Now that my daughter Cordelia is eight months old, I should now bring loyal readers of this journal up to date on her status.
She is a spine-stressing twenty pounds and two feet tall. She is nowhere near as chubby as she used to be, as her body has been busily converting her baby fat into baby. She says “Da da” and “Ma ma” all the time, although she shows no signs of knowing what they mean. She can’t crawl, but she can roll over well enough to maneuver herself into the fireplace, if she wants to.
She has her mother’s funky eyes, which are blue in places and brown in others and change colors according to the light. She has her father’s dull, pedestrian brown hair. She produces firm, discrete, forest green stools. I’m not sure whether she got her stool formation from her mother or her father.
There. That’s pretty much everything about our baby. You’re caught up now. Enjoy.
The Ugly Baby Solution
While going for a walk today, I saw another ugly baby. This one had Bloated Head Syndrome. You know the one, where the kid has this enormous puffy melon, and you’re constantly worrying that it’ll try to turn its head too quickly and its neck will snap like the stem of a fine crystal wine glass.
Seeing this baby, however, put me in a philosophical mood. As I opined to my wife, are we not at risk of our baby losing its perfect adorability? Babies change so quickly. Any morning, might we wake up to find that our baby has become a little puffmonster? What then?
My wife instantly responded, “Well, we could put a bag over its head.”
This would be a good solution, I felt. However, the bag would annoy the baby. And the baby would cry. And strangers would walk over and say “What are you doing? Take off that bag!” And then we would, the stranger would see our baby and go “Oh, God, put it back! Put it back!” And we would put the bag back and the stranger would be satisfied, but, by that time, my wife and I would have been inconvenienced, and that would be terrible.
Fortunately, in the case of the child we saw while walking, it’s a moot issue. No bag would have fit over that kid’s head.
But, in the case of our child, I worry. But, more important, I cherish every day of her delightful appearance. I do deserve to have a child this lovely, but that does not mean things will always stay that way.
One Problem With Baby Appearances In General
My daughter’s arms have no muscle tone at all. They’re totally round and soft and chubby. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
Horrifying Introduction To Children’s TV
I can’t remember where I read this, but I’m pretty sure one of our parenting books says that it’s OK to distract your child by showing it lots of TV. Considering how much of an intestine jarring pain it is to watch a tiny sprog every goddamn minute of every day, this only makes sense. So probably all the parenting books say this.
Of course, Cordelia is hypnotized by TV. Anything, I suppose, to distract her from daddy’s awkward and pathetic attempts to entertain her. And, surprisingly, her attention is held most strongly by children’s TV. TeleTubbies. Sesame Street. That sort of thing. I would have guessed that, for an eight month old, any TV show would be just about the same, but it turns out that, while there may be an outer limit to what I don’t know about children, we aren’t anywhere near reaching it yet.
So, to learn and be enlightened, I watched some kiddie TV. TeleTubbies, mainly, and some nightmare show where biplanes with computer animated faces say supportive things to each other. And I can’t get over how disturbing these shows are. They’re perfect for the wee ones, but fifteen seconds of TeleTubbies makes me feel like my skin is crawling off my body.
With some thought, I figured out why.
In these shows, everyone is nice to each other. Perfectly nice. Perfectly supportive. Everyone forgives each other. Everyone laughs at each others jokes. Males can be hugged by females and not try to parlay that hug into a fuck later.
If I met someone in real life who was so perfectly nice, I would worry. Two nice people, and I’d fear that I’d fallen into the sinister clutch of Mormons. A half dozen, and I’d grab my wallet and start screaming. While this behavior is great and comforting for kids, to adults, it’s just Wrong. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
Sure, on one hand, you might say, this means I’ve lost my childish spirit. You might say that I’ve been consumed by cynicism, and that I could, with effort, recapture some of the naive joy of youth. But, on the other hand, fuck you.
The All-Pajamas-All-The-Time Paradigm
Baby clothes should be designed for convenience.
Cordelia’s genitalia expel noxious substances on a regular and rapid schedule. Therefore, all baby clothes must be designed to provide easy access to said genitalia.
The best pants are the ones with buttons running up the inside of the thigh and down the inside of the other thigh. These sort of pants can be ripped to open to provide access to the baby’s undercarriage in mere moments.
In fact, I think they should make pants like these for grown-ups too. When you’re trying to squeeze out a quick lay during your child’s nap, you need to save all the time you can.
Pants without easy access, however, are evil. It is already a horrible imposition to have to clean up humans waste. But to have to completely take off the pants and then put them back on again? No. Babies are dopey, and, as far as they are concerned, the only thing clothes need to do is keep them from turning blue. Therefore, parental convenience is the third most important quality good baby clothes have. The only things more important are warmth and lack of lice.
Of course, this only comes to mind because my wife unilaterally switched our child-dressing-paradigm. Before, Cordelia always wore pajamas. Pajamas are nice and convenient. They’re very absorbent, so the food I drop on them just soaks right in. They provide easy access to unpleasant body parts. They’re soft and fuzzy, making carrying the child much more bearable.
But now my wife decided that, during the day, the child must wear clothes. Pants and overalls and shit. Not only does this make waste removal harder, but it means that, when I don’t change baby out of her frilly outfit before putting her to bed at night (providing valuable time savings), I get a dirty look.
Therefore, for the benefit of human knowledge and my convenience, here is my New, Bold Paradigm for baby clothes in the 21st century:
i. For an article of clothing to be called “dirty”, it must have been worn for 24 hours, have 3 decently sized food stains, or have 1 decently sized human waste stain. How you define “decently sized” depends, mainly, on whether the child’s nosy grandmother is around to bug you about it.
ii. “Dirty” clothing should be changed sooner or later.
iii. The child should wear pajamas (or, when outside, heavy pajamas) until it is capable of saying “Father, I would prefer, at this point, not to be wearing pajamas.” Or, alternately, “Dad, I’m not wearing pajamas to my prom. OLD MAN.”
Oh, And She Can Clap Her Hands
Cordelia can now clap her hands.
Except, apparently, according to all the parenting books, this is not called clapping hands. That term is only used by actual humans. No, what Cordelia is doing is called “Playing pat-a-cake.” Parenting books use this bit of scientific terminology, generally without ever explaining what it means. You may have been born knowing what pat-a-cake is. I wasn’t.
This leads to daddy saying things like this:
“Honey, I’m worried. This book says Cordelia should be able to ‘play pat-a-cake’ by now. I’m not sure if she can. Is this something we should talk to the doctor … Cordelia, could you stop that hand clapping! Daddy’s trying to talk to mommy!”