WAY before Isay turned six months old, the wife and I had decided to make it special by taking her on her first airplane ride. When picking a destination, we settled on Hong Kong, so that we could take the little bunny to Disneyland.
During the course of the planning, we decided to bring the wife’s parents along for some family bonding time. Since it was the first time Isay would be on a trip, we made sure we combed through every possible situation we would face. Airplane rides, train rides, long walks, long days. Since Isay could only appreciate this trip through pictures, we wanted to make sure she would be at least comfortable the whole four days we would be in HK.
Why travel? Because we want her to get comfortable going to different places and visiting different cultures. If there is one thing we want our baby to develop, it’s a sense of adventure and discovery, the joy of traveling.
FOR Isay’s fifth month, her christening stands out as the most significant moment. There’s a reason we waited what people felt was too long to have her baptized. Especially since we live in a country where superstition still has its talons sunk in its psyche. Oldtimers say that it is never good to make long trips before a child’s baptism. And Isay has been traveling to Nueva Ecija quite a bit.
But we wanted her to be physically strong enough to endure the solemn and the social parts of christening. People would want to carry her, we assumed, and we needed to be sure that her body was strong enough so she wouldn’t require overly delicate cradling.
About the title of this post. Let me tell you a story…
THERE isn’t much that a boy like me can give to a baby girl like you.
So, you know, I wrote you a song.
It isn’t much. Very rough and still needs a lot of work. There are so many mistakes that I didn’t edit out anymore. I am hopeful that by next Christmas, when you can actually listen to “carols and other Yuletide tunes,” you will get to enjoy a more polished version of this.
It was a great month. I celebrated my first birthday as a dad, Isay began slowly turning to her side. She was flashing gummy smiles and I was two weeks into doing a bigger share of child-rearing responsibilities. The wife had just maxed out her maternity leave and it was time for me to step up to the plate. There were a lot of nervous moments (try giving your baby a bath for the first time!), but things slowly smoothened out as the days passed.
If ever there was a month where mornings with Isay took off on a deeper, more special meaning, October was it. More sunshine walks together. Basketball chats while I bathed her. Breakfasts where I’d pull her crib to the dining table so we could “talk” while I ate. Isay slowly getting used to me feeding her through the bottle.
ONE OF the thing that would really make me happy is if Isay gets hooked on sports. It doesn’t have to be competitively, although God knows a sportswriter dad would always dream of that. But at the very least, I hope she gets interested enough to try out a few disciplines—if only for the fact that sports-active people are some of the healthiest, well-balanced people on earth.
The wife and I talk about it a lot, and we include sports talk with our daily conversations with Isay. We’ve talked about sports like football (our consensus top pick), swimming, tennis, volleyball and taekwondo. I come from a lineage that has asthma encoded into our genetic software. Arthritis, meanwhile, seems to be programmed in my wife’s DNA. And the best way for Isay to crash those genetic downloads is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting into sports.
So I try to get her exposed to sports in whatever way I can.
WHEN you have a daughter, pretty much one thing is guaranteed: Mommy will always look for reasons to doll the little one up.
On ordinary days, the conversation can go like this:
Wife: Is it too warm? It feels too warm? It’s kinda hot today, don’t you think? The sun’s extra hot today.
Me: Yes, you can dress Isay up in a summer outfit.
Imagine if Halloween is just around the corner. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when the wife was scrolling down her iPhone screen looking at pictures of Halloween costumes. She picked out a Snow White outfit and said, “Isay would look really cute in this.”
Which was my cue to reply: “You know there’s a Halloween party at the office. Maybe we ca..”
So it was pretty much settled. Isay was going to make her first public appearance at the office Halloween party for kids.
ONE of the situations where I am of use when it comes to raising Isay is rocking her to sleep. I have learned to change soiled nappies but still make a few mistakes here and there. I have learned to bottle- and cup-feed her, but we make quite a mess sometimes. Bathing her is still life’s next big adventure. But rocking her to sleep, I’ve got that pretty down pat.
I cradle her securely in my arms and then feel out cues as to what she wants. A lot of times, Isay wants you to walk her around. She gets restless even if you sway her from side-to-side or gently rock her. Sometimes, she wants you to carry her upright, her chubby cheeks resting on the shoulder. If she’s in a good mood, you can just set her down on the bed or in her crib and she’ll go to sleep on her own.
The one constant thing through all this? She wants to hear you. Whether it’s singing, humming, reading the Desiderata or narrating a fairy tale, the sound of your voice reassures her a lot and makes her sleeping easier.
With that in mind, let me share you the songs I love to sing to her when it’s time for her to grab a few winks.