips for the dusty traveler. As young-marrieds about to embark on a world-spanning adventure of our own, Great-grandma called us to a generational passing of the Spirit of Discovery, a virtual baton, and offered numerous pearls of wisdom. Dad U still rolls his gear up to prevent creasing and maximize packing density in honor of that day. Of the three great insights shared, the first was high efficiency suitcase packing methodologies as described, the second was female-specific and won't be repeated here, but the third was one of the great secrets of the universe: HOW TO KEEP A BABY HAPPY.
Wow, what a moment. Part of me quivered in expectation, another scoffed that such knowledge did not exist, while finally another cautioned that only time would tell. Well, as far as Dad U could ascertain through rigorous testing on four of her great-grandchildren, Great-grandma Jones was absolutely right:

"Give them something for each hand."

This works folks. Babies are working their fingers and toes constantly. They can grasp and hold ridiculously early (within weeks of birth it seems). Having something in each hand keeps them busy, settles their frustration, gives them something to gnaw, and buys you whole blocks of time to try to remember what it was you were supposed to be doing (ED: how to keep parents happy?). If they only have something for one hand, they often just end up wrestling with it, passing it between each paw, banging it against something, or getting as frustrated as they were without it in the first place.

Note that you don't want to employ this tip until they have enough control over their arms so that they don't automatically bang whatever they are clutching into their forehead (hence the ~3 month minimum). 

Dad U
-seek generational wisdom

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