My New Favorite Game



Mastermind is a classic game that I played growing up. This was one of the more brainy games I played (well, at least I thought so). It is perfect for practicing colors,working on that pincer grasp and teaching your youngster deductive reasoning, . If you haven’t played it before in a nut shell, one person creates a color code with pegs and hides it behind the barricade. The other person tries to guess the color code and the “hider” has to give feedback using black and white pegs. Black means right color, wrong spot. White means right color right spot (I’m going to resist the urge to comment on the racist undertones of this game at this time).

About a month ago, it dawned on me that caring for a newborn is EXACTLY like playing Mastermind.

In Infant Mastermind, the baby is always the code hider and the parent is always the guesser. Here is the player manual.

Start of the game

  1. The baby starts crying and says, “Waaaaaahhhhh, waaaaaaah!” (~110 decibels)
  2. Parent needs to drop everything and play Infant Mastermind.
  3. Parent will make attempts to guess the code.
  4. Game ends when infant falls asleep.

So the first couple weeks of parenting, it is common that the infant is not a very advanced player. They are complete noobs at this game (literally noobs actually) and it’s always the same thing – they’re hungry and want to be fed. It’s like playing with someone who dresses in all blue and always puts four blue pegs as their code every time you play. In the beginning you think, “Gosh this is easy. Yes I am getting a little bored and tired of playing this game, but at least I win every time!!”

And then your infant gets a little older. And with that your infant gets a little smarter and graduates to the intermediate and advanced levels. This is when it gets “fun.” Your infant is getting tired of you always winning this game and insists on testing your wits to see if you have the right chops to be its parent.

In the intermediate level, there are more variables introduced. The following is a list of things that have soothed Wes over the past 11 weeks.

  • Food
  • Clean diaper
  • Being swaddled
  • Being un-swaddled
  • Being worn
  • Not being worn and being put down
  • Pacifier
  • Being held over the shoulder
  • Being held on their side across the body
  • Being held chest to chest
  • Listening to lullabies
  • Sitting in the swing
  • Foot massages (This epiphany came when I fell asleep getting a foot massage… if foot massages make me sleepy… maybe….)
  • Quiet
  • White noise
  • 5 S’s
  • A particular parent
  • __________ ? Sometimes the chump (you) will be stumped and you just have to take a breather and say to yourself “This too shall pass.”

However unlike real Mastermind, Infant Mastermind is different in the following ways:

  1. Infant Mastermind (IM) can change its code as many times as Infant desires!
  2. If the Parent’s guess is wrong, you may have to try again in 10 seconds because The Infant may have changed their mind!
  3. No pegs. There is no feedback to let you know if you are getting close.
  4. In Mastermind you only get 10 guesses. In IM, you get infinite guesses. Joy!
  5. Winning IM makes you feel a million bucks.
  6. Sucking at IM makes you go batty.

As of right now I am winning big time! This morning it was the combination of feeding, diaper change and babywearing that has put my little man in a state of unconsciousness for the past 2 hours. Wish me luck for the next round!


Month Two

Dear Wes,


Wes you have morphed into a sleepy lump to a significantly less sleepy lump with LUNGS. We have some data to back this up because since month two, we have yet to sit together through an entire church service with you. On the upside, we can finish our Philz coffee and catch up with the other new parents in the foyer! This month we have seen your voice grow out of the puppy behind the couch cry to a full on infant shriek. With tears. Oh those tears.


You = Mandrake. Your parents = Ron.

I remember the first time we saw them, our hearts just broke to think that you were that unhappy. It also made us feel crappy that we couldn’t figure out what made you cry so badly. More about that later.

I had a few scary/guilty Mommy moments that I am sure I’ll laugh at one day but were quite traumatizing when they happened. So recently you have had a whole host of skin issues. Cradle Cap, Seborrheic Dermatitis (Cradle Cap on the face) and I think you even have some eczema going on (this will be confirmed at your doctor’s appointment today). It’s rough seeing your baby peach fuzz turn oily and crusty. Sadly your mom is so vain and wants your skin to be blemish free. In my worry, I did what every 21st century mom would do. I googled “cradle cap” and clicked through every possible link – everything from the reputable mayo clinic and WebMd to crunchy mom websites adorned with heinous clip art and Papyrus font. From my very thorough “research,” I concluded that the safest thing to do was use edible oils and since coconut oil is the new panacea for life, I figured why the heck not. This sounds more reasonable than Windex.


Windex cures everything.

So armed with my jar from Trader Joe’s, I slathered your face in that stuff hoping the next morning I would have some miraculous testimony of THE WONDERS OF COCONUT OIL.

Next morning I wake up to your dad yelling. CANDY. GET OVER HERE. IT LOOKS SO MUCH WORSE!!!! And there you were, even crustier and oilier than last night. And one of your eyes looked a little puffy.

I felt horrible. Tears start welling in my eyes. I wanted to make things right, but I just had no idea what to do. I called the advice nurse, emailed your pediatrician, messaged my pediatrician friend and prayed that I didn’t leach your skin off with coconut oil. Thankfully we got some better advice to use Aquaphor /Vaseline on your face 6 times a day. And the getting worse part was actually part of the healing process. In a couple of days you were significantly less crusty. Whew. So began the journey of many other sub-optimal decisions I would make as your parent.

Pre-you, I had a thousand ideas about how I was going to parent. I had read a good amount of books, watched a dozen TED talks and listened to experienced parents about how to soothe my baby, how to raise successful kids and how to get them to eat EVERYTHING. I now whole-heartedly agree with John Wilmot who once said

“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.”

(Apparently know-it-alls have been around since the 1600’s)

I confess that I had bought into the myth that I could be the Perfect Parent for you. If I had read enough, tried hard enough and mustered enough resolve, you could be the happiest, most content and resilient baby in the world. I see now how sometimes my efforts to parent is often marred by my desire to manipulate heaven and earth so I can control a little bit more of my kingdom. My heart needs to repent of this! You are not a 18 year science experiment that I just started, you are a sweet human being that I simply get to love on. I am learning that I don’t need to tie my success as a parent to how you sleep, how you eat or even how your skin looks that given day. Just like our class instructor said when I asked her what is the ONE THING I must to do when I bring home a newborn?

“Just love them.”

And so I will love you little Wes. I may not know how to how to stop your tears every time… but I do promise to love  and hold you through them all.



Tummy Time Success (yesterday you went from face down to turning your head to the left, and then to show off you turned your head face down and then turned it to your right! Your dad and I know your head is disproportionately HUGE so we give you lots of extra credit for doing Tummy Time like a champ)

Smiles. I think I saw your first intentional smile this week! On Wednesday I had strollered you over to Crossfit to see your dad work out. Of course you were so popular as everyone peered into the stroller. There was some random guy that said hi to you and you flashed him the biggest smile ever. I was so jealous! Your first smile for a rando?! Thankfully the next morning you had pity on me and gave me lots of smiles.

Diaper Time Success. You seem to know the drill and now don’t cry or kick when we change you. (to date we have changed 569 diapers)

Last weight check (2 weeks ago) 9 lbs 15oz. I am hoping you break the 11 lbs. mark today!


Milk, cuddling with you held on your side with your right arm dangling through my arm and your left hand on my chest, Rain for Roots, being pushed around in a stroller, bath time, scalp massages, foot massages (don’t ask), being worn, being swaddled


Last month you would let us pause and burp you. Now… you scream bloody murder every time we stop to burp you because it means that you can’t eat for 20 seconds. You arch your back, scream and yell. It’s pretty funny.

You love sleeping your right side. Just like your dad.

You love sleeping your right side. Just like your dad.


This happened last week. You fell asleep and decided to stiff arm my face. Awesome.

This happened last week. You fell asleep and decided to stiff arm my face. Awesome.