The Story About the Toddler, Volume 12.
Our daughter Cordelia is two today. Two whole years of maintaining her, with a reasonable degree of success. The paint got a bit scratched sometimes, but we never bent the chassis.
Birthday observations for infants and toddlers are not for the benefit of the children. They are for the parents. They are so that mom and dad can beat their chests and cheer and say, We did it! Another year of keeping our little dope from killing itself in one of a countless variety of ways!
Im actually pretty proud of this. Parenting is, whatever its meager rewards and considerable costs, a tough job, and this is the official day to feel good about getting it done.
(I can hear some people saying, You have no business being proud of it. You didnt carry her or give birth to her, you MAN. If this is what youre thinking, hold on, because Im about to rock your world. It turns out that the work of raising a child doesnt end when it is born.)
We are enjoying our good day. We have earned it. Cordelia is in her terrible twos. Which means, basically, that she has become a tyrannical, mercurial, screaming freak.
Wrathful, Barbarian Baby
The fascinating thing about having a toddler is that you get to see just how bad human beings can be. (Or, if you are a cynical person, how bad human beings are. A cynical person like me.)
You get to closely observe a human being who has not yet been bound up by all the social and moral restrictions that keep us from eating each other. Toddlers are savages, in every sense of the word. Fortunately, theyre small and helpless, so that makes it cute. Instead of disturbing.
If I had to come up with one word to describe toddlers, it would be this: relentless. From the moment Cordelia is up, she goes. And goes and goes and goes, at full speed, and when she gets exhausted, she doesnt slow down, she just explodes into furious, screaming rage that is even faster and more energetic. And, if at any time during this process, you attempt to defy her by, say, making her wear pants, she will throw a book at your head.
What would Cordelia be like if my wife and I werent there to break her will? And, more generally, how did humanity survive and develop? I mean, there must have been a time before Plato and the Code of Hammurabi and the firm, guiding hand of compulsory military service when there werent sane, rational adults around to force toddlers to calm the fuck down.
Was there a time when toddlers just grew up to be, basically, bigger toddlers? With everyone just running around and screaming and hitting and communicating in one word sentences? Was the whole human race just one gigantic Special Olympics, but with no hugging? Or food?
Im getting pretty damn impressed with the human race. Now that Ive seen how we start out, Im amazed that wolves didnt get every single one of us.
Formally Marking Two Years of Maintained Life
Cordelia had a doctors appointment. There we learned, much to my surprise and horror, that she only weighs 25 pounds. My back thought that it was much more. But then again, those are baby pounds, which are much heavier than regular pounds. Its like how the temperature can be much colder than it appears because of the wind chill factor. Carrying around a 25 pound baby is like carrying a 25 pound bag of cats.
A Stunning Abuse Of My Parenting Powers
Now that Cordelia is starting to speak, I can get her to try to repeat just about anything I say. This power is really fun to abuse.
My compromise on the swearing issue is that I will refrain from the more interesting and useful swears (Fuck. Shit. Cum junkie.), but I will not only keep using the word crap, but I will encourage Cordelia to use it too. I feel entirely comfortable teaching her any word you can use on prime time television.
And I am allowed to teach her to say Labia. After all, she has them.
Goofus and Gallant
Anyone who was ever a child and spent any time in dentist waiting rooms and could read English and lived in the 20th century was exposed to Highlights For Kids. Its a magazine for children which is full of stupid crap, brain-dead puzzles, and Goofus and Gallant.
Goofus and Gallant is a cartoon about two boys whose sadistic parents saddled them with those names. In one panel, Gallant would do something nice (Gallant shares the ham.), and in the next panel, Goofus would do something bad (Goofus eats all of the ham.). Gallant is a relentlessly cheery little kissass who probably believes in Jesus. Goofus is a pure sociopath, no doubt the product of a gruesomely tragic and abusive family background.
Based on recent actual events, I now feel capable of writing a comic called Goofus Dad and Gallant Mom.
Gallant Mom carefully fastens all of the buttons on the babys pants.
Goofus Dad only does half of them, because theyll just have to be undone anyway.
Gallant Mom wraps the donut the baby will eat the next morning in Saran Wrap, so it is nice and fresh.
Goofus Dad feels that the toddler wont care about the donuts freshness, as long as its covered with sugar.
Gallant Mom carefully wipes down the toddlers mouth and hands after a meal, making it into a game.
Goofus Dad feels that the sink came with a spray gun for a reason.
Gallant Mom buys only organic, nitrate-free, expensive salami to feed the baby.
Goofus Dad slips the baby cubes of pure MSG to buy silence.
Gallant Mom freshens up the toddlers water when it has been sitting in her sippy-cup for more than a few hours.
Goofus Dad is, like, what the fuck?
Gallant Mom pays $5 for a gallon of milk because it is organic. Five goddamn dollars!
Goofus Dad would only pay 5 bucks for a gallon of milk if it came out of Charlize Theron.
Gallant Mom feels guilty when she cusses like a sailor in front of the baby.
Goofus Dad tries to teach the baby mild obscenities because he correctly realizes that it would be funny.
I Blame the Baby
Most people realize that the best way to repair a struggling relationship is to have a child. The sense of unity and bliss this self-improvement project brings will cement your relationship into a rebar-reinforced block of pure happiness, even if the other person is a total jerk-off.
The key to this transformation is to remember one thing. When things go wrong, when life hands you a little rough patch, it is important to remember whose fault it really is. When life gives you two crazy married kids lemons, you just need to look each other in the eye and say, I blame the baby.
Try it. See how good it feels.
It is vital to never forget that you and your soulmate are allies against a common foe. A relentless monster that will gobble as much of your time, your concentration, your breast milk, your ice cream, your very life essence as you allow. When things get tough in life, no matter what the situation, the most important thing to do is find the person to blame. Who? Well, did you have these problems before the baby was here? No? Bingo!
Of course, just because your problems are your babys fault doesnt meant that you can punish it. You still have to feed it. But dont worry. Having to be raised by you will be more than punishment enough, you fuckup.
Like computer games? A great fantasy adventure awaits you here.