Curmudgeonly Monday

It is one thing to see and visit with and make goo-goo eyes at your 9-month-old grandson when his mom is healthy and you can hand him back at those times when, as the patriarch of the great Thiel tribe, you suddenly find something else that needs doing and can say, “Oh, by the way, I think he might smell a little bit.” It is a different thing having to actually take care of the said child with odors. Actually, I am quite capable of dealing with it and have self-taught a refresher course on the tricks of the trade. After all, I have had 4 children for whom I have changed diapers (nappies, for my readers across the pond), as well as a number of grandchildren for who I have provided this service. As a matter of fact, I can remember helping my mom change my little brothers’ cloth diapers and watching her rinse them out in the toilet bowl. When a baby is crying I still, even though it often elicits blank stares these days, say, “Check to see if a pin is poking him.” I went to the store with my dad one time to buy baby supplies. The unsuspecting cashier told him, “That’s $4.95 plus tax.” “Oh, we don’t need tacks. That’s what the pins are for.”

Anyway, I have to say that my teenage grandson is very, very helpful and together we have managed several potentially lethal situations with ease. We are mighty, manly men who are not afraid of a little, er, infantile defecation. Not that either of us loves to do it. Is there anyone out there that really enjoys changing poopy nappies (Now there’s a phrase that’s got to go viral, “poopy nappies,” thank me.)? But, being the patriarch and elder statesman of the tribe, I can, under normal circumstances, avoid the chore altogether. And really, that is not my most masterful work anyway. The thing I am really good at is, as longtime readers are sometimes wont to say, being boring.

Whenever there has been a sleepless or restless child, or a child that needs to be consoled, or a child who needs to go to bed because it’s bedtime, they are given to me. I hold them and gently bounce them and say “sh-sh” to them and when I sit in my chair, they know they are done for. It’s a ritual that they recognize and it starts to work right away. I quietly sing to them. Babies don’t care if you can carry a tune in a bushel basket, they just like the singing or humming. I have little individualized songs for all of them that I sing based on their names and personalities, along with Jesus Loves The Little Children and Jesus Loves Me. In Alex’s case, I also include Alexander’s Ragtime Band, oh, my honey-lamb. It only works up to a certain age, though.

Rituals are important, though, especially with kids and you can divert some problems by incorporating them. I think that’s true for almost anyone, really. Just think about how your whole day is thrown off if your morning routine is thrown off. Someone forgot to say they used the last of the milk or someone has changed the setting on the toaster, or, that most vile and evil event, the coffee pot is broken. We are, for the most part, incorrigible creatures of habit. Now, habits are easier to make than they are to break, so I learned early on in fatherhood that you don’t want a baby to get used to falling asleep by your walking around with them or you will be walking them to sleep all the time.

I had always heard that it takes twenty-one days to create a new habit and a ninety second search on the internet seemed to confirm that it requires 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to make it a lifestyle change. It seems to have been true with posting to my blog every day. But every article I scanned ( remember, I researched this for like a whole minute and a half) seemed to have an awful lot of caveats attached. Individual results varied greatly.

Well, duh! I could have told them that. One person pointed out that if you ordered a doughnut with your coffee on Monday and Tuesday, it would be difficult to decline one on Wednesday and suddenly you have a habit. But, if you want to try to start running for 15 minutes a day, it seems almost impossible (Following the hard work and adventures of Mr. Proclaims over at James Proclaims has shown me this), especially at first. It’s because our human nature betrays us. We like to eat donuts but we don’t really like to work them off.

For me and the blog here it was a combination of things. I had good friends and readers at the time who encouraged me to write (and have since picked up more) and my vanity was challenged by the guy who had blogged every day for 11 years.


  1. Had the pleasure of reuniting with a baby yesterday I hadn’t seen in three months. She’s a year old now. She was still working on standing last time I saw her. Now she’s walking! I guess it took some encouraging and feeling secure, though, because the report I got when I arrived was that she wasn’t really doing much of that. Glad to help out.

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