Cute little baby milestones
My last entry was… well,
let’s just say it wasn’t written at a high point
in my Bright, Happy Child-Raising Experience™.
No doubt some of my readers remain blissfully
child-free, and may now be reconsidering the
wisdom of having children at all, ever, under
any circumstance. If so… good. Parenting is one
of those topics (like Marriage) where most
discussions could benefit from a good dose of
Those readers who already have children may be
angry with me for breaking the Parents’ Code.
The Code expressly forbids saying anything bad
about having a baby until it’s too late – i.e.
until the person you’re talking to already has a
baby of their own. Then you’re allowed to look
smug about everything that surprises them.
Still, I would be remiss if I left everyone with
the depressing impression that fatherhood
consists mainly of missed sleep, diapers fouled
with strange excretions, and inexplicable bouts
of endless screaming. No, there’s much
more to the experience than that…
…And, much as it pains me to admit it, a lot of
it is actually fun.
Baby learns to flirt
Three weeks ago, Theron started smiling. Not
just random muscle movements, actual smiles
– which he gave as a response to anyone who paid
attention to him. About a week after that, he
started making cooing sounds at the same time.
It is insufferably, irresistibly, mind-numbingly
cute. It is the Jedi Mind Trick of cuteness. His
cuteness is stronger than my Kung Fu: I am
helpless before it.
I’d feel ashamed of my total lack of spine and
willpower in the face of the grinning, gwaa-ing
baby, but everyone else is helpless too. Except
the cats, of course. Since the baby doesn’t feed
them, they don’t care how cute he is.
That may mean that the cats are smarter than we
Baby gets his exercise
Shortly after the Podling started smiling, the
Beautiful Woman and her mother went to explore a
secondhand shop whose entire merchandise
consisted of Things For Children. They were
tipped off by some friends of ours, who have
thereby earned our eternal gratitude.
The store is called Kid To Kid, and its entire
purpose is to allow people like us to buy really
expensive things at waaaaaaay below their
original price. Granted, this also means that
other children have already touched (and
sneezed, chewed, and dribbled on) these items…
but that’s okay. I doubt the previous owners
left behind anything that can’t be removed with
rubbing alcohol, bleach, or (if all else fails)
Anyway… the big coup of their expedition
is a little singing boat-toy. This consists
basically of a pad, with an arch over the middle
of it. You lay the baby on the pad, under the
arch. The whole thing is shaped to resemble a
boat, and has removable dangly decorations
shaped like fish and crabs and such. It also has
a motion sensor. In the middle of the arch (so,
right in the middle of the baby’s field of view)
is a hexagonal wheel filled with some sort of
liquid and some floating plastic fish.
Whenever the baby moves enough to trip the
sensor, it plays about five seconds worth of
bright, cheery, bubbly music. At the same time,
little lights turn on and off, and the wheel
rotates (causing the fish to move inside).
Theron thinks this is fascinating. Not
only has he already mastered the art of
activating it, he tries to dance while the music
As far as I’m concerned, this is wonderful. I
know I should feel guilty about absentee
parenting, but this thing allows us to set the
baby down for up to twenty minutes. The baby
gets exercise and doesn’t scream (in fact, he
sort of gurgles happily along with the music).
The best part is that we can tell he’s still
alive, even from another room, because as long
as we can hear the music we know he’s still
Teething begins early
Theron is teething. Nothing’s actually broken
the skin yet, but I can feel the sharpish lumps
in his gums. He’s developed a much greater
interest in chewing on his pacifier, or my
finger, or the edge of his swing, or his own
hands. (He hasn’t quite mastered sucking his
thumbs, but he can stick one or both hands in
his mouth with a surprising amount of skill.)
Also, he drools. Everywhere. On everyone.
You want to know just how powerful his cuteness
Even his drooling is cute.
There is no escape
The Beautiful Woman has gone back to work,
teaching part time at a community college. This
is good, because having a baby turns out to be
very, very expensive. (And that’s just the
birth! Wait ‘til we get to choosing colleges…)
Now, a nice, sane, normal job has clear hours
and allows you to go home. And the best thing
about being at home, if you have one of those
jobs, is that you’re not at work. You can
relax, wander around in your socks, sing silly
songs to the baby or the cats or both, and
generally get a lot of Not Working done.
Teaching, by contrast, is neither nice, sane,
nor normal. They only pay you for the hours
you’re actually at work, but in order to do
anything useful in those hours you have to have
spent even more hours preparing. This
tends to cut into the time that should be
reserved for bad singing, wandering, relaxing,
and Not Working. Oh, and taking care of the
In fairness, I should point out that… well, look
at it this way. Preparing for class tends to cut
into your Taking Care Of The Baby time, right?
Right. But the reverse is also true: taking care
of a baby essentially robs you of any ability to
prepare for class (or do anything else that
might be useful). (I might have touched on that
topic in one of my earlier entries.) So,
naturally, the Beautiful Woman took careful
stock of her resources and then foolishly handed
the baby off to her husband: me.
I’m sure all she wanted was a chance to write
the questions for the test she was giving the
next day. Well, that and maybe a chance to visit
…Which is how I found myself, a week or so ago,
trying to play a computer game while the Sprog
sat in a little baby-seat behind me. There I
was, charging down darkened corridors with my
weapons at the ready, trying to destroy the
hideous undead monsters before they did the same
to me. I crept forward, into the shadowy
hallway, and eased around the corner. In front
of me was a–
I snapped back to the real world so fast I got
whiplash, paused the game, and turned in my seat
to see what horrific accident had befallen the
baby and aroused this cry of agony.
Whereupon the baby looked up at me with an
angelic smile and asked: “Coo?”
I’d just been played by a baby. There are
no words for my shame.
Being a parent is all about the humiliation,
Which leads me to my next revelation about
parenting: children take everything.
I was okay with the loss of free time. I adapted
to the lack of sleep. I willingly gave up my
office to be the baby’s room. I was even
prepared (more or less) for the sudden and
immediate loss of any extra money. I’m so spaced
out that I barely even miss the lack of
adult conversation with my wife.
But, gods and angels, did he have to rob me of
my dignity as well?
And now, some
gratuitous but adorable pictures:
Tired baby at wedding. Amazingly, he
managed to avoid spitting up on me.
A demonstration of my brother's
skill as a photographer...
Proof that the baby's coming was
foretold in ancient times.