My daughter, Cordelia Krizsan Vogel, is approaching the end of her fourth month in Her position as First Child in her family. Recently, I had to call her into the head office for a bit of a discussion.
I informed her that, while we appreciated her contributions to the family unit so far, we were disappointed by her lack of progress. We don’t have many positions in the Vogel/Krizsan family unit, you see, and while the options granted are very generous (to be paid in full after the demise of both parental units), the expectations are high. I let Cordelia know that, if improvement was not forthcoming, we would have to let her go.
Fortunately, our little girl bucked up, stiffed her little spine, and charted a firm course of improvement.
There is nothing more terrifying than mobility. To relocate one’s body is one of the first two signs of development, of humanity, of becoming an active and independent creature (more on the second sign later). The sort of active and independent creature who tears up magazines and thinks that power sockets might taste like candy. Cordelia can roll over now. From her stomach, she can flop over onto her back. This is the first link in a long chain of destruction. The physics of her movement is interesting. You see, Cordelia, like all small babies, has 3 body parts:
i. Her Gut Sac. The overlarge, lumpy torso which contains all life support elements.
ii. Her Big Block Head. Hard, heavy, and with a hole in it. The hole serves as a conduit for nutritive fluid, carrying it from the outside world into the Gut Sac. When the hole is not filled, it makes shrill noises which alert us of the need to fill it.
Despite the considerable aptitude new parents have for self-delusion, the block head has no other purpose early on. Supposedly, there is some sort of cognitive activity taking place inside. But I’m not kidding myself.
iii. Her Dangly Bits. There are four of these. Eventually, they are arms and legs, with some uses. At this point, they are only pleasant, aesthetic accessories for the Gut Sac.
With such an odd and awkward set of parts, it’s amazing that she can do anything but scream and excrete. But she figured it out. When she’s on her stomach, she uses her flimsy little arms to hoist her block head into the air. Once potential energy is stored in her head mass, she flops it over to the side. With the help of a little twist of her Gut Sac, the weight of her head carries her right over and onto her belly.
I want to move around by flinging my head places and letting it drag my body behind. I think that would be cool.
She still can’t flop from on back to on stomach, though. I think the reason for this is lack of motivation. As science seems to currently think, if she sleeps on her stomach, she’s much more likely to get the SIDS. Thus, when she flips onto her back, she is simply trying to say “Daddy, I like to breathe!”
You Now Have One Item In Your Inventory.
So she can move. We have to babyproof the house. Fuck.
But what key bit of human heritage she has claimed this week? Now, she can grab objects. She can see objects, reach for them (very slowly and carefully), and grasp them in her little hands. She is now only tiny steps from being able to wield a fork and jam it into a power outlet to try to dig the candy out.
All she has to learn to do now is talk, and she will have fully earned her social security number. She’ll be a full human, and we can no longer put her in a cardboard box, set her in front of the supermarket, and give her away like a puppy. (“We’d really like her to end up on a farm.”)
Actually, I forgot one step in the picking objects up process. What she actually does is see an object, reach for it, grab it, and then jam it into her mouth. This is totally stereotypical baby behavior, and I love it. It’s like living with a tiny Homer Simpson.
I Like Babies. So Sue Me.
If I had a dime for every person in my age group who said he or she didn’t like babies, I’d have several dollars. I recently counted myself among their number. Then I got to spend a huge amount of time around an actual baby.
Babies are like stinky French cheese. They are an acquired taste. You see one casually, and you see the drool and hear the squealing and (if very unlucky) smell the stink. You are repelled by that vacant expression and that total self-interest. At first, you can’t look at one of those icky little creatures without wanting to hit it with a rock.
But they have a certain charm that long term exposure makes extremely clear. Babies have a combination of limitless, ambitious energy and doughheaded guilelessness that is nothing but charming.
They’re not really people. But they want to be. My daughter can only really do one thing: grab things. And she only knows how to do one thing with items she collects: jam them into her mouth. So, goddammit, she’s going to grab things and jam them into her mouth, and she’s not going to stop until she can do something else.
In sum, babies have the same, adorable, limitless enthusiasm for exploring the world as puppies. And everyone loves puppies! But while puppies grow up to be big, dumb, slobbering dogs, babies grow up to be people. So babies are better.
The Thing I Usually Like To Say To People Who Talk About How Selfish and Obnoxious Babies Are:
“Well, if you were a mute quadriplegic, lying alone, really hungry and thirsty, you’d start screaming too.”
Baby Feeding Status Report
Every once in a while, we jam fruit goo in the baby’s mouth. She spits it out, while making adorable little hurt expressions.
Nothing makes me happier than being able to bother and annoy my daughter, in the guise of being a caring, considerate parent.
The Amazing Rotatable Baby
Cordelia really likes to be picked up and slung around. I put my hands firmly around her ribcage, under her arms, hoist her up, and bounce her around. She loves it. I lift her up and balance her on my head, making her a “Baby Hat”. It means that she now has an actual skill, in a garment-related area. Mommy wants Cordelia to vomit down my back when I do this. This has not yet happened, disappointing mommy.
Cordelia is also the amazing rotatable baby. I can lift her straight up and rotate her horizontal, ninety degrees right, then ninety degrees left, spinning her back and forth. She loves this. Or, at least, she smiles when I do this. But it could be a rictus of fear. Who can tell?
Some friends asked why I was doing this to my child. Why would anyone rotate their baby? Well, that’s obvious. You need to rotate your baby every so often so she wears evenly.
If you don’t rotate your baby, you can have a blowout. And heck, if a baby blows out when you’re going at a good speed, you could lose the entire family.
Cordelia’s Current Status In the Family
We set out a challenge for Cordelia, and I have to admit she met it. It’s not like she went out and generated more sales or anything, but she did do the extra learning and development we required to keep from having to do the supermarket/cardboard box thing.
But, if our family has any slogan, it’s “What have you done for me lately?” We expect development to continue. I’m sure you will find me perfectly reasonable when I say this: Complacency in our three month olds will NOT be tolerated.
Next Week On “The Story About the Baby” …
She has started teething.