The Story About the Toddler, Volume 4.

Now that our baby Cordelia is sixteen months old, all of the pieces are falling into place. It is rapidly becoming clear that she is a sinister creature, a Bad Seed, which may have the potential for actual True Evil.

Even now, I can hear grandparents shrieking with dismay, perceiving that someone is writing what they would perceive as slander about their beloved, adorable grandchild. But trust me, despite her cuteness, which is so flawless that it makes pretty much every other child of roughly the same age (including yours) look like a lump of spackle in comparison, even now Cordelia is starting to dance the forbidden tango with dark powers.

First, she has started hitting people. This is ADORABLE. She’ll just walk up, give me this little swat on the leg, and toddle off, cute as the dickens. But I know where this is going. Also, unless you think this is just my daughter expressing entirely understandable rage against me personally, she bit my wife hard on the arm and created this really cool red mark. And my wife is nice! This offense wasn’t so bad, as it didn’t happen to me, but it’s still evidence of latent evil.

Second, she got sick, inconveniencing us.

Third, she has started to fight her naps, flailing and whining and carrying on for long periods of time before sleeping. She must realize, on some level, that those naps provide mommy and daddy valuable together time, and she OWES US. And yet, her resistance continues.

Fourth, she almost never eats meat, insisting instead on Quorn and other vegetarian alternatives. Evil.

Fifth, she has started smacking herself in the head. And hitting herself in the head with blocks. Supposedly, according to liberal, hippie parenting books, this is common and normal behavior. Sure. So they say. But I think that she is trying to give herself marks to look bad for the social services people. Either that, or she is only hitting herself because there isn’t a puppy in reach to hit instead.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with the current moral alignment of her sixteen month old brain. Evil people live happier lives, they make more money, and they get all the good tax breaks. If I play my cards right, I can make myself useful to her and get some of that filthy lucre she generates thrown my way.

It’ll work out. I’ll just have to remember to be real careful walking down stairs late at night after Cordelia learns what a “will” is.

At Least She Slowed Down A Little Bit

This month, Cordelia got a cold, the second one in her short life.

This caused her to spend lots of time sleeping in and lying around quietly. Thus, I continue to feel that special, mild colds should be genetically engineered to give to babies when the parents need a break.

This cold made Cordelia’s nose run constantly. This meant that my wife and I were constantly scrambling to wipe up the little stream of snot before is reached her mouth. We didn’t do this because Cordelia minded snot in her mouth, but because she really seemed to enjoy it. There is only so much horror we can stand to experience in any given week.

How Much Would You Pay To Avoid the Horror?

When Cordelia was sick, she developed a fever. This meant that we needed to take her temperature. For one year olds, you can’t do this using the armpit anymore. Which meant that I got sent off to the drugstore to buy one of those fancy ear thermometers.

Cool, high-tech thermometers which take the temperature through the ear are expensive. However, they have one huge advantage. You don’t need to stick anything up your baby’s butt.

(For non-parents: You can’t take a toddler’s temperature by expecting it to hold a thermometer under its tongue for a minute or two, for reasons that I think are painfully obvious. That means you have to look for a different orifice. The anus is the least objectionable in a series of gruesome options.)

Staring at the thermometer assortment at the local drugstore, I found that I was basically being asked one simple question: how much money was I willing to pay to not have to stick anything up my daughter’s butt?

The answer, I found, was 30 bucks, the cheapest price for an ear thermometer. That’s a lower limit, of course. I’m sure that if the drugstore held out they could have squeezed a lot more out of me.

So anyway, Cordelia hated the ear thermometer. She screamed and screamed. And then, and this is the funny ironic part, we ended up not trusting the ear thermometer and having to take her temperature rectally anyway to double check it.

It turned out the ear thermometer was basically right. Also, Cordelia minded having her temperature taken anally far, far less. She got this weird facial expression, unlike any I’d ever seen before. It was as if she wasn’t really enjoying what was happening, but she didn’t terribly mind either. I held her legs up out of the way and calmed her by singing When I’m Sixty Four, thus spoiling that song for me forever.

The First Dawning Of Her Powers Of Thought

She pointed at me and said, clearly, “Daddy.” It was a move perfectly calculated by evolution to warm my heart and get me to feed her.

She then proceeded to point at the wall and say “Daddy.” She has since also done this to her mother, an invisible point hanging in midair, and herself.

Lint and Dust Bunnies Are the Least Disturbing Things She Eats

As mentioned above, Cordelia doesn’t care for meat. What she does eat, with alarming gusto, is the vegetarian meat substitute “Quorn”. What is Quorn? Let’s ask

“Quorn™ foods are made with mycoprotein, from the fungi family – and a relative of mushrooms, truffles, and morel, that offers a strong nutritional profile and an authentic meat-like texture.”


That’s right. Cordelia is eating piles of fried fungal strands. With breading. It’s edible. The British like it. But it disturbs me horribly. Around the house, I refer to it as Soylent Tan.

Telemarketers Need A Virus

I’m the sort of unreconstructed smartass who leaves “funny” answering machine messages. Why not? Nobody calls us but telemarketers anyway.

Up until recently, this was our message:

“Hello. You have reach the home of Jeff Vogel, Mariann Krizsan, and Cordelia Vogel. Since we are only ever called by telemarketers, we never answer our phone. If you are calling regarding the ad we placed, yes, the baby is still available. Please leave your cash offer in U.S. dollars and bear in mind that the shipping price given in the advertisement is non-negotiable. Beep.”

So some telemarketer calls us, hears this message, freaks, and, get this, calls 911. So I get a call from a cop who is really annoyed by having his time wasted with shit. He asks me to change the message, so that he doesn’t get called again. I do:

“Hello. You have reach the home of Jeff Vogel, Mariann Krizsan, and Cordelia Vogel. We are trying to keep our baby from jumping off the coffee table, so we can’t come to the phone right now. If you actually know who we are, leave a message. If you are a telemarketer, we hope you get a skin disease. Nothing fatal. Just something that really makes you ITCH. Beep.”

I strongly recommend using a similar message on your own machine. In the last few weeks, I have found that when you get one of those rare telemarketers who call and actually try to leave a message for you offering their vacation homes or soap or whatever, the disturbed tone they get in their voices is worth it.

I Really Wish She Could Feed Herself

I’m really sick of the whole feed the baby routine. I’m tired of picking out the meals, and spooning the food in her mouth, and cleaning her afterwards.

I’m looking forward to the day when she says “I’m hungry.” and I can just hand her a live chicken and a gun and let her take care of it.