The windows are cracked, allowing air to woosh into the car and make our ears pop uncomfortably. Frantically Austin flips through the iPod, finally settling on something with loud drums and a pronounced bass line-this time it's Alien Ant Farm... My high school self is somewhere very far away rocking out... My arm is bent backwards, shaking a plush, primary colored toy and Austin is 'shushing' at the top of his lungs... But let's back up a bit.
We never thought we'd be 'those parents.' You've seen them- hair unbrushed, babbling nonsense as they rush through the grocery store with a ginormous car seat perched precariously on the handle. Their little bundle of joy screaming at the top of his/her lungs as mom and dad perform a ritual of shaking/dancing/singing/speaking jibberish despite the many onlookers. Or perhaps you've seen them at your favorite local eatery- mom valiantly trying to rock darling baby and eat with one hand while dad- who has developed several nervous ticks whenever a baby starts to cry- has scarfed down his food so quickly he's forgotten what he ordered.
Yeah, we thought we'd never be those parents. No cheesy nursery rhymes for our kid- we'd start Corbin out on good classical music and Ben Folds and Dave Brubeck. Our easy-going lifestyle would naturally be passed down to our offspring- and we would have a the perfect public baby and enjoy movies and farmers markets and car rides anywhere we wanted to go. As long as we fed him every few hours, we could do everything we did B.C. (before Corbin).
Fast forward to real life and real time and we've learned a few important parenting lessons.
Lesson one: Your baby is his own person- with his own agenda. You either go with it or fight against it. Our first two weeks with Corbin, we thought we had the best car-riding baby ever to be born. We'd strap him into that big ol' carseat and he'd be out cold within seconds. We could run any errand we ever wanted, toting him around like a stuffed doll. Then at three weeks, Corbin woke up. We had been battling a bad case of jaundice and once our little guy finally started filling his tummy and spending some time actually awake, it turned out car riding was not his favorite thing. In fact, at the very sight of the car seat, Corbin's lip would begin to protrude and a pitiful hiccuping cough would soon follow and then meltdown! Tears! Screams! And then Corbin would cry too. He also pulled similar stunts whenever Mr. Incredible and I attempted a family dinner out on the town. Corbin would happily entertain himself until our food arrived and then BAM! Tears, screams, terror. I learned Parenting Lesson #1 most thoroughly when I attempted to run a bunch of shopping errands during his first growth spurt. I had very firmly planted in my brain that he only needed to eat every three hours. I fed him and headed out the door with plenty of time for a (admittedly horrible) car ride and some shopping. Until an hour later when he was inconsolable until he was fed again. And then another hour and a half later and it was the same case. I tried everything to persuade him that he wasn't really hungry- rocking/patting/swaying to presenting a thoroughly drafted argument with sharp witticism and a convincing closing argument- but it did. not. matter. He was hungry and he was going to eat or make my life miserable. It didn't matter that I had a shopping cart full or groceries. So for the next few days we stayed close to home... and spent a lot of time on the couch. One point for Corbin.
But the baby can't be the absolute controller or your life (and the lives of everyone around you). So there are times when you have to fight his agenda. Which leads to Lesson two: You gotta do what you gotta do. Or Do Whatever Works. If you spend enough time around a particular infant, you discover the little tricks that 'turn off' the cry... at least most of the time. For us right now, its a certain swing that plays horrible MIDI file classical music renditions (I swear Bizet, Bach, and Schumann turn over in their graves every time the three minute version of their masterpieces come up... but for some reason I don't think Pachelbel would mind so much...). We've also learned that 'flying' Corbin around like Super Man and singing works too. Ahh- singing, my chance to redeem Corbin's ears for 'good music' you would think. But what song do I inevitable get stuck singing, over and over again when he starts to scream? "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra. Which sounds kind of cool except that I can only remember the first few lines and then the last few lines of the chorus so he's getting some kind of Sinatra-hybrid ditty involving whatever words I happen to string together or whatever objects I notice around the room that Corbin is currently flying through ("Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars. In other words, what's for dinner? In other words, I need to vacuum....) But I digress. The point is we do whatever works. If that means playing Alien Ant Farm on the radio with the windows down so the baby is distracted from his scream-fest, then we do it. And smile and wave at the high school kids staring suspiciously at us from the next car over. One point for the parents.
Which brings us to Lesson three: you are going to look and act like a crazy person. Yep. Being a parent means you are that crazy person listening to out-dated music and performing car acrobatics to wave at your baby. You are that person singing Frank Sinatra (or something like that) at the grocery store while you frantically get the milk and eggs and bread and get. out. of. there. Mr. Incredible and I drove the little guy home last night and purposely steered for every bump, manhole cover, and uneven pavement in the road. Because Corbin likes bumps and we like quiet in the car and we're willing to risk looking a little inebriated behind the wheel. We regularly look like crazy people... and its all because of this guy:
And somehow, seeing this guy makes it all ok. Craziness and bad music included. I'm sure there are many more parenting lessons to reflect on but I think Corbin's starting to stir and I feel another rendition of 'Fly Me to the Moon' coming on!