Our baby daughter Cordelia is well over nine months old, and I am told that she is doing very well. Since the house is packed with grandparents, I am currently a father only in a sort of cosmic, theoretical sense. Every once in a while, my daughter is carried through a room in which I am sitting, and she looks at me for a moment before being carried on her merry way.
That came out sounding rather poignant. Believe me, it’s not. You see, I haven’t cleaned up any of her shit for a week now. As far as I know, she isn’t even crapping anymore. Maybe her intestines are reabsorbing all available material and turning it into even longer, sharper fingernails.
My parents do occasionally bring Cordelia into the room with me to show off her developments. She can pull herself up from an almost standing position to a standing position. She has also developed the ability to perform both the “Bake me a cake as fast as you can” and “Toss ’em up” portions of Pat-a-Cake. She can’t do “Roll ’em Up” yet, but I am assured that this major, vital baby skill is soon to be acquired.
Away For the Weekend. Not Missed.
Since our house was… was… what is a good word for it?… Crammed. With family.
Since our house was crammed with family, my wife and I took the opportunity to get away for a weekend together. While the grandparents fought a grim, unending deathmatch to prove who loved our daughter the most, my wife and I went up to Canada. Vancouver, British Columbia, to be exact.
A brief word about Vancouver. I consider it to be western North America’s answer to Amsterdam. Prostitution is legal. Pot might as well be. In the space of four blocks late Friday night, my wife and I walked by three clouds of pot smoke, one guy who tried to sell us weed, three bustling nightclubs, one porno theater, and a brothel. And all of this was BY THE COURTHOUSE.
It’s a great town for getting away from the family.
Of course, we worried. Of course, we called home repeatedly. And, when we did, we always got the same response: “Don’t worry. Your daughter is doing just fine without you. In fact, as far as well can tell, she hasn’t even noticed that you are gone.”
If possible, a brief vacation is an experience I recommend highly for all parents of newborns. It really, really, really makes it clear how much space you actually take up in that tiny, undeveloped brain.
Completely Unrelated Vacation Tangent
I saw Michael Stipe in a restaurant. He blew his nose on a paper towel in the bathroom, right next to me. I could have, had I wanted, fished the paper towel out of the trash and sold it on EBay.
This is the sort of rich life experience having a child usually denies you.
The Horrific Torment That Is Daddy
Cordelia loves her mother much more than she loves me. This only makes sense, as mommy is the bringer of all good things and daddy is mainly the bringer of awkward play and Teletubbies. But having grandparents around has totally bumped me down on my daughter’s Love List.
Sometimes, when I picked her up and there were several other relatives around, Cordelia would immediately start to cry.
This TOTALLY would not do. I may not be Commander Best Daddy In The World, but I’m not a fucking Klingon either. So whenever my presence makes Cordelia cry, I pull her away from everyone, run into my bedroom, and shut the door. Then I play with her in all the ways she loves most (tossing around, bouncing on the bed, and other things that fuck up my back).
Then, when she is laughing and happy, I return her to the other relatives.
Sure, I may be a gruesome ogre. But I’m not going to give up on her liking me just yet. That is why I have begun a campaign of Daughter Love Development.
The Art of Love Transference
What I am currently trying to do is transfer at least a certain amount of my daughter’s love from her mother to me. My wife can afford it. She has adoration to spare. The question is: how do I best win some daughter love for myself?
The solution, as I see it, is to give her the things she likes.
The way I figure it, if whenever she wants a pacifier or toy or Cheerio or something, I am the one who hands it to her, she will be happier when she sees me. So that is the basic plan, which I have refined in several phases:
Phase 1 – Watch daughter when she crawls around. When she drops her toy or pacifier, pick it up, say her name to get her attention, and hand the object to her. I make sure, of course, that she sees that it is me that is handing it to her. Thus the association is made in tiny, tiny baby brain between me and good things.
Phase 2 – However, watching the baby move around and hoping she drops things became too time-consuming, and I did not feel I was getting enough chances to prove my worth for the message to sink in. So, when she was playing with something and not looking at me, I would quickly reach in and pull the toy out of her hands. Then I would get her attention and hand it back to her, making sure that she saw it was me who was giving it.
As long as tiny baby brain does not realize that I was the one who took the object in the first place, we’re safe.
Phase 3 – Of course, the best way to make myself look better is to make everyone around me look worse. I have found that, when my wife is playing with Cordelia, I can sometimes duck in, grab my wife’s hand, and use it to knock the toy out of Cordelia’s hands. Then I grab the toy and make a big show of returning it to Cordelia. Mean mommy, nice daddy.
My wife has made it clear that this behavior will result in my getting my wrist broken. But what sort of a man would not gladly pay any price to win his daughter’s love?
Phase 4 – I also feed Cordelia little bits of chocolate.
It’s hard work, but I am keeping the faith. Being a parent is great. There is no problem that can’t be solved with pluck, careful calculation, and emotional engineering.
Evaluating the Teletubbies
While flipping through parenting books, as I often do, because my daughter is unavailable for actual parenting, I recently read that American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that television be completely denied to children under the age of 2.
To reasonable people, this immediately begs two questions:
i. Who the fuck is the American Academy of Pediatrics?
ii. Who do I contact to let them know that they can, in fact, suck my dick?
Here’s my problem. I could live without showing Cordelia the Teletubbies. I suspect she could even live without it.
But, and I can’t stress this enough, playing with a demanding little sprogette is tiring. And boring. And tiring. I’m sure I’m not alone on this one. I find that the best way to take the edge off of helping her flip through the fucking Baby Colors Book for the five billionth fucking time is to have the TV on in the corner, to give daddy’s brain something to seize onto and keep his thoughts from turning into a fucking test signal.
And when the TV is on, sometimes Cordelia looks over at it.
I’m not a bad guy. I want to raise a healthy, well-balanced little girl who reaches adulthood without seeing all of the 100,000 murders the average child sees on television. I’d be happy if she just saw half of them.
But I also want to get through this experience without going out of my selfish, yuppie mind. So the TV will be on sometimes.
A Few More Words About the American Academy of Pediatrics
First, at the top of the front page of their web site, it says “Committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.” So you know they must be a bunch of pansies who get their panties in a wad at the mere though of kids doing anything fun.
Second, they advocate a “National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.” On that day, and that day only, dirty little teens can do this: “By taking an online interactive quiz, teens will go through real-life scenarios and decide how they would react in certain risky situations.”
For some bizarre reason, their online interactive quiz is currently unavailable. (Any other time of the year, I guess, teens can just fuck off. So to speak.) This really, really, disappointed me, because taking a little teen sex quiz would be just the spark I need to brighten up my dreary life.
A Very Few More Words About TV
Every single person I’ve ever met who never watched TV as a kid was a wanker.