"More than freedom to explore newborns need security. They need tight boundaries, like they enjoyed in the uterus, to keep from flailing and getting upset." (Dr. Karp "The Happiest Baby")
This morning I experienced the most intense teeth cleaning I have ever experienced and I did so sleep deprived wearing dry baby puke on my shoulder. The dental hygienist who scraped me clean was a smart African American lady. The kind of medical professional who seems to be a combination of Jackie-Joyner-Kersey and Maya Angelou. An Olympic-level technician with the spirit of a wise Earth mother.
I apologized for showing up late to the office and said that we have a new-born at home which has made my mornings a little rough and she responded by pointing out the baby puke.
"I figured you were a new Dad. The baby puke is in the right spot. Up high on the shoulder. Been there, it's all good."And then she broke out some sort of hydro-sonic scraper mechanism and blasted away at my plaque.
Self-care doesn't come easy to me so I appreciated my earth-mother's humor while she applied her surgical efficiency.
"Boy this music the doctor plays is something. You got some 'Dusties' that I don't know what to do with. (Barry White comes on) But then you got this and I can go, 'okay'. Now I am going to use a tool that squirts cold water while it drills away at your plaque. It cleans better. It will get loud by your back teeth because of your ear canal. And you'll get a hint of mouth-wash. I always use a little mouth-wash in my cleaning. And don't worry about the baby puke. You got yourself a Father's Day story now."Tomorrow will be my first Father's Day as a Father. I always thought this Hallmark Holiday would be one I enjoyed second person removed as a son or admiring uncle but life changes and I now am a Dad. I couldn't be happier.
A surprise to me in the parenting process is the appearance of instinct when my boy has irrational needs. I find myself making up songs while changing his diaper and holding him close when gas attacks. I don't mind his temper or his biology and pride myself on my swaddling technique.
Swaddling is a necessary comfort for an infant whose concept of the world has gone from closed-loop-placenta-driven to infinite-spaces and adaptation. It affords a baby the illusion of self-care they enjoyed while swimming in amniotic warmth while coming to grips with the wide world they now inhabit.
When my cleaning was done, the dentist came into the office and apologized for making me wait. He had a dental emergency that morning, someone had broken a tooth, and therefore put me in the capable and thorough hands of his number 2. They took one last look at my teeth and commended me for a boring set of choppers.
"Boring is good. You don't want to experience 'interesting dental work'."My earth-mother-technician slipped me a bag with some floss, tooth-paste and a new tooth-brush and reassured me that the baby puke was a badge of honor. The dentist agreed and told me my nights would get easier. They both suggested however that I embrace these days driven by instinct because soon my son will be grown. They both had teenage children who, "seemed like 4-years-old two months ago."
I left feeling good that I enjoy such kind folks.
We had a storm here in Chicago last night. One of those Wizard of Oz Midwestern gales that make you glad you don't live in a tent or make a living as a tight-rope walker. Walking home I watched a boy about 4-years-old race ahead of his mom picking up broken limbs from the storm-tossed trees.
I looked forward to swaddling my son and singing him songs and sharing the instincts of self-care.