Duck

Edith has a little rubber duck in a coolie hat that she got for free from the pediatrician and it is one of her favorite toys. We now use it almost exclusively in the bath. If I “swim” it up to her through the bath water saying “quack, quack, quack” she consistently looks at it coming toward her with what I can only describe as a gently fond smile. It’s a very particular sort of smile — it seems to say, “aw, here comes this guy again. Look at this guy, he always does this.”

It is SO CUTE. I swim the duck to her every single night because I love this response so much, and I know I’m going to remember this fond little smile as one of the most representative moments of her babyhood. One day she won’t react this way anymore, and it will break my heart, but I can picture this smile perfectly in my mind. It seems extraordinary to say, but even if the only thing Edith brought to my life was this one perfect little smile, I truly believe that alone would make my whole existence worth bothering with.

Prompt 3

I won’t be talking about the serious thing today, sorry or you’re welcome.

Instead, here’s prompt 3:

What are you most grateful in life (sic)?

Ah, this is a tricky question! Because if I were to honestly say what I’m most grateful for, it would be offensive to whatever group of people don’t have that thing or have not avoided that fate.

It’s also tricky to identify what particular thing I’m most grateful for. I’m a super privileged person, so it’s tough to say which particular aspect of my privilege has most led to my having a relatively frictionless life.

Probably my teeth. Teeth are the first thing everybody notices and they matter a whole lot more than anybody wants to admit. You can convincingly pass as several social classes above your actual one if you have the right teeth. Mine aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty decently big and solid and white, and I’d say they have probably done more than anything else to get me through doors, even if those admitting me don’t realize my teeth are what they’re really making judgments about.

Sorry to everyone with bad teeth — I’m not making these rules myself! Hate the game, not the player.

Diapering

I didn’t understand why people made a big deal about diapering babies. Up until recently, it was really not difficult. Sure, poop is gross, I guess? But I’ve done much more unpleasant things in my life than change a poopy baby diaper.

But it did not occur to me that when the baby began to move, she would…move. Edith no longer lies obediently on her back for diaper changes. She immediately flips over onto her hands and knees and tries to crawl off the top of the dresser (which is where the changing pad is). This is obnoxious for pee changes, but it is downright catastrophic for a poop change.

When she flips, I quickly grab her by the nearest ankle, and she pushes off, and usually we end up with her doing a sort of handstand on the changing table and flinging her free leg around while I try to wipe crap off her butt (which is, again, suspended in mid air, upside down, and in motion, between two churning legs) before it gets all over her, me, the wall, the dresser, and anything else in reach.

I’m sure this is hilarious to observe, but it’s increasingly unmanageable. I can’t imagine this is what every parent is doing — surely there’s a system that I’m missing that one of you could share?

Please?

New Friends

Edith’s time with my friend over the past four days was her first experience with spending actual time with a new person since she was an oblivious newborn.

My friend spend the first day running errands and the second day cooking, and so she didn’t pay a lot of dedicated attention to Edith, but I paid a lot of dedicated attention to my friend, and Edith did not care for this at all. She became incredibly clingy and whiny with me, bossed me around as much as she could and insisted she be carried everywhere. If I set her down or stopped focusing on her for a few seconds, she shouted in protest.

But on Friday, my friend spent some time playing with Edith and observing and admiring her, which is more in line with what Edith has come to expect from others, and then Edith relaxed a bit and began to set herself up at an equal distance between the two of us and gambol and preen. We obliged her with double the attention, and she found she quite liked strangers after all.

Crab Salts

I am very tired tonight, so I will just share this spot-on Joe Rogan parody by Tim Heidecker, Rajat Suresh, and Jeremy Levick:

If you have not seen Jeremy and Rajat’s “conservative lecturer DESTROYS sjw college student” it is also excellent and much shorter:

Swimming

Edith and I continue to go to swim class every weekend, and Edith continues to be afraid of the pool wall, but she’s getting slightly more comfortable every time. Today, she only really cried once.

When she did another little girl in the class (not quite two years old) became very distressed and wouldn’t go back to swimming until she had been allowed to get close to Edith and touch her arm, and confirm that she was ok. It was possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

We’ve more or less gotten the whole changing thing down to a science. As a friend recommended, we wear our swim stuff under our clothes, which works pretty well, except for today, Edith’s swim diaper somehow malfunctioned on the way to swim class and when we arrived, I found she had peed herself in the car. Ah, well.

Wildflower Center

Today, we all went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is a nice botanic garden that primarily features the titular wildflowers, but has other kinds of grasses and vegetation for this time of year, plus they had an exhibit of different kinds of forts.

Today was chilly and overcast, but the center was still pretty crowded since I guess a lot of people thought to go on the day after Thanksgiving. My friend told me that Lady Bird Johnson was “Lady Bird” because LBJ, being a horrifying narcissist, insisted that everyone in his family be “LBJ.” Both his daughters were named L and B names. I didn’t know that before, but having learned it, I noted that none of the many signs and placards about her at the wildflower center (“Who was Lady Bird Johnson?” and etc.) actually mentioned her real name. I googled it — it was Claudia. She is widely known for her highway beautification act, and she did a lot of other things for the environment and public landscapes, one of the more effective and fondly remembered First Ladies.

At the center, there’s a “Hall of Texas Heroes” — a circle of oak trees, each one commemorating a Texas hero. I was prepared for a lot of placards about white guys but it turns out all the “heroes” were famous Texas oak trees, so these were trees honoring other trees, which I found delightful and bizarre.

Edith was pretty blasé about the wildflower center, but she seemed to mildly enjoy herself.

Thanksgiving

I have so many things to be thankful for this year that it would sound like uncouth bragging to enumerate them. Thanks to all of you who are a part of my lovely life, and thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog and has been encouraging about it. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it.

Grocery Store

My friend came to visit me and Edith for Thanksgiving and she offered to cook us a feast, which meant going to the grocery store. I had not ever taken Edith into a store, but I knew I would have to start eventually, and I didn’t think I could leave my friend to spend all day grocery shopping by herself in addition to traveling all this way and cooking, so off we went!

In retrospect, picking the most crowded shopping day of the year was probably not the best way to ease us into things. But it was fun for me to go to the store — any outing is exciting for me these days. Edith wasn’t that impressed by the store. She’s going through a clingy phase and I think it was too much to take in anyhow. She just wanted to stare at my face and clutch at my shirt and pull my mask off and beg to be picked up.

But I had lots to look at. People are so weird! There are so many different types! I don’t much like people, but they do interest me, at least at a distance. I like to look at their purchases and think about their lives. I saw an older lady with only one of those almond-covered cheeseballs and a single slim bottle of white wine in her cart, looking pissed. I saw two punk-rock looking young guys, one with a mask and one without, and the one without was monologuing very enthusiastically at the masked one who looked tired and bored. Cousins? Friends who’ve grown apart? I saw a bizarre family with a fully 10-year-old girl sitting hunched over in the basket of their cart, filling most of it, her face hidden in her knees and their purchases stacked up all around her.

Then I had an anxiety attack and Edith and I had to go wait in the car.

I kept going back and forth over whether it was ok to have Edith in there at all. I mean, case counts are well down even though school has gone back, I’m not in a hot spot, people have calmed down a lot, and life has sort of moved on, -ish, and a lot of other people had their babies in there — I saw two newborns. But also, it was a packed store, and we’re still in a pandemic! This was nuts, I was nuts! I am the worst mother alive! Also, anyone could open fire at any second! Or there could be a stampede!

My friend was having her own small nightmare. I have gotten used to the warehouse-like stores in Texas, but she is from LA and was overwhelmed by the massive spread and the crowds. She looked like I did the first and only time I entered a Costco.

I felt badly about bailing, but everything was chill in the car. Edith cuddled in my lap for a full hour happy as a clam, and then she had a complete meltdown that lasted the rest of the day.

Oh, well. We’ll try again in five years.

Cabbie

One time I was in a cab with a bunch of friends, including the adorable young daughter of one of my friends. I was sitting in the front with the cab driver, and he was making faces at the little girl, who was interacting with him through the plastic screen, and he said to me, “Awww, what is her name?”

Except I thought he said, “Awww, what is your name?”

So I said, “Elizabeth.”

And he called over his shoulder in a baby voice, “Hi Elizabeth! Are you having a fun night, Elizabeth? How old are you?”

I was immediately mortified, and hoped everyone would be too confused by the general chaos of being crowded into a cab in heavy traffic to notice or point this out, and indeed, everyone was. Thankfully, it was a short cab ride. We got out in a second (he called, “Bye, Elizabeth!” after us), and nobody seemed to really notice or question it.

I was thinking about this this morning, because I don’t think this is a mistake I would make now that I have a child and am very child-focused myself. Not that many people who don’t have children are as self-obsessed as I am; I’m sure most people would have realized he was asking for the baby’s name regardless. Why the hell would he be asking for my name? But it just…wasn’t on my radar at the time.

Now, though, I only care about Edith, so when people ask “how are you” politely and not really caring, I reply, “well, Edith has got two teeth and is sleeping through the night and crawling, and I think it won’t be long before she starts walking….” and twenty minutes later, I remember too late and say, “and you?”