Monday, November 26, 2007

The Non Oprah Approve Nightmare That Awaits You

Pretty much everything in our house is either hard or sharp or both. Wood and concrete floors, pointy tables, broken glass thrown about for decorative effect, it's not exactly kid friendly. This didn't occur to me until a friend brought her toddler over and wherever he headed in looked like stitches or a concussion was imminent. Welcome home.

We've recently been contemplating how or if we can bring a highly fragile duo like yourselves into this joint. In addition to lacking soft surfaces, it's not terribly large, and the only candidate for a nursery is downstairs while we're up. At first I thought that sounded perfect. Who wants to sleep in a room near a crying baby? Apparently when it's your baby you're supposed to do more than just put an additional pillow over your head. Also, your mother and I routinely ask one another to throw things down or catch things that are being thrown up to avoid having to traverse the stairs, but somehow 'Toss me the baby' sounds like it's going to get a different reaction than 'Toss me my keys.' We've entertained everything from moving to buying a bubble wrap factory, but none of these seem like good solutions. I mean, people in NY get by raising families in glorified closets, so surely we can make a two bedroom, one office, concussion generator work. Kid friendly it's not, but it's nice to me and I was here first.

Your mom has also begun researching and purchasing the vast quantity of crap that it apparently takes to help you sustain life. You haven't been born yet, so you don't know, but pretty much all baby furniture looks horrific. You have two style choices: things that a fairy tale threw up or things that your grandmother's house threw up. When I heard we were getting a glider I was confused but excited. Perhaps this was how we planned to deal with tossing you up and down the stairs? But it's not that kind of glider. It's an incredibly ugly chair that appears to function by sucking up the soul of those who sit in it. Then there's strollers. Twin strollers. For newborns. And then the ones for not newborns. And the ones for toddlers. And car seats. A neighbor wanted to give us her car seat, an 11 month old car seat that's verifiably never been in an accident of any sort, but your mom says it's not safe. She says you can't use a used car seat. Period. I asked if this meant that all car seats had a shelf life of about a year and that landfills should be filled with carseats the minute a baby gets out of them. She said yes.

All of this points to a bigger issue that makes me want to put my head into any one of the numerous sharp corners avaliable to me: baby advice. To be clear, some advice is welcome. Don't reuse diapers, avoid flammable clothing, your baby cannot fly, all seem like nuggets that will be good for all of us. But the fact is there is no shortage of 'experts' willing to prey on the desire of every parent to raise a happy, healthy offspring, and no shortage of products they're willing to sell that will get the job done. Food, clothing, and shelter don't cut it these days. Our job is now to stimulate you with colors, toys, and sounds. To foster the development of your language skills with endless chatter, your dexterity with clay and playdoh, your motor skills with physical activity, your brains with word games, your sense of self with positive reinforcement. We should shower you with praise but never criticize or physically punish you lest we destroy your self esteem or perpetuate a cycle of violence. You'd think that before all these advice books came along we raised kids like veal.

The truth is that almost all of this advice comes from useless studies with abhorrent methodology and a knack for confusing correlation with causation. I'll tell you more about it later since it's the study of twins like yourselves that have gone a long way toward debunking them, but the important point is this. Your mother and I will do everything we can to provide a stable, warm, nutritious, glider filled environment. We will read to you, we will play with you, we will encourage you to play with others. We will do this because we plan to like you and like spending time with you, not because we think it is the key to getting you into a good college or preventing you from being serial killers. I used to tell people that if it were an option I would gladly have created you in a test tube, selecting hair and eye color, maximizing IQ and height, minimizing any resemblance to myself. They told me I was a monster. But once you're here I'm supposed to buy you Baby Motzart cds, or take you to Gym Crawlers class in order to accomplish exactly the same things (well, technically there is no class for avoiding a resemblance to me). And if I don't, well, I'm back to being a monster. The irony is that no one disagrees that me putting you together is a lab would make a difference, while no one has shown that what I buy you once you're here makes any.

That said, you will be getting new car seats. Science is one thing. Sleeping on the couch is another.

Novel - If I'm not finished with Ch12 by the end of this week I will just write "Scene Missing" on about 20 pages and hope that no one notices.
Dunking - The workouts don't seem to be paying off in inches, but they are killing me, which should count for something. But doesn't.
French - To stimulate your language development.


Michael said...

My only (uninvited) advice would be to refrain from buying future needs - like car seats for a one year old, or particularly weather-specific clothing items - because inevitably the size won't quite be right when they are scheduled to use them. Nothing like finally growing into a USC sweatsuit in the middle of an Austin July.

Oh, and baby mozart cds and stuff like it will undoubtedly make you (the parents) insane, which puts the kids in more danger than they would encounter if they simply listened to Oasis music.

Anonymous said...

I read "My Stroke of Insight" in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it's a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I've ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.


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