Our little girl, Cordelia, is well into her fourth month, and I can fully see the reason to become a parent. If I hadn’t gotten a kid, the last four months would just have flown by, click, click, click, click, without my even noticing them. Having a child, however, slows life down. It makes you reeeeeally notice that time is passing.
There are two sorts of time: non-parent time, and shit-wiping time. Guess which one goes slower.
Four months down. Two hundred and twelve more, and we can send her to college.
More Checking. More Impaling With Needles.
My wife took our little girl to a doctor. It turns out that she is pretty much exactly at the fiftieth percentile for everything. Weight. Height. Decibels of screaming when suddenly and unexpectedly stuck with needles. However, she is exceptionally strong. If a parent holds her hands for balance, she can completely support her weight on her legs. This is our one show-off-the-baby trick. It’s not very interesting, but we’re grasping at straws here, people.
During our previous doctor’s appointment, we learned that Cordelia had a heart murmur. Research indicated that it would almost undoubtedly disappear. This time the doctor found that, sure enough, it has disappeared. Job of freaking out mom and dad completely unnecessarily – success!
Actually, the doctor was disappointed to find that, this time, there was nothing she could use to send us into a downward spiral of terror and anxiety. So she simply closed the appointment by saying “And remember. One day, your baby will be dead.” Pretty lame, I admit, but it was the best she could do given what she had to work with.
The Powerful Force of Parental Delusion
In a previous installment of this journal, I wrote that Cordelia’s brain was developing. I gave as evidence that she was capable of seeing an object, reaching for it, and grabbing it. I am now, sadly, forced to retract all of this. Especially the brain developing part.
You see, our little girl likes to clasp both hands together and then jam them into her mouth. When I handed her a “thing”, I was always positioning it where her hands would be anyway. She would bring them together around it, unknowingly grabbing the object in the process, and it would be dragged along as her hands made their regular journey into her slimy little maw. Suspecting this was the case, I held out an object for her, but I kept it two inches above where her hands normally come together. Her eyes fixed directly on the object. She brought her hands together. She looked slightly surprised to find that the thing she was looking at was not actually in her grasp. Then she gave a little mental shrug and shoved, like, twelve fingers into her mouth.
Repeated trials had the same result. She can’t grab for things yet. I am so disappointed in her.
This is so embarrassing. I mean, I was trying so hard to be a teeny bit rational about gauging her development. She is a baby. Her brain is still a blank thing, and I thought I could be at least a little impartial and honest about when it started to become less unfull. I wanted to love her for her cheery blankness, instead of superimposing my own delusions onto her basically honest and straightforward behavior.
But it won’t happen again. The next time I claim some development on her part, I’ll have video documentation. Or maybe I’ll just never believe she can do anything. She’ll say, “Daddy! I love you! And I just made a robot.” And I’ll be all like, “Oh, look honey! Our girl is making little sounds! What a cutie!”
Responsible Opposing Viewpoints Are Presented
My wife, on the other hand, gave up early. She woke me up today, plopped down Cordelia, and said, “Look! She can sit up sometimes!”
I watched the process with great interest.
(Wife carefully balances baby upright.) “Watch this.” (Lets go. Baby instantly falls over.) “OK, I’ll try again.” (Picks up baby. Carefully balances her again. Lets go. This time, baby stays upright for about 3 seconds before gravity claims her.) “See? She sat up!”
My response was: “Yeah. And sometimes, when I ask her what two plus two is, she grunts four times.” I then learned that this is not the sort of thing you should say if you prize domestic tranquility.
Our Baby Could Kick Your Baby’s Ass
Having a baby of my own makes me pay a lot more attention to the offspring of others. I’m always peeking into other parents’ strollers and Baby Bjorns. And I can now say this with some confidence and authority: our baby is SO much more attractive than the competition.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. I’m just a biased parent. I can’t be trusted to judge. But believe me, if there was some scientific scale for baby attractiveness, our child would be near the top of the scale. She has bright eyes, smiles a lot, and has the proper proportions. She’s not an obese little sack of butter, but she’s adorably well rounded and just a teeny bit chubby. She’s not like those lumps of gristle and twiggy bones other parents are trying to pass off as cute.
Face it. She’s darling. Science doesn’t lie.
And I don’t say this to brag, and I’m not trying to establish the higher genetic grade of my sperm. I’m just concerned on the behalf of the other babies. I mean, I’ve sure you’ve seen those, well, my wife and I call them Bug Babies. The tiny little scrawny things with huge eyes and haunted looks, the babies you want to grab and force feed cream? Sometimes I see a baby and I just know that the mother’s breasts are producing exactly 95% of the milk the kid should be getting, and she’s trying to make up for the other 5% with pure force of will.
Sure, we supplement mommy’s milk with formula. We’re sellouts. We suck. But hey, I have never looked at Cordelia and shouted, “Shit! Honey, get this kid some ham, quick!”
Actually, I saw one baby, about a month old, that seemed to have gone through the Bug Baby stage and come out on the far side. It was pretty scrawny, but that’s reasonable for one that young. But it also has this sad look and these enormous, terrifying bags under its eyes.
I swear, it was the eye bags that did it. It looked like it’d just come home from 14 hours at the ad agency. It looked like it knew the family budget was tight, and layoffs were imminent, and there was an all hands meeting scheduled for next week, and you know what that means. You can always tell when you’re looking at a baby who thinks it could get pink-slipped at any moment.
“So What You’re Saying Is That You Think Your Kid Is Cuter Than Mine?”
Not necessarily. Only nine times out of ten.
“Well, Fuck You.”
Hey. Science doesn’t lie.
Yeah. It’s a Baby. A Picture Is Five Bucks. Move Along.
It has been frequently observed that babies are chick magnets. When you’re a guy, nothing beats a baby for getting unavailable ladies to come up and chat with you. Of course, I get nothing but grandmothers and burly construction workers, but still. It’s always nice to get attention.
One of the advantages of having an exceptionally attractive baby is the way we constantly get self-esteem reinforcement from total strangers. We counted a full dozen complements during our last trip to the Farmer’s Market. I’d try to bottle my baby’s cuteness and sell it, but I don’t how to boil her down.
Sometimes, though, the attention is creepy. Like yesterday, I was walking her around in her stroller, and this guy, about forty, was completely smitten by her. He wasn’t homeless or drunk or anything. Thin, moustache, tall, looked like he had a job as a carpenter or something else that involves actual work. Sensible, salt of the earth type. But, the moment he saw the baby, it ate his brain. She was the most most fanfuckingtastic thing he had ever seen.
And then, after cooing over her for a minute, completely ecstatic, he turns to me, gives my hand a VERY firm shake, and says, I swear to God, “Marvelous.” Then he went on his way. I think he wanted to complement me on the quality of my seed, but his spider senses were detecting another baby just around the corner that was about to escape. And nothing is better than looking at a baby.
I’m not sure what it takes to get to this point. I like babies. They’re cute and neat. But I can’t imagine totally freaking out over them. So I’ve decided to go into a new line of work. Baby petting zoos. You pay five bucks, and you get to spend an hour in the presence of a dozen highly attractive, carefully selected babies. You can pet them, coo over them, poke them with chopsticks, whatever. Five extra bucks and a toddler comes out of the back room and calls you “Daddy.”
It’s brilliant. Easiest million bucks ever made. Venture capital is welcomed.