Monthly Archives: January 2006

Impress Others With Your Child

While I know all parents have different goals for their child and for how they parent, all are united by one fact: they want to impress strangers with their child’s abilities. To help with that, I offer my guide to making your baby impressive. The following techniques require decent fine motor skills and an ability to say words, so if your child is too young for that and is ugly to boot, there is nothing I can do for you.

One strategy is to make your child seem smart. When they are young and have not yet destroyed their brains with TV and underage drinking, they have prodigious memories. Work with them until they can say their ABCs. Sing the alphabet song to them repeatedly until they have memorized letters. This makes your baby sound smart without requiring him or her to actually be smart. For bonus points, teach them to recite the alphabet backwards.

Similarly, teach them numbers. Count with them in the bath, when in the car, and every other chance you have. They don’t have to be able to count; they merely need to be able to recite the numbers. For bonus points, teach them to pick out individual letters and numbers. Remember: you’re not teaching them things, you’re working on rote memorization.

Another strategy is to have your child say cute and surprising things. Take a common question and put a spin on it. Any drooling teething child can say that a cow says moo. How many of them will say “Arr!” when asked what a pirate says? When singing Old MacDonald’s Farm to them, don’t introduce cows and sheep. On Eli’s Farm, he had an alpaca. Or a capybara. Chinchillas are good, as are lemurs. Really, though, why stop with animals? And on that farm he had a pulse crop, E I E I O.

Introduce rituals that children don’t usually know. Teach your kid to pick up her sippy cup and tap it against someone else’s glass while saying, “CHEERS!” Don’t teach your kid to give you five; teach him about respect knuckles. The best part of these behaviors is that your child will demonstrate them spontaneously. “How cute!” another parent will say before they can stop themselves, and now you have the perfect opening to have your child perform like a baby Mozart, only without the patronage or royalty.

If you follow these steps, soon your child will make other parents grind their teeth in frustration before running home and throwing their money at LeapFrog toys.

Oh the Humanity

First I came home from work to find Eli watching Gilmore Girls with Misty.

Then I found out that, in the morning, he goes into Misty’s closet to help her pick out jewelry. He chooses necklaces and earrings, holding them up and saying, “Cuuuuuuuuute.”

Tonight he pulled a cup and bowl towards him and said, “Play tea party?”

At this point I might as well give up and let him watch Project Runway with us.

The Evolution of Cute

Originally, children were not cute. It’s not that they were ugly; it’s that they lacked a certain something that made them cute. This resulted in a lot of attrition: when the children would cry or destroy things or in general be unappealing, parents couldn’t say, “Oh, but isn’t he cute when he’s nice?” Instead they’d leave the kids by the side of the road.

Then, eureka! A child was born who was amazingly cute. Imagine the advantage this gave her in survival! Even more amazing, when she grew up and had children of her own, those children were cute. Soon the cute gene ruled supreme, with parents everywhere accosting strangers and demanding that they admire the cuteness of their child.

The Only Cure is More Cowbell

The Boy has a fever, which means his temper tantrums now include a quickly-ascending shriek that has shattered three windows and my eyeglasses so far. This illness coincides nicely with him having gone to the doctor yesterday morning. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Four hours later he had a 102-degree fever.

He’s only really had a fever once before, and that was high enough to make him entirely listless. I went home early yesterday to help Misty out. Eli and her were lying on the couch, watching Gilmore Girls. I rescued my son as quickly as possible.

Making Requests

Misty went in to free Eli from his crib this morning. He was spread out on the changing table, sucking down juice, when I walked in. Misty had unzipped his pyjamas and unsnapped his onesie prior to changing the very dirty diaper.

Eli looked up at me. “Daddy turn change diaper?”

“All yours!” Misty chirped as she ran.

Signposts for Neglect

In the TV show we were watching last night, one of the main characters had been on the road a lot. Back home at last, the character was talking with his wife when their young daughter ran in, upset. The dad tried to confort the daughter, who pushed him away and went to the mom instead. I can imagine the writers nodding as they put this scene together. It’s a clear sign that the father has neglected his family. It’s a trope I’ve seen before and nodded at myself.

Only it doesn’t really work that way. Based on our experience with Eli, and from watching other parents, children turn to one parent over the other for any number of reasons:

  • One parent has been with the child so much that they want the other parent
  • The child is angry at the parent for disciplining them
  • Cosmic rays passing through the child’s head flipped their preference from one parent to another

On any given day, Eli will prefer me, or Misty, or Nanny, or Tim, or that random stranger with the bright shiny shirt. The idea that young children show a preference for a parent based on simple and explainable reasons is like the idea that the stock market is full of rational actors.

Being Stalked

When Eli was younger than he is now, he had a strong preference for Misty. He would play with me happily enough, but it was an on-again, off-again sort of thing, the father-baby equivalent of being grade-school secret friends.

With that in mind, I give you the following short scene.

GRANADE HOUSEHOLD, JANUARY 11, 6:47 PM

Night has fallen. STEPHEN is in the bathroom, door closed, when he hears ELI calling.

ELI
Where daddy?

STEPHEN
I’m in the bathroom. I’ll be out in a minute.

ELI
(knocking)
knock knock knock

STEPHEN
No, really, I’m in the bathroom!

ELI
Daddy! DADDY! DADDY!

STEPHEN

ELI
DADDY! WHERE DADDY? DADDY!

The sounds of sobbing can be heard through the bathroom door.

STEPHEN
It’s okay, Eli! I’ll be out in a minute! Hang on!

ELI

The silence unnerves STEPHEN. Then he sees tiny tiny fingers slipping under the bathroom door.

ELI
DADDY! KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! DADDY? WHERE DADDY? DAAAAAAAAADDY!

Spurred on by the obvious distress in ELI’s voice, STEPHEN hurries and comes out of the bathroom.

STEPHEN
Here I am!

ELI
Mommy? Where mommy?

Dream

I had a dream last night. Eli had done something — I don’t know what, but it was wrong, and I had told him so, and he’d nodded and not really paid attention in the way he does. I was filled with rage, at his ignoring me, at him not understanding his wrongness. I wanted to take him and shake him, limbs flying, until he got it. Then I woke up.

We’re in a strange and frightening transition. Eli is moving from being a lump of baby to a creature who can comprehend and reason. I’m caught in the middle, not sure how much discipline to administer, frustrated that he ignores what I say or tests me. I wonder how we will cope with him.

Then I come home from work. “Daddy home!” he cries and rushes headlong, throwing his little body into me, all bird bones and high-pitched voice.

A New Blog for Everyone

Since Eli’s feeling better, I’m going to let him tell this next bit of news.

hi this is eli, sorry i haven’t been blogging lately, i have new train sets and they are fun. plus computers are for the cookie monster game, if you haven’t played it, you totally should.

anyway i thought i would tell you that my cousin baby sam has a new blog called . baby sam is my new cousin, he was at may and pop’s. he’s okay but a little young, i don’t know what people see in babies. i mean i can barely understand them when they talk, it’s a good thing he has a blog. the bad thing is that pop and may and other fans pay attention to baby sam, that is just wrong. i hope this blog will let them get all the baby sam they need so they can notice me next time. okay all done.