The Story About the Toddler, Volume 16.

My daughter Cordelia is now two and a half years old. Or somewhere in that area. After a certain point, you are allowed to stop keeping track.

I am trying to truly savor every one of these precious toddler days. The time when your child is two is a special time. It is the only time you are allowed to really, truly dislike your child.

When the kid is a baby? A cuuuuuuute, helpless baybee? How could ANYONE be so cruel as to dislike a baybeeeeee, even if it’s dopey and immobile and boring and screams all the time.

When the kid is a child? Like in the four to ten year range? Well, you BETTER like the kid then, because that’s supposed to be the good time. If you put in the long hours to get the kid to age five and you still don’t like it, well, you fucked up somewhere around the impregnation stage. Better get yourself neutered, Captain.

When the kid is a teenager? Well, you’ll want to hate it. But you’re not allowed, because everyone knows that your problems with your teenager are your fault. If you’d been a better, more supportive mommy/daddy, your sprog wouldn’t have sold your stereo to buy a hundred tubes of model airplane glue. Don’t hate the kid. Hate yourself. Jackass.

But toddlers? Toddlers are vicious, mercurial, totally self-centered, amoral, and limitlessly demanding of your time. They will, just to pick an example from this morning alone, smash one of your shot glasses and then start to scream and punch you when you won’t let them play with the broken glass.

There is really nothing to recommend them. Even my wife, as dedicated and loving a parent as anyone can reasonably expect, is now pretty much ready to set her ovaries on fire.

If I were one of those dreadful parents who can’t meet a childless couple without trying to brainwash them into the reproductive cult, this year would cure me. As it is, all I can say to the childfree is


Guys, if you jerk off, only do it into a pot of boiling water. Or a fire. Those sperm must be destroyed as soon as possible, or a toddler might be created. Better yet, don’t jerk off at all. That only creates sexual momentum, and then soon you’re doing it with ladies, and that only leads to toddlers.

But anyway.

Our child is developing. She can sort of sing songs. She sort of knows about colors. She can sort of put clothes on and take them off. She can throw a spoon at my eyes with remarkable speed and accuracy. She can unleash a torrent of screams and punches and kicks when her will is thwarted even a little bit.

I can’t spank her. Even if she would be capable of linking the beating to her behavior and learning from it, I can’t help but feel that smacking someone a third of my height and a seventh my weight is just, I don’t know, mean.

But I’m not above indulging in a few happy daydreams of handing down harsh, frontier discipline, like they did on Little House on the Prairie.

Long, Soulful Looks Into My Daughter’s Eyes

We are still working on toilet training. Well, my wife and I are working on it. Cordelia doesn’t care. She is just enduring being plopped onto the toilet every hour on the hour so that her mother or I can stare soulfully into her eyes and beg her to void her bowels.

Before Cordelia was born, I was told that one of the worst parts of parenthood is cleaning up the shit, once it starts to smell like shit. This isn’t even close. It is far worse to sit in a bathroom with a constipated child, whimpering, beet-faced and grunting, as she tries to use inadequately developed sphincter muscles and sheer force of will to shove out a chunk of dried-out material the approximate size, shape, and texture of a fossilized trilobyte.

All the children of the world need more roughage.

But even when Cordelia urinates, a far simpler process, it is still traumatic. For me, I mean. I have to teach Cordelia proper sanitation and wiping procedure, and I really, honestly have no idea.

If I had a son, it would be easy. I’d let him watch me pee a few times, and then have him cut loose. I’d teach him to shake it a few times afterwards, and he’d toddle off and I’d grab the mop to clean up the misses. No worries.

But Cordelia has girl plumbing, and girl plumbing terrifies me under pretty much any circumstances. I’m supposed to teach her how to wipe herself, and I don’t know how women do that. Do you wipe the whole undercarriage, or just the bits where the pee comes out? And where does the pee come out, anyway? Believe me, I’m not looking closely. And how much pressure do ladies apply when they wipe? Does a delicate dabbing of the surface do, or do you grab a 5-ply wad of toilet paper and just dig in there?

I don’t know. And believe me, I don’t want to. So I just hand Cordelia some toilet paper and let her do whatever she’s going to do with it. I trust that Cordelia’s genetic instincts will tell her what to do. Meanwhile, I smack my head against the wall, just below the towel rack, until little white speckles cover my field of vision.

What is my point? Hmmm. After looking back on what I just wrote, I think my point is that nobody should have children under any circumstances. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m saying here.

Another Justification For Corporal Punishment

Cordelia already has the ability to make it impossible to pick her up when she doesn’t want to be picked up. She dislocates all of her joints, makes her skin frictionless, and then turns into the amazing boneless baby.

And now she has a new trick, When I try to take her somewhere by the hand (as opposed to just letting her wander into the street on her own like hip parents do) she will suddenly fling herself to the floor and make her entire body go limp. This is especially charming behavior when we’re on a crosswalk in front of a car, whose driver impatiently fantasizes about killing the two of us while I struggle to haul thirty pounds of toddler dead weight out of the road.

I know they think about killing us. Sadly, they never do.

Going all still and limp when under stress. What sort of evolutionary adaptation is that? It’s not to deal with predators, that’s for sure. Believe me, if you go all limp, the wolf that’s dragging you off is NOT going to be impressed.

Other Charming Behavior

She opens my books, spits in them, and closes them again.

And people ask me if I want to have another kid.

One Thing In Cordelia’s Defense

She loves spiders. She always wants to see my pet tarantula. She admires the countless, harmless spiders that infest our house.

Fear of spiders is stupid. Cars are far, far more dangerous than even the deadliest spiders, but we can walk down the street without whimpering like schoolgirls.

Everything Made For Toddlers Is Shit

As part of our ongoing toilet-training process, we went to Target to buy Cordelia some real, actual cloth panties. I hate going to the baby section in Target because, every time I do, I see something that’s so totally fucking stupid that it completely breaks my brain.

So we go to the panties section. I’ve never bought anyone panties before, so I don’t know what to do, but my wife is there and she has experience in this area which frees me to just stand off to the side and whimper.

Anyway, as I cower, I notice that there are no plain, simple toddler underpants. Now, when I shop for boxer shorts for myself, my choices are generally along the lines of white, brown, black, and sensible designs like that. But everything for kids has to have some cute, licensed design on it. Anthropomorphic fish from some recent popular movie, or dancing mice, or a laser-firing skeleton from Japan. Whatever happened to, you know, WHITE!?!? I mean, is there something wrong with me? I’m sure those complicated designs are useful in that they help disguise the crap stains, but at some point did someone decide that this would be the post-white millennium, and you can’t buy white things any more, and fuck you and your outmoded ideas of what clothing should look like, OLD MAN!

Also, one of the boy’s underpants had a design of a big train on it. I suppose kids can get away with this, but if I wore a pair of boxers with a steaming locomotive on it, people would think I was totally trying to compensate for something.

Along These Lines

They also had a training toilet that would, I swear to God, play music when the kid shits in it.

I want one of these for myself. I want a toilet that plays “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or “Come Together” or “We Are the Champions” when I use it.

What My Wife Wants Her Toilet To Play

“It’s Raining Men”

Giving Her Some Non-Toxic Fun

Cordelia loves Play-Doh now. It’s marvelous stuff. We give it to her, and she plays with it in a way that must be educational somehow, and we’re free to basically ignore her and watch TV for half an hour while she squishes the stuff around.

Sometimes we feel guilty and try to help her or show her to do something with it, and she flies into a screaming rage the moment we touch it, and we go back to the TV. This is the toddler independence all the parenting books tell you about, and it can occasionally be a great parent labor saving device.

Sometimes, she eats a little bit of the Play-Doh. I don’t worry about this for two reasons. First, Play-Doh claims to be non-toxic. Second, I have learned from personal experience that the best way to learn to not eat Play-Doh is to actually eat some of it. When Cordelia puts some of the stuff in her mouth, she rolls it around in her mouth, looks terrified, and drools uncontrollably. I really need to video tape this some time to provide valuable evidence to Science of what the learning process looks like.

Sometimes she licks the Play-Doh and I watch, fascinated and horrified, as her saliva slowly breaks down and digests the stuff before my eyes. The spit gradually dissolves the Play-Doh and I imagine that if I put it all back into the container and waited, the spit would slowly break the whole jar down into a thick, viscous chemical slurry. Then all I would need to do is add some echinacea and caffeine and that’s the recipe for Red Bull right there.

Our Justification For Letting Our Daughter Be In the Room While We Watch Our Kung Fu Movies

To a toddler, a jet of hot, arterial blood looks like a little rainbow.