Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Baby Story Part 14 (Thoughts at 6 Months)

Appearance – I believe my son to be the most adorable child I have ever seen, but to be completely honest there are still moments where he radiates a Joe Lieberman / Alfred Hitchcock vibe. This doesn’t particularly concern me since children tend to change so much as they grow and I am more concerned with his health and happiness than with his esthetics.

Also, as a general rule I never engage in the hereditary attribute mad-libs so popular when friends and relatives see a baby for the first time. I do not possess the ability to discern whether or not a newborn inherited Uncle Ernie’s chin or cousin Sara’s “lack of shame”.

Eating – The only thing my child will not voluntarily place in his mouth is food. Toys, remotes, sunglasses, books, clothing, and extremities all find their way into mouth one way of the other. The only way to prevent this behavior is to place specifically-formulated, exorbitantly-priced infant food within his grasp. If I were to misplace say, a drill bit, I can guarantee you he would try and swallow it; but I can rest assured knowing that he is in no immediate danger of him choking on blueberry-flavored Gerber Graduates hand-cereal.

Clothing – I tend to look at clothing from a rather utilitarian standpoint. At its most basic, my clothing provides on-hand storage while allowing me to comply with state and local decency laws. If it was not for my wife, my son would wear onsies until he was old enough to verbally object. Onesies are the “jeans and a t-shirt” for the recently birthed; inexpensive, practical, and can be as classy or offensive as screen printing allows.    

I was tasked with dressing him for church one Sunday only to have my wife shake her head in frustration because I had not selected one of his “good outfits”. When I pointed out that I had even gone to the trouble of adding a pair of faux shorts to the ensemble, she insisted on walking me to the closet and going through orientation again. Unforgivably, I had also neglected to place shoes on his feet; an apparent necessity for anyone unable to stand upright.

Competitiveness – As is the case later in life, we parents have the powerful desire to compare our offspring’s achievements with those of others. In infancy, this requires a more creative approach to immodesty. One parent might mention that their daughter is in the 75th percentile for cranial growth which leads another parent to announce that their daughter is in the 98th percentile for fecal output.

Sometimes we get so insecure that we perceive slights where they don’t exist. “Did you hear the condescending way Darlene asked if our son was able to sit up yet? Like her kid is some kind of genius. He still has the babinski reflex of a third-world preemie!” This mindset often leads to another pitfall of parenting: judgment.

Judgment – Everyone enjoys judging parents, but no group does so with greater relish or impunity than other parents. Having successfully procreated, we can now disparage other parent’s choices without fear of being discredited by our own inexperience. Clearly this doesn’t necessarily make our points any more valid or constructive, but it does make us feel better about our own shortcomings.

For instance, I recently made the acquaintance of a woman after my son and her 9-month old daughter began “talking” to one another. The adorable little girl was sporting a onesie that said “Sexy And I Know It” in large font. While I would not place such an item on my daughter (toddler or otherwise) and thought less of the woman for choosing to do so, it is possible that this mother was simply using the outfit as ironic commentary on the degree to which society correlates a woman’s value with her physical attractiveness. Either way, it did make me feel better about laughing at the “Made in VaChina” onesie I had seen earlier….  

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