On having a boy

Our mornings can go two ways. Before this fall, our mornings were almost always a source of calm during what were otherwise frantic days. Coffee. The news. Everybody content. Once Nora started school, though - J takes her every morning - things changed. On good days mornings are serene, like they used to be. Good days. Days when, like, we lay out everybody's clothes the night before, and I get up in time to take a shower, and Mina doesn't decide to take advantage of the freedom we allow the dogs when we let them out the back door and into our unfenced back yard by trotting on out into the neighborhood streets to have some fun, without our knowledge.

Nora has to be at school at a fairly early hour and we simply have to be super organized if we want things to go smoothly.

So, you know, sometimes we aren't.

This morning, for instance. We were at a disadvantage going in. Gabe and I have colds and neither of us had slept well, so I woke up and put a robe on and stumbled downstairs envisioning getting right back into bed once everyone was off and on their way, which is really funny, really really funny, when you have a baby to take care of. Not gonna happen, so you might as well put some clothes on, but whatever.

And then, when I went in Nora's room to see if she was awake, she popped up in her bed and shouted, "I want a snack!" She has breakfast at school, but she often has a little something before. Her saying this is a terrible omen of things to come, because when she's in the "I want a snack" mood, every thing you have to do from there on out is not only going to be the normal level of annoying...brushing teeth...brushing hair....walking down the stairs...it's also going to be one more thing she has to do before she can have that snack.

So Nora's angry off the bat and Gabe's coughing up a storm and I look like I did that week I was doing my college essays and I refused to get out of my pajamas for five straight days and J is making coffee frantically because no matter how little time we have to do it we are making coffee.

I was holding the baby and went to put him down on his back on the floor, but he wanted to sit up, a skill he's mastered very well, although his balance isn't yet 100 percent. Just as I let go of him, Nora called my attention to something, most likely the whereabouts of her snack, and Gabe toppled over and hit his head on the wooden part of our ottoman. I always try to keep him away from this particular piece of furniture for this very reason, but this wasn't one of our good mornings, and my parenting wasn't quite up to par.

He immediately began crying so I picked him up to comfort him and noticed that he had a cut on his eyelid and was bleeding. I had put my wobbly baby in a sitting position near a hard piece of furniture and he'd cut his eye and had what looked like a blossoming bruise across his nose.

I felt terrible about what had happened, but he settled down after a few minutes and I could see that the cut wasn't too deep.

Compare this incident to a similar one that occurred when Nora was about the same age. She rolled off the couch once when I'd been looking the other way for a second. No cut. No blood. Nothing like that. But I cried for about two hours, in the midst of which I called the doctor and deemed myself an unfit parent.