Our darling little hand-suckin’ spud girl just ticked over into her fourth month. As I understand it, she is about to gain the ability to roll over. This means that, any night now, she will roll onto her stomach and suffocate.
Sure, this seems counter-intuitive, considering the countless humans who have survived to adulthood before her. And yet, if this isn’t a problem, why does Babies ‘R’ Us sell little padded devices designed to keep the baby from rolling over? And if this isn’t a problem, why was I idiot enough to buy one?
Hand Sucking, A Progress Report
Since she discovered the limitless joy brought by jamming her little fists into her mouth, I have been watching the process of figuring out the most efficient uses of this sacred gift. It’s been taking weeks. She is a baby, after all.
It is a simple mathematical fact of life that if something is good, twice as much of it is twice as good. Or so it would, to the inexperienced baby eye, appear. And yet, she has not yet learned that trying to jam both fists into her mouth is not twice as enjoyable as jamming one fist. In fact, it is much less satisfying. Though infinitely more amusing for daddy.
She has realized that jamming a whole fist into her mouth is actually not that satisfying, and that her hand has these intriguing subdivisions called “fingers”. She sometimes happily sucks on her middle and index fingers, although she has not yet realized that she should not suck them into her mouth too far. Jamming her fingers down her throat, with the resulting gagging and so forth, does defeat the relaxing purpose of the hand sucking. Though, once again, it’s hugely amusing for daddy.
Finally, our adorable little pita pocket of pure suffering does not really understand the nature of objects, their solidity, and their inability to be more than one place at once. Thus, once her hand is in her mouth, she forgets that should be keeping it there. Once she has pulled it out of her mouth and she realizes that her joyful suck object is gone, she casts her eyes about, looking for the asshole who took it from her. Her eyes immediately fall upon the daddy-thing above her, struggling to keep from laughing. I say, “Don’t look at me! I didn’t do it!” This does not make her forgive me, as, alas, she does not speak English.
Then I laugh at her.
I don’t know at what age my daughter will fully appreciate and be hurt by my laughing at her. When this stage is reached, though, my job as a parent will become 10 times harder.
One of the biggest problems with becoming a parent is the way it exposes you to shitty things. Shitty food. (Lunchables.) Shitty books. (Goodnight Moon, my ass.) Shitty Movies. (Spy Kids. Disney straight to video cartoons.) And shitty music. Oh God, the music. With movies, I have options. I love cartoons as much as any developmentally retarded geek boy. I loves that Bugs Bunny.
With books, I have options. I get a big kick out of Harry Potter, and similarly overrated works of fiction. And I don’t care how old you are. If you don’t like Shel Silverstein, there’s something wrong with you.
But the music. The vast bulk of children’s music is synthed up Deedle Doodle Deedle crap. And pretty much all of it gives my ears a dry, hard hatefuck.
Which brings me to a “gift” I just got from two of my “friends.” It’s a cassette tape called Wee Sing Silly Songs. It has 47 songs, accompanied with lyrics and sheet music. Because, if you are like me, and I’m sure you are, there’s no better way to spend one’s free time than to commandeer a piano and bang off a few spirited rounds of Little Bunny Foo Foo.
(An aside. One of the best things about your friends’ kids is the way you can give them music and noise making devices. If there is a more perfect way to inflict malicious mischief in the guise of kindness, I have not found it.)
But back to Wee Sing Silly Songs. Here are a few highlights from the FORTY-SEVEN songs on this tape:
“Boom, Boom, Ain’t It Great To Be Crazy?” – A charming serenade to the delights of mental illness.
“Hinky Dinky ‘Double D’ Farm” – Interesting coincidence. I have a videotape called “Double D Farm” in a shoebox under my bed.
“John Brown’s Baby” – Apparently, before he seized Harper’s Ferry, killed those people, and was hung by the neck until dead, John Brown had a kid who did the most adorable shit you ever heard of.
“Once An Austrian Went Yodeling” – Worst song title, EVER.
Also, half the songs or so are about some chap named Jesus, and how fantastic he was. Screw that.
Facing Baby Eye To Eye
I love picking up baby and holding her facing me, eye to eye, so she can look at me with awe and adoration. Why else have a baby? What other point do they have?
Lately, though, when I do this, she looks everywhere but at me. She looks left. Then right. Then left. Then right. And so on, turning her eyes past me without even a moment’s notice. There are better balms for one’s self esteem than the experience of being blown off by one’s own baby.
Left, right, left, right. Looking everywhere but at me, giving every impression of wanting to be somewhere else. Holding my baby is like my Senior Prom all over again.
Belly Practice, Until the Screaming Starts
Since I don’t want Cordelia to get a case of the SIDS, she sleeps on her back. That’s what the books say, and if the books said that wearing purple felt hats kept SIDS away, we’d ask if we should get beanie propellers on them too. Anyway, our pediatrician advised us to occasionally put baby on her stomach, so her belly muscles get exercised. And here my problems begin.
Cordelia hates being on her stomach. And she hates it more and more as time goes on. When I plop her down on her belly, she lifts her head, and points it face down towards the blanket, and lets it drop, and lo, she can’t breath, so she lifts her head, points it face down, and drops it again. Splat. Splat. Splat. This process repeats until she really righteously fucking freaks out.
Repetitive, self-defeating behavior is rapidly becoming a theme in these articles.
I hate doing this to her. Who knows how this ordeal, repeated during her formative years, will warp her? Maybe she will develop a total terror of being flipped onto her stomach. Of course, life might have been easier for me if I had developed that fear early on. But enough about summer camp.
By forcing her to exercise even though it makes her alternate between exhaustion and terror, I have transformed myself into one of those most loathsome of beings: a gym teacher. Of course, if I could have gotten back at my gym teachers by screaming at them for hours after class, my adolescence would have been far easier.
A Question Which I’m Sure Has Occurred To You Too
How old does she have to be before her hand muscle control is good enough to flip someone the bird?
That would be SO CUTE!
Drool Is Like Diamonds
No matter how hard you fight to prevent it, being a parent reprograms your brain. In no area, to my mind, is this more apparent than in the realm of drool.
I always thought that baby drool was, like, SO gross. Seeing a little baby with a long, sticky rainbow dangling from its slack, puffy mouth was enough to make me want to give myself an vasectomy with a ballpoint pen, right then and there.
But now I have a little girl, and it’s all different. I see her jam her two chubby little fingers into her mouth, yank them out, and smear the saliva all over her lips and chin, and, to me, the viscous moisture looks just like a chain of little diamonds.
I envy her. It is a great ability. I wish more than anything I could drool on command. It would be a great trick. For example, you ever been cornered by a dull person at a party? A real wanker, who wants nothing more than to pinion you and spend hours describing his tormented childhood and the anguish of his bisexuality issues? Sure you have. And, if you, like me and are cursed with tiny trace of politeness, you’ve lingered there, boxed in, wasting time that could be spent eating shrimp?
Well, at these times, I wish I could drool. I would gaze at the bore attentively and with apparent interest while, slowly, a trickle of drool runs down my chin and starts to soak into my collar. And then, as my shirt gets heavier and heavier with spit, my eyes lose their focus, and I slump against the wall. It would be the coolest trick.
And yet, I can not drool. Believe me, I’ve tried. I just can’t get it to work. It’s the largest failure in my life, apart from all the others.
Yes, it would be great to be a baby again. She drools when I talk to her, just the way I dream it. If it wasn’t for that whole unpleasant “Unable to walk, use hands, or talk” thing, it’d be a sweet life.