Our lovely daughter, Cordelia Krizsan Vogel, continues to grow and evolve. She seems to be in a growth spurt now. This means that, instead of sleeping 6 hours at night before needing more food, she sleeps 5. You might not think such a small difference would make a big change in the tranquility of our household. You would be incorrect.
You might be saying, “Oh, so what! My baby only sleeps one hour a night! And she never stops screaming! And she has a gun!” Well, if you would say that, read on. I have a special secret message for you.
Conversations With the Baby
Our baby is starting to enter the babble stage. She can spend long periods of time trying to get her mouth to make vowel sounds.
I can sympathize with her difficulties. Despite years of trying, I can not roll my r’s. It is a great shame in the family. I just can’t do it. But for her, every sound she makes is like me rolling my r’s. Every way to pronounce every letter is a new challenge, which will take days of practice. And I am there to help.
So, when she is feeling talkative, I converse with her by repeating every sound she makes back to her. It really encourages her… we can go on like that for an hour at a time.
(“God, I feel like a jerk.”) “Aaaaahhhoi!”
(“But I suppose, if I didn’t want to spend all my time looking like a complete idiot, I wouldn’t have had kids.”)
“Uhh. Ooooh. Aoooah. Oi.”
“Oooh. Aooooahh. Oi.”
(“Oi? What is she? A British soccer hooligan?”)
Then, eventually, I get bored. So I spend time trying to teach her actual words.
“Defenestrate.” “Ooo. Goo.”
“Uh… Honey? Did I do ‘Colonoscopy’ yet?”
Then, eventually, she just stares at me like I’m a big jerk.
This is all pretty cool. If there was anything I was looking forward to about parenting, apart from being released from the pressure of having to perform sexually on a regular basis, it was seeing a squealing, blood-smeared little wad of pale flesh develop into a full human being. To see her learn to talk is to see her accept one half of her heritage as a full, empowered member of our species. As soon as her hands have developed enough to hold and aim a gun, we’ll have the other half covered.
Secrets of the Baby Mutterer
One of the parenting books easily found in any bookstore is Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Despite the sick-making, gut-churning title, it does not actually try to convince overeager parents that they can communicate with their children. Although it does divide babies into different “personalities”. It turns out, there are options besides “bitchy.”
This does, however, give me an idea for my own book. I’ll call it “Secrets of the Baby Mutterer: Decoding Your Babies Utterances So That You Can Understand It Perfectly and Realize How Smart the Little Sprog Is.” It will be full of shit I make up, which will put it on the intellectual level of most parenting books.
A sample of translations:
“Waaaahhhh! Waaaahhhh!” – “Hey! Hey!”
“Gooo. Gah.” – “I am noncommittal.”
“Ehhhh. Ehhhhhh. Eh.” – “I am having trouble breathing. Please totally fucking freak out now.”
“Ahhh. Ah. Ahhhhh.” – “I have absolutely no moral sense. If I was bigger and stronger, I would have no qualms about cracking your skull open to see if there’s candy inside.”
“Oi. Oi.” – “I want to be a British soccer hooligan.”
Hell Is Other Parents
When I found out that my wife was going to be bearing my child, I made to myself one silent, sacred resolution. I was not going to let parenthood eat my brain. I was not going to turn into one of THOSE parents.
There is a certain sort of person who is invariably turned by parenthood into this sort of gaseous kvetch who responds to news of any difficulty, no matter how big or small, with a litanies of woe from their parenting life. You will know who I am talking about, if you have ever had one of these conversations:
“My job is driving me nuts. I’m having real trouble working on this project.”
“You should try having a baby. Then you’ll know what trouble is!”
“Man, I’m tired. The baby was up all night.”
“You think you have it bad now? Wait until she’s had colic for two months.”
“I just found out. The tumor in my stomach is malignant.”
“Just wait until you’ve raised a teenager. Then you’ll know what worrying is!”
“Help me. Oh God, please. I’m having a heart attack.”
“Like that’s a problem. Just wait… Hey. Are you OK?”
I want to react to my problems with these kind people like I want to react to any problem: with horrible, horrible violence. But they are parents, so small people depend on them for support and sustenance, so, in some small, moral way, annihilating them would be wrong.
However, one day, they won’t be parents anymore. They’ll just be grandparents. And then they can be destroyed. Sure, their grandkids want to have them around. But I’m sure they would want a just world more. So it’s OK.
What My Baby Has Learned. What She Hasn’t.
What she has learned: When she jams her entire fist into her mouth, it gives her pleasure. What she has not learned: Trying to jam BOTH fists into her mouth – Not so good.
While browsing through Complete Baby and Child Care, by Dr. Miriam Stoppard, reading about the different, horrible afflictions my baby did not get (“No Pyloric Stenosis! Phew!”), I found a listing for “Imperforate Anus.” This is when the baby is born, basically, with no asshole. This is pretty bad. If nothing is done, eventually, these babies EXPLODE.
Actually, I don’t know if that last bit is true. But I want it to be true.
The only reason I mention this is because now, if you are anything like me, and I see no reason why you aren’t, you will be unable to go through any conversation for the next several days without finding a way to work in the phrase “Imperforate anus.”
I’ve also started saying that my baby was born with “Perforate anus.” That sounds pretty good, too.
“Look, Honey! Her Fontanel Is Throbbing.”
The fontanels are, of course, the soft spots in the baby’s head, where the skull hasn’t closed yet. I am assured that they are sealed off with a strong membrane, which prevents idle poking from damaging the baby’s sweet little brain. Nonetheless, I am assured that it is still a bad idea to bonk the baby’s head against things.
What they don’t tell you, however, is that sometimes, for reasons known only to God and hydraulic science, sometimes the soft spot pulses. You can watch as it throbs vigorously up and down, making it look like the kid’s brain is trying to tunnel its way out.
I have a strong stomach. I watched the birth. I watched the torn bits get sewn up. I prodded and poked the placenta. But when I saw Cordelia’s brain throbbing, I was, like, “What sort of fucked up Ren & Stimpy shit is this?” It completely freaked me out.
When I expressed these feelings to my loving support network of friends and family, they assured me that, yes, these feelings do, indeed, make me a total pussy. Turns out it’s just another normal, expected, stupid thing. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened since. I can put up with a lot. But pulsing brains? Here, I draw the line.
It Has To Be Said
It’s painfully banal, but it still deserves to be noted. I finally had my moment of Nightmare Parent Satori the other night.
That’s where you’re floating along, workin’ it, gettin’ it done, spongin’ up the poo, getting from one end of the day to the other, and you stop, stunned, and say:
“HOLY SHIT! I’m a PARENT. Who THE FUCK let THAT happen?”
The second moment of Parent Satori comes in a few years when I open my mouth and my dad’s voice comes out. I can wait. Having my eyes opened too far sprains my head.