My daughter Cordelia, the cutest little pudge biscuit in the whole wide world, my little cutey wootie pootie bootie happy slappy hugger booger boo, is about five and a half months old. Every week, she grows stronger and smarter and more advanced in her techniques for demanding constant attention from her parents.
She still can’t say words, but she can make three different noises: a grunt, a squeal, and a scream. And, if she is making any noise at all, it is our signal that we better do something about it. Quick.
The Thing I Dread the Most
The thing I dread the most about being a parent is when my daughter can understand what I am saying.
Here’s an example of why. Sometimes, when Cordelia is standing and looking around, her mouth hangs open. This makes her look dopey. The other day, when this happened, my wife said:
“Close your mouth honey. You look dopey with it open like that.”
At which point, I added:
“Yeah, and if you keep your mouth open all the time, a wasp will fly in there. And then it will sting your tongue. And it’ll go all numb, and you won’t be able to feel it or move it or anything. And then the wasp will lay its eggs in your tongue, and they’ll hatch in there, and grow, and then one day you’ll open your mouth and hundreds of wasps will fly out.”
Now, since Cordelia is five months old, saying this doesn’t have much of an effect. But, as I understand it, when she is old enough to understand what I am saying, she will not take the above as a humorous, Shel Silversteinesque flight of fancy. Instead, she will completely believe it, and she will not sleep for the following 3-5 nights, and it will completely fuck her up.
Along those lines, I will also have to stop saying “fuck” five hundred times a day.
Of course, it’s not too late to take action. I’m considering not speaking for 17 years. Maybe she will mistake my utter silence for wisdom and inner peace.
How To Win The Therapy Game
Of course, at this point, it’s a given that any child of mine is going to end up needing some serious and expensive therapy. My goal, in this case, is for her to only need the therapy when she is a grown-up, so that it is on her dime. If I can keep her sane until any therapy doesn’t have to be paid for be me, I win.
The Giving Tree – A Tale Of Terror
Speaking of Shel Silverstein, I only just reread my copy of the children’s classic The Giving Tree. It’s the first time I’ve read it since I became a parent.
For the unfamiliar, it’s about this boy and the tree (read: parent) who loves him. And the boy takes everything from the tree, little by little, and leaves it with NOTHING. He plays in its branches, and he takes its apples, and he carves his initials into its trunk, and eventually he gets an axe and lops off its ARMS.
No way, man. Now that I read this story as a parent, I know what it truly means. It means that, one day, Cordelia is going to come into my room with a hacksaw and go “Give ’em up, dad. I need to buy a house.” And don’t get me wrong. I love my little girl as much as any parent loves its sprog. But the day she comes after my limbs, I’m takin’ her out.
The Angel Slides Smoothly Off Into Sleepy Time Ecstasy
When my daughter goes to sleep, she writhes and grunts like a goat hit with a stun gun.
One night, she fell asleep while pulling her foot up to put it in her mouth. She was frozen in her position. This made more sense than her standard sleeping pose: back arched, neck twisted at an angle that makes me think “broken”, and her feet twisted to the side and wedged between the bars of her crib.
When I put the pacifier in her mouth and turn off the lights, her body instantly stretches out and freezes up, and she jams her head to the side, as if she was looking over her shoulder, as far as it can go. And then she grunts as if she’s trying to pass a particularly challenging stool.
And then she falls asleep like that.
Sometimes I wish I had more experience with babies. (My actual, practical experience before Cordelia: Dick.) I want to know whether my baby is like all babies (weird) or if she is already being a freak in her own little way.
Sometimes I imagine that she regards sleep like her daddy does. Sleep is the life-stealer. Sleeping more makes you live less. Sleeping is something you short yourself of as long as you can get away with it. My daughter acts as if sleep was something to be fought off as long as possible, because each minute spent sleeping is one minute less she can spend drooling, grunting, and staring at random objects.
But I know this is just my imagination. Babies are freaks. Thinking too much and trying to attribute too much motivation to their weirdness just takes up valuable thinking time you could use remembering to feed them.
Three Second Naps
I’ve always gotten Cordelia to nap by feeding her. Sucking on a bottle puts her to sleep in a way nothing else does. When she seems sleepy, I grab a bottle. I can only imagine the many ways this fucks her up, her attitudes towards sleep, and her attitudes towards food, and that’s without even getting into Freud, so don’t tell me. I don’t want to hear about it.
Recently, at her regular nap time, she’s developed the habit of closing her eyes and nodding off during feeding and, three seconds later, when I pull the bottle out of her mouth, she instantly springs awake. And then stays awake for three hours.
It’s the amazing three second nap. And it fucking pisses me off. It’s not fair. She OWES me that nap, goddammit. After the previous hours of vaguely involved parenting, I’ve earned those fifteen minutes in which to pursue personal fulfillment. She has no business becoming fully rested in 3 seconds.
I would speak with her about this issue, but she doesn’t understand English yet. And, even if she did, I am not speaking anymore for 18 years.
About the Writing Of This Column
Much of it was composed while Cordelia sat in my lap, gleefully reaching for the keyboard.
Now, in the interest of equal time, I will let Cordelia type for the very first time and see what she has to say:
How about that, folks? I would like to think that the large number of spaces is a witty e.e. cummings tribute, but I sort of suspect it’s more because the space bar is the largest button and the one closest to the front. This also helps explain why there are more m’s and v’s then q’s and p’s.
Someday, when Cordelia is working at the lucrative, sitting-down computer programming job which no doubt figures somewhere in her destiny, I can show her the very first thing she ever typed. And then she will take that, and the rest of her article, and show it to the high-priced therapist her programming job pays for. And then they will sue my ass off, as allowed by the provisions of the Idiot Parent Act of 2010. And my mouth will fall open in shock. And then the wasps will lay their eggs in my tongue, just like I always said they would.