Our baby daughter Cordelia is over 8 months now and … blah, blah, blah. Who cares? We have a Nintendo now!
Surprisingly, it is my wife that is addicted to the Nintendo, not me. This is a huge relief, because I am no longer the only source of distracted, diffident parenting in our family. My wife will play a game, and Cordelia will watch the TV happily. Or she will flip through a baby book. Or she’ll try to fit a stapler in her mouth. Whatever keeps her happy. Nintendo helps us not worry about these things so much.
Cordelia takes this all with good grace. She’s as quiet, focused, and calm a baby as anyone could ever want. Sometimes, even at eight months, she’ll sit up and happily watch TV for a while. She’ll occasionally look around to make sure a parent is nearby, then she’ll take some sips of her drink and watch more TV.
Eight months old, and she already takes after daddy.
Now She Can Make It To the Stairs
Cordelia can crawl now.
It’s a crude, undeveloped form of crawling, with a variety of different approaches. Sometimes, she curls up both legs under her torso and push off with them simultaneously. She will go forward a good six inches and land on her face. When she does try to push off with one leg at a time (proper, correct, according-to-Hoyle crawling), she is much better with one leg than the other, so a more accurate description of the activity might be “directed flailing”.
But she does lie on her stomach, hoist her chubby little torso on all four limbs, and propel herself forward. Looks like crawling to me.
She doesn’t like to do it on her own. Heck, she doesn’t like to do it at all. Daddy had to provide the motivation. Daddy dangles attractive toys just out of reach, keeping them dancing away but remaining just at the tips of her fingers, mocking her, urging her to go forward. Then, when daddy is satisfied with her progress, only then will the rude little object allow itself to be caught and masticated.
I picture Cordelia’s world-view as filled with desirable but malevolent objects, sometimes allowing themselves to be caught but sometimes fleeing endlessly, mocking her. A nightmare world, in which nothing is fixed and nothing can be relied upon. Only the greatest of effort will enable an object to be grasped, imprisoning it and, just for a moment, prying it free from the chaos that swirls around her.
This sounds good to me, as long as she gets exercise.
Of course, when left on her own, she doesn’t crawl at all. She rolls around a little, but she’s usually content to lie quietly, flip through picture books, and fill diapers. You know. The good life.
FGS (Fecal Grout Syndrome)
Now that Cordelia is not eating any baby milk, she is crapping a lot more. I’m sure you want to hear more about this.
Normally, these days, her solid waste comes out in solid, well-formed chunks, the sort of easily gathered pieces that look up and say “You see, daddy? I didn’t want to cause you a lot of trouble.”
But sometimes, we still get a bad one. I get these sticky, nasty nightmare poos that ooze around and then solidify like concrete. I open up the diaper and see a line of solidified shit between the lips of her labia like grout between floor tiles.
And, when that happens, there’s only one thing you can do. You have to grab a moist towelette and start mining.
The worst part is checking afterwards to make sure I got everything out.
I don’t know how much therapy she’ll need because of all of this, but I do know that she’s not going to get any. I’m going to get all of her share of the therapy. I need it more.
A New Personal Best
Yesterday, Cordelia crapped three times. It was her new frequency record.
Then, today, she crapped three times.
My wife is ecstatic that Cordelia doesnt need to breast feed anymore. But there are disadvantages.
Chicken Soup For the Lost Soul
Why do I spend all this time writing all this stuff about my baby? It’s not as if there is any shortage of writing about babies. Go to any decently sized bookstore, and you’ll find a whole forest’s worth of books with names like “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” and horrifying shit like that.
The reason I am writing this is that all parenting books are stupid. … Well, to be fair, almost all. … No. Let’s be unfair. All. To enter the baby book aisle is to descend into a dank, pastel-colored underworld of the judgmental, the saccharin, and the outright delusional. Whether you’re looking at the Babywise books at one end of the spectrum (books which suggest that spanking an eight month old could possibly be a good idea) and the Sears books at the other end (books that, if they had their way, would have you still sleeping with your child at twelve years and showering with him at sixteen), one could easily be forgiven for feeling that the only way to deal with the baby book aisle is with fire.
As Exhibit One, I would like to present Chicken Soup For the Parent’s Soul.
For those unfamiliar with the Chicken Soup books, each one focuses on a specific demographic (Parents. Pet Owners. Teenagers. Fishermen. Freemasons. Osteopaths. Anti-Semites.) and presents a purely irony-free series of stories explaining how life is a rich cavalcade and people are basically good and, I don’t know, Jesus saves, I guess. Being as there are 800‚000‚000 books in this series, I’m amazed that there aren’t twelve for parents alone.
(There is one for grandparents. Not one for great grandparents or great great grandparents, though. All of the stories would end with “And then they died.”)
For research purposes, I picked up Chicked Soup for the Parent’s Soul (using rubber gloves, as I don’t like to touch that stuff with my hands), opened it, and recorded a selection of the chapters:
The Joys of Parenting
A Mother’s Love
A Father’s Love
Insights and Lessons
Based on this, I would guess that parenthood is a cavalcade of joy, wisdom, and love, which continues up until the point where your kids die or flee.
I was hoping that having a child would free me, even temporarily, from my mental prison of cynicism and ironic detachment. It is becoming clear that this will not be the case, at least until I get hooked up in some sort of Clockwork Orange-style mental reconditioning chair where my eyes are held open with hooks and I see images of bunnies and Oprah all day.
A Brief Unnecessary Digression on the Subject of the Chicken Soup Books
When sampling the Chicken Soup books, I noticed an interesting pattern. They all have about 10 chapters, and, in each book, Chapter 7 or 8 was a downer chapter. All the other sections were full of uplifting stories about stuff, and Chapter 8 would always be called something like “Surviving Loss” or “The Tough Times” or “Struggling Through Sadness” or “When Your Bunny Passes On” or “Finding Joy In Being Riddled With Tumors.”
If I had my way (and I won’t) I would come up with an omnibus collection of all of the obligatory sad chapters from Chicken Soup books. It’d be great. A thousand straight pages of untimely death, failed relationships, and exploding puppies.