It has been an eventful week in the life of my 3.5 month old daughter, Cordelia Krizsan Vogel, a week of exploration, learning, and growth. Or so I was told. Because I wasn’t around. For most of the week, I was Undaddy, a blissfully absent being, spending several days a thousand or so miles away at my college reunion. I will write what I can of my baby’s growth, leaving behind all I did not personally witness. A loss of information and truth is a small price to pay for nine hours of uninterrupted sleep in a hotel bed.
I take great personal risk writing this report, as my wife, who stayed at home with the baby and her mother, got no such respite. But I must tell the truth, even though it puts me in line for a jealousy-driven ass-kickin’.
Three Days of Undaddy
Being a parent changes your whole perception of things. Parenthood lets you see the world in a whole new way, through the eyes of not having your child around.
It was a great delight to savor this strange world of baby not being around, in which people went to “restaurants”, and “slept in”, and spent lots of time not “freaking out”. And being at a college reunion under these circumstances was perfect, because it gave me all the key “not a loser” points without the indignity of being seen jamming my finger in Cordelia’s diaper, pulling it out, and sniffing it to see if she needs changing.
Such things do not lead to the envy which is the eternally desired prize at any college reunion.
Having a baby is ultimate proof of non-loserhood. It means that you are a mature being, who has taken on great hardship and sacrifices to achieve the one true goal of passing on the genes to the next generation. Plus, since it shows that I was able to get a woman to let my sperm enter her body, take root, and grow into some horrible, squishy, alien squealmonster, it proves that I am nowhere near as much of a wankpot as I was in college. This alone makes up for a lot of dirty diapers.
And then, after displaying my manliness in a peacock feather display of glossy photographs, I went out for dinner. At restaurants, they have people who walk around and fill your glass of water when you need it. It totally rules.
My Undaddy Badge Of Pride
However, I have some pride. Reunions and similar events are an opportunity for the parental state to slip in and eat your brain, turning you into one of those goo goo parent zombies. If you have the proper, righteous amount of fear of this happening, do what I did:
i. Limit yourself to three photographs. Only. You can display them in five seconds, bang, bang, bang, and it’s over with and you can talk like a fucking human being. I have three pictures that I showed. One of them was of Cordelia lying on a broiling pan, smiling obliviously, surrounded by bunches of fresh herbs. Best baby picture, ever.
ii. Limit talking about the baby to once per hour. Come on. You can do it. If you want to impress people, nothing will wow them more than that. And your childfree friends will be beside themselves with gratitude.
Talk about movies. You won’t be able to mention anything not out on video, since your recreation options are now limited to anything with a pause button (sex, no. porn, yes). Talk about politics. You may not know anything specific, but the Jews and the Arabs are always beating the shit out of each other, so talk about that. And talk about how sweet the good old days are. If your friends are in any way reasonable, they won’t begrudge you a little nostalgia about the days before the fontanel cleared the birth canal and it all went horribly, horribly wrong.
A Sad Admission, and An Uncharacteristic Moment of Sincerity.
Time until I missed my little girl – about 48 hours.
The First Goocramming Session
My wife Mariann has begun trying to feed Cordelia solid food. Admittedly, this is a bit on the early side. However, Mariann is very eager. You know that warm motherly glow women get when they breastfeed? Mariann gets the opposite of that. Mariann wants to wean so badly that La Leche League members have been trying to break in and hammer a stake through her heart.
So, for the first feeding attempt, we got some Earth’s Best brand organic “First Apples” applesauce. They proudly proclaim on the tiny label, something like fifty times, that they use no genetically modified ingredients of any kind. Like I care. Give it five years and she’ll be screaming and running into walls until mommy and me give her Twinkies. Even if genetically engineered apples made a difference, they wouldn’t make a difference.
Also, the label smugly states that the applesauce inside is vegan. What a relief. We didn’t buy any of that baby applesauce that had big chunks of ham in it. I bet the bulk of the baby food that my mom got me was vegan. But that was a simpler, happier time, when bragging that your food was vegan would get you pistol-whipped by a teamster.
Anyway, after all that prelude, the final result was predictable. My wife spooned some applesauce into Cordelia’s mouth. Cordelia gave her a perfect “What is this crap?” look. Then my daughter looked over at me, perhaps hoping to be saved. I was too busy with the camera, trying to use the zoom feature to capture to perfect combination of alarm and revulsion. And then Cordelia used her reflexive spitting capabilities, thoughtfully provided by nature for just such situations.
Poor Mommy. More breastfeeding for her.
But that’s not the most noteworthy thing about “Earth’s Best” brand baby food.
Vegans Are Up To No Damn Good
“Earth’s Best” brand sells all sorts of baby crap. Rice cereal. Mashed fruit goo. And so on. And, on all of their labels, they have paintings of little babies, one year old or so, wearing cloth diapers (of course cloth, and no plastic diaper covers), working in a garden. Some of them are picking. Some are weeding. One has a shovel, twice as large as he is. The babies are all depicted as very happy.
But we know better.
(Terrifying examples can be seen on their products page at earthsbest.com.)
To quote the back of their “Whole Grain Rice Cereal” box, “We fortify our cereals with iron because it is so crucial to early physical and neurological development.” Yeah, sure! So you can put the kids to work in the fields that much EARLIER, you sanctimonious, child labor using MOTHERFUCKERS!
The front of the box says it all, those blank eyes kids, picking weeds without gloves, manhandling enormous shovels around with delicate baby fingers. Wearing cloth diapers without covers, so the urine and watery baby feces can leak out in little rivulets, drying and caking up well before the noontime sun blasts their exposed baby flesh!
Yeah, maybe I feed my little girl formula. And maybe I might give her non-organic fruit. And maybe I forget to feed her sometimes for a day or two. But at least I don’t put her to work IN THE FIELDS. So there, granola-crunching cocksuckers.
Blasting My Baby’s Senses Into Awakenness
Speaking of unending terror, I’ve been reading “The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year,” by Armin A. Brott. It’s about how fathers can, through time, playing, and fighting the overwhelming apathy, make a difference in the lives of their offspring. So far, so good, I suppose.
Anyway, according to this book, I should expose my child’s senses to many different inputs (new sights, sounds, etc.). Here is a lovely little quote from the section on smells.
“Make sure she doesn’t get any of these things in her mouth, and don’t experiment with extremely strong smells. Also, stay away from ammonia, bleach, gasoline, paint thinner, pool or garden chemicals and any other toxic materials you may have around the house.”
Ammonia. Bleach. Paint thinner.
This is why parenting books give me the dry gripes. Anyone seriously telling me I shouldn’t be making my infant smell bleach makes me want to do it, just to be contrary. Out of curiosity, I checked and found that the section on Touch did not include the warning:
“While soft things like felt and bits of fur are all right, do not let her touch rougher, harsher substances. Do not let your baby play with rusty nails or shards of broken glass. Do not place your baby on a bandsaw.”
And, frighteningly, the section on Sight did not say:
“Do not point baby directly at sun.”
The Most Efficient Way To Expose Your Child To A Cornucopia Of New Sensory Experiences
Put the little freeloader to work in the fields. That’s what the hippies do. And we all know how together they are.