It took extra time to write this week’s journal. It was composed while holding my 2 month old daughter Cordelia in my lap, and I had to write the whole thing one handed. You would think my 14 years on the Internet would have made me better at typing one-handed. I think I’ve been going to all the wrong web sites.
Anyway, I wrote this one-handed because the other hand was holding Cordelia upright. If I let her lie on her back, she would instantly start screaming. When I lifted her up again, she would cry a few more seconds to fully make her point, quiet down, look me dead in the eye, and gave me a picture perfect expression of irritation and disappointment.
I think this says something bad about me as a person, but I am far more pleased when she communicates irritation than happiness. Those smiles might just be the result of gas. I don’t buy it. But those frowns are 100% pure, undiluted, “Hey, don’t try to put one over on me. OLD MAN.” It melts my heart.
What Makes My Daughter Happy
Sometimes, I want my child to be quiet and alert and happy and looking in my eyes with this sort of beautiful, sacred parent-child communication like in Bambi. At this stage of life, my overachieving yuppie spirit is not satisfied merely with having my daughter get to the end of the day without turning blue. I think I should be interacting with her. Or educating her. Or, at the very least, getting a reminder of what her face looks like when it’s not asleep or screaming.
Sometimes, I can commune with her mushy little brain by planting my face the book-recommended 8-10 inches from hers and making barnyard noises. Mooing, etc. This quiets her down and is usually good for a smile, but then I start to worry that I’m teaching her that that is how humans communicate. And then she’ll only communicate in clucks and grunts. And then she’ll flee the company of regular humans, with their strange, frightening language of sentences and vowels. And the next thing you know, she’s in a shack in the woods, and it’s MY FAULT. No way. My daughter’s name is Cordelia, not Nell.
Fortunately, this fate is unnecessary. There is a time when she is always quiet, alert, happy, and ready with a smile, never fail. And that is when she is not wearing pants.
Whenever I’ve just put on a fresh diaper, before dressing her again, she is invariably happy. Blissed out. She kicks her legs up, and airs out her parts, and she couldn’t be more pleased.
Oddly enough, when I try this, it doesn’t work. After using the bathroom, I rubbed myself down thoroughly with moist towelettes, took off my pants, hopped into bed, and kicked my legs in the air. It really made me feel free and fresh, but not happy. I had my wife come in and rub my belly. No help. I had her moo at me. While this intrigued me in a way neither of us are comfortable with, no extra happiness. My legs hurt. My back hurt. While my kid can hold that position forever, I had to lower my legs. And, eventually, I put on pants.
Yes, the joy of no pants, like my youthful innocence and my enjoyment of Hostess cupcakes, is gone forever. But, at least, I can teach my daughter and help her experience the thrill of utter pantlessness. It’s the Circle of Life. Just like in Bambi.
An Unnecessary and Brief Comment on the Subject of Vomit
My daughter, like all infants, spits up a lot. “Spit up” is the cute euphemism we parents use for “barf” or “vomit” in an attempt to retain our sanity.
Until recently, her milky spit up has smelled, well, like milk. A little musty, but not so bad.
Recently, however, her spit up started to smell like what it is. Vomit. This was a strictly unnecessary stripping away of one of the cherished illusions which has been helping me get from one end of the day to the other.
Also, the last thing in the world I needed was something which makes the aesthetic qualities of parenthood even worse. Reek-free vomit. Is that really, really too much to ask of life?
Yes. I Know Your Child Shits. And I Don’t Want To Hear About It.
I was about to fill this space with a story about my child pooing in an interesting way. You will be pleased to know that I thought better of it.
It is only natural, I suppose. If you share your home with a creature which is completely uninhibited about when and where it excretes waste and has the ability to do so with astonishing force and range, you will get stories. EVERYONE with children has these stories. So why, God, why do we tell them?
These stories are corrosive to the soul, for the teller, the listener, and the subject. My parents have two of them about me. In one, I stood in the back of a pickup truck and peed on passing traffic. In the other, I pee on one of my grandparents’ paintings. (In my defense, it’s not exactly the greatest painting in the world.) Each of the dozens of times I have heard these stories, it has taken a week off my life.
Therefore, my Story About the Baby promise to you. No stories about filth expulsion. Even really good ones, like the one I was going to write, which included the word “lampshade.”
Of course, I reserve the right to break this promise, but only if something really, REALLY good happens. But she’ll have to piss on the Pope.
I’ll Dress Her In Chain Mail, As Long As It’s Free.
One of the many ways my wife and I are hugely fortunate in our parenting situation is our timing. When Cordelia was born, we knew four couples who had recently had their final child, and two more whose recent child was not going to be joined with a sibling anytime soon.
This is great work, if you can get it. We were showered with tons of shit. Multiple copies of the same book. Extra, bonus bathtubs. His and her strollers. But nothing beat the clothes.
It seems like, every day, Cordelia is wearing an outfit I’ve never seen before. Jumpers with French writing on the chest. Masculine blue velour one pieces. Ludicrous dresses edged in lace which we use to punish her.
The fun never ends. Turns out, I’ll put my kid in anything if it’s free. A tinfoil pantsuit. Baby seal fur. The skin of a different, larger baby. No matter. An exhausted friend gives it to us in a paper bag, and it goes into the queue.
And, when something gets outgrown, it goes into a different bag. We already have two huge bags of spare garments. I’ll tell you this for nothing. Our next friend who gets knocked up wins the fuckin’ lottery.
I Wuv My Widdle Hippie Girl
We got clothes at the baby shower too. A hippie couple we know made Cordelia a lovely pair of tie-dyed undergarments. It was, I admit, a noble effort to turn our fresh new daughter into some scumfucking Naderite granola person.
My wife and I soon observed that, whenever we put her into her tie dyed outfit, she would, within hours, without fail, urinate on it.
She is her father’s daughter.
I Wuv My Daddy Tagboard Face
We bought a mobile to hang above her crib. It’s some asinine educational thing. It’s a set of four-inch diameter cardboard circles, with geometrical designs and crude, black and white human faces on it. Nobody was more surprised than me to find that Cordelia would actually be fascinated by the thing. I didn’t go through all the trouble of having my wife give birth to have a daughter who can be entertained by staring at circles.
But it’s far, far worse. Within hours of the mobile’s installation, I looked into the crib and saw Cordelia staring at the cardboard face. She had this wide smile and blissed out look on her face. I recognized it instantly. It’s the way she looks when she sees me!
Nothing strips a fresh parent of delusions regarding the depth of the emotional attachment of his child faster than seeing her give total adoration and allegiance to a cardboard disk.
But I knew how to handle the situation. The next time Cordelia was crying, I was, like, all “Oh? Something wrong? Need to be fed? Changed? Well why don’t you have the CARDBOARD DISK do it, huh? What’s the matter? The CARDBOARD DISK not there for you? Huh? Bet you don’t feel so smart now! You backed the wrong horse, kid! The CARDBOARD DISK got nothin’ on me! Nothin!”
Then my wife Mariann came in. Surprisingly, she was entirely unsympathetic to my viewpoint and took Cordelia off to deal with whatever she was whining about. It’s easy for Mariann to be that way. She doesn’t realize how fickle and disloyal our child is. And I plan to make this extremely clear, just as soon as she is speaking with me again.
Words My Spell Checker Did Not Approve Of When Proofreading This Piece: