One Down

The Squirrelly is one year old today. So says the calendar, at any rate. If I had to guestimate how long I’ve been father, based on how quickly/slowly time has flown/crawled by since Birthday #0, I’d reckon about ((F-5) + ((S*3) / (W2 – A)) – C) months, where F is my current frustration level on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 0 as “child asleep” and 10 as “in the middle of trying to change diaper while child simulates a paint shaker”), S = my current sleep debt (in hours), W = number of times in the past four weeks the kid has successfully prevented The Queen and I from wrasslin’ by employing one of his many Sibling Prevention Techniques, A = number of alcoholic beverages I’ve consumed prior to contemplating the question, and C = his cuteness constant of 210.

Recently The Squirrelly has begun taking steps. He will stand up and take a tottering lurch toward something before giving up, resuming his quadrapedic lifestyle, and crawling to his destination in a flash. Grandpa Baldwin thinks that he will start walking-for-real by the end of the month, but, if he’s anything like his father, that might be overly optimistic. I can hunt-and-peck about 70 words a minute, and although I have tried to switch to touch-typing countless times over the last 15 years, I inevitably get frustrated in mid-email and revert to my two-fingers method. Given the speed at which The Squirrelly can crawl and the genetic material he carries, he may be crawling up to receive his diploma at 18.

Still, he’s a little ahead of the game, locomotion-wise. But he appears to be behind the curve in the language department. Other kids his age have said their first words, or, at the very least, wave bye-bye with a little prompting. The Squirrelly, meanwhile, has given no indication that he will be conjugating verbs anytime soon. Apparently this is normal: at one year of age there are walkers, and there are talkers, but there are very few walkie-talkies. Given a choice we would have opted for a kid who could charmingly exclaim “duck!” rather than one who can wander into the laundry room and eat “Tide” straight from the box, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that our desires and The Squirrelly’s development belong to mutually exclusive sets. We wanted a kid who could clean gutters by now, for instance, and that hasn’t panned out.

But he’s healthy and super-fun and completely normal. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this latter fact, because, like all parents, we are constantly (and often subconsciously) comparing our child’s development with that of his peers and fretting about any differences, real or imagined. It doesn’t help that most parenting books focus almost exclusively on Things That Can Go Terribly, Terribly Wrong. That’s why I’m going to write a book for new parents called Your Child Is Completely Normal, to serve as a counterweight to the “guides” that trade in wanton fearmongering. My book will read like this:

All the books we’re read say that infants will roll over by themselves by week 14 but our baby is 14 weeks, four days old and still can’t do it! Should we be concerned?

Your child is completely normal.

Our baby used to make eye contact with us all the time, but now he won’t ever look at us when we speak to him. Is he becoming antisocial?

Your child is completely normal.

Junior is only four months old, but he already says sentences, like “get out!” and “Captain Howdie says no!” Also, he floats above the bed and can rotate his head 360 degrees. Is this unusual?

Your child is completely normal.

As Telly Savalas as my witness, I think this would be a best-seller.

Happy Birthday, Squirrelly — the best years are yet to come! For your mother and I, I mean. Once you figure out that gutter-cleaning thing.

* * *

39 comments.

  1. Aww, what a great story… Happy Birthday, Squirrelly!

  2. I think one of your other astute readers may have mentioned this before but the Squirrelly does bear a remarkable resemblance to Calvin from the Calvin and Hobbes comics. But it

  3. I would so recommend that book if you wrote it. My brother’s ex-wife freaked EXACTLY like that 14 week old scenario thingy.
    she took him to a doctor, looking for a specialist, blahblah…
    What did the doctor say? Uhuh. “Go home, woman. Your kid is perfectly normal”
    Or something like that.
    Congrats on surviving your first of many years with the parental units, Squirrelly!

  4. Adorable picture, as usual. ;)

  5. happy birthday!

  6. Wow, a full year of Squirrely? Where does the time go? That other famously blogged baby Leta turned 1 a couple weeks ago too. Phew! Have a happy day, Squirrely!

  7. Happy Birthday my little nephew! What a cute picture you normal little boy!

  8. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!

    All the best to the birthday boy and his parents.

  9. hbd, squirrely!

    hey dy, my son just turned one year at the end of january. I suspect your boy will be walking in no time. It seems my son just picks stuff up overnight. On day he is crawling, the next walking. One day he is thumbing through a board book, the next, typing the next great american novel.

  10. Happy Birthday, Squirrelly! And Happy Parenting Anniversary, Squirrelly’s parents!

    Agh, our first was a walkie-talkie at the tender age of 9 months. She was rather precocious, too. So rather than just jabber and toddle about she would climb on top of the refrigerator and then quote Shakespeare. You think I’m kidding. Nope, she was THAT freaky weird smart. Thank GOD the next one was a late walker and did nothing but scream. How refreshing.

  11. Hooray! Congrats to all three of you, and thanks for sharing.

  12. Happy Birthday, young man!

  13. Happy Birthday to the Squirrelly – and Congrats to Dad & the Queen for surviving their first year as parents.

    As a follow up to “Your child is completely normal”, I expect that the Squirrelly will then author “Yes, your parents are completely mental”

  14. Bonne Anneversaire! Wow, it seems like it was only a few short months ago… Oh, wait. That was when I found your site. Heh.

  15. ((F-5) + ((S*3) / (W2 – A)) – C) months … genius! My daughter is 8m old today, according to the calendar that is.

    /TJ

  16. How seriously should I be taking that equation? Because my first instinct was to work out how each factor raised or lowered subjective age, and my second was to test it.

    To wit:
    -I would have thought that higher sleep debt and Denial of Snugglebunnies would both raise subjective age, but you’ve got one divided by the other, so that missing more sex makes the kid seem younger.
    -How much sleep debt are we talking about, because it needs to be 69 hours, even with full frustration and minimal DOS, to get to 1 month. If you only owe 40 hours, that works out to -85 months. Or maybe I, with my no dependents, am just naive about how big a sleep debt can be.

  17. “Squirrelly does bear a remarkable resemblance to Calvin from the Calvin and Hobbes comics.”

    It’s funny your readers have mentioned that Squirrelly looks like Calvin. Does no one else notice the marked resemblance to Hobbes?

  18. Wow…I’m glad to hear that the habit of making like a rabbit on a spit during diaper changes is not unique to my little 7 month old guy. I can’t wait to tell my wife to put down all those baby books, our son is normal!!!

    Congrats on surviving the first year. Best of luck for many more!

  19. Your child is completely normal.

    You and your wife on the other hand….

    ;-)

    Happy Birthday to you, Squirrelly!

  20. Oh, please, please, please write that book!

    What an adorable child. Happy Birthday Squirrelly!

  21. Happy boithday, Squirrelly, and congrats on a perfectly normal child, dy! :-)

  22. Happy Birthday Squirrelly and thank you so much for bursting that bouncy ball with your daddy because every single time I get overwhelmed and upset with the experience of being a new mom I read that story over again so I remember to keep my sense of humor.

  23. Happy birthday Squirelly.
    My son, Lumpy, is also ahead of the curve in the locomotion dept. but lacks any ability to sass us back even now at the ripe old age of 17 mo. He only says “Mama” “UhOh” and “Boom.” I am sure he can also say “Daddy” but he continues to call me Mama because he thinks it’s funny.

  24. Happy B-Day squirrelly! I hope your life is nothing but happiness! Mr. Baldwin, your postings full of your uber-cute kid and funny descriptions are making me want to have a kid, so stop it! No wait, don’t… I’ll just get a vasectomy so I can continue to enjoy your website. If later on my wife asks me why I’m sterile, I’m sending her to you.

  25. Happy Birthday Squirrelly! My little girl Isa’s birthday is the 22nd too! She’s 3.

  26. 1) I would so totally have bought your book.

    2) My kid is now 7. It seems, at the same time, about 20 minutes (“You grew! When the hell did you grow!”) or about 400 years (“Well, we used to go to that restaurant… sometime in the 20th century.”) since she was one year old.

    Enjoy every minute. You’ll only remember about a third of them.

  27. I will never forget the picture of that cat trying to take a swipe at your newborn son on the changing table. Clearly Squirrely considered his options early on, and prioritized the development of his walking skills in order to establish dominance over the cat population in your home in short order.

    Happy Birthday, Squirrely!

  28. Yes my little girl’s 1st birthday is tomorrow. Check under her feet. As we have found out there seems to be little jets down there and when they start to walk off they go. Now I have never been a great socializer at parties, but now when I start a conversation with unspecified relative or friend of friend I almost never complete the thought. the little girl with jets on her feet is off to somewhere else with my Dad radar tracking her. Off I go never to really complete another thought or coversation with an adult. The best is the loud unprompted yells of gregariousness that leads me to wonder about her future. . .

    Yes my child is completely normal.

  29. Yes my little girl’s 1st birthday is tomorrow. Check under her feet. As we have found out there seems to be little jets down there and when they start to walk off they go. Now I have never been a great socializer at parties, but now when I start a conversation with unspecified relative or friend of friend I almost never complete the thought. the little girl with jets on her feet is off to somewhere else with my Dad radar tracking her. Off I go never to really complete another thought or coversation with an adult. The best is the loud unprompted yells of gregariousness that leads me to wonder about her future. . .

    Yes my child is completely normal.

  30. The Squirrelly looks remarkably like Jim Gaffigan. And I mean that in the nicest possible way because I love Jim Gaffigan and your baby is adorable in all his serious-face poses you take pictures of him in.

    I also like your blog a lot and have been reading for a while but never commented, and my friends and I are having a lot of fun with the Oscar Pool!

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  32. Shit, who invited the spam leper to the party?

  33. hi,

    your son is 3 weeks younger than our son, so i follow your writings regularily. since he is my second born, i would totally recommend this book to all new parents, but not read it myself anymore.

    anyway: we learned both our kids to sleep through the night pretty early. marlene (the older one) used to sleep from 8 till 7 when she was 9 month, and thomas sleeps from 8 to 6 since he is 10 month. while it’s kind of hard to get up at 6 in the morning, we can at least sleep through the night. downside: i am again responsible for my “sleep dept”, which means i can’t complain anymore :(

    i am more than happy to share our secrets, so if you want to know, contact me. it takes some work, but it’s neither brutal nor abusive, but in the end very, very beneficial for both you and the child.

  34. Hey, who invited the spam leper to the party?

  35. “My son is one year old, and still can’t clean the gutters”

    Your child is competely normal.

    This kind of sounds like a Blue Collar Comedy Tour bit:. “Here’s yer sign…” “Git ‘er Done!” “Your child is completely normal”

  36. Congrats. Good look when the Squirrley DOES start running…
    (my brother-in-law, who didn’t start his family until he was after 40, says it’s not so bad that they can run faster than you, but when they turn around while doing it and go ‘neener neener neener, I can out run you!” it stinks.)

    I’ve had lots of child care experience and training, just no kids mysefl. I’ve had friends ask me the same questions (is this normal), decried my answer (my child MUST have a problem, SHE says it’s normal’), then come back, tail between legs, “Dr. said it’s normal too.’ The so-called norms are an AVERAGE, ymmv..

  37. Aw man, I can just tell his head smells like dryer sheets and sunshine in that picture. Happy birthday, baby!

  38. Happy Birthday!!! Congratulations to you and the Queen, it really is one hell of an accomplishment.

    And if I may, “dryer sheets and sunshine” – perfect.

    (PS – my first is 14 months old – I was loving the walking from 12 months to just recently because he was soooo much slower than when he crawled. This week he started mountaineering up the furniture…and he still says nothing other than an occasional “mama” and “da” which can mean his father or “that” Thank you for assuring me that my child is completely normal.

  39. i defintely think you should write that book. at the very least, it should go in as an appendix to the dr. sears book.

    the only time i really suspected that something was very abnoral with our kid (well, aside from the whole 10lbs 12oz thing at birth) is when he woke up from a nap with, i kid you not, a dent in his head. he had been seeping in his crib just so that one of the little turned bits on the rail had pressed into one of the fontanelles and presto! one dented forehead. he was acting perfectly normal, but i had to call the pediatrician anyway since it was just too *weird*.