Mornings with Jason

My weekday mornings have developed a pattern over the last month or so. Juliette has to get to work early, which means that I get to wake up with Jason, give him his breakfast, get him changed and ready for day care. It's not always the best time, since neither Jason nor I are morning people, but it's interesting to say the least. To give you an example, here's how this morning went:

5:04 AM: I wake up to the sound of Jason starting to cry, but, mercifully, he manages to fall back asleep on his own.  I notice that I had forgotten to set the alarm clock for Juliette, which I tell her, also telling her the time. She tells me to turn the 6:00 alarm on, which I do, then I close my eyes again.

5:20 AM: Jason wakes up again and starts yelling. I can tell that he's not fully awake yet because although he's loud, he's not fully screaming. I stumble into the kitchen to fill a sippy cup with water, then go collect him from his room. He hasn't dumped his blanket over the side of his crib this morning and is just standing there at the rail, half-awake and crying. He quiets down as soon as I pick him up, which is a little unusual since he's usually thirsty. We head into the living room and I sit on the couch, offering him the cup. He's more tired than usual, I can tell, because he only sips for a few seconds before flopping over onto my chest--often he will drink the entire cup in one go. I lay back and close my eyes, patting him on the back to try to get him to go back to sleep. We doze for a while, but he stirs a lot, sometimes whimpering, sometimes even standing up. He kicks me in the crotch several times. Once, he starts to climb off of me, moving to flop head-first off the couch, but I catch him and put him back on my chest. I don't know why he does this in the mornings--I can tell that he's bone tired, but he refuses to let himself fall completely asleep. I let him climb down a couple of times and he tries to stand up, but he can't hold his head up--he leans down and rests his head on the ottoman. I think his eyes are closed, but I can't tell since the lights are off and it's still pretty dark out. When I pick him up, he cries.

6:20 AM: I finally give up on trying to coax Jason back to sleep. He's a bit more alert at this point, and anyway he's upset about something, though I don't know what and I doubt he does, either. I stand up with him in my arms and head back to his room to change his diaper. It's heavy with pee, but nothing else, so it goes pretty quickly, then we go over to the back door where the dog is waiting to be let out. We follow the dog into the yard and watch to make sure he pees in the right part of the yard, then go back inside, where I start making breakfast.

6:27 AM: Jason is tugging on my legs and flopping around, whining and pointing at the whole wheat toast, which burns my fingers as I take it out of the toaster oven so I can butter it. I've made two slices, one for him and one for me.  I cut his slice into small pieces, then pick him up, put him in his high chair, put a bib on him, and start giving him bits of toast, two small pieces at a time. He takes the bits and starts eating pretty quickly this morning--some mornings he just looks at the toast for a while before putting any in his mouth. I get him some milk and then pull up a chair next to his high chair and eat my slice of toast while passing him more little squares of his slice as he finishes the ones he has. I do this because if I give him the entire pile at once, he will probably get distracted and start throwing them around or shoving them on the floor instead of eating them. The dog likes when this happens--I, less so.

6:56 AM: Jason is now playing with his food, reaching up and dropping it into the "big boy" cup that he now has in addition to his sippy cup. Juliette had come in to grab a bite before she left and had some milk in a plastic cup, which made Jason frantic to have a cup of his own. She gave him one with a tiny bit of water in the bottom--he tried to drink it but ended up spilling most of it on his bib. He is now pushing bits of plum and banana around his high chair tray, what he hasn't smeared on his face and in his hair, so I remove the tray and clean his face, hands, and hair with a washcloth. Once he's clean, I take him out of the chair and let him run around. I've given him the cup--which I've washed because it had fruit smeared all over the outside--and he is making noises into it, laughing at the way the cup makes his voice echo. I smile, then turn to empty out the dishwasher and clean up his high chair.

7:10 AM: I'm in the middle of changing a poopy diaper when my phone rings. I ignore it for the time being, since I don't want to touch the phone before I wash my hands and, besides, if it's important they'll call back. Jason has, as usual, tried to grab his butt while I was changing him. "Hands out!" I say firmly, but he's already done it by that point. I can't tell if he got his hands dirty or not, but after I'm done cleaning and changing him, I carry him into the kitchen and wash his hands, then mine.

7:13 AM: There's a message from Juliette on my phone, so I call her back. She needs me to look something up in our filing cabinet, so I have to put Jason into his crib a little earlier than I might have otherwise. I make her wait while I pull out some books and a couple of toys and put them and him in his crib. I open the books for him and show them to him for a couple of seconds, then I quickly exit the room, closing the door behind me. He stays distracted long enough for me to get the paper Juliette needs and read it to her, but it's just a matter of time before he starts screaming.

7:18 AM: I start shaving and Jason starts crying. This is my least favorite part of the morning, but it's kind of necessary, too. I can't just let Jason run around unsupervised--even with all the babyproofing, there are still lots of things he can break and lots of ways for him to hurt himself. I've considered getting up at 4:30 to shower before he wakes up but I can't bring myself to do that yet, and I sweat too much in my sleep for showering at night to be an option. So, I have to listen to him cry while I get ready every morning. Sometimes he falls asleep. I don't think he will today, though.

7:49 AM: I'm now shaved, showered, and dressed. My hair is done and I've even decided to put some cologne on, though I'm not really sure why. The bed is unmade, but by now Jason is fully screaming. I get my shoes out and put them in the living room, put my bag in the kitchen, and throw a load of laundry in, then go back and pick up Jason. He has thrown both blankets, both books, both toys, and all of the stuffed animals he sleeps with over the side of the bed and is very angry that he can't reach them. But he calms down quickly after I pick him up, and I hold him and rock him for a few minutes before picking out his clothes. I tickle him and make faces at him while taking off his pajamas, and he laughs.

7:58 AM: Jason's dressed now. We head into the living room where I put his socks and shoes on, then my own. He likes watching me put my socks on, and likes playing with my feet after I have them on. We let the dog out again and watch to make sure he poops in the right part of the yard. For what seems like the millionth time, I reflect on how I never thought that watching a dog defecate would become such an integral part of my mornings.

8:04 AM: The dog is now in the car and Jason is strapped into his car seat. He's actually pretty patient while I change the CDs--I'm not in the mood to make up songs or point out stuff on the side of the road this morning, so I try to pick some stuff I know he likes.

8:09 AM: I'm in the middle of singing along with the Magnetic Fields' "I Don't Believe in the Sun" when I notice that Jason has fallen asleep. I continue singing anyway.

8:16 AM: We arrive in the parking lot at Jason's day care. He's still sound asleep, so I settle in to wait for him to wake up on his own--I don't like waking him when I know he's tired. I finished my book yesterday, but fortunately I can still browse the web on my phone. The sun comes out from behind a cloud and it starts to get a little warm in the car--I wish I had thought to open the windows before I turned off the engine, but now I'm afraid the noise will wake Jason up, so I just deal with it and sweat a little.

8:47 AM: Jason wakes up just as I finish my notes for this post, reconstructing the events of the morning.  I take him inside, check him in, and take him to the toddler room. There are three other boys in there already, one of whom is the one that has the same birthday as Jason--I'll call him J. I like all the kids there and have made a point to smile and talk to them when they come over to me, but I've always had an extra warmth toward J. J is walking now, which I hadn't seen before, and I comment on it aloud, also marveling at how much smaller J is than Jason--which is something, because Jason has always been small. The teacher smiles and says that Jason looks like he's getting much taller lately, which I realize is true with some surprise. We talk a bit about toddler shoes, she asks if I've ever been to Japan. She tells me that her son is stationed in Japan and she's thinking about visiting him soon. Our conversation gets interrupted when J takes a book that Jason wanted and, of course, Jason starts crying. The teacher gives him a different book and he calms down pretty quickly. I kiss him goodbye and tell him to be good and have a good day.

8:56 AM: I get back in my car, noting happily that the dog has not drooled on my seats this morning. I scratch him behind the ears and then head to work.

Not every morning goes exactly like this. Sometimes he wakes up earlier, sometimes later--though that's rare these days. Sometimes he's in a better mood, sometimes worse. Sometimes he eats more, sometimes he only wants to play with his food. He doesn't always fall asleep in the car. On the other hand, there's nothing unusual about this morning, either. All in all, it's been a pretty good morning. I do wish he would sleep a little later, but I don't get much time with him in the evenings these days because of work, so this is the time I have with him and I try to make the most of it. And even though he doesn't always cooperate and sometimes makes things really difficult, I make a point of telling him every day how much I love him. "It's a big beautiful world out there, Jason," I tell him when he's cranky. "It's a big beautiful world and it's a great day for you and I to be in it. I love you, buddy."



You are such a wonderful dad! I'm exhausted just reading about your morning.
And, btw, this made me tear up.