Babies

I didn’t run the marathon this year

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The main reason I didn’t run the LA marathon this year is that I didn’t train. I trained for other things instead. I trained for the stamina to wear out my parents so they required naps more than I did. I trained for chasing the cat, and then trained for complaining that he swatted at me. I trained for building enormously tall towers of blocks that fell with a crash at eight in the morning. I trained for eating the crust of pizza only, only a half cup freshly-squeezed orange juice that cost $5, and I have trained hard to ask for vanilla yogurt in a bowl, wait for the parent serving me to sit down and begin reading the paper, and then ask for some strawberries to go in the yogurt, wait once again for my parent to sit down and read another paragraph about Hillary Clinton’s emails, and then ask for some almond butter to go with the yogurt and strawberries in the bowl, wait another moment, until my parent sits down again, and ask for some water. All reasonable requests! And sequenced perfectly, don’t you think?

I have trained to count to ten by myself. I have trained on the ABC song and know all of it.

I trained for lounging in the bathtub. I have trained for crashing into the bed and cutting my temple. (I am okay now.)

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During the marathon I applauded the runners, and then, just to see what would happen, I threw a large pine cone into their path, to see if any of them would trip. This got me a stern lecture from my mama about the irresponsibility of tripping people who have trained hard to run for hours, but I don’t see the sense of running for hours anyway, and I am deeply involved now in testing boundaries. I have become a scientist of boundaries, constantly experimenting to see how late I can stay up, how long I can remain in the bathtub (a long, long time!), what happens if I throw something at my father’s face (result: not good!), and if I butt my hard head up against my mother’s jaw. (Also a bad experiment; will not be repeated.)  I have experimented with singing the Bingo song, and Old MacDonald, to help myself fall asleep.

Despite these experiments, or because of them, my mama says she wants to run a marathon with me, when I am old enough, she says. I don’t know what she is waiting for. I am ready now to run at least two or three minutes at a time. (Will somebody write in and tell me how long a marathon is?)

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Babies

I Work Hard to Stay Relevant

I work hard to stay relevant. When I go to a park, I seize the moment by creating sculpture using a traffic cone, eucalyptus leaves, branches and bark. Look out Louise Nevelson, because I might be more relevant than you already, and I am just two and a half. I am a seizer of moments.

At mealtimes with my parents, I repeat mommy mommy mommy over and over to break up the conversation when I can’t think of anything to say. I believe in staying on top of the conversation at mealtimes and this means talking a lot. My father refers to this as ‘sucking the oxygen out of the room,’ but I don’t know what he means. He talks about me being a blustery lobbyist or commentator on Fox, but I don’t think these would be good career choices for me.

Staying relevant means that everyone is looking at you. The best way to do this is to shout, ‘Mama, play with me’ when you want your mama to stop reading The New York Times Week in Review and come over and build a block tower right away. I have seen the Week in Review, and it is filled with fluff. Maureen Dowd is off for the holiday, so there is nothing to read there. Nick Kristof is okay, but David Brooks is a one-percenter apologist blowhard. Joe Nocera is a sophisticated complainer, nothing more. My mama will get a lot more out of making a block tower with me, trust me.

Sometimes staying relevant is challenging. There are moments, as impossible as it is to believe, during which I have nothing to say. At those times, I make buzzing noises to simulate words. There are times when I disagree with my parents’ choices for me but don’t want to hurt their feelings by saying their logic is outmoded, their morality bankrupt, and their creative impulses derivative. So in those instances I just say ‘woof.’ I mean, literally, ‘woof.’ It is easier to become a puppy in the moments when somebody in authority is mouthing an inanity like: ‘Two more minutes of playtime, and then we will be putting away the blocks!’ The only response to a statement like that is ‘woof.’ I use this technique often.

Staying relevant means creating drawings with my parents, but I do it Huck Finn style, getting them to do most of the drawing, while I direct them, telling them what to draw, and in what color.

Staying relevant means listening carefully to when my parents get up at 6:30 AM to do yoga and meditation, and then calling out ‘Mama come in here now’ to stay top of mind during their sessions.

Staying relevant means skipping or shortening my naps so that I can continue to build block towers and seize moments.

Adopt some of these techniques, and you too will stay relevant.

Babies

Afraid of the Vacuum

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To My Parents,

This is a new year so I want to give you both a chance to get this right. Here is a caliper and a metric ruler so you can cut my waffle pieces into the precise sizes that I require. Here is a schedule to tell you when you may run the vacuum.  Please note that all the times listed are when I am out of the house. I don’t think it’s being overly picky to say that I forbid you from running the vacuum in my presence.  I am afraid of the noise of the vacuum, but I will never admit that publicly. It is a better choice for us all if you never use the vacuum. Who cares if the place gets a little dusty? The cat likes batting the dust with his paw, so this decision will benefit him as well as me.

Please never put a blue yoga mat where my mommy places her red yoga mat. If you do so, it will be upsetting for me. Please never move my block towers, yogurt cup towers, constructions, doors, fences, and other things that may be blocking your path. I understand that you believe that you should be able to freely walk around our place, but you have that wrong. Building things is important to my mental development, honing my sense of spacial relations, hand-eye coordination, and self worth. When you consider that huge value to me, what does it matter if you trip over a toy once in a while? Get a sense of perspective, please, and we will all live in harmony.

Here is a timer that will go off when I say it is okay to change my diaper. Here is a weekly schedule that describes when you will be taking me to school, how long I will be permitted to dawdle on the walkway before getting into the car, and how many minutes I will be allowed to fumble around in the car before I get into the car seat.  Here is a list of approved radio stations, when it is preferable to play them, and for how long. Here is a list of what I will eat. Here is a much longer list of what I will not eat. The short list just says ‘toast,’ ‘yogurt,’ and ‘figs.’ That is not a mistake.  The long list is too long to reproduce here, but I suggest you memorize it. This will make it easier for all of us. When I request food, such as an organic fig, please deliver it at once, no matter what else you are doing.

Here is a list of parks I play in, and a map showing the streets you will take to get to them. Please don’t repeat the same park two days in a row.

Here is a list of sounds I make inside, and another list of sounds I make outside, and at what volume and intensity for each sound. Note that these lists are identical. So get used to me screaming, shouting, singing, and whatnot in the location I choose. Do not attempt to modify this; it may affect my ability to self-express.

If I am tired of walking when you are holding my hand to cross the street I will signal this intention by lifting my feet from the ground or by dragging my knees on the ground, making a spectacle of myself in the middle of a busy street. This may cause you some embarrassment, but you need to understand that when I am tired of walking, I am tired in that instant and something must be done.

Wait – I need to update this blog. My father has said that I can’t be giving orders all the time, can’t yell at my parents, can’t repeat the same thing over and over even if I want it very badly, and that I have to live together with my family and be a ‘citizen’ whatever that is. I think he is wrong, but he seems as set on me being a citizen as I am in demanding an organic fig, no matter what else you are doing.

I know I am just two and a half, but I might have to budge on some of this because when my demands escalate, even my mommy, who is a goddess, has to walk out of the room sometimes. She talks about this thing called ‘cooperation,’ which has to be bad because she says it with a serious voice. Still, there is merit to having her in the room with me, so I might have to listen.

Guess what? I have decided that I am not afraid of the vacuum. When I go to a restaurant I will eat french fries with ketchup and will remain seated for almost the whole meal. Is that what is called being a citizen?

Photo credit: Calipers by Mauro Cateb. Toddler photo by docuguy.

Babies

5 Things I’ve learned so far…

This is good, solid advice and learning from Chris Gaspic.

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So, in honour of all of the end of year lists out there, I thought I’d quickly share what I’ve learned just over the past year (Matilda is only 14 months). I don’t think listing only five will be enough, so perhaps I’ll carry this over. I’ll see. Well, let’s get this started.

1. You sleep more than you think.

We’ve all heard the stories when you don’t have a kid and you’re preparing to have that first child: “Oh, say goodbye to sleep” or “You’ll never have a good night sleep again”. Well, I’m here to say that it’s not entirely true. Yes, I will say that the first few days absolutely, positively suck. It’s the worst. I’ll never forget being in the hospital and watching nurses come in and out of the room checking in on Matilda and taking her out of the room. In those first few…

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Babies

The Registry: Free Stuff Never Felt So Hard

All the ‘stuff’ is confusing. The writer of the blog below has done a good job here of sorting it out. Just imagine what it’s like a few years in, when you have a house full of stuff. This Christmas we made a point of putting a few toys away ‘for later’ before bringing out the new ones.

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Having trouble comprehending the gravity of having a child? The largeness of it? The overwhelming magnitude of it all? Start your registry. Then let’s talk.

Yes, it’s a bit of a wakeup call. All that stuff. The bottles, the bottle warmer, the car seat, the infant converter, the stroller, the crib, the humidifier, the baby monitor, diapers, diaper bags, and endlessly on into Buy Buy Baby oblivion.

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Babies

Ideas for Halloween Costume

Kind of rushed today, but wanted to jot down a few ideas for a Halloween costume.

Fire chief. I already have the hat, the red chief overcoat, and I have visited a fire station and rang the bell.

Burt Reynolds. Grow mustache. Take off clothes. Pose like centerfold. Bit of a stretch. Does anybody remember that photo shoot?

A German speaker. I am learning German at school. Vocabulary so far: nein. Just the one word.

A Tiger.  It’s what I was last year.  I still have the costume, so it’s the low-friction choice. Costume a bit stuffy.  Digging deep into the archives (from last year) here’s what it was like.  Wait for the roar at the end, but try not to get too frightened.

Babies

Nudity is OK, as Long as it’s Tasteful

I was reading an article in the New York Times the other day about nudist colonies in Croatia, and it struck me. I am getting more comfortable being naked. I decided to test this out the other day. When my parents came in my room to get me at 6:30 in the morning, I had taken off my shirt and was leering proudly at them from my crib half naked. It was liberating. I saw something of the future in it.

When I was very small I didn’t know what the heck was going on, so being naked was the same as wearing clothes. But as I matured, even a few months in, I started not liking the idea of getting my diaper changed in public. It’s so exposed with everything flapping around as your parent works quickly to strap you up again. Also, it’s drafty. I can think of lots of better things to do than having your diaper changed when you are crammed in an airplane lavatory, or as you dangle off a car tailgate, or as you roll around in the grass in the shady part of a sun-drenched public park.

The nudist colony piece in the Times got me thinking, however, that what I didn’t like about nudity had nothing to do with nakedness. It had everything to do with nakedness as a necessary condition of having a wet diaper changed. It was nakedness endured, not chosen. That morning in my crib, I chose my own nakedness, and it rocked.

What good are clothes anyway? You can go swimming without clothes and I have a lot of fun while swimming. You take a bath without clothes and I look forward to that. You can take a shower, which is slightly scary, but it’s good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, especially in water. My cat doesn’t wear clothes, and most dogs I see don’t wear them either, and they seem happy.

There is only one reason to have clothes on your body that I can see. They are to catch food when you miss your mouth. Therefore the only necessary article of clothing for anyone is a bib. Bibs come in many stylish colors and shapes to satisfy the most discerning fashionista/o. I have a truck bib, an owl bib, and a blue one with concentric circles on it that reminds me of Wassily Kandinsky’s work from 1922-1932. I am going to start recommending adult bibs as a fashion statement on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and maybe somebody will pick up on it for a crowdfunding campaign.

The new thing I am doing with my mommy lately is a daily Sarasvati puja in the mornings. It goes quite smoothly with my cooperation, and only one time have we nearly burned a hole in the floor with our ceremonial candle.

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