I was a teacher’s pet of the worst order. Not so much in school, exactly, but in artsy classes and so forth outside of school and as a young adult. That is, I was a teacher’s pet in anything I voluntarily participated in.

This morning at baby gym, all the parents were asked to hold our babies’ ankles up in an assisted plank, to help them develop their upper body strength. The entire time we had been doing “circle time” Edith had been insistently trying to crawl away from me to go see about something elsewhere she was suddenly single-mindedly focused on, and I had been dragging her back, and just as we were asked to plank our babies, I happened to be grabbing her ankles while she did her best to crawl away from me with her arms. This is something that we do quite often, and so Edith’s upper body strength is already highly developed. She has no problem with holding a plank for as long as her desire to do what she wants to do despite my opposition holds out, which is to say, forever.

To anyone who had not been paying attention to our ongoing private battle of wills, it looked as if we had immediately executed a flawless plank in response to the request, and the two teachers squealed in delight at being so readily attended to, and said, “Just like Edith! Everyone look at Edith! Great job, Edith!”

I’m embarrassed to admit this. Very, very embarrassed. But I momentarily preened.

Look, I can’t help it! It’s not a conscious thing on my part, it’s something deep within me, something small and hideous, and I can’t do anything about it except try to be aware of it. It comes from being fundamentally a loser and also a lazy and shallow one, and so snatching eagerly at easily won and ultimately meaningless praise from others in lieu of actual accomplishment. I have to hide this tendency in myself from Edith because I definitely don’t want her to feel like I’m invested in her as a proxy for my ego.

Anyway, she’s definitely the strongest, funniest, most creative and intelligent baby at play gym or probably anywhere, which is just an objective fact and not something we should feel boastful about.

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