Fuck Teething.

I’m not sure if I can express just how shitty teething is, for all parties involved, but I’m going to try.

Teething isn’t the worst thing about having a baby. It’s not as brutal as the birth, nor is it as exhausting as teaching her how to go to sleep. No, the worst thing about teething is its sudden and complete disregard for the status quo.

It happens like this — your baby finally starts sleeping through the night. You begin to enjoy your extra hour of nightly free time, using it to read or Facebook stalk or check out the latest album releases. You could even afford to stay up late on occasion, and why not if she was going to give you that luxury? Against ypr better judgment, you begin to establish a routine.

Then it all comes crashing down. You hit the hay after a late night video game session, knowing full well you’ll be zombie-ing your way through work tomorrow on five hours of sleep, when a scream that could make Glenn Benton envious pierces the early AM hours. But your kid isn’t spinning Dechristianize on the home stereo; she’s awake, and she’s teething.

I’m not sure if you knew or not — you may have been like me, and had never gotten close enough to a baby to know until you had one — but babies don’t start out with any teeth. Not at first. They pop out as little gummed horrors, looking for all the world like wrinkly old people who’ve misplaced their dentures. And when the teeth finally arrive, they don’t get dropped off via stork or mail or anything; they don’t just appear overnight in a visit from some bizarro, reverse tooth fairy, who implants them in your child’s mouth, one gleaming bicuspid at a time. Instead, being robbed of any kind of magical, more convenient means, babies have to get their teeth the normal way.

The normal way being their teeth erupting out of their gums like fucking volcanic fissures.

It must hurt about as much as chewing molten lava. Why else would Baby awake at one, two, even three in the morning, screaming bloody gore? Screams, tears, fever, and our good old friend diarrhea — these are all symptoms that your baby is getting some new chompers. 

The real kick in the teeth is it doesn’t just happen all at once. Oh no, that’d be far too merciful. Instead, it’s going to happen like seven or eight more times. Whenever you start thinking you’ve got a good handle on things, that’s when teething barges back into your life. You’ll have forgotten what it was like; time has healed those wounds with the balm of forgetfulness. But then Baby will be cranky and needy for no apparent reason at all. Normal occurrences like slipping and falling on her butt will seem catastrophic, a tragedy worthy of the most funereal wailing. Teething will seem like an unstoppable force of nature, like a hurricane or tornado, a thing you have to prepare and brace yourself for.

You can make things easier for her, though. Not by much; there’s only so much a few slats of wood nailed over a window can do to save a house against a tropical storm. There are baby pain relievers you can feed her, and plastic teethers you can keep in the fridge or freezer. I’ve even read advice online about parents holding a cough drop in a pincer grip, letting their child lick it like the nub of a succubus’s teat. Seems like there’s nothing parents won’t try to help the kiddo. But the only thing you can do is be patient and have a little fucking sympathy.

Oh, make no mistake — you’ll be mad. You probably had a good thing going, didn’t you? But remember: all things will pass. Teething won’t be the worst of it, no way, even if it super sucks now.

So go ahead. Pray to whatever gods of infant growth you have that your child’s teething is a swift, painless affair. Or better yet, be prepared, know what to watch for, and act accordingly and patiently. Because you can’t stop it. One way or another, your baby will get her teeth. And you will rue it.

My First Father’s Day

I’ve been a dad for almost a year, and I still don’t really know how I should feel for my first Father’s Day. I mean, I know I’m a dad; I have the receipts and everything to prove it. But I guess I don’t feel like I’ve done much to suddenly join that particular pantheon yet.

To put it in perspective, when I started drumming, I immediately felt like a drummer. I’d swing the sticks and they’d hit the drums — what more was really required? Yeah, it’d take years of practicing to actually do it well, but that sentiment stands.

Maybe it was a confidence thing. I started drumming almost fifteen years ago (good christ), back in a time when I didn’t have to worry about Real Life Shit. Or maybe I just didn’t know any better. Either way, my approach to drumming was to become the best metal drummer the world had ever seen, and that outlook drove me to improve my skills. Time directly influenced getting better at the other thing; you could track the progress on a line graph.

But with parenting/fathering/dadding, I’m kind of just taking it a day at a time. The difficulty curve raises unexpectedly and frequently; I’ll turn around and suddenly she’s on her own two feet and I’ll have to add a bunch of plastic bumpers on the table edges. How can I celebrate something I don’t know I’m doing well yet?

She’s made it this far, so I guess I’m doing okay.

I’ve never had a retroactive holiday addition before. Lord Lemmy knows I never got one for deciding to be a drummer (bass players should probably get their own holiday first). While being a dad so far hasn’t sent me to my wits’ ends, I know things are only going to get more challenging. The daughter my wife and I are raising has all the characteristics to be a sweet yet willful child. So maybe these holidays are premeditated; at this stage we’re still banking our Father’s Days, letting them accumulate interest for when we need to really pay out.

Oh, the daily stuff is important; those diapers aren’t going to change themselves. But until things really get going, I guess I feel like this will just be another day I get to spend with my family.

I can think of worse things.

My 30 Minutes of Failure

I can’t complain much. I’ve got a lot going for me. But every night, for thirty minutes or sometimes more, I feel like I’m a fuck-up. Like everything I’ve accomplished doesn’t amount to shit. Like I’m a huge failure.

Oh, I know I’m not. The evidence is all there. But that’s what it feels like.

Every night at 8 PM, I put my daughter to bed. Well, that’s the plan, anyway. Putting her to bed doesn’t mean she goes down sleeping. It’s just the opposite.

We sit down as a family, read a couple stories first. (Gorgonna goes bananas over her Good Night, Little Bear book.) Then it’s off into the Dark Void of the bedroom, where only pain and suffering and frustration awaits.

She cries. She twists and writhes in my arms like I’m subjecting her to the cruelest torture. And even after she falls asleep out of exhaustion, as soon as she hits the bed, she’s up again. And the torture starts all over again.

Gorgonna has never been the best sleeper. She spent the majority of her first few months sleeping in a Rock and Play, far past the recommended age limit. But it was the only way she — scratch that, my wife and I — could get any sleep.

So yeah, I can spin this like I’m the one to be sympathized with. But it’s really Gorgonna that deserves all the sympathy. She doesn’t get “going to bed” yet; she doesn’t know how to. The daily process of going down for the night (for at least the first two or three hours of the night, anyway) is way tougher on her little undeveloped mind than it is on mine, right? I’m not the one being hoisted off the ground, clutched by this giant who says he knows what’s best for me. She’s just a damn baby.

All Good Things (And Some Bad) Must End

Maybe she got used to some bad habits. Maybe I’m to blame. It’s so easy to just assume there’s some magical solution I can conjure up from a circle of sheep’s blood and incense. But the reality of it, the thing I tell myself every night as ten minutes become twenty, and twenty becomes thirty, is this:

It will pass.

All things — the refusal to drink from a bottle, the midnight watching over her — they won’t last forever. It’s a heartening reminder. I mean, six months ago, when she was still a ruddy-faced blob, I couldn’t have foreseen an end to whatever frustrations I may have been feeling back then. She was still such a new part of our lives.

But she’s still here, and I’m still here. Not much has changed there. So during those thirty minutes of failure, when she’s finally stopped squirming and is sleeping peacefully in my arms, lower lip quivering… those moments will end too. It’s enough to make a Mostly Metal Dad all misty-eyed.

But new moments will come, won’t they? I suppose that’s why I’m writing them all down, anyway. Capturing these moments, both bad and good, is my dadly duty.

So thirty minutes out of every night I feel like crap. Big deal. Because there will be so many more minutes, days, and years where I won’t.

I’m looking forward to all of them.