Food Again

I have always heard (and witnessed) that feeding toddlers is a constant and frustrating battle, but I didn’t really understand why until I had one (a toddler, I mean. And a battle.).

It’s because toddlers never want to stop moving, and they are also always ravenous. This means that they always need to eat, but they can’t sit still for it. What meals here look like: I prep a full meal. Edith excitedly climbs into her high chair to eat it. She eats two bites of it and then tries to launch herself out of her high chair. She refuses to eat any more of it and instead dances frantically in her high chair while chattering at the top of her lungs and pointing all around the kitchen, clearly telling me all about her busy schedule and all the things I she needs to be doing that I am now keeping her from. I finally relent and let her down. She goes back to playing while I put all the food away.

Ten minutes later, she has a meltdown because she is starving. I give her a string cheese. Repeat one million times.

What Edith would really prefer is to have a snack in one hand at all times while she runs around at full tilt. Her nanny generally allows this, but I don’t prefer it for a couple of reasons: I find it hard to passively watch her coat the entire house in food, and also eating while literally on the run is not the safest idea for someone who has not fully mastered swallowing or perambulating at any speed, much less doing both together as fast as possible.

I guess like all things this will pass.

Water Toys

I’ve been wanting to set up Edith’s wading pool and little splash pad in the backyard on the weekend, but it always seems like so much work to get it going. I have to set the stuff up, get Edith into all her gear and sunscreen, prep the back porch with towels and water and snacks — every time I thought through the process, yet another step or detail would occur to me, and it just seemed like it might not be worth bothering with.

But on Saturday, we had four hours between her nap and dinner and it was blazing hot out, so I finally did it. It took a lot to get everything set up, especially as Edith insisted on coming out with me and being held under one arm like a 22 lb. sack of potatoes while I fought with various hose attachments, and there was an incident where I had to set her down for a second and disappear around the house, which she reacted to as if I had abandoned her on the side of the interstate and told her to find her own way home, but finally everything was set up and Edith was in her full rash guard and sun hat and water shoes and zinc oxide and mosquito repellent and I had brought out a towel and water and two little oranges for a snack, and it was time to play!

At first, Edith wasn’t into it, mostly because of the Earlier Incident and also because I was too invested — she smelled a rat. She toddled around the porch with an orange in each hand eyeing me suspiciously while I stood below her in the yard, sweating profusely and calling, “come on, Edith! This will be fun! You will love it! You love the water!”

I think I remember childhood more distinctly than many people, and I recall what it feels like to have various adults constantly looming over you with giant grins pasted on their faces and urging you to partake in some sort of heavily arranged “fun” with barely concealed desperation behind their frantic eyes. It was so apparent that the other half of “you will have fun” was “you had goddamned better or I am going to lose my whole entire mind” and that was never conducive to a relaxed good time.

So I tried to be genuinely ok with Edith never getting in. But eventually she did, and she had a really good time tossing the oranges from the wading pool to the splash pad and back and chasing after them.

And I had such a great time watching her have a good time! This is a big reason why I had a kid — I have never really been able to have fun, because first I was too self-conscious to enjoy myself, and then I was too anxious/depressed, and by the time I had gotten over all that, I was bored with everything and hard to impress. But I knew it would be really fun to watch a little kid have fun all the time, and it is. And it’s so easy to do! I mean, this whole thing was sort of a hassle, but it was so easy to turn the back yard into a marvelous, unexpected, summertime adventure for Edith.

And then after, we stood on the shady back porch resting and eating the oranges, and that was exactly what she needed to do after getting all hot and hungry and tired, which I had anticipated and prepped for, and it’s just really satisfying and nice to take care of someone and make sure they really enjoy themselves. It’s especially nice when that someone is a wide-eyed laughing adorable little cartoon character whose reactions to everything are unexpected and hilarious.

I really like living with a toddler. She is a 24/7 cyclone of destruction and chaos, but she’s very charming about it, and ultimately I guess it’s worth it.

TV

I wasn’t sure how long I was going to wait before I let Edith watch TV.

I don’t think TV is very good for us, but I want to teach Edith to self-manage all small vices from early on, so that she can learn moderation. I don’t know how I will teach her this, because I am a hopeless binger in all respects, but I’m going to try. I don’t know much about child-rearing, but I did grow up best friends with Mormons and my parents didn’t really keep sweets in the house regularly, so I definitely know that if you make something that is an everyday part of most people’s lives a rare treat or absolutely forbidden, then as soon as your kid gets out from under your thumb, they will swan-dive into that thing face-first, full scarcity mentality, and it will become their completely uncontrollable vice until they go to therapy or find some sort of meaning in their life or something.

So, I’m going to let Edith watch TV, but I wasn’t sure when I’d introduce her to it. I knew we’d wait at least a year, because they are pretty sure watching screens of any kind is detrimental to babies under one year. Then, I read some stuff that they think you should really wait till two, but I don’t think that evidence is as compelling. Still, I figured I’d wait till she was two.

But then this afternoon, I just felt like watching some TV with her, so I pulled her into my lap and we watched an episode of Adventure Time. I really like Adventure Time and I had planned on watching it with her when she was big enough. They are only 15 minute episodes, and Edith sat completely focused and still for the whole time, just riveted. Which is a little disturbing! But it was so nice to cuddle her and sit there for a bit, and when it was over, I shut it off and put the computer away and she didn’t get upset; she just went back to playing.

So I think maybe we’ll watch one every Sunday afternoon. It can be our little ritual.

Carrots

Today, I gave Edith a little toy that’s a box with holes in the top where you can push five little carrots through. She played with it a couple of times, and then she turned to me (obviously having already thought this through) and pushed one of the carrots directly into my cleavage.

That worked so well that she pushed the other four in there, too, and then she plucked them out one at a time and pushed them into the box. When I emptied the box, she put them all back into my cleavage again, and got them out one at a time. And that’s how the game went from then on.

Not sure how I feel about this, but given that another similar stage in many of her games is to put the toys in my mouth and have me spit them at her, I guess this is preferable.

One Stop Surgery

I have to do all this shit to my rapidly decaying body, and I don’t have the energy for any of it. It’s all a whole project; I have to find different doctors and referrals and navigate things and figure out who’s paying for what. I’ve got this to do list section in my planner for my fucking body and I don’t want to get around to any of it.

I’m pretty sure my foot is fractured and it’s not healing, so I need to get that looked at, and I need Lasik and I need to get another sleep study probably. I want to get my boobs taken off and some cosmetic surgery on my eyes.

It just seems like this should all be simpler by now, like there should be a big one-stop center where you can get all of it knocked out at the same time. I mean, almost all those things are done with lasers primarily. Even better, a service that will come to your house and just do your modifications and improvements. Like, I had these guys come to my house and detail my car.

Book

Edith officially has her first favorite book. It is My Friends by Taro Gomi. We have read it about 50 times over the past two days, at a conservative estimate. I’m not sure why Edith is suddenly so into it, but every time I turn around, she is handing me this book. It’s a fine book! Brief, cute. There could (and I’m sure will be) much more annoying books to have to read over and over.

It’s very interesting to watch her sudden interest in this book — she has previously been pretty interested in books in that she’ll sit and page through one over and over, looking at the pictures. And she doesn’t mind me reading to her; she won’t often fully pay attention the whole way through a book but sometimes she will.

But this is the first book that she has initiated wanting me to read to her, front to back, over and over. We always have three bedtime books and I proceed through them each night, with varying levels of interest from Edith, but this week, we are only reading this one multiple times because she’s so into it that she can’t pay any attention to other books and if I try to read her another one, she just picks this one up and looks through it herself while patiently waiting for me to finish.

Edith is behind on talking, which doesn’t really concern me, but it does make me impatient. I want to be able to talk to her and ask her questions. I want to know why she loves this book so much and what she’s thinking about it when she studies it so intently.

Busking

Today, I recommend that you go over to Cintra Wilson’s newsletter and read this delightful anecdote in which Francis Ford Coppola is forced to literally dance for a job. I find this so funny and fun to think about, I can picture it perfectly and it genuinely made my day. There’s something very comforting and human in the thought that you never get so big that you don’t have to eat shit occasionally.

I’ve been a fan of Wilson’s writing for a long time, and her newsletter is fun — it’s a combination of reruns of her older work and newer posts like this one.

Porch

We finally put some furniture on our back porch and I’ve been enjoying sitting out there sometimes to work, or in the evening.

Except I also don’t enjoy it. Because first of all, I get bit all to shit by mosquitoes, they love me, and nothing keeps them away. And secondly, there’s construction right over the back fence, which is very noisy and ugly sometimes they play very noisy music. And finally, the neighbors to one side really love playing top 40 hits on the radio in their backyard. Like, pop songs on the radio, with ads and everything. They’re out there all the time playing that stuff and I hate it, and I can hear it even with earplugs.

So it usually isn’t very long before the irritation of these things outweighs the pleasantness of the sunshine and trees and lizards, and I’m driven back inside where I can fully control the environment.

I often wonder in such situations because it seems very difficult for me to ever fully enjoy anything: are other people better able to block out things like this? Do you not notice them, or not mind them? Or do they only ever actually happen to me? I’ve never been clear on whether I seem to be more constantly plagued by irritants because I’m uniquely unlucky in the volume of irritants I’m exposed to, or because I’m just overly sensitive to them. I always assume the latter, but maybe it’s both.

Anyway, here are pretty pictures of my porch:

Park

It’s immensely hot in Texas right now; possibly the hottest May on record. This poses problems with a highly active one-year-old because I can’t take her anywhere after about 10:00 a.m. Fortunately, swimming is indoors, but I was still symptomatic yesterday and there are infants at swimming; plus, I wasn’t really up for it yet. So I took Edith to the nearby playground at nine. Even that early, it was almost too hot to go. I had to walk really slowly until we got to the other, shadier neighborhood.

The park was uncharacteristically crowded. First, a man came by playing jazz on a small speaker and walking with an ancient obese golden lab (Maggie) who stopped every four steps to sit by the path and pant and smile pleasantly at everyone. We talked for a bit (the man and I, not the dog) and he asked about Edith and talked about his grown sons.

Meanwhile a gang of preteens arrived — four boys and a girl. They were all getting to the age where the boys were ganging up on the girl, and after they had isolated her by taking the only four swings and then telling her to move so she didn’t get kicked in the head, she captured the oldest boy’s cellphone and attempted to reestablish her position in the group by needling him in the following way:

“OMG what is this, you have a girlfriend?”

“No, that’s that girl from Vegas.”

“OMG then what is this, you reply here, and it says ‘love you, too’!?!?!?!”

“Sure,” he said easily. “Is it illegal to say you love someone.”

The girl spluttered, having been utterly check-mated, and I felt for her.

Meanwhile one of the smaller boys was trying to tell some sort of joke, but no one was listening. He was sure it was going to be a real winner, though, so he started it five different times that I heard. Every time he said,

“How do you get a girlfriend? Step one, go to your local convenience store. Step two, buy an AK-47.”

He never got further than that, and although I think I really didn’t want to hear what the rest of the joke was, I sort of did?

Meanwhile, Maggie (the golden lab) at some point refused to go any further, and rather than continuing on their walk, her owner conceded the point to her gentle yet insistent passive resistance, and turned around to go home.

At the same time, Edith and I were having a battle — Edith’s nanny keeps snacks in the stroller for her and Edith has gotten used to helping herself to them whenever she wants one. Last time I took her to the park, I did not bring enough, resulting in tears and an early end of plans, so this time I had stocked up. Unfortunately it now became clear that Edith’s interest in having a continual incoming stream of snacks was not to eat them, but rather to have one gripped in her fist as she ran around and climbed on things and dug in the dirt. So, her cracker or whatever would get rubbed all over the ground, the sidewalks, and the play equipment and she’d periodically nibble on it. I was opposed to this, so I kept following along after her and taking it from her whenever she ground it into the dirt, at which point, she would scream bloody murder. When she began to scream, if we were on the same half of the playground as the gang of preteens, they would all hurriedly move to the other half of the playground, and I would also usually give her snack back.

So, of all the various factions wrestling for social dominance at the playground yesterday, the clear winners were my daughter (14 mo.) and Maggie the fat lab. I think that’s as it should be.

Phoning It In

I’m exhausted, but might I recommend this delightful essay about why the South inspires particularly ludicrous comedy such as The Righteous Gemstones:

The fact of the matter is that the south is funny because it’s ridiculous. Like, I can’t remember the exact details of the whole thing, but my neighbor growing up definitely went to jail for being involved in an organized ring of tractor thieves. One friend’s dad was a former professional drag racer whose compound included an airplane hangar, a forklift, a single-wide trailer, and a giant yard that occasionally doubled as a mud pit where people would race beater cars while crashing into each other. (I once rode shotgun as his twelve-year-old son zoomed around in one of these races; it was fantastic.) 

Another friend had an unfortunate habit of waking up early to go hunting and then forgetting to take his gun out of his truck before he got to school, which I’m pretty sure is a felony; years later, he became a wildlife officer and briefly went viral after someone posted a video of him wrestling a deer to the ground in order to safely remove it from a thrift store. And then a couple years ago, a series of unsolved horse deaths prompted many in the local equestrian community to worry that there was a horse serial killer on the loose. (Local police ended up concluding that the killers were likely feral hogs, but that doesn’t explain how one of the horses died from a bullet wound.)