It has now been five months since my daughter Cordelia came out of my wife and into our hearts. She’s come a long way since her first fragile moments. She’s made a lot of advances. For example, she doesn’t have an umbilical cord attached to her any more. And she now has belly cellulite.
As time goes on, she is more and more able to focus on tasks with an intensity of purpose which scares me. She’s starting to show will and intent. She’s starting to become, to make up a word, persony.
It scares the shit out of me. She’s starting to look at me. I mean, really LOOK at ME.
Teething continues. Every day, her little canines move a subatomic distance closer to the surface. At this rate, I estimate that her baby teeth will all be out about 3 months after her adult ones. I’d try to pinch the sluggish little bastards and drag them out, but that seems like cheating.
Cordelia seems very resigned to her teething situation. She’s sort of at peace with it. Sometimes, based on extra irritability and unusually persistent inability to nap, I suspect that her teeth hurt. But I can’t be sure. They only hurt enough to cause a massive screaming jag occasionally. I’m positive that she’s hurting sometimes, but she’s learned to, on odd days, be a little stoic about it. Except for the long periods of naplessness, so far so good.
When I give her Baby Tylenol, and naplessness and fussiness end quickly (and she gets these adorable looks of disgust when her mouth is filled with the sweet, sticky red goo). But this is where my wife and I part ways. My wife is loathe to pack a little baby with drugs, any drugs, unless there is strong and convincing evidence that is it necessary (such as, say, the baby going “AAAAAAHHHH!!!! AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!”).
I, on the other hand, don’t like the thought of my little girl in pain, and I don’t like the thought of her delaying her nap for four hours. I want that nap! She owes me that nap!
So we compromise. Some days, my wife holds back on the Tylenol and keeps Cordelia organic and free range. On other days, I give her a “Pain Vacation.” I drug her when she shows signs of unrest, and comfort myself with the knowledge that she can spend an evening free of gum issues.
I don’t feel bad about this at all. I mean, it’s not like I’m giving her Xanax or Baby Ritalin (yet). It just appeals to my basic sense of fair play. If mommy gets an epidural, baby gets Tylenol. Daddy can make do with Guinness.
Those Pudgy Little Fingers Can Go Everywhere!
Cordelia continues to be an exciting science experiment for daddy. Her grabbing ability continues to improve.
Before, if I held an object just above where she normally stuck out her hands, she would see it, stick her hands straight out, look confused because she was not now clutching the object, and jam her empty hands into her mouth.
Now she is learning that hands can go in all sorts of directions. However, she hasn’t made the full connection between what she is seeing and where her hands are going. Here is how she grabs an object she sees at forehead level: She sticks her hands straight out. Oops, nothing there. Then she lifts her hands up and flails them about at random. Eventually, they make contact with the object. Once she has a finger on it, she laboriously maneuvers her hands in position around it. Then, finally, she reels the object in and gives it a much needed salivary moistening.
I didn’t have any good reasons for becoming a parent. That is because I believe there are no “good” or “bad” reasons to have a child. (Exception: Having a child in order to sell it on EBay as a collectible is a bad reason.) But I also feel that, if you don’t feel at least some sense of awe and scientific interest regarding a blank-brained infant’s journey to full, complex humanhood, there’s something wrong with you.
Her Brain Outweighs Her Body
We regularly put Cordelia, normally a back-dwelling creature, on her front. It’s good exercise for her little muscles, and gives her practice being in that position. It will be a huge help when she develops the ability to crawl and mommy and daddy’s problems truly begin.
Of course, to get her to try to crawl, I provide motivation. Just as I will go to great efforts when good food and sex are dangled in front of me, Cordelia can be induced to try to move on her own through dangling of her favorite yellow giraffe rattle. Once she is on her stomach, I show her the rattle, keeping it just out of her reach. Her eyes focus on it, and she tries to get closer. She generally uses one of three techniques:
i. Grab the carpet and try to drag herself closer. This is really cute, but futile. First, her fingers are pudgy and weak. Second, she is not actually on the carpet. She is on a blanket, and, when she pulls on it, it just ends up scrunched up around her face. Then she sucks on it and forgets about the rattle.
ii. Attempt to push herself forward with her legs. This is adorable, but futile. Her legs are just too short and there’s not enough traction. Also, she invariably ends up lifting both feet and both arms into the air, causing her face to smack into the floor. This sudden reminder of the implacable harshness of gravity causes her to forget about the rattle.
iii. Drag herself forward on her elbows. Basically, in the very best Normandy beach fashion, she stays low to the ground and inches herself forward, a tiny bit at a time, staring at the rattle with eyes like little lasers. Amazingly, this works. Sometimes, she works herself forward the few inches necessary to reach the rattle. I hold it in range, she reaches for it, removing the key support her arms are providing, and whap. Face. Floor.
Sweet, albeit temporary, success.
This is just the sort of soul-deadening minutia one commits oneself to observing upon becoming a parent. I suppose I just can’t get over how her brain has outraced her body. She wants to move. She knows that moving is something she can potentially do, but her body just won’t help her out.
Her brain is developing. Before, if I could read her thoughts, I would hear “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz…” Now, I would hear “Bzzzzzzzz… Want. Want. Want. Want. Grab. Fall. Whap! Cryyyyyyyyyyyyyy…”
Other Trick She Knows
Whenever I blow lightly on her face, she sticks her tongue way out. Every time. It’s a great trick for amusing friends.
The Glass Fronted Box With the Answers to a Parent’s Fondest Dreams
Before my daughter was born, TV was a pleasant way to pass the occasional hour or two, before moving on to more vital matters. Like being involved in the major and pressing social issues of our day. Or playing video games.
But, now that I have a child, Television is moving into its proper place in my life. It is now becoming a sacred golden idol, beloved and worshipped. It is and will be the source of quiet, distracted-baby time. Now sometimes, when I walk by the TV, I kiss it.
Of course, our little girl is hypnotized by the TV. And what does she see? What do we show her? Movies. Lots and lots of movies. Because her parents love them, and they fully intend to infect their daughter with this same unwholesome $8 a fix (plus cost of coke and popcorn) addiction.
Of course, we’re not savages. We don’t plop her in front of the TV for hours on end. But, on the other hand, I feel that exposing her to movies at least one hour a day is a sacred trust, a responsibility, a passing down of the wisdom of the ages. There is little more fulfilling in this life than a good film. And we will program her thusly starting as early as possible. We would have started earlier, but we couldn’t find a TV which could fit in a uterus.
The well regarded book, What To Expect the First Year, warns to not let kids watch too much TV because otherwise the average kid sees 18000 murders. Well, thanks, but I have no problem with this, as long as the people being murdered are BAD.
A Way To Completely Mesmerize A Five Month Old
Set her up in front of Moulin Rouge on DVD.