Green Toys

When I first had Edith, I looked for some toys that weren’t made in China, and I discovered there really aren’t any. At all. Almost all toys are made in China, and those that aren’t are like bespoke elaborate wooden dollhouses made in the country. One rare exception is Green Toys, which are all made in the US from recycled milk jugs.

I just bought Edith a tugboat from this company for her bath, and it’s well-made and cute, and it’s nice to be able to feel relatively good about a purchase. I like that it comes apart so you can clean it for mildew.

(Edith isn’t interested in it at all.)


With the exception of sudden very loud noises when she was a newborn and an unfortunate introduction to a certain “baby yeti” finger puppet (they have made their peace since), Edith has never really displayed any fears. The world so far has been extremely welcoming and accommodating to her. She might occasionally crawl off a high thing or pinch herself with a clothes pin, but these are small harms, easily shrugged off. She has never encountered true terror.

Until now.

I finally got this filthy wool area rug cleaned that I’ve had rolled up in a spare room forever, and I put it down in the living room. It’s great for Edith because it gives her more traction for pulling up on the couch and some padding when falling off it, and at first she seemed to enjoy it, but then I noticed that whenever she was on the rug and something happened in the other room or I left, rather than come along, she’d sit on the rug and cry.

This is very unusual for Edith, who readily invites herself all over the house and rarely stays in one spot longer than ten minutes these days.

Well, it took me some experimentation, but long story short, I discovered that she’s scared of the fringe on the edge of the rug. She WILL NOT crawl over it and has to be lifted over it, or walked over it. Why? No clue. There are so many actual dangers to her personhood which she goes to any amount of trouble to seek out and embrace, but the rug fringe is her kryptonite. There’s no fathoming babies.

The horror.


I think that Edith is teething again. I’m not positive because I can’t really see any teeth coming through, but this morning she was unusually whiny and spent a lot of time throwing herself dramatically onto the floor and keening in my direction while making pathetic puppy eye expressions, and in between, she gnawed on her fingers or my shoulder or whatever was to hand, so I figure that must be what it is.

It’s about time, because for several months now she has had only the bottom front two teeth and it seems like past time for her to add some more. It’s really holding her back in the food department — she very much wants to eat all the things, but she simply doesn’t have the arsenal yet.

While I’ve been awaiting her teeth, I’ve thought a lot about teeth just in general. Mostly how disgusting they are — we have these hard jagged things that just…shove out through our gums? And as if that weren’t bad enough, a SECOND set shoves the first one out eventually in an extended bloody process involving tearing and roots??? Teeth are even more disgusting than fingernails or hair, both of which are horrifying when viewed objectively. Human beings are revolting nightmares.

But Edith’s little teeth are the cutest and I will absolutely be saving them in a jar when they fall out.


I finally started dunking Edith at swim class, and she has taken it like a champ, it doesn’t bother her at all. She even knows when it’s coming and gets ready for it. She quick closes her eyes up super tight…and opens her mouth as wide as she can.

We’re working on it.


For months now, I’ve been having this problem where I do not want to be on my phone in front of Edith because I want to be present with her in the moment, and I also do not want her to be interested in screens yet. But I consistently fail on this, because when Edith and I are playing, she will inevitably wander off and become absorbed in something, at which point, I will want to look at my phone. But then I become absorbed in my phone, and soon she is back and then she wants the phone. And then we are locked in a battle over the phone.

I’d been struggling with this and making resolutions about it and failing to live up to them for so long, and then last weekend, I finally realized the perfect solution: an actual book. Before Edith, I only read hard copy books, and I have a million of them, but when she was born, I put them all away and switched entirely to ebooks because I could read them while feeding her, or rocking her back to sleep, and now that she’s older, I can read them in bed without turning a light on and waking her up.

So physical books just weren’t on my mind anymore, but a physical book is the perfect solution to my current problem. When Edith is ignoring me, I can read for a bit, and when she comes back, the book is perhaps somewhat tempting (she does try to rip the pages out of it), but not anywhere near as interesting as my phone, so she does not become monomaniacally focused on obtaining it from me (and if she does, she can just have it). I got through a nice chunk of the new Doerr over the weekend, and as a bonus, I felt much less stressed out because I hardly looked at Twitter!

Nursery Games

Before every checkup at the pediatrician, I get a checklist of developmental milestones I can mark whether Edith has hit or not. (And before I hear from moms, the office is very clear that these are just generally to know where the baby is, she doesn’t need to hit these and so on.) At her nine month appointment, one of the milestones was “participates in at least one nursery game (such as pat-a-cake, hide-and-seek, etc.).”

“Oh no!” I thought. “I’m supposed to be playing nursery games with her! We do not do nursery games! What if she never plays nursery games??”

Well, one month later, and I am very, very sick of nursery games!

We still do not play pat-a-cake, but there are a number of nursery games that we absolutely wear out. By “nursery game” I mean an activity where I am being actively invited to play, where my participation is key to the game. By contrast, we also have quite a lot of repetitive routines wherein Edith is trying to do something and I am trying to stop her from doing it, but I don’t count these as games, because even though they have a similar predictable pattern to them, one of us would prefer the other one not be initiating the activity, and the other would prefer that the first one just butt the hell out.

All that said, here are our current games:

  1. Put a toy in Mom’s mouth. This was Edith’s first game, and it’s still a classic. She LOVES it. She take her most disgusting, stickiest toy, and sticks it into my mouth, and giggles like mad while I shake it back and forth like it’s fresh kill. At some point, I either spit it at her, or she takes it back, and then she immediately puts it back in my mouth again, grinning in anticipation. Repeat one thousand times.
  2. Where’s Edith? This is classic peek-a-boo, basically. Strangely, Edith introduced this game herself when I was drying her off after her bath. She pulled the towel over her face and sort of froze up, and I just somehow knew what was expected of me. Something elemental in me cried, “Where’s Edith? Oh, no, where has my baby gone!” and then she threw the towel off her face grandly and I squealed “THERE SHE IS” and now we do this one hundred million times per day, after the bath, behind every piece of furniture, behind my knees when I’m lying on the floor, in the car seat, everywhere. The cutest thing about this game is that Edith doesn’t always get the hiding part — like after her bath, sometimes she hides under the towel but other times she just sort of clenches her hands and freezes, eyes wide in anticipation.
  3. Couch laps. I have a super long couch and Edith loves to be lifted up onto it so that she can crawl recklessly back and forth as fast as she can possibly go. She even does little kick flips at the ends like a swimmer. But she doesn’t yet understand about falling off things onto hardwood floors, so I have to jog alongside her to block her with my body from falling. Edith thinks I am participating and she tries to fake me out by changing direction rapidly and unexpectedly. This is my least favorite nursery game and we play it about one million times per week.
  4. Only child. In this game, Edith bangs a couple of wooden toys together, and I pick up two more and bang them, at which point, she abruptly drops hers and grabs mine. “Oh, you’re doing those? Ok, I’ll take these,” I say and pick up the ones she just dropped. Then, she immediately drops hers and grabs mine. “Oh, ok, you take those, I’ll take these.” After repeating this 20 times or so, she starts to drop hers behind her back before taking mine, and then each time she makes hers gradually more difficult for me to pick them up. We play this conservatively 40 times per morning.

I’m glad she’s having fun.


Edith got a book that had one of those fold-out big pictures on the last pages. I knew that it had this, because it said on the cover “includes beautiful fold-out panorama!” and also it was the first part of the book that came open, so I had looked at the beautiful fold-out panorama myself. And yet, for some reason, when I came to that bit after reading straight through the book for the first time, I thought, “oh, the manufacturer neglected to cut these pages” and began to use my fingers to rip the panorama apart.

This was an insane thing to think, because:

(a) this isn’t the 19th century;

(b) it was a board book; and

(c) this just isn’t a thing!

And yet, “this isn’t coming apart very easily or neatly!” I thought, observing the carnage, and then continued to tenaciously rip at the binding.

Well, I ruined Edith’s beautiful fold-out panorama. I have no defense, other than exhaustion and general idiocy.


Edith has always followed me into the bathroom but for a long time, she was interested in crawling around in the shower and investigating some drawers that are on the floor and other things, so I was able to use the actual bathroom in peace. She had no interest in the little room where the actual toilet is.

But that window has closed and now she wants to crawl around the toilet floor and pat at the toilet bowl and stick her hand in it and so on, which of course, I am not inclined to allow. But Edith has never been one to accept a message when it runs contrary to her preferences, so now every morning, I dump her on the bedroom floor and race to the toilet and try to pee before she gets there. I hear an exclamation and frantic scuffling behind me, and before I can finish, I see her happy, smiling face crest around the doorframe, so confident and secure in being welcomed everywhere she goes, and I have to hastily slam the door in it.

Her little shriek of wounded outrage gets me, every time. She then begins to pummel the door in fury. And I really feel like this is just motherhood all over — it’s not so much that I can’t even take a piss without being available to someone, it’s that I don’t even think I should be able to. I sit there actually feeling guilty that I have momentarily shut her out when she just wants to be with me. (Even though she does not want to be with me; she wants to be with the toilet.)


I try not to spend much time on this blog whining about COVID, because I’m sure everyone has enough of that, but goddamnit I’m so sick of this. With an under 5 at home, I have to be especially cautious, but I also have to balance concern for her health with her own developmental and social and emotional needs. It’s very hard to evaluate these tradeoffs because we have so little information about the long-term effects of COVID infection in babies (or in anyone, for that matter). From most things you read, it seems to be genuinely mild for most young kids, but with every variant, they have to wait and see again, and overall, we have no idea to what extent long COVID is a thing for anyone (and particularly for very young children with no other health conditions). Luckily, Edith is really too young to need to socialize with other kids, and I’m hopeful that things will be more stable by the time she is, but if it isn’t, I will have to make some tough choices.

Emily Oster’s newsletter has been a godsend for me in terms of providing sober, objective summaries of what factual information we do have. Some people hate Oster because she was bullish on reopening schools, but I think she had perfectly reasonable points about it, so that doesn’t bother me (it’s possible that I didn’t see the stuff that really made people mad, I don’t know). None of these decisions are clear-cut or simple, and we’re harming a lot of kids in different ways no matter what we choose to do, so I don’t understand people who act like there’s only one reasonable solution and everyone who doesn’t agree it’s the best one is wicked or insane. Closing schools has caused a lot of irreparable harm to children of all ages and to families that will have long-lasting effects; I can understand making a case that it was still better than the alternative, but I can’t understand feeling that it was so clearly and unequivocally the right call that you become furious at anyone who feels differently.

Anyway, my guiding principle on what to do with Edith is that if Austin is stage 3 or below, we can basically go about our lives. At stage 4 and above, we hunker down. This has less to do with whether she’ll catch COVID and more to do with how available emergency/hospital care will be for her if anything should go wrong (COVID or otherwise).

But man…we’ve been in stage 5 for fucking forever. I want to take her back to Baby Gym. I want to go out to eat. The other night, I considered going over to a “ladies wine night” in my neighborhood (I know, I know, I don’t recognize myself either) and after I had talked myself through all the usual rationalizations I would have for not doing that and convinced myself to do it, I realized, “oh fuck, it’s still COVID!” I couldn’t go to a stranger’s house and hang out indoors maskless with 11 women I don’t know who might very well not be vaccinated and surely all had kids in care or school, what was I even thinking.

I realize this is small potatoes and I have no right to complain about COVID’s impact on my lifestyle or my family’s safety given how incredibly privileged we are to be relatively insulated from it, and how devastating it has truly been for most people. That’s why I usually don’t write about it.

But all that said…WHINE! 😦

CWs for Sad Baby Stuff

You don’t realize how much of media revolves around terrible things happening to babies until you have a baby and cannot handle it, and then you realize it is fucking everywhere. When Edith was a tiny newborn and I was spending my nights sitting up in bed endlessly rocking her back to sleep, I read a million ebooks with all the time (through bleary eyes) and one of them was Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This.

It’s a tremendous book, one of my favorites from last year, but I had assumed (based on her previous book and the blurbs) that it was a comic novel about Twitter. IT IS NOT. I don’t think this is a spoiler, but it is about the six life-changing months her family spent with her niece who was born with Proteus Syndrome. I read it through streaming eyes, sleep-deprived and wrung out, with my precious daughter recently released from the NICU in my lap, as I worried actively about my ongoing inability to breastfeed her and whether or not she might suddenly stop breathing in the night.

How did I do this? It seems insane to me now. How did I finish this book? How was I reading at all? I can’t remember. The first months with a newborn are cloaked in mystery in recollection; the biological imperative ensures that you don’t recall them in detail. I remember what happened, broadly, but I can’t remember what it felt like, kind of the way that you know what nausea is but it’s hard to recall how horrible it feels when you are no longer actively nauseous.

Anyway, I’m a different person now, months later, with a sturdy assertive baby who is quickly becoming a toddler, and who regularly sleeps through the night. I am still sleep-deprived, but nothing like the extreme gauntlet I was running last summer. And yet, I still cannot handle reading about bad things happening to babies.

I enjoy High Maintenance and I was catching up with season 3, and enjoying myself a lot. And then came an episode where a couple had one of those silicone babies to console themselves after an early loss. Hard, but I got through it. Then, in the very next episode the protagonist entered an oncology ward to visit an old friend. One shot of the woman sitting there with her darling little sleeping baby on her lap hooked up to an IV and I burst into gasping, shuddering, ugly crying, the kind where your nose explodes all over your face and you have to sort of walk yourself around to ramp back down out of it. I rarely cry like that.

I shut off the show right there and soothed myself with Real Housewives. I suspect this might be a little discussed reason for why moms tend to consume ever more simplistic media: we assume it’s become moms have less time and energy, but I think it’s possible that it’s also because everything highbrow is about dead kids and your heart can’t handle it anymore!

I need these things to stop smacking me in the face unawares when I’m just trying to goddamn relax. I mean, I guess there’s probably a category on Does the Dog Die for this that I could check, but I more wonder…when will this plot point stop absolutely destroying me? Does this…go away at some point? It’s a little much.