crossing dressing, dirty t-shirts, and the animal kingdom

Karis is a generally easy and mellow baby. She is pleasant and predictable. She smiles and coos and is happy when her needs are met. There is one exception, though.

Karis doesn't like Mark.

I don't know how they got off on the wrong foot, but she is NOT a fan. Which is kind of a bummer for me. (I supposed it's a bigger bummer for him. But I also prefer to think about how things are affecting me. Me me me.) Whenever I pass her to him, she immediately starts screaming. Lately, she has taken to screaming, arching her back away from him, and holding her arms out at her side. It's as if she were making every effort to have as little contact with him as possible.

She's giving him the newborn equivalent of a "talk to the hand".

The crazy thing is, when all this is happening, it's not like she is looking up at our faces to distinguish who is holding her. It's all by smell, I suppose. But somehow she recognizes immediately when she is passed from one to the other. It's like the animal kingdom, as Mark says.

I know some moms might be secretly flattered for their babies to show such preference. Not me. I get totally annoyed. I somehow feel like they are conspiring against me, because the result is that I end up holding Karis all the live-long day while Mark gets to walk around the house unencumbered and eat meals with both hands. Although I don't think this dynamic feels really great for Mark. Especially having her scream bloody murder every time I try to leave the house. Or pee.

Anyways, we decided it was time to take some action. We are on Operation Attachment with Karis and Mark. We resorted to a bonding tactic we used when we adopted Jafta. We grabbed some dirty t-shirts out of Mark's laundry basket. We lined the crib with one of them. We put one on the seat of her swing. We also rotate her swaddling blanket, and Mark sleeps on one each night. So now the blanket smells of Daddy. She is gonna get used to daddy's smell, whether she likes it or not. Like the rest of us have.

I even started putting one of Mark's t-shirts on when I feed Karis. It was crazy how much that bothered her. She seemed SOOO confused that the food source had a different scent. She even refused for a while.

I suggested Mark start wearing one of my dirty t-shirts to really mix things up, but he drew the line at cross-dressing for the cause. He compromised by laying one of my t-shirts across his shoulder.

So far, we've made a little progress. She will tolerate him if she is in the sling and facing out. She will smile at him from the bouncy seat, but immediately starts the waterworks if he picks her up.
And I am left watching the whole thing and willing myself not to rescue them. Because I think that's how we got ourselves into this situation. I need to take a step back, and let Karis work it out, even if it's uncomfortable. Which is hard for me . . . and somehow I have a feeling that this type of letting go is gonna be essential for me to learn over the next 18 years or so.


  1. what have I got myself into???

  2. I went through the same thing with my youngest Rachel, who is now 9. She only enjoyed my company and on rare occasion my mother-in-law. When she was 10 months old or so, she would only go to Gary if he had chips or a popsicle. Then when she could talk, she REFUSED to call him "Daddy" and instead called him "Gary." Of course, it was cute the first couple of times in a weird sort of toddle way but this when on for over a year or so. It broke his heart, she eventually came around...but my it was a tough road. Kids you just never know !! Everyday is an adventure!

  3. i think i need a refund on my education. all of those child development classes and attachment/attunement theories, and i never thought about smell. totally facinating.

  4. this post is so, so funny. it's just written hilariously. I love it.

  5. I don't know you, but this post makes me want to be your friend. I love your solutions, your thoughts on it, and your annoyance with your baby's "choice". Thanks for today's laugh!

  6. Has skin-to-skin time helped at all? Just curious, as that worked for us w/our little boy.


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