The Story About the Toddler, Volume 22.

Our daughter Cordelia has completed her thirty-fifth month of life. She is almost three. That means she will soon leave the “Terrible Twos” and enter the “Mediocre Threes,” followed by the “Awful Fours,” the “Shitty Fives,” and the “Disappointing Rest Of Her Life.”

The month was long, but far from wasted. She figured out how to open and close doors, and how to work the light switch. She is very close to being able to get out of her crib. So, if it weren’t for the lock we have on the bedroom door, I’d basically have to put my dick in a glass case for the next ten years.

Cordelia did a number of adorable things this month, when she wasn’t engaged in her systematic campaign to keep us from ever sleeping again (but more on that later). For example, we went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered a plate of hot noodles. (White person hot, not Asian person hot.) Cordelia couldn’t stop eating them. She took huge bites, alternating with desperate gulps of water. So if you’re one of those people who absolutely can’t stand hot food, our two-year old thinks you’re a pussy.

She spent a lot of time playing the Finding Nemo computer game. Now she can relive that tale of horror, fear, and the slaughter of whole families in a more active way. Also, two year-olds can be surprisingly adept at using the mouse, which is pretty cool.

And, for the first time, when I was trying to make her do something she didn’t want to do, she said, “I don’t like you!” This was probably meant to break my heart, but it didn’t. After the last month, I’m having mixed feelings about her, too.

The Particular Bug I Have Up My Ass This Month

One of the advantages of raising a child in the city is that a parent has a wealth of entertainment and education options. We can take Cordelia to the zoo or the aquarium whenever we want, which is often. She has sampled every major genre of ethnic food. She has seen a black person.

Thus, it was out of a desire to expose her young mind to new experiences, combined with a desire to get out of the house before we fucking killed ourselves, that we took her to the Seattle Children’s Museum.

What, you may ask, is a Children’s Museum? Well, it’s not really a museum. It’s more a big warehouse for toys and make believe-type equipment, provided by helpful corporate sponsors. The children roam the exhibits and scream and play and infect each other with diseases, and the parents stumble mutely after them.

For example, the local supermarket chain sponsored a play supermarket, where children can pretend to bag and ring up groceries. Then they can go next door to the pretend fast food restaurant, sponsored by a local chain of inedible Mexican slop, and pretend to take orders and assemble tacos.

It is so nice, in this time of economic insecurity, that someone has decided to step up and prepare children for the soul-crushing minimum wage jobs that the future is no doubt going to force them to have. The toy cash register and groceries help them prepare to be cashiers. The toy taco shells and beans prepare them to be fast food cooks. The toy sink and dirty dishes help them to prepare to be immigrants.

I wonder how big a check I would have to write to set up a room where the kids could pretend to mop my floors and do my laundry. Then the career training would be complete. To make room, they could tear out those useless, dust-gathering toy microscopes, no problem.

“But No, Jeff. You’re Holding Back. Tell Us How You REALLY Feel.”

I’ve been in a lot of kids’ museums and science centers in my time, as a child, a parent, or a bored loser. They always have places with puzzles and machinery the kid can try to figure out.

This is what I have observed. The place is only decent if some of the puzzles and equipment are actually complicated and hard to figure out. There have to be some challenges tough enough that the kid has to spend several trips to master them.

If a museum or science center has been infected by self-esteem building wankers who are only interested in making the kid feel like King Of the World for managing to stack one block on top of another block, it is a waste of time. The place is good only for making idiotic losers, who are in turn only good for breeding future generations of idiotic losers.

We have a local institution called the Seattle Science Center. It’s generally pretty cool. But once, years ago, it played host to a traveling exhibit about the science of Star Trek. Of course, since Star Trek has never contained one thing with even a passing resemblance to actual science, this is already completely stupid.

But the exhibit had computers where the kids could play little games. In one, you had to move the Enterprise and use its tractor beam to pull a meteor away from the planet it was about to destroy.

I tried it out. And what I found was, I swear to God, it was harder to lose the game than to win it. I stood there with a bunch of young boys for fifteen minutes, as we tried to find a way to move the asteroid so that it actually hit the planet. We eventually managed, with perseverance and multiple tries, to actually lose the game. And we all walked away, proud to have actually thought about something and achieved a goal.

The touchy-feely stupidity of Star Trek infects anything it touches.

The Children’s Museum only has one display that passed this test. It was this series of wheels, which could control this vacuum cleaner nozzle. You could maneuver the nozzle and turn on the suction to pick up balls and move them from one box to another. It was genuinely tricky, and (this is the great part) you could not do it by yourself. Two or three people had to work together to operate it.

I watched the kids use it for a while. Some of them operated it. Most didn’t. I helped out a few. And, when they were using it, I could see on their faces that they were actually THINKING about it.

Hmm. It definitely should be torn out. It could make room for an exhibit where the girls could learn how to be my maid.

The Other Use Of the Children’s Museum

It’s a great place to go if you want to give your child a disease. I hope they boil all of those toys in bleach every night. But I doubt they do.

Five minutes after we arrived, I could actually see the cloud of germs hovering around Cordelia’s head. Every once in a while, some of them would playfully fly up and bounce into her skull.

The day after the trip, Cordelia came down with a cold. And, as I write this, two weeks later, I do not think it will ever go away.

The Only Way To Make Raising A Two Year Old Worse

In times long past, Cordelia’s colds only lasted a day or two, and their only real effect was making her sleep a lot more.

But this cold has lasted forever, and it totally sucks. Who would have ever thought that a child’s illness could bring unhappiness and inconvenience?

She coughs a lot. It keeps her, and thus us, awake all night. Once the coughing was so bad that she had her first, full, grown-up style vomit. It lasted for a length of time and produced a quantity of material that filled me with admiration.

It turns out, our household’s unofficial rule is this: If you vomit vigorously, you get two extra books read to you before you go to bed. This seems a good enough bonus to help take the edge off, but not so good that it encourages such behavior in the future.

That only happened once, fortunately. Now the only remnant of her cold is the cough, which wakes her up at night and scares her and makes her cry. And she will only calm down and try to sleep if her mom or I stand next to her, in a dark room, for a very long time. It is nice to have a sign that we are, in some small way, emotionally important to her. Which is why we put up with this shit for three whole nights before staying in bed and letting her cry it out.

A Brief Exchange After Several Sleepless Nights

Me: “I am starting to feel more attached to my daughter. I am even beginning to feel that, if something horrible happened to her, I would be somewhat unhappy for a certain period of time.”
My Wife: “I would be sad forever.” (Long pause.) “But I suspect that’s mostly hormones.”

A More Accurate Summary Of My Feelings

It is one of the bits of emotional complexity that makes parenthood such a fascinating experience. If anything bad happened to Cordelia, I would be completely and permanently devastated. But at this stage of sleeplack, I’m not too thrilled about anything good happening to her either.

Solving the Mysteries of Parenthood

Cordelia’s hit another of the very few actually beneficial milestones she can reach. When we take her to a party with other children, she will run off and play with them, leaving me and Mariann free to socialize with actual humans.

All we have to do is check up on her occasionally, to make sure that the other, larger children haven’t murdered her in a horrifying spree of Lord of the Flies, “No, Piggy! You don’t have the conch!”-type violence. The question is, how many minutes can we have fun before one of us has to go check up on her?

Upon reflection, we have decided that the answer to that question is the same as the answer to this question: “How long can the human brain go without oxygen without permanent harm?”

I believe that the answer to that question is: thirty minutes. So that is how often we have to say to our friends, “Excuse me for a moment. Gotta go make sure the baby isn’t blue.”

Update On Cordelia’s Television Tastes

She is still addicted to the animated show Futurama. As this show does not make my eyes bleed in agony (unlike Thomas the Train Engine, which is the spawn of Satan himself), this is fine with me. Plus, this means that Cordelia’s first exposure to Santa Claus is the Futurama version, a gigantic, evil, murderous robot.

For Cordelia, finding out there is no Santa is bound to provide enormous relief.

However, while she really, really loved The Simpsons, she was only allowed to watch it for a very short time. You see, the violence in Futurama is of a very cartoony, science fiction fashion. Laser guns, planets blowing up, and so on.

On The Simpsons, children punch and kick each other. And, after watching an episode, Cordelia would run up and start punching and kicking me. No good.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those namby pambies who don’t think children should ever watch TV or play video games because it makes them aggressive and competitive (because we all know nobody ever got ahead in this world by being aggressive and competitive). I have no problem with someone else showing Cordelia The Simpsons.

But when it is ME who has to take the punching, well, that’s a problem.

Cordelia, to be frank, could use a little more aggressiveness and competitiveness. We’ve been watching other kids steal her toys at Gymboree long enough. It’s time for her to start handing out a little whup-ass.

Another Citizen On the Island of Forbidden Toys

We have also permanently forbidden Cordelia from playing with daddy’s old Laser Tag gun.

We have no problem with her running around and shooting a toy gun. We could even deal with her shooting us five hundred times a day.

But then I walked into the living room and saw her sitting on the couch, the barrel of the gun in her mouth, pulling the trigger again and again, a thoughtful expression on her face.

There is only so much horror I can stand to face in any one day.

Though I will never forgive myself for not getting a picture of it.