Tag Archives: funny

Parental Skill Sets: Action Interpretation

Our 17-month-old has been babbling since before his first birthday, with the initial declaration of “Hi!” one day when I went to greet him in the morning, the both of us freshly awake. He’d been standing in the corner of his crib, and he gave me a wave as he said it, which made me think that I know plenty of 30-somethings who never achieve the synchronicity of those two actions, and here he’s doing it at ten months.

Emile touching a playground bouncy horse

Since then his verbiage has unleashed on us like a wide pipe, flowing out during nearly ever waking moment. Often the words are garbled or an approximation of the words adults use — his tongue and mouth have some more forming to do, so things like Ss, the “th” sound in English, and words that end in “age” or “ege” are his biggest challenges. One of Emile’s favorite objects is a black spatula, which he pronounces as “zhezhi,” and the only reason I know zhezhi means “spatula” is because he’ll hold up the object and say the word, and point. Yes, I’ve tried repeating the word “spatula” to him, but he has yet to get that enunciation under his belt. Read More…

Lighting the Uh-Oh

Emile has lived through a holiday season once before, but last go around, he didn’t notice much of it. Holding up a 14-month-old to a Christmas tree bursting with colored lights is a bit like holding a moth up to the sun, except for the lack of fluttering. For me it just isn’t December if there’s not a tree bedecked with garland and sentimental ornaments, but we worried about setting anything up in the same space as our new walker of the household. I hatched a plan to hide the tree behind our click-clack futon so that until Emile learns to climb, direct access would be prevented. This also means that the lowest third of the tree is obscured by black vinyl, but whatever, for the wee one this Kmart brand 6.5-foot tree is like an amazing magical fortress.

Now then, for the sake of context, let me point out that for a 14-month-old, Emile is quite verbal. His vocabulary now includes the following:

  • Ow
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Woof (usually said to dogs or puppies)
  • Meow (usually said to cats or dogs)
  • Hi (his actual first word)
  • ‘Lo (short for hello, usually said to anything resembling an electronic device, always positioned in his hand at the back of his skull where naturally these devices reside)
  • Uncle
  • Apple (used for apples but also oranges and pears)
  • ‘Nana (for bananas, not grandmothers)
  • Bye-bye
  • Mwah (said in conjunction with a blown kiss)
  • No, or no-no-no (said with increasing frequency)
  • Yesh (often said with a nod that makes my heart explode because cynics like me can’t handle the cute)
  • Uh-oh Read More…

Explosion in the Produce Aisle

Several scientist type people insist that between our first and second years, humans set up their palates for the rest of their lives. Give your toddler too much sugary stuff and it’s all she’ll eat later on. Lean toward too many processed foods and you’ll have trouble getting him to eat macrobiotic, more nutritious food when he’s entering grade school. Nothing beats the tension of worrying that during those exhausting days after the infant stage you’re merely preparing for culinary disaster. Thus I attempt to balance the following when figuring out not only each and every meal for the baby, but my overall nutritional and taste goals for Emile:

  • Include whole grain and fiber, protein, vegetables, and fruit
  • Put out a melange of shapes and colors, some finger foods that he can wrestle on his own, and some spoon-fed
  • Keep everything in rotation so he doesn’t get bored by the same stuff
  • Make each piece of food easy to swallow so he doesn’t die
  • Ensure only organic, homemade, or all-natural food passes his tender lips

Above all else, however, is this:

Show no stress about trying to remember all of the above rules. Read More…

Baby-Induced Super Powers

sleep deprived dad in crib with babyWe know the story because it is so very cliche and common: two people have a baby and plummet into a world of sleep deprivation, regurgitation, dirty diapers, and near-constant wailing. Oh, those poor, poor new parents. We’re sure they need to know more about the level of hell they’re about to inhabit, so we pet them gently on the shoulder and whisper, “Your life will never be the same.” We should take care, in the immediate aftermath of granting such unsolicited advice, to avoid the daggers they shoot out from their eye sockets, because I hear they are heat seeking and almost never miss.

What we don’t pay attention to, not nearly as much, are the tiny skills that caring for a new human bestow upon these exhausted parents. I have noted, in no apparent order, the following gifts that have careened into my lap since Emile’s birth nearly a year ago: Read More…

Singing the Body Electric Fence

electric fence and horsesIt is an understatement to say I’ve spent quality time around horses. I hung out at Tara Stables in New Jersey as long after a riding lesson as I could; I’d go for 1- and 2-hour rides with friends in the forests around the Delaware River Valley, and twice I went to horse camp. Because once necessitated a sequel, I suppose. I learned how to ride horses in the Western and English styles, and I took a horse riding class in college as my one and only “fun” class in 120 credits of my undergraduate career. As a tween I drew horses for hours and collected small statues of the animals in the way that kids are strangely encouraged to identify hobbies.

I even helped a horse give birth when the colt was breech, because at 14 I had gangly sticks for arms, and the large animal veterinarian directed me on how to help the baby turn, which unsurprisingly, was a messy process.

I’ve washed horses, groomed horses, shoveled horse manure (which I used at one point in a practical joke against two Syracuse U. students who were trying to put one over on me), fed horses, baled hay, been kicked, thrown, stomped on (this is the value of steel toed boots), and entered riding contests. I know how to properly saddle a horse in both styles, and take off horse shoes. In addition to plain old riding, I have logged copious hours at the track and by the age of 7 I knew how to handicap thoroughbreds and read both betting and tip sheets (even though after a decade of playing the piano, I’m still pretty rough for reading music).

After all of this vast experience, it was entirely unexpected that in showing Emile his first up-close, real life horses, I would lean too close to the electrified fence wire and shock myself. Emile, two feet behind me and secure in his $300 stroller, looked at me quizzically. Read More…

Snappy Comebacks for Trans People

image from mad magazineThe thing about being gracious is, as soon as you let up, everyone notices. There’s no reward for seeming snappy, even if it bites at the heels of years of diplomacy and smoothed over tensions. So at the risk of letting my slip of hostility show under my skirt, let me just say that I am not a fan of the zoological presentation of transfolk as the primary means of educating the non-trans public. I am a fan of careful conversation, principled debate, and sensitive discourse when interfacing with any marginalized community.

Many of us have heard the now-standard “Trans 101” talking points: don’t ask what surgeries we’ve had, what our former names were, or other invasive questions about our bodies you wouldn’t want to answer yourself. But there are still more questions that deflect from a helpful give-and-take between parties, or that make some of us trans people weary and exhausted, well intentioned though these questions may be. So when I’m feeling ungracious, I may use some of these following answers. Apologies in advance for my snippishness, really. But when I’m on the edge, my responses may look like this:

Question 1: What’s your story?

There are many versions of this question, so much so that they may sound like different interrogatives, but really, they boil down to this: how in hell did you realize you were the wrong gender? And they’re often predicated on this: I’ve never considered anything even remotely as weird as that! It is a bit of a puzzler, at least as far as my experience goes, but the explanations get old faster than a baked avocado. So my answer to this is: “What, you haven’t read my memoir yet?” Read More…

Requiem for Breathing

really dirty sinkCollege students, future generations of professional leaders that they are, do not have a reputation for stellar hygiene. Rather, they are known for being something of a dirty population–prone to sudden expectoration after an evening of imbibing beverages, rolling out of bed unwashed in order to make it to class on time, and giving their undergarments a second act of wearing before laundering. They are, after all, college students. They are known to be broke.

Because they have this sordid reputation, and because my wife and I both have been ourselves college students, we have something of a defense system in place to protect our offspring from the side effects of contact with dirty folks, namely, communicable disease. She accepts electronic papers from her students. I refrain from getting within two feet of any student volunteer at my agency, especially during flu season. As Emile is not yet capable of blowing his nose, our goal is to avoid upper respiratory infections whenever possible. I’m a fan of hand washing, although the skin on my hands is not. Read More…

Mission Extremely Challenging, If Not Impossible

cramped hotel room as exemplified by squished catFive days we’re here in Portland, ostensibly for Susanne’s participation in a work conference, but I managed to finagle a reading on our last day, so both of us have a career moment or two while we’re in town. The rest of our visit we get to see friends and some family, and take in the riches of urban life. While there are several nice upsides to living in Walla Walla, like no traffic or smog, cheap rent, and gorgeous sunny skies on most days, we’ve discovered we need frequent small breaks to nearby cities. Portland is three-and-a-half hours away by car, most of the drive along the picturesque Columbia River, the gem blue water reflecting the rusty, hard etched hills until the Cascade Mountains take over and pepper the terrain with thousands of evergreens. Leaving southeast Washington is a joy when the weather is agreeable.

On the downside, all three of us are crammed into a decidedly not large hotel room, and nowhere in the complimentary Book of Mormon is there any advice on sudden downsizing of life and provisions with baby. I’ve looked. Read More…

Capture the Flag

Field Programmable Gate Arrays textbookIt should come as no surprise to anyone that getting my hands on a copy of my own book has been something of a debacle. I’ve been reading through the manuscript for the last couple of weeks wondering which sections I should offer up at my inaugural reading in Portland this weekend. For me and my easily tired eyes, scrolling on a screen works less well than flipping through actual pages. I’d rather hold sections open with pens and fingers and jump around to plan out my entertainment strategy than make electronic notes on my tablet. And I’m a big fan of technology. Just not for this purpose.

I dropped onto Amazon on the first day of sale and noted that I’d have to pay almost as much for shipping as for the book itself if I wanted to get it in time for our trip to Portland. And then I saw it, a little glimmer of a link–a free month-long trial for Amazon Prime. It was my knight in brilliant armor, promising me an easy, free delivery by Tuesday. Read More…

My Kid and His Invisible Chrysalis

The baby has made it clear he’s in a new growth spurt. Far from having an amazing lexicon or masterful charades skills, he just screams and eats a lot, and then one of the parents in the room will run to the interwebs and look up the under-12-months milestones for development. Not the sitting up, rolling over, crawling development, but the non-cognitive stuff like tooth appearance and those aforementioned spurts. Emile’s week 6 and month 3 spurts came a little early, so it’s not surprising we’d see the sixth month dash at 5.5 months. It has me wondering if he’ll grow into an impatient pain in the ass, but then I remind myself that it’s just too soon to tell.

I picked him up yesterday morning and had the sensation that someone had photoshopped my live child to make him 3 percent larger than the night before. His head, hands, shoulders, all of him seemed to take up more space and weigh more. I remembered that the further we are from the core of the planet, the less gravity pulls on us, so I briefly considered taking him to the top of Mt. McKinley and hoping he’d be easier to hold there. Probably the pool at the local YMCA was an easier way to get to the same outcome, however. He’s still about a month away from being allowed into the baby swim class. Read More…

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