Saturday, November 16, 2013

1+1=3 - The Baby Mini-Game

With the arrival of mini-me just under three weeks ago, I thought I'd say that things have been hectic around here. Turns out, they're actually about the same, minus some sleep. Admittedly things can still, and probably will, change quite a lot in the upcoming months, but so far I'm surprised at not how much work a little person turned out to be, but how much less work than I expected it actually is. But again, that's probably going to change. Until then however I'm going to say "this isn't so bad".

I always imagined having a kid would be a lot like having a tamagotchi. Somewhere deep inside in my logical parts I realized that having a kid would be nothing like having a tamagotchi  (for one, a tamagotchi turd stays nice in one place whereas a baby turd can apparently shot gun all over the floor, or if you're unlucky - your leg). Interestingly enough I can report that having a kid, at least at this age, is totally like having a tamagotchi. Before you call child services, I obviously understand that a real kid needs a lot more love and attention than my tamagotchi got from me. But to my defense I did fish my tamagotchi out of a river I had accidentally dropped it in, so I was pretty invested already at that level (maybe mostly because that thing had cost me my entire allowance. And maybe dropping it in the first place also says something about my commitment level. At least it survived!). Seriously though, at this age it's not hard to convert the needs of your baby into a game, only difference being that it's a game that you can't stop playing just because you don't feel like it anymore, not much unlike World of Warcraft.

Mine was blue though -

Assuming the little one isn't in pain (and I woe the day that happens), he only really needs sleep, food and attention when he's awake. When he does pull a sour face (and what a cute face that is) there are only so many things on your list to try out before matters should be solved. As such, a baby, or at least this baby, is a very simple game to "play" and so similar to a tamagotchi it's eerie. And just as with games it is loads of fun and gives a great sense of accomplishment when you've turned that frown upside down - mission accomplished, quest completed, whatever you want to call it it works just as well with a baby as it does in a game. Maybe even more so since you've made an actual little person happy and averting a baby from crying is probably one of the most pleasing things you can do (especially for your nerves).

If you feel like things are a bit too simple, you can break them down further and turn each aspect into a little mini-game. One of my favorites is the diaper-changing mini-game. It's a bit like space invaders, except you're the space ship. You need to avoid incoming bombardment by hiding behind cover which the little one is quickly burning through if you're not clever and agile. It makes you wish you had an extra set of arms and reflexes like a jedi knight. The game is on as soon as you've placed the baby on the nursing table, from there on it's anyones game and so far the little one is far outscoring me in wins. I've tried many tricks with varying success, from just pretending to remove the diaper to trying to change them lightning fast. So far I am being outwitted however, since the little one likes to just pretend he's done pooping and poop lightning fast (and his gunning puts Lucky Luke at shame). At the moment I am trying to incorporate my 28 year life experience and a psychology degree into being able to read the subtle cues that signal an attack. So far I am losing against someone not even three weeks of age. I blame beginners luck, just as how new poker players can win against poker veterans simply because they don't know the rules as well, making it impossible to accurately read their facial expressions. Or maybe the little man is just smarter than me - for now.

Calm before the storm

Then there is the time-management mini-game. First at home again with a baby, not knowing what to expect, it's easy to think that you won't have much time to do anything. The first couple of days that will also probably be true simply because you don't know when and how the little one is going to sleep, feed and want attention. The first couple of days you don't even really know the new person at all, making it a lot like having a stranger move into your home that you tip-toe around. It feels especially true in this case since mini-me looks nothing like me or my bf, which makes me suspect the mailman might have had something to do with this. This initially, and to some extent still, meant a lot of sitting around just waiting for the next task to pop up, wasting hours of good gaming (real gaming) time because I thought the baby would need me at any second. Seconds turned into hours and suddenly I had spent a day not doing anything, just sitting on stand-by.

Babies being completely different, some will need a lot of attention and some don't. Mini-me runs pretty much like clockwork, giving me about 3 periods of 3-4 hours of sleeping + feeding in a row with a period of 3-4 hours of awake time inbetween. This makes it fairly simple to time when to have food, game time, errand time and sleep time without it being too interrupted. It does require some planning, and it especially requires getting things done once you've decided on them. If you take too long you'll be closing in on the next breaking point in the little ones cycle and you might as well scrap them and wait for the next sleep-period, unless it's something that doesn't take very long. Getting stuck on memebase has never been more dangerous.

It's especially enjoyable and challenging during the evenings, when sleepyness hits me and I want to figure out the best time to go to sleep without having to interrupt it after a couple of hours because mini-me wakes up and wants to play (although play is probably not the right word at this age). I have to look back at the day that's passed, remember when his last waking-period was and put that into calculation to determine the best course of action. Do I go to sleep now although it's a bit early, or do I risk it and go for the next sleep-period although it might be followed by a waking-period? Sometimes the risk pays off, sometimes I have to get up after only a couple hours of sleep and know that my broken sleep will probably have me groggy most of the upcoming day. Fortunately I had already mastered the skill of power-napping long before I got a baby, so this is not a big issue (for me, my bf on the other hand is shit out of luck), but still avoidable with some good planning.

These are some of the challenges that I face every day, and so far they're actually really entertaining. The baby is just as fun when he is sleeping (because he is totally cute and then I can finally play some games, read or not think about anything) as when he is awake (because he is totally cute and makes the funniest faces). I can only hope the little one stays this good, because I know expansions to his program will come in the future with new challenges for me to overcome; such as the Teething-boss and introducing Crawling, which means I need to sharply raise the defense stats of my apartment since it's a virtual death trap for a baby as it is now. I'll keep you updated.