As our baby daughter Cordelia creeps closer to the end of her first year, she continues to pick up on the countless tiny skills she’ll need to get through life. She just figured out how to lick her lips. She can now roll a ball. She can tell when I’m unwrapping a piece of chocolate, and can scuttle over to beg for some.
The chocolate trick is pretty useful because, when my wife is around, Cordelia never has any interest in me. I am, the big fleshy lump she crawls over to get to mommy. When mommy isn’t around, I’m bearable. When she is, I’m useless. Unless, of course, I buy some of Cordelia’s love with chocolate.
Also, one more bit of news. Cordelia managed to use her tiny baby claws to give both me and her mommy bloody face gashes. On the same day. I’m not sure if that’s a development milestone or not.
Learning To Shut My Big, Fat Mouth
We are getting ever closer to the dreaded day when Cordelia can understand the things I say.
This is a real problem. I don’t know if she is going to be able to properly process all the slurs on people of different religions, sexes, races, cultures, belief systems, and sexual orientations I need just to get through the day.
For example, the other day I opined that the rest of humanity was, on average, a bunch of “idiot fucktards.” Now, I’m not saying that’s an inappropriate viewpoint for my daughter to be exposed to. I just feel she should be allowed to come to that opinion on her own.
A poorly placed comment can break a child’s brain. Worse, you can never tell what random thing you say will lodge in the kid’s mental gears and really jam things up.
For example, when I was around 10, my grandmother was talking to some other relatives about people who didn’t have children. As I listened in, she said that people who never had kids were more selfish than other people. All the mothers and grandmothers in attendance nodded solemnly at this wisdom.
At this point in my life, it had never occurred to me that not having children was something you were allowed to do. This was my very first introduction to that possibility. It came attached irrevocably to the word “selfish” and the stern disapproval of my elders.
I want to say, now, that all the late nights, the dirty diapers, the stress of having to fill time playing with the baby, the worry, are all my grandmother’s fault. And … and … Why not? It IS my grandmother’s fault! That bucket of decomposing shit in the nursery? Her fault. Ha!
This makes me feel much better. And it is yet another in the rapidly growing list of things I have to be sure never to say around the child.
Spreading My Sweet, Sweet DNA
Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why I wanted to have a baby. The main reason seems to be to spread my DNA to future generations. Considering how terrific a person I am, this is all to the good.
What I have discovered, however, is that this won’t work. You see, each child I have contains only half of my DNA. And it turns out that having children is extremely inconvenient for me. I am given to understand that it is even more inconvenient for women.
So if I gut it out and have two kids, I have only replicated my DNA once. I can try to improve my odds by raising my children to have lots of children of their own, by indoctrinating them into some crackpot faith that encourages them to have lots of kids (Mormonism, etc.). But this is unreliable and forces me to have more contact with religion than I would normally choose.
I could donate sperm. However, even if they accepted me (considering the quantities of sperm available in general, they are very picky), I can’t be sure that any ladies would choose my seed. If sperm banks kept some sort of score card or success sheet, I would be in good shape. Alas, it is not so.
So I have a new plan. It’s still rather nebulous. It involves a fake identity, singles bars, a winning disposition, hotel rooms, and condoms with holes poked in them. I’ll let you know how it works out. Or, maybe not.
Taking Credit For All Things Good
And yet, there are reasons to have children that aren’t horribly selfish, driven by guilt, or involve knocking up as many random strangers as possible.
One of the non-evil reasons to have children is that you get to introduce them to new things. I don’t mean new things like vaccinations or toilet training. I mean the good things, the things that make life worth living.
For example, we have given Cordelia her first chocolate. Just a few tiny bits, every once in a while. Of course, she loves it. Loves it to a frightening extent. She watched me put down the candy wrapper and, when I wasn’t looking, grabbed the wrapper and sucked on it desperately. When I took it from her, she went into a hysterical screaming fit. It was the cutest possible screaming fit.
Of course, it’s a big relief that she likes chocolate. if she didn’t, I would have no daughter. (Hmmm. I should add that to the list of things I shouldn’t say around her.)
It’s going to be great introducing her to all the things she’s sure to love. Pizza. Bugs Bunny Cartoons. Taxi Driver. French chicken liver pate. (Which she doesn’t like so much, but doesn’t hate either.)
All the things she will love, and all that happiness will be because of me. It’s like I’m a GOD.