Rituals

As I gradually try to ease Edith into the rituals of being a person, I sometimes think about how baffling it must all be from her point of view. Like, ok, sleeping makes sense, as does drinking milk, and playing, and going for walks. But now every night, it’s time to sit in a weird chair and play with goos for awhile, after which I put her in a little warm bowl of water for about fifteen minutes while she plays with a duck and a cup and I rub her with a rag. What must she think of that! Why am I so committed to these two strange acts, such that we must do them every single night! And now that she has teeth, I’ve added another one — twice a day, I stick a little rubber thingy in her mouth and swish it around. I mean, it’s fine, she likes to bite it. But it’s yet another bizarre practice I enact upon her for seemingly no reason.

Then there are screens — I stare at screens all the time, and all Edith wants to do is to take the screens and gnaw on them, but I act as if they are precious household gods that she mustn’t touch except for every Sunday when I insist that she gambol in front of a screen for about an hour while a man (grandpa) talks to her. I’m not sure she can even see him, really. It must seem to her like we’re paying some sort of obeisance to a disembodied voice issuing forth from one of the objects I am continually in thrall to.

Divorced of meaning and context, everything we do on a daily basis must seem like some peculiar religious observation. I often feel like all the normal human daily routines are meaningless — washing and feeding and dressing the body only to do it all again ad infinitum — but to an infant, they actually are meaningless and not even in an existential sense. Indeed, I’m indoctrinating her into a set of practices I myself have fundamental doubts about, so perhaps I am a religious person after all.

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