OMG, They're Going to Call DSS!
A while back, I was shopping for Christmas for varius
menfolk among my friends and relatives and wandered into Spencer's.
I remembered this store being on the crude side but also having guy
stuff like that Homer Simpson beer opener (Mmmmmmm, beer, it says) so
I figured I'd check it out. Little did I know it's turned into your
friendly neighborhood mall-porn store. (BTW: what is with the mall counter-culture
stores like the pre-fab goth and punk outlets? Do the kids who shop
there even realize how pathetically sad and fake and empty their fuck-you
gestures must perforce be for coming from such a plastic place?)
It really was a little shocking: boob-shaped pasta, penis
shot glasses, sexy games, "massagers," etc. And there's me
with a baby attached to my front. I felt like I had just totally polluted
my kid. I rushed out and apologized to her for ruining her innocence
so early, and looked around me to see if anyone had noticed.
Because this was one of those episodes where I screwed
up as a parents and inside my head, the voices were screaming, "Oh
my God DSS is going to come take my kid away!"
This is a thought that comes to me frequently: The day
she managed to lose one of her socks at Barnes and Noble and I had to
march her through the parking lot with a bare foot (neglect). The times
as a tyiny kid when she scratched herself with her own sharp little
nails (abuse, neglect). Whenever I notice I missed a spot of food on
her face (neglect). Whenever we have a doctor's appointment, I harrass
Jim to make sure she's really, really clean, so the doctor won't think
we're mistreating her.
There are just so many "It's not what it looks like"
moments when you have a kid. I try, whenever possible, not to put a
coat on her, preferring instead to wrap her in a blanket or just to
run - way too much screaming otherwise since she has a pathological
hatred of changing her clothes. And often when I analyze the dirty grump
vs. happy piggy equation, it balances on the side of happy piggy, since
washing her face is the last frontier of water-related screaminess.
Anyway. Mostly I am joking to myself when I say it, but
it's just another one of those things that is nervewracking about being
a parent - it just seems like an innocent mistake could cost you your
kid, if the wrong, judgmental person sees you.
Today, Eliza and I hung out with my friend Anae.
She is Russian and extremely smart. When Eliza was newborn
and I was really sleep deprived, between the accent and the fact that
she gallops off on random tangents and the fact that most of these tangents
are somehow related to her field of microbiology, I only got about 20%
of what she was saying to me at any point. Now that Eliza sleeps more
(and so do I) I feel that I am keeping up much better and Anae is probably
finding me a less annoying conversational partner.
We went to the Russian supermarket in West Springfield
to buy assorted items whose contents I was guessing at from the pictures
on the package (this is especially enteratining with candy, although
I'm finding that Slavs seem inordinately fond of jellied fruits). The
store also has a deli where, again, I often point at items and hope
it's not horse meat. Usually, I go for the old standby, Borscht, which
is tasty and about $2 for an enormous bowl. We also had the Russian
version of the pocket food item (e.g empanadas, calzones, etc.) which
included chicken, I believe it was, and cabbage.
Anyway, as we were enjoying our $3 lunch, Eliza got annoyed
with my eating, and when the Cheerios no longer distracted her, I unloaded
by shopping basket and plopped her in it. She found this amusing in
a safe manner for about .02 seconds, sticking her fantastic little fingers
through the holes in the plastic. (Have I talked about how amazing her
little hands are? God, they kill me, they're just so damn cute.) Then
she got ambitious, and before I even had my wits about me, she'd grabbed
onto the sides of the basket and pushed herself up to standing.
Now, first of all, can you imagine what it's like to be
so tiny that a shopping basket is actually thigh-high? And second, this
was actually a milestone. She's been needing less and less help to push
herself to standing, but this is the first time she's ever pushed up
to standing completely on her own. Granted, because the basket was only
thigh-high she was a bit hunched, but still, standing is standing.
I hoisted her out of there pretty quickly because I could
see any of a number of disastrous scenarios unfolding, many involving
tipped baskets and bloody-nosed babies, and gave her a box of tea to
gnaw on to keep her busy the rest of the meal. But, go baby!
Later the same evening:
After being quite convinced baby's head was going to explode
as result of going-to-bed-awake experiment, went in to pat baby and
insert binkie. Baby sighed happily, inducing further guilt. Took hand
off baby, who launched into Bleeeeeeeeeaaaaaauuuurgh! sound, then changed
her mind and started doing her Ayayayayayayay chatting-to-herself sound.
Went downstairs to put stinky diapers outside, came back in, no baby
sound. Convinced baby was just gathering steam for final apocalyptic
scream and played with Moesie in the basement to hide from anticipated
horrible death-noise. After 20 minutes, convinced baby was not making
death noise because head had indeed silently exploded from anger, went
upstairs to assess whether CSI team would be necessary, but no: Baby
Findings and Observations
Dances/dance steps you can doing while carrying a baby
in your arms or on your shoulders:
Grapevine with three-point turn
Rapper modified Hitler-salute arm-wave thingie
Rapper raising the roof palm-up thingie (only one hand, though)
1980s dork two-step (step-touch, step-touch)
Dances that do not work with baby:
Bono hop-kick thingie
Sound baby makes when you decide to put her in bed awake
so she can learn to put herself to sleep: Bluuuuuuuueeeeeeaaarrrrrrghghghghghghghghghghghghgh!!!!!!!
Sound Moesie makes when baby makes above sound: Miaw??
Sounds baby is making five minutes into going-to-bed awake
Where Moesie is five minutes into above experiment:
Not upstairs anymore, that's for sure!
Type of nerves required for baby-to-bed-awake experiment:
Going in to pat the baby now, per going-to-bed-awake expert
advice, then must wait 10 minutes before going back in, then 15, then
Will I continue this experiment much longer:
Clearly, my husband is going to have to be in charge of
our child's moral upbringing. I try to be a good person, with the reading
of the spiritual tracts, and the meditating, and the “"No,
you first."” But then I go to a concert and yikes, there
she is, my alter ego, Homicidal Concert Etiquette Vigilante Girl.
I am in daily life a meek knee-jerk liberal who respects
due process and opposes capital punishment. HCEVG——who will
never be a superhero because her name is much too unwieldy but is nonetheless
sporting a dashing red and black lycra cape-n-bodysuit ensemble in my
imagination—believes in the death penalty, applied instantly and
without a fair trial, for those who offend her. And they are legion.
HCEVG, if she had her way, would probably be the only living person
at each concert she attends. She's quite intolerant.
When I go to a concert, I don't go to see or be seen.
I don't go to get drunk or stoned. I don't go to have conversations
with my friends. I go for the band, and especially now that I'm a parent
and concerts have gotten few and far between, the ones I am able to
attend mean a whole lot to me. They're my religious experience.
That's why I both understand and am appalled by the way
I react to my fellow concert-goers. I don't want to have my experience
ruined, but you'd think someone pursuing her bliss would be less prone
to fantasies involving machetes.
At the concert which led to this realization about my
moral turpitude, my husband and I ended up in lousy seats—way
high up, behind the stage. Not a problem, we thought. The guy next to
us was into it, the people behind us were singing along, everyone was
dancing, we were doing great. I was just thrilled to be there and ready
to make the best of it.
And then the drunk guy and his (possibly even drunker)
girlfriend started up. They were a row below us, and when he wasn't
calling friends up to scream that the band was playing his favorite
song now or discussing same with the girlfriend, he was dancing, uh,
inappropriately, with her. Which I mean in the get-a-room sense, and
also there was lots of invading of the personal space of the woman standing
next to them.
Glaring, by everyone in the section, did not work. Neither
did miming that I was strangling them (although I did get an appreciative
nod on that one from the guy next to me). Bonking on the head with a
shoe was contemplated but discarded as an option because it would be
hard to evade the authorities with only one shoe on. My husband told
them nicely to please desist, and he’s my hero and all, but sadly
this too was ineffective. So were similar requests by others.
I was just bemoaning the lack of machetes and drafting
my concert vigilante recruitment speech in my head (first recruits,
the guy next to me and the personal space-invaded woman) when the most
wonderful thing happened: the girlfriend fell tush-over-teakettle into
the next row! One second, she was staggering and talking loudly in front
of me, the next moment, all I saw was feet. It was most excellent and
also answered a long-standing question I’ve had about what would
happen if you fall over in seats that are steeply raked. Apparently,
it causes a sort of domino effect as you knock down the people in front
of you and they knock down the person in front of them, and so on. It
was the best special effect of the night, and I’m only sad she
didn’t take the boyfriend down with her.
So, my point, other than to offer a lovely example of
schadenfreude, is, why would you do that? Why would you talk through
the music and drink so much you embarrass yourself like that? The money
you waste — even in the cheap seats, the price of a ticket is
nothing to sneeze at. And what is wrong with your social barometer that
you can just stand there and alienate several dozen people to the point
where they laugh at you when something humiliating (and possibly dangerous)
happens to you?
Please, help me be a better person: Stay home and listen
to the CD.
It seems that we have discovered Cheerios (or, really,
their organic, whole-grain-oats equivalent at Whole Foods).
Whenever a Cheerio is presented to Baby, there is much
furrowed-browed, snorty inspection. If the Cheerio is held by Mama,
the inspection is followed by wide-open-birdy-mouth, insertion by Mama,
and funny bottom-front-teeth chewing. If the Cheerios are placed on
the high chair tray, there is the grabbing of fistfuls, and then a redistribution
to the surrounding area. Barney anticipates Cheerio time with growing
enthusiasm, as he thinks they are special crunchy cat treats. Some of
the redistribution is mouthwards, but Jim and I are pondering the irony
that the one thing our committed gnawer cannot seem to get into her
gaping maw is an actual accredited food item.
So, I went to see U2 last Wednesday with Jim. It was so
amazing - all the more so because I didn't think I'd get there this
time around. A kid has a way ot sabotaging your plans. I was due the
last time they came through, and was in the midst of the screa-heee-heeeeeeeeeming
post-partum nightmare when the tickets for this leg went on sale, so
I didn't exactly get on the ball about ordering any.
But Jim found some guy who had extras, and K., our
babysitter, could watch Eliza that night, so everything worked out,
and there we were, in row W, 3 rows down from the ceiling, as the Arcade
Fire intro song started wailing and the house went dark.
There are too many highlights to list them all; suffice
it to say this is an experience I'll hold close to me for some time.
All I wanted was to hear the chorus of City of Blinding Lights bouncing
off the rafters and that's what I got. It was perfect. Lyrically, this
is not the most amazing thing they've ever written, but the ascending
melody of "Oh You look so beautiful tonight" - God, that just
slays me every time. I can't believe that something so simple and evanescent
can mean so much to me. And it does, not least because this album came
out about 3 months into my pregnancy and I frequently drove to work
singing this line to my baby-to-be. Until I started to get so emotional
I had to stop listening to it.
Interestingly, a song that didn't really register with
me then, the one about Bono's father with the line "You're the
reason I sing" is the one that makes my eyes sting now. If I can
be a good enough parent that Eliza can one day think that about me...
But I digress.
The concert had its ups (see above) and its down (drunken
hooligan dry-humpers in front of us) and once again, I realized just
how amazing these guys are at what they do.
Seriously - U2, Bruce Springsteen and Nick Cave: If you're
a musician but you're not one of them, you should probably just quit
playing live, because you're only embarrassing yourself.
1,000 Words About Prunes
Tragically Unclear on the Concept: The Sippy Cup
Today we tried to introduce Eliza to the Sippy Cup. We
tried once before but there was widespread screaming and protest. Today's
session went better. Or maybe not.
The First Haircut
So, Eliza's hair is a little out of control. And cute
as it is, the bangs were really getting to be a problem, since they
were always in her eyes. Various personages had suggested that there
be haircutting, but uh, I'm not going to come at my kid with scissors,
what ARE you thinking.
Earlier this week, Jim hung out with some friends, and
the female half of the couple, who owns her own hair salon, clearly
found her professional sensibilties offended by our kid's wild and woolly
hair to such a degree that she offered to cut her hair, for free.
Having someone else do the dirty work appealed to us,
so Jim took Eliza in today for her first haircut. There was to be no
touching of the rest of the hair, but the bangs were fair game.
He called me to report on the experience. Missy behaved
admirably, sitting nice and still during the procedure, and all went
I asked him, "Well, how does she look?" and
he replied, "Adorable" in a tone that implied that I was a
nimrod for asking such an obvius question. Nimrod or no, I was afraid
that it would somehow affect her wild and mischievous charm, but if
anything, the bangs make her cuteness even more over the top perfect
than it already was. Now, she has these crazy wings that stick out from
the side of her head and really, have you ever seen anything so sweet?
The whole kid-learning thing is so interesting. There's
no such thing as a learning curve, I'm discovering - more like a learning
jagged line all over the place in fits and starts. Which doesn't quite
have the ring of the other expression, maybe that's why it doesn't get
Anyhow, it's happened several times, now, that I've been
waiting and waiting for Eliza to do something and that it started to
seem like she never would. So it was with rolling over. I had visions
of Jim and me and an enormous 200-pound baby that we would have to push
from her front onto her back. At another point, I thought she'd never
learn to grasp things and figured she'd spend her whole life screaming
in anger because she wanted her binky but couldn't pick it up.
The latest thing was sitting. She wanted to do it, that
much was clear, but she'd do that thing where she bobbled wildly as
she was upright and then suddenly flung sideways as though she'd landed
in a centrifuge. An angry centrifuge - the fact that she couldn't sit
had no bearing on her demands to be allowed to sit, and I spent many
an hour inventing creative ways to help her stay more or less upright.
I was getting to that point where I thought, wow, she's
going to be 40 and we're going to have to get an enormous Boppy pillow
for her so she won't topple over, because she's clearly never going
to learn to sit on her own. And then all of a sudden, a week before
Thanksgiving, she figured it out. That morning, you could see the light
come on, and she went from falling over ALL THE TIME to falling over
maybe once or twice a day.
Jim and I were drunk on the freedom of it - in the 9 days
after she mastered sitting, we took her out to eat 5 times. She did
great. High chairs are her friend, and there's so much to lick in restaurants.
We began to appreciate the full scope of what the diaper wipe can do
after we found ourselves wiping down everything she could gnaw on/lick
from her sitting position.
Now, I'm wondering about walking. Will we have to wheel
her down the aisle on a dolly at her own wedding?