Prototype available soon

I am a little past the halfway point on a Hawaiian vacation with my parents, and as so often happens when you are relaxed, I have had a brilliant idea. It came to me while eating out at a fancy restaurant. We have been eating out a lot and I have been testing the flight worthiness of cups, plates, silverware, vegetables and bread, both white and whole wheat, when I had a terrific notion. Why not test my own flightworthiness at dinner?

You see below a drawing for a prototype device called The Bungee Baby. Simply put, you clamp it to the table, attach your child to the bungee cord, and let ‘er rip. To the endless amusement of the waitstaff and other diners, too, your child can fly through the air, swoop down at the appropriate moment, and grab a carrot stick, or whatever. I wanted to call this brilliant invention the Baby Actuated Restaurant Feeder or BARF for short, but my mommy said that wasn’t a good name. So it will just be called the Bungee Baby or BB, because it’s fun to have a baby who is also a carrot-stick eating projectile.

It even works if you are a vegetarian, and it works if you are eating fish. Some of you may scoff at this, because you believe brilliant ideas conceived by babies will never fly. But there are a lot of high rollers here in Hawaii, and as I was splashing around in the pool I struck up a conversation with a billionaire backer. It has been said that I am the busiest man on Hawaii, since I am always running wherever I go, slam through dinner in ten minutes, and charge along the beach like a rino on the loose. But I want to make the most of my time here, and take advantage of these flashes of brilliance.

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Baby Savings Time

IMG_0482babyHave you heard of this thing called Baby Savings Time? It’s when you change the clocks and all the babies wake their parents up one hour earlier. It’s very good if you have crops and goats and live on a farm, which I don’t, but that doesn’t matter. Baby Savings Time is good for me anyway, because I find it allows me to fit in another hour of rampaging, spilling things, running around the house with my arms over my head and throwing hard objects at glass surfaces and saying ‘uh oh’ which makes the act of violence charming, kind of like we are all in a Quentin Tarantino movie. 

Baby Savings Time also allows me extra time to complain on the changing table. Have I mentioned that recently? I wear these things called diapers, I have no idea why, and they have to be changed, which is a stupid idea if I ever heard it. It’s important to scream as loud as I can when they do it, because, well, I have no idea why I do it, but it must be done, of this I am certain.

I am also practicing to be a teenager by saying ‘no’ a lot. I am working with my rage. I am adding yeast to my rage, like bread rising. I am writing terrible metaphors because I can, because I am a teenager. Have you read any Salinger, or Judy Blume, or S.E. Hinton? Well, neither have I, but I know that Eugene O’Neill should have written a four act play about baby rage, it’s that rich a topic. If you don’t know who Eugene O’Neill was, never mind. He was a pretty depressing guy, but he knew rage. And he would have been a great baby rage writer if he hadn’t wasted his time on moons misbegotten, and icemen, and long days turning into night. Everybody knows that day turns into night, anyway.

I feel intense rage when they bring me seven ounces of formula instead of the eight I ordered. It’s just sloppy, pathetically not customer-centric at all. I feel rage when they take too long changing my shirt after I drool on it. I feel rage when my father calls me the Drooler of the Free World and thinks that I don’t know what he’s talking about. I know what he’s talking about. I don’t find that amusing, and neither would Eugene O’Neill. But critics argued that he didn’t have a sense of humor, nor owned a watch, because his plays were too long. They mocked him because of a loose association with time? I don’t know what time it is, and it’s never bothered me.

And I will not be mocked. I am developing a contentious relationship with my father. But this is the stuff of great literature, and this is what you do with fathers, develop contentious relationships with them. What else are fathers for? You tumble on the floor with them, you argue about diapers with them, you head-butt them, then you smile at them. Let me tell you this: When your father thinks he has figured you out, you have lost. You keep fathers off balance. Never forget that. You are screwed otherwise.

The other day, my father asked me, ‘Why do adults put up with babies? They spill fluids, they are loud, they excrete substances. Why do we deal with that?’

‘You want to know the reason?,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ he said.

‘It’s because we wear tiny cargo pants,’ I said.

‘Ah,’ he said, darkly.

‘But it’s true,’ I said.

He can be a sour puss.

Since I am closing in on a year and a half now, I like to ‘give back’ now and again and offer words of encouragement and wisdom for those who aren’t as smart as I am. Here are a few brilliant thoughts to tide you over until next time.

- When speaking, stick your finger in your nose. It improves the acoustics.

– When your father is doing Downward Dog, try head-butting him to get him to vibrate at a higher level.

– It’s never a bad time to drop something heavy on someone’s bare foot. Observe the effects. Repeat. 

– Try eating yogurt with your hands. It’s slow, but sensual.   

Well, that’s it for now. It’s bedtime and I have to get up an hour earlier than expected tomorrow.

My parents have divided their attention and it doesn’t always involve me and why this sucks

bodhi-photoThe other day I was walking around the house carrying a yoga strap and a poop in my diaper, and I realized it was amazing that I can walk. I can multitask as well, and that includes pooping and walking at the same time. The human body is a divine instrument, for sure.

It’s great when I multitask, but I am against it when my parents do it. The kind of multitasking they do is paying attention to each other when they should be paying attention to me. They should not be dividing their attention that way. At least, not without my permission.

By the way, does  anybody know if you can fix a computer by pouring orange juice on it? I’d like to try this, because by fix a computer I mean render it completely useless. My parents divide their attention on phones, computers and an iPad (which rightfully belongs to me anyway.) It’s not that I am against technology. On the contrary, I think wooden blocks are great. But I am against my parents using technology when it takes their attention away from me.

Let’s go deeper with this argument, into love. They say the most important thing in a child’s life is the growing sense the child feels of his parents’ love for each other. They say a child draws confidence and strength from this, and by ‘they’ I mean a bunch of eggheaded psychologists who don’t know what they’re talking about.

A common suggestion from these oddballs is that parents should have something called a ‘date night,’ where they go out, away from the child, and rekindle their emotions for each other. I say to hell with that. Parents do not need to be with each other. They do not need to ‘rekindle’ anything. They need to carry the baby around whenever the baby wants it, even if their hip joint swells up to the size of a pumpkin, and they need to play hide and seek with the child even though it is bedtime, and they need to feed the child whatever they are eating, even if it means they are going to starve in the process. I may be wrong about all that intellectually, but it is how I feel, and my feelings are never wrong.

Now, I just read back what I wrote and it seems a little hardass. Let me back off a few things. If my parents starved because they were giving me all their food, it wouldn’t work at all. And if they want to go out on a date night once in a while, that would be okay, and by ‘once in a while’ I mean never, because what would I do on a Friday night without them? They simply have to understand that B.Y.O.B. means Bring Your Own Baby.

It’s all so real now

The small moments speak most eloquently. He rests his tired head on my leg when he wants comfort. He raises his hands in the child’s universal gesture of asking to be picked up. He slaps a sweaty mitt on my shoulder and presents me with the ready smile of a conspirator. He points at something he wants and says its name. With great grace and aplomb he removes a scrap of apple from his plastic bib and lets it drop subtly to the floor.

He is stringing gibberish into complex, incomprehensible sentences, but they are nonetheless sentences, fully formed, thoughts chained together in a structure only he can apprehend. He pulls himself up to his full height, reaches into the cat food bowl on the counter and snacks on fishy kibble by the handful. (Yes, we try to stop him from doing this.)

At baby school he already has a life of his own. Reports come back that he has tried a new food or made a new friend.

He is certainly not formed; he is in formation; but he is so real now. As he totters across the room holding his bright yellow lunchbox like a working man, simultaneously as stable and unstable as any skateboarder on the sidewalk, you get the hell out of his way, you make room for him. He commands … something.

It is a little unnerving to witness the force of his personality as he flirts with women twenty times his age, discussing the size of dogs relative to cats, complimenting them on their smile, asking if there are any good yoga classes in the vicinity.

He insists on drinking his mother’s fresh-squeezed orange juice when she orders some. He recognizes the espresso places I frequent, the library’s reading room, the street where he lives.

This is all simply growing up, of course, the texture of small things weaving into something much larger. I like to isolate each one. I look at each one like a drop of water. They won’t last. Yet they are also everlasting.

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I Am Gainfully Employed

It started with ma. Then I added mama. Then dada, which I shortened up to da because I am short on time since I have a new job. I have since added duck, hat, ball, bath, hair, cat, kitty, teeth, and bubbles to my vocabulary. You may think that since I speak only a dozen words, I only understand a dozen. Well, that’s flat wrong. I understand everything, sister. (Or brother, depending on who is reading this.)

I am soaking it in like a sponge as I have started punching the old time clock as a block pusher. Yes, I have quit my job as an insomniac. It was just too tiring. I now push a red block around the apartment, as you can see from the video. It was a crowded field of applicants, but because I was able to talk, I aced the interview. I charmed my interlocutors and nabbed the plum job of red block pusher, which pays more than the other colors, simply because I chose the right words. It is good to be part of the block-pushing economy, which is almost as good as the information economy but less pretentious. It’s an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and I can learn on the job, as I am listening to everything said all the time.

My parents think if they talk fast I won’t get it. They think if they spell out N-A-P T-I-M-E that is clever enough to work. Gimmie a break. My decoding power is getting better than the NSA’s. Language acquisition is contextual, tactile, like learning a song, everybody knows this. If you don’t know the words you can hum along, and pretty soon you pick up the tune. I have been taking notes on everything they say, and if somebody can tell me what the colloquial phrase “french kissing” means, I will have no gaps in my understanding.

I know I sound a little cocky, but I have also started to walk and this has boosted my confidence a ton, maybe even given me something of a swelled head, like Thomas Friedman. But you know, his editorial about Syria in the Times this weekend was pretty smart. I recommend it as a thoughtful read. When you can stand upright and move about it changes your perspective. You are no longer among the cats, dogs, and monkeys. You feel like a higher form of life, like Mayor Bloomberg or Serena Williams.

By the way, here’s the video of my interview that helped me ace the block-pushing gig.

And Then It Got All Trippy

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My parents put me in this contraption. It is called a bicycle. The way it works is that your mommy sits in front of you, and you sit in the back, and she moves her legs around, and the road starts to get all blurry.

We did this the other day. I felt like I was in a Dennis Hopper movie about controlled substances. Everything got all trippy, man. It was like, we were moving, but like, I was sitting in this chair, man. If you ever find yourself in this position, and you look down at the swiftly-flowing ground, watching the bicycle wheels spinning round, the spokes blurring into an infinite division of time, measuring the fragmented compartmentalization of the individual specks of sparkly stones embedded in the road surface, it makes you want to order a pizza. Or, like, ten pizzas.

I don’t know why this trippy stuff gets you so hungry, but it does. You want to eat an entire bag of hemp-and-soy flavored potato chips from Whole Foods. Seriously, though, I think part of the trippy-ness of this is because they make you wear this helmet.

I have worn floppy hats and caps, but they all basically say Carl Reiner on a fishing trip. The helmet thing is different because helmets change the way you feel about everything. Look at snowboarders and skateboarders, and soldiers and construction workers dangling off tall buildings. They are risk-takers. They are all pushing it to the edge, man. That’s what I feel like in my orange helmet, sitting in my trippy, flying chair. I am getting all extreme and stuff, just sitting there. I am out of the comfort zone. I am riding out of the box, man. I am out of control sitting in my chair, with my mommy sitting in front of me, watching the world flow by like an Impressionist painting, as if I knew what that was. But in this trippy experience, man, I feel like I do. I know Monet. I can’t tell you how. I just do. Had I visited him as he was painting those water lilies I would have jumped into that pond. I would have eaten the water lilies to see what they tasted like. I would have cried when my mommy hauled me out of the pond and said it was time to go home and get lunch.

I would have stolen a look backward as she carried me ass-first out of there, screaming my head off, but noticing the old man daubing at his canvas, adjusting his wire-rimmed glasses, muttering at the noisy children who pollute his peaceful pond with their ravings.

Trippy, I’m telling you. Totally. I can tell you Jackson Pollack did mash glass into his paintings with his bare feet, that Braque was mildly pissed when Picasso ripped him off, that Munch originally went with a tunnel instead of a bridge for the background. This is what happens when you get on one of these bicycle things and everything starts to blur. You start knowing things you didn’t know before. You start riding out of the box, man. It’s weird. Pass the potato chips. I’m so hungry.

A Travel Advisory has Been Issued

[Editor's note. This was slipped under the door last night. We aren't sure, but we believe the baby has resumed writing his blog.]

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A travel advisory has been issued for the bathroom. You can open the toilet and put your hands in, and this is not good. A lock has been placed on the toilet to prevent tampering.

A travel advisory has been issued for the home office. Travelers can apparently open the filing cabinets and get into papers that are not for babies. A lock has been placed on the filing cabinet to prevent tampering.

A travel advisory has been issued for the kitchen. Travelers can open the cabinets, remove heavy pots and pans, and injure themselves. Locks have been placed on all cabinets to prevent access.

A travel advisory has been issued for the baby’s room, specifically for the changing table. Travelers can open the cabinet drawers, remove all clothing, throw it around the room, open up packages of diapers and freely distribute them, tear apart packets of wipes, and become involved in the unauthorized use of digital thermometers, which are not for babies. Locks have been placed on all changing table drawers and cabinets to prevent tampering.

A travel advisory has been issued for the baby’s toy piano between the hours of 10 in the evening and 8 in the morning. Apparently, babies can pound on the piano at inappropriate hours, disturbing neighbors within a one hundred block radius.  The piano has been placed in an inaccessible location during the restricted hours.

A travel advisory has been issued for the bowl of cat food, even though cat food is delicious when eaten by the handful when nobody is looking. The bowl of cat food has been placed in an inaccessible location which is almost inaccessible to the cat, except that he can jump very high.

Further travel advisories will be issued as needed.  Please visit the State Department website for updates, or ask my mommy.

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This is the Last Baby Blog

alligatorThis is the last baby blog. I am not a baby any more. I have a career now. Are you ready for what it is? I have decided to become a professional insomniac. Not only is this exciting because you get to stay up all night, but you also get to keep everybody else up as well.

Just the other morning I suggested to my parents that they take me out in my stroller at two thirty in the morning because I wouldn’t sleep. You can see the scene from the picture above. I took it with my infrared camera, the one attached to my stroller. They just didn’t know what else to do with me at that hour, and they were blindingly dull about the whole darn thing. They just rolled me around. We went up one side of the street and then down the other. Weren’t there any movies playing? Shows to go to? Stores open? Target, even? Alas, no, I learned. At three in the morning there are just one or two cars driving slowly, the low hum of the street lamps, the unblinking dark eye of the sky, and precious little for a person of my age to do.

Inside our apartment, on the other hand, things are quite exciting in the small hours. I am passionate about throwing things and screaming, and when the big hand is on twelve and the little hand gets to be on three, let me tell you, this is memorable for all concerned. I like to walk around and around the couch a thousand revolutions and open and close the same cabinet fifty or sixty times until my father, who is curled up on the couch in a fetal position, begins to make sounds like a dolphin which I think are really just quiet sobbing.

I am very good at all of those things now and don’t need any more practice doing them. It’s time for new sleepless horizons! But where shall I direct my considerable nocturnal talents? As I wait for your suggestions to pour in, I do have a confession to make. My new career will cut down considerably on my blogging.

I admit, I do get help with the writing sometimes, and as my father says, “who can write when you are frigging falling off your chair from utter exhaustion?” He puts a lot of extra words in there and I don’t know exactly what they mean, but I really don’t understand what he is complaining about anyway. I fall off things all the time. I keep going. There is no shame in being so tired that drool freely flows from your mouth. Happens to me all the time, although dad says this is causing problems at work when it happens to him in meetings.

My mother, who is a beautiful person, is much more tolerant. She looks into the depths of my blue eyes and feels unbounded compassion for me. She believes wholeheartedly in my separation anxiety. My problem is that I fear being alone quite deeply, and she understands and feels my pain.

My teachers at baby school suggest that when I start to walk I will tire myself out and sleep better at night. Might happen. I will also eventually realize that my soul will remain intact even when I am not clinging to my mommy and passionately biting her with affection. C’est la vie.

For now, I think there is nothing more important to me than being close to my mommy and also being a professional insomniac, which is perhaps the most important job in the world. It barely leaves time for my hobby, which is high-velocity, high-altitude testing of food. I can turn a piece of tofu into a ninety-mile-an-hour fastball like nobody’s business. Baseball players get paid a lot of money to throw things fast, so why not me? Will somebody who knows how to operate a phone please call either the National or American League and let them know that I am available?

In the Year One

xyloIt’s been almost a week since I turned one. Here’s a report from the field.

On the morning of my first birthday the birds were singing a special song just for me. Also on that morning the cat stepped in his poo and tracked it all over the apartment. There was a lovely piece of chocolate on the floor and I was about to pop it in my mouth when my father swooped in and grabbed it. Then he compulsively washed his hands 20 times. I never knew a piece of chocolate could make you feel so dirty, but he is weird about food sometimes. He and my mother are attempting to feed me olives, which is very wrong. More on that in a moment.

On my birthday we had a party in the park with many of my close, personal friends. My mom’s cake came out great. It was really hot that day so I had a meltdown, but that is par for the course for your first birthday. Also for your 30th birthday you can have a meltdown if you don’t like your job, and on your 40th because you are over the hill, and also on your 50th because you are so old and you’ve hardly achieved anything and you only have maybe three decades left. Usually those later meltdowns involve overeating and booze. Since I don’t have access to those indulgences I just rolled around in some sand. That worked for me. And I got great toys.

I have more than 365 days of experience on Earth, so I feel it is time to start throwing food. I’ve earned it and it’s a valuable means of expression. I recommend it to everyone! If people in restaurants threw their food to express their displeasure, imagine how that would immeasurably raise the level of cuisine in this country. The chefs would simply have to step up their game. May I offer some aerodynamic tips? Don’t bother trying to throw rice crispies. The crenelations of the crispies cause too much drag and they are too lightweight to go far. An olive, being slick and somewhat heavy (at least for a baby) will go quite far and lodge under the cabinet, where it will rot satisfactorily for many weeks. Just saying.

I only eat raisins and bananas. I have even said the word ‘banana’ to make this clear to my parents. Yet they persist with abominations such as black beans, even though I used to like them. They do not understand that my crib rail tastes good now. I am chomping it like a woodchuck. They have to order a special crib rail cover from Amazon before I chew right through it. My tastes are changing, you see, and the best time to express this is by shouting my preferences at three-thirty in the morning. That is how you get your parents’ attention. At the age of one I have opinions, okay? They must be respected even if they change constantly.

Here’s one opinion that’s really important right now. They tell me I am going through a phase of super-attachment to my mommy, but I think they have this wrong. It is a religious devotion to my mommy. It is a burning desire to remain in close contact with my mommy at every nanosecond. If you had my mommy as a mommy you would understand why you would never want to let her go far. Well, get this: The big experiment starts next week when I start baby school. This is like pre-school, but you go two times a week for a couple of hours and you bring your own lunch in a lunchbox. Your mommy takes you there but she doesn’t stay. We will have to see about that! They better have some good toys at baby school or they are going to be in deep doo-doo with me.

I will have more details on that soon, but I gotta run now. They are about to give me more food to throw.

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When we first met, the driving was so good

road-10When we first met, the driving was so good. We would drive spontaneously, at all hours, often in public. Sometimes I was in the driver’s seat, sometimes she was. We did it with the windows open. Mostly we drove slowly, with care, exploring each other, but at rare times we drove fast and hard and were done within minutes.

It’s different now. She doesn’t like it when I come to a stop past the white line marking the correct point at a corner stop sign. I think she drives too slowly, deliberately taking tiny streets, making the drive last longer and longer. My mind works well when I drive, my best thoughts racing by in rapid-fire landscapes that I quickly catalogue. She likes my attention forward, on her, or backward, on the baby in the rear-facing child seat.

He is one year old. Our marriage is four. Everything is new, and now. Life is richer, our drives are chattier, and we play music for the baby. He likes Roseanne Cash. I like her, too, but prefer her dad. Folsom Prison Blues, however, would not be appropriate for a baby. We switched to Mozart, mostly for brain development. It’s a fallacy – kids can listen to Alice Cooper and their brains will develop in spite of it – but we like the idea of the divinely orderly worldview of previous centuries fertilizing the consciousness of our young charge. Divine brilliance has got to rub off, right? Thrashing has to be bad. He is, as the expression goes, a sponge. He listens in on all our conversations, processing, calibrating, measuring where he fits in. Even when he’s quiet in the back seat I can feel his presence. There’s a life force back there like a hot hundred watt bulb, massive processing power starting to spin up and come on line. He and the cat play fiercely at home, as though the animal knows the baby’s processing power will outrun his own in a matter of days. Kitty’s moment as a superior life form (in his view) will soon end. The baby will take over. It is inevitable.

The first times I was a father, I didn’t examine these things so closely. I was busy – that word that fills so much and yet signifies nothing. What was I busy at? Most of the time I can’t remember. Now I have a shadow father-life walking behind me wherever I go, a sonar echo I can ping to measure time.

We have been packing, moving, and unpacking. Packing goes slowly when emotional valance surrounds objects. These objects exert their gravity, force your hands underwater, make you swim slowly through memories. Putting a life into boxes, carrying it around, then taking it out again is a meditation exercise. You carry what you need with you, but you let a lot go. You look around, in a new place. So much the same, so much has changed.

The little boy is dragging toys and massive processing power along on the floor, making a racket, forming words and attaching them here and there. They are starting to stick. Mama, da, duck, kitty, hi. Hello, baby. I can see you coming into focus.