The Cantankerous Princess

Well, so much for that promise.  I got some sleep last night, though, so here goes.  A day late is still better than not writing at all.  Please forgive this post’s relative brevity, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my writing is unintelligible garbage after two hours of sleep and before my third cup of coffee, so I chopped more than half of it.

Yesterday marked 7 weeks for Sophie, and I can hardly believe it’s only been that long.  In a perfect world, we’ll have her on rice or oatmeal cereal, and sleeping through the night soon, but judging from what we’ve seen so far, I’m not holding my breath.  We’re still at the every-two-hours stage, and as tough as it is for us, it’s doubly so for Ryan.  We do our best to include him, to try to have at least one thing a day that’s for him alone, but unfortunately, we don’t always succeed.  He’s been a champ about it, though, not complaining, content to play with his trains and cars.  Though he does occasionally try to act out Humpty Dumpty’s fall from the top of the couch.  And when asked to borrow his blankie, he instead tried to cover her face with it, claiming that it was “so I can make her be quietly.”

My wife and I have taken to comparing the two of them, specifically how she is now vs. how he was at the same point, then even reminding ourselves by watching old videos of him at one and two months.  Besides the obvious physical resemblance, which is striking, the biggest trait that stands out already is temper.  Ryan, even at his newborn-hungry-crying worst, couldn’t hold a candle to his little sister.  His cries were simple: hungry, change me, tired, gassy, hold me.  Hers are that, but with a good deal more force and anger behind them.  For good measure, regardless of how lovingly you hold her and talk to her, she’ll give you The Look.  I’m about 99.99% convinced that she inherited The Look from her mother, and I think I think this because I know it well: furrowed brow, thin-lipped frown, and an expression of utter exasperation.  Sometime in the 2040s or so, I want to hang out in Sophie’s house, raid her fridge, drink her beer, and watch her give The Look to her husband.  At least it will be directed towards someone other than her Appa or Opa.

The Korean term for it is 성 질 pronounced “seong jil” and meaning “temper” or “obstinacy,” usually in reference to small children.  My mother in-law likes to warn me about this in Sophie, based on the nature of her cries and, of course, The Look.  My mother in-law considers it a harbinger of tough parenting ahead, but like the country song goes, we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.  She’ll give you The Look if you’re a minute late getting her bottle ready; if you let formula dribble from her mouth and let it be caught between her growing double chin and her neck; if she needs to be changed but you don’t know it yet; if you’ve failed in your paternal duties and don’t try to tap her hiccups away; if you’re not holding her properly (body resting against the length of your forearm, her right cheek smashed against your ribs, your other hand gently tapping her butt); best of all, Ryan gets The Look if/when he has a tantrum that wakes her up, or otherwise interrupts anything I just mentioned.

At some point, hopefully soon, I’ll actually get to bond with my daughter.  For the life of me, I can’t even remember when my wife and I started that process with Ryan, even though it was only three years ago.  I know she’ll smile at me soon, as opposed to it being the sign of gas and precursor to spit up, but I have to remind myself to be patient.  Some new-baby skills are like the cliche of riding a bicycle, they just come back from dormancy: changing diapers, changing the clothes of a squirming infant (though it’s just on a smaller scale of changing the clothes of a squirming toddler), bathing her, feeding her.  Other times, I sort of scratch my head and ask, what did I do with her brother when this happened?  Most of the time, my answer is “I don’t know,” and I just wing it.

And that, dear friends, will get you The Look, either from my wife or my princess, each and every time.

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