Our lovely little daughter Cordelia is sailing smoothly through her third month of life. Every day, it seems, her mother or I develop a new way to distract, pacify, or psychologically anesthetize her. Be it a mobile, a CD of baby music, or daddy’s “special” formula mixture (lime juice, triple sec, tequila, shaken, salt on the nipple, and some vitamins for good health), she is turning into as quiet and well-behaved a little drool-girl as anyone could ever want.
She had made no advancements in the last week. She is as dopey and glassy-eyed as ever. Well, actually, there is something. Today, she gave her face both the deepest and the longest self-inflicted scratches ever. I think this means improvement in both her strength and motor skills.
Bear with me. I’m grasping at straws here, people.
Baby’s Life Among the Geeks
This weekend, we took our daughter on our first little trip. For the weekend, we went to stay in a hotel by the airport and attend a science fiction convention. Our daughter comes from a strong geek background, and she will be raised in an extremely geek-heavy environment. Bearing this in mind, we figured “Hey, why fight it?” We might as well immerse her in geekdom from day one, and see what happens. If worst comes to worst, we can sell her to the circus.
It is a difficult thing, exposing one so delicate and blank-brained to the sort of wankbaskets who know how to speak Klingon, have memorized the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and think Doctor Who is good. But, apart from the fact that they are, well, my people, I take very seriously my responsibility to shape my girl’s little brain.
As I understand it, my job as a parent is to completely program my child. Every belief, every preference, every behavior, good or bad, will be what me and my wife decide. If we deem that she will vote Republican, like clams, and hate jazz, she will do so. Therefore, the geek immersion. If we don’t do this now, there is a chance that she will one day be capable of cheering for her high school football team without irony. And we can’t have that.
We are GODS, and she is CLAY we mold. So we took her to a hotel to be around people wearing latex extensions on their foreheads.
Believe me, it made sense at the time.
So anyway. What we found out is that taking a 2.5 month old on a little trip is aggravating. But so is having a 2.5 month old anywhere else. So no loss. And being around lots of people is a great self-esteem builder. Strangers poke at your child and smile at you. If you ever feel lonely and bereft, just sling your sprog around for a while, and, for a moment, you’re king shit. It is amazing something so cute and interesting could emerge from my sperm.
Why I Am the Worst Parent Ever
While I was pushing Cordelia in a stroller down one of the hallways of the convention, I walked past a young, attractive woman wearing an unusually skimpy costume. I was so distracted by her ass that I pushed the stroller into a pole.
I think this makes the quality of my parenting borderline. At best.
Dopey, Dopey Baby.
Spending lots of time in the presence of people who are not me or my offspring, however, makes very clear how different my somewhat unsentimental view of parenting is from the sweety-pie gumdrops view of everyone else. This becomes most clear when, in the presence of others, I refer to little Cordelia as “Dopey.”
To their credit, they immediately jump to my daughter’s defense, since she is far too blank-minded and oblivious to do it herself. They ask, horrified, how any parent could refer to his own little child as “dopey”.
My response is simple. SHE IS DOPEY. DOPEY DOPEY DOPEY. Have you ever looked in the eyes of a 2 month old? Taken a good, long look? There’s nothin’ there! Ever wonder what was going on in those tiny infant brains of theirs? Well, here’s what it sounds like: “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” And I have to describe her as dopey, because it helps me come to terms with the fact that she might always be that way. Maybe I’m overly pessimistic, but how can I be absolutely sure that she’s ever going to get any smarter? Concluding that my child’s brain will develop just because every other kid’s does strikes me as excessively naive and optimistic.
How do I know I won’t still have to carry her around in a sling when she’s in kindergarten? Can I be sure I won’t have to drive at top speed to her 7th grade class because the pacifier fell out of her mouth? Jesus, what if she takes up track and field in high school? I’ll have to learn how to pole vault, just to haul her up and over that fucking bar. I don’t want to be changing the diapers of a 30 year old! That’s when she’s supposed to be changing my diapers!
No. I’m going to face up to it now. She’s a dopey, dopey little girl. And you can argue the point with me all you want. She won’t mind. She’ll be sitting there, happy and content, in a rapidly expanding pool of her own waste.
A Brief Discussion of the Five Second Rule In the Context of Parenting
Of the many ways in which science has made it easier for us to live productive lives, I think the most significant is the Five Second Rule.
For the unfamiliar, the Five Second Rule states that, when food is dropped on the floor, if it is picked up and brushed off within five seconds, it is still wholesome and edible. Past that, it is considered “dirty” and must be discarded/given to the dog. I am sure that this rule was created and verified by Science, no doubt tested by hordes of bespectacled biosnackgineers, with clipboards and ear hair.
The five second rule is important because of Cordelia’s dependence on her pacifier (known to science as a “Binky”), combined with her ability to occasionally spit it a long distance. Whenever she lands it on the floor, I swoop down as swiftly as I can, scoop it up, wipe off the bits of grit that have adhered to her saliva, triumphantly shout “Five Second Rule!” and jam it back into her mouth.
But this makes me wonder. How is the five seconds accumulated? Suppose it lands on the floor once for one second and then again for two seconds. Do the seconds add up? If (When) it’s spit out again, do I have a fresh five seconds to grab it, or do I have only two seconds? Does her sucking restore the lost “floor time” slowly, or is it all regained the moment I put the Binky in her mouth?
Good questions, all, and ones which can only satisfactorily be answered by appealing to that sweet, fierce bitch-goddess which is science. How about it?
“Well, why don’t you just wash off the pacifier before putting it back into her mouth? Huh?”
Because then I would be spending 10 hours a day washing off the goddamn pacifier. And I’m sure germs build character.
Plus, I’m burned out on the whole sanitation thing. Before a nurse suggested we get a pacifier, Cordelia sucked on my little finger. I was washing my hands so often that I was getting big, flaky sores. It got so bad even obsessive-compulsives were coming up to me on the street and saying “Dude, you need to RELAX!”
Forcing Music Appreciation
There are lots of places to get advice on how to make your child appreciate music. There are lots of music CDs you can buy to get your infant to develop a love of Mozart, or Bach, or some other crusty dead guy.
For example, at the baby shower, we were given a CD of classical music for babies. That is, it is perfectly good classical music, played in a way an adult imagines a tiny baby might enjoy. That is, short snippets of the greatest hits played on someone’s Casio keyboard. It annoys daddy, so baby loves it.
And yet, what I want to know is not how to create interest in my child, but how to prevent it. I am, frankly, indifferent about how Cordelia feels about Mozart. However, I am willing to exert considerable effort to keep her from ever liking jazz.
For that matter, I would gladly burn all potential for love of music out of her tiny brain before I’d let her spend several years tormenting me with that boy band shit. I know that this is years off, but I still dread it. There must be a way to prevent it. Maybe, from the age of six, I’ll play the Backstreet Boys constantly. I will call them “phat.” And, at the same time, she can’t ever see me listen to music I like, or she’ll hate it. For the next eighteen years, I can only listen to the Beatles and Led Zeppelin in the tiny crawlspace under the stairs, and I’ll refer to Lennon in her presence as a “dirty longhair.”
With hard work and patience, I’m sure I can give my little girl the freedom to choose to like what I do.
A Compromise On the Music Issue
In 16 years, as now, I am sure that many pop stars loved by the young will be of the “Underage, sexually teasing jailbait girls” variety. Like Britney Spears. Jewel. Hanson. And so on.
There is room for compromise here. My daughter can plaster posters of her favorite stars all over the house as long as they are … well … how to put this delicately? Easy on the eyes.
All we have to do is work together, and I’m sure can all get our own little something out of the deal.