Cordelia, our little toddling girl, is now seventeen months old. At this age, her body grows slowly, but her brain develops extremely quickly. This is a problem.
Consider this. Imagine standing in a room with a bunch of other people.
Think of the entire range of possible things you could do. You could scream. You could pull off your pants. You could grab at someone’s boobs. You could do something with feces. You could do almost anything but the only permissible action: stand around quietly and feel uncomfortable.
At this age, Cordelia is now capable of doing all of the wrong things, and she has to be indoctrinated against each and every one of them. Her spirit has to be ground down until she’s as much of an empty and broken shell as I am.
In the last month, Cordelia has advanced in several key ways. She has developed pre-nosepicking consciousness. She often puts her fingertip in her nose. She isn’t smart enough to figure out why she would want to do that. She just has some lizard brain-level realization that that’s what she wants to do. She jams her finger up there, holds it in place, and waits passively for the magic to begin. It’s charming.
She can also completely and instantly remove any structural integrity from her body. When she tries to run out into the street and I grab at her, she will turn herself into the Amazing Boneless Baby, slipping out of my grasp and becoming as soft and gooey as a jellyfish thrown against a brick wall.
It is unsurprising that she has the ability to instantly turn herself into a sac of goo. As I understand it, until the age of two, babies don’t have bones, just cartilage. Like sharks. And, like sharks, they are remorseless, mindless killing machines, lashing out with great violence against anyone around them. Fortunately, I am three times as tall and ten times as heavy as Cordelia, so, with luck, I will get through the parenting experience with only a broken nose or dislocated jaw for my troubles.
All of my elders who kept nagging me to have children and preached about the fulfilling blissfulness of the experience failed to note that changing tables are made at the height which enables a toddler to kick you in the chin with ease. They could have warned me, but what do they care? As long as they get one more young flesh pod to pump money into Social Security and serve them their Senior Discount waffles on Sunday, they couldn’t care less about my sorry ass.
Oh. And on a good day, Cordelia can shit five times. This is the sort of thing parents are widely loathed for mentioning. Yet, I feel it is a real accomplishment, and we should all be proud.
Making Parenthood Even More Depressing Than Before
Normally, seeing your child turn out to have your own qualities is one of the pleasures of parenting. It means your biological traits are being passed to the next generation. It means you WIN.
The other night, some neighbors invited my family over to their yard so our kid could play with their kids. The adults stood around and talked. The kids frolicked on the grass. Our neighbors are nice, normal people, who made friendly small talk with us.
I can’t stand small talk. I never developed the knack for it. Trying to just chat pleasantly makes my skin crawl. So I just ended up standing there, looking neutral, off to the side, feeling awkward.
Then I looked down at Cordelia. She was doing exactly the same thing. She just stood there, awkwardly, as the kids played and the fun circled around her. More than at any other time, I felt a connection with her. I felt, truly, that she was my child. It was a nightmare.
I want to assume that this is just because of her very young age, and she will grow up to be a charming little social butterfly, able to discuss the weather, sports, or the merits of the trendiest euthanasia techniques with equal ease. That is the best case scenario. It beats the hell out of her being cursed with being another me.
Yet More On Small Talk
Owning a baby has not helped me avoid small talk. It has only invited more of these banal verbal assaults into my life. And they always take the form of “Oh, she’s cute.” “Your baby is so cute.” “What a cute baby!”And I’m left to lamely say “Yes. Thank you.”
Why? Why do people do this to me? Yes. Of course. I can see my baby is cute. It is OBVIOUS. And anyway, ALL BABIES ARE CUTE. Even the butt-ugly ones. Why take the trouble to say something which is both obvious and always true. Why not just say:
Stranger: “Ah! That is a baby!”
Stranger: “And she has two feet!”
Me: “Yes. Thank you.”
Stranger: “Oh, I wuv it when babies have both feet! That’s SO nice.”
Me: “Yes. It is. Thank you.”
Stranger: “Because if they don’t have both their feet, they just fall over all the time. My cousin had three babies with no feet, and they flopped all over the place.”
Me: “Yes. That is sad. Thank you.”
Stranger: “I love feet.”
Me: “Nice weather we’ve been having. How about sports?”
Or, in extreme cases,
Stranger: “Oh look! Your baby has its head!”
Me: “Currently, yes. Thank you.”
Stranger: “That’s so nice.”
Parents love to see other people with children. It helps validate their own life choice. And when you see parents with children older than your own, it gives you hope that you will make it through without you/the baby/both of you expiring horribly. But when you see me with my adorable, two-footed, one-headed baby, please feel free convey your emotions by simply looking at me with awe.
What It Takes To Make Public Nudity Bad
I suppose it is a little late for me to take on this topic. However, in answer to imagined public demand, I feel that I should say a few words about breast-feeding in public.
Now don’t get me wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that if I am about anything at all, it is women hauling their boobs out in public. I’m all over that action. And I am a fair man. I want to provide a little something for the ladies so, in return, I would force men to go without pants.
But I still have to come out against public breast-feeding. To understand why, I have to go back to what I learned while taking Women’s Studies 101 in college.
Now in that class, they explained something called the Madonna/Whore Complex. As I recall, what this means is that all women are either Madonnas or Whores.
(It occurs to me that I may not be remembering that entirely correctly. I wasn’t paying too much attention, as I mainly took the class to meet girls. But I think that’s about right.)
So when a woman bares her breast and then, just when I start to settle in, starts swinging a baby around it, the presence of the child puts her clearly into Madonna territory. And that’s just no fun. Also, if we’re in a restaurant, it’ll put me off my food.
Don’t get me wrong. I think mothers are plenty sexy. Heck, if I were single, I’d be more likely to hit on a mother. After all, the fact that she’s a mom means that she puts out. However, breast-feeding in public does not do anything for me. So I’ll vote no. I hope this satisfies your curiosity on this issue.
A Brief Word About Baby Haircuts
Right now, my daughter looks like either the world’s cutest boy or a somewhat cute but very butch girl.
Strangers compliment us on our cute boy all the time. My wife corrects them. I don’t bother. Unless you’re in a diaper situation and trying to decide how to clean which crevice, a baby’s sex is only of theoretical importance.
The Little Pleasures That Make Life Worthwhile
I was taking Cordelia out of her car seat and she hit me. So I said, “No.”And then she hit me again. And I said, “No!”And she swung at me again, missed, and smacked herself in the nose.
I suppose it is wrong for a parent to ever delight in the tears of their child. However, on occasion, I think it is all right to silently enjoy it when providence provides a little bit of unexpected justice.
The First Law of Applied Toddler Biokinetics
If a limb is strong enough to propel a 25-pound body, it is easily strong enough to dislocate your jaw.
Resisting the Indoctrination Of Babies Into Our Overly Controlled World
Supposedly, before long, I’m supposed to help toilet train Cordelia. My wife occasionally puts our daughter on this baby toilet thing she bought. Then she informs me about how it went. She shouldn’t do this. This feels way, way too parenty for me.
This process doesn’t seem fair. What give me the right to choose, on my daughter’s behalf, that she won’t use diapers? Why did my parents choose that for me? I’m going to take a page from the whole anti-circumcision book on this one. I have had my innate diaper nature taken from me. I have lost my ability to appreciate and enjoy diapers. Soft, clean diapers. So comforting and protective and enclosing. And some brands have cute little ducks on them.
Yes. I am sure I would totally still use diapers, if my parents’ hadn’t butted in and robbed me of them. And if I wasn’t so bothered by that Warm Crap Cooling In My Buttcrack feeling.
Wisdom For the Ages
“If you love your baby, set it free. If it doesn’t come back, it was never really yours.”