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December 2005

Dec. 30
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.

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Milestone

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.

Tangent.

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!

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Dec. 27
Huh

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 was asleep!

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Findings and Observations

Dances/dance steps you can doing while carrying a baby in your arms or on your shoulders:
Cha-cha
Grapevine
Grapevine with three-point turn
Hustle
Electric Slide
Chasse
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:
Salsa
Bono hop-kick thingie
Madonna yoga-writhing

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?? Miaw? Miaw??????

Sounds baby is making five minutes into going-to-bed awake experiment: Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!! Uuuuuuuuurgh!!!

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:
Steel.

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 20, etc.

Will I continue this experiment much longer:
Doubtful.

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HCEVG

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.

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Dec. 14
Cheerio, Matey!

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.

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Dec. 13
U2

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.

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Dec. 11
1,000 Words About Prunes

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Dec. 8
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.

1. Hello, Sippy Cup
2. Daddy shows Baby its proper application.
3. Looks like she has grasped this drinking business.
4. And Mommy and Daddy are convinced, once again, that they have a genius baby.
5. Uh oh. That's not looking good...
6. And indeed, Baby reveals that she is very unclear on the concept.

7. She is very perplexed...

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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 smoothly.

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?

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She Sits!

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 used...

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?

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