Our little toddler Cordelia is now fifteen months old. Every day, she is more human and less funny. I am starting to feel a strange sort of empathy with her. I might, at times, even call it affection.
As for her development as a human being, she now screams when we don’t let her eat out of the trash. And she’s started putting food into her mouth, gumming it and getting it moist, taking it out of her mouth, and trying to put it into mine.
I judge my daughter based on the animal she most resembles. She started as a limpet and moved up to a turtle. Now, in part, she reminds me of a puppy. She has the same way of staring at doors waiting for us to enter. We can also use a ball to play fetch with her. However, she also reminds me of a cockroach. She has the same way of crawling into any space into which she can fit her head, and then licking everything.
So I think she’s become this new sort of breed of puppy-cockroach. If only humanity was capable of creating puppy-cockroaches, able to be cute, eat our garbage, and reproduce thousands of themselves in any shadowy corner. If we have to have cockroaches (and, face it, we do have to have cockroaches), why can’t we at least use genetic engineering to make them ADORABLE.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes. My sprog.
Literacy Is Tedious
The tendency of the child to want to hear the same book, over and over again, until the child’s guardians want to end their lives, has been repeatedly observed. And yet, one must be exposed to it first hand to fully appreciate a toddler’s fanatical single-mindedness in this regard. I do not know why Cordelia’s mushy little brain is so stimulated by “TeleTubbies Love To Jump.” But I wish she could do without that particular stimulation for, say, an hour or so.
Fortunately, since I am already being a virtuous parent by reading to her, I have a little bit of moral wiggle room to engage in the occasional mindfuck. It is always amusing to read the first page of the book then skip all the way to the last page and see what happens. Or flip through one book while reciting the now-memorized text from another book. Or reading the book and replacing every noun with “SARS”.
Sadly, Cordelia has shown the ability to tolerantly accept anything obnoxious daddy does, except for those things that shorten the reading time. If I cut the book short, she will reach out with her pudgy little fingers, unerringly find the page I skipped, and flip to it.
Slowly Acquiring All the Worst Qualities Of the Human Personality
Cordelia has a playmate. Her name is Nora. She is about three months older than Cordelia. Watching the two interact in their awkward, stilted, “what the fuck is this creature and why is it sucking milk out of MY bottle” way provides an excellent laboratory for analyzing the evolution of interaction between humans.
Cordelia has reached the first milestone in human interaction: Taking Things Away. She is good at this. So is Nora. Watching the two of them steal pacifiers from each other has provided the entertainment for several nauseating evenings.
However, Nora has moved ahead and reached the second milestone in human interaction: Hitting Others. Sometimes, she’ll toddle up to my daughter out of nowhere, smack her in the head, and walk off. My daughter is not yet evolved enough to recognize this as human contact. She ignores it, happily oblivious to the adults freaking out over the assault not far above her.
Soon, Cordelia will comprehend Hitting Others. She will have thus attained the level of emotional maturity that sustained our species over tens of thousands of years.
The third stage of human interaction is Sucking Up To the Strong. Already, both girls are developing the ability to use their innate cuteness to pry favor from the Tall Ones.
I don’t know how they will emotionally develop from there. It’s a mystery to me. I thought back, trying to remember how I personally developed emotionally after learning Taking Things Away, Hitting Others, and Sucking Up To the Strong. As best I can recall, I made no advancements in interacting with other humans for about fifteen years, at which point I evolved up to Try To Get Her To Touch My Wang.
I’m All About Making the World a Better Place
I’m about to begin my new series of books for children. They will be titled:
“Aaahh! Don’t Touch Yourself There!”
“The Three Fluffy Bunnies and The Biting Monster That Lives In Your Pants”
“How Susie Shamed Herself”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m as positive and encouraged about exploring one’s body as anyone. But some areas are dirty and should only be handled with tongs.
Daddy Helps Her To Prepare In the Ways That Count
One thing is for sure. When Cordelia is old enough to go to the playground and interact with other children, I’ll have made sure she is properly prepared. I have a good memory. I remember all the jokes. And I am going to make sure she is the one who introduces them, not some other twit.
Before she goes to school, I will make sure she knows all about the “Orange you glad you didn’t say banana” joke. She will know that when someone walks up to her and says, really fast, “Homosayswhat?” she must not, under any circumstances, say “What?” I will tell her that there is never anything on her shirt. They just want to get their finger there so they can flick it upwards. And, when she gets to fifth grade and is ready for the harder stuff, I will make damn sure she has a full arsenal of Helen Keller and dead baby jokes, AND that she knows what’s red and green and goes fifty miles an hour.
That is what being a good parent means.
“OK, Cordelia. Now Say Fuck Like This. Draw Out the ‘U’ Sound. Fuuuuuuuck. Try That. Fuuuuuuck.”
For reasons that are not yet clear to me, a lot of parents we know are worried about their children learning cuss words. This is a truly charming display of futility. In the world we live in, even the most sheltered Amish child will have learned enough swear words to cuss like a longshoreman or the Irish by the time it is five.
So I am approaching the issue from a much more realistic perspective. I am not going to waste energy keeping Cordelia from swear words. Instead, I’m going to skip a step and just make sure that she is able to use them in more colorful ways than her schoolyard chums.
If some dirty little sprog says she is a poo-poo head, I want her to be able to lash out with an uninterrupted spray of obscenities, most of which will have no meaning to either her or her opponent. The enemy may not understand why he has just been called a “fucktard,” of course, but hopefully it’ll confuse and distract him enough for her to really put the boot in.
I see this as simply giving her the skills she needs to function in a complex and ever-changing world.