The Story About the Baby, Volume 46.
Our ten month old daughter Cordelia is cute. So cute. I could tell you all the cute things she does. Or I would, if it wouldnt be so mind-numbingly boring that your eyes would spontaneously explode to protect your brain.
I will say, though, that when she wants attention, she crawls up to us and rams our shins with her head like a little rhino. And whenever daddy holds a latte, she tries to grab it out of his hands and sip it. And when we put her on the changing table, she tries as hard as she can to suicidally flip herself off. And ...
Sorry about your eyes.
Children are boring. Especially other peoples children. Fortunately, some things are interesting. Like disease.
The Coming of Disease
Cordelia had her first cold over the weekend. Much to my relief, she seems to have inherited my constitution (Colds fade almost as soon as they have begun.) instead of my wifes (Colds set up shop and run amuck in her system for weeks. In fact, if you listen carefully, you can hear the cheery, raspy sound of billions of hostile bacteria in her system laughing and mocking her).
Cordelia got over her cold in only two to three days. It really didnt have a big effect. There were only two observable changes in her behavior:
First, she took more and longer naps. She slept a lot. This, I have to say, wasnt so bad.
Second, her nose ran a bit. Booger formation was high. And occasionally she would sneeze and a big gout of snot would hang like an icicle from her nose. Several times, daddy had to do a leap and barehanded catch to grab the goo before it landed on our upholstery.
Looking back, when I weigh the advantages and the disadvantages, I have to say that Cordelias illness really worked out for us. If only it was possible to genetically engineer light, sleep-inducing colds and release them into the population at large. This would give all lucky enough to catch it a much needed, completely mandatory rest.
Why Do People Have Pets?
Having a baby makes me really, really wonder why anyone ever has pets?
Pets, like babies, are dirty noisy creatures who dont really care about you and have empty minds and minimal bladder control. And yet, while my baby will most likely grow up and become interesting and eventually be around after I die to make sure my body gets properly buried instead of eaten by rats, a pet stays stupid for its whole, very short life, and then it dies and you have to mourn and dispose of it.
Babies and pets are both annoying responsibilities. Both wake you up in the middle of the night. Both require training. But babies have so many more advantages. First, babies help your genetic material stay in the great evolutionary game, and thats pretty important. Lets not forget the whole Goal Of All Life thing here. I wouldnt have had children if I didnt realize that I, on many levels, am just better than other people. The world needs more people like me, so I bred.
If I have a cat though, and the cat has kittens, then the world just has more cats. Who needs that?
In addition, babies, eventually, are capable of expressing some love towards their parents. On the other hand, it is now well established that the endearing behavior of dogs is simply an illusion generated by evolution to play on the emotions of gullible humans. And cats, of course, couldnt care less whether you live or die as long as the food bowl stays full.
(I know these hard facts will irritate some people. These are probably the same people who are convinced that babies recognize, imitate, and care for their parents the moment the head clears the vulva. I picture such people as occasionally needing to be convinced the toaster doesnt love them.)
Admittedly, babies are more work than pets. And, if you have a really bad day, you can be really mean to your pet without it eventually blabbing to a therapist. But I say, hey, if youre going to spend a lot of time cleaning up somethings shit, it might as well be something that can someday clean up your shit in return.
One Admitted Advantage Of pets Over Children
You can have sex in front of your pets.
In fact, it can even add a little spice to the proceedings.
Scientifically Measuring Exactly How Irritating Your Child Is
So it turns out babies have personalities. Who knew?
A few decades ago, psychiatrists Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas developed a list of nineTemperament Traits, which can be used to analyze and quantify baby personalities.
Now, its OK to be scared here. I understand. Whenever the wordsbabies and psychiatrists come up, the sentences If you take this pill, those negative emotions will just fade away. and You think your mommy is a monster who wants to steal your penis. cant be far behind. But this particular theory makes some sense.
Babies have nine basic temperament traits. They are:
Approaching/Withdrawing: How much your child wants to engage in
the dubiously rewarding activity of meeting new people.
This is my favorite part: Based on these nine measurements, a child can then be evaluated as an Easy Child, Slow To Warm Up Child, or a Difficult Child. (Or, as one web site memorably put it, a mother-killer.)
The book The New Father - A Dads Guide To the First Year goes a step farther, even providing a chart where you can rate your kid from 1 to 5 on each of the nine scales, tally the results, and see if you win. If you have a score of 1-9, it says Congratulations! You can just coast for 18 years! and if the score is 36-45, the book says You should probably just put a pillow on its face.
Ha ha! It doesnt really say that. But its heavily implied.
The best thing about this scale is that each of the nine temperament traits has a Good direction and a Bad direction. This is the wonderful thing that science offers us. For Chess and Thomas, its not enough that babies are a big pain in the ass. They had to explicitly and rigorously break down all the specific ways in which your child can be a pain in the ass.
Like computer games? A great fantasy adventure awaits you here.