b Papa Dog's Blog: August 2005

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Daddy at Home Week: Day 2

Baby Dog came with me to the dermatologist this morning, and thoroughly charmed the entire office. Apparently they don’t get many babies there—which figures, since babies tend to have pretty good skin. I set her stroller up next to the examination chair so she could sit next to me, but didn’t angle it towards me in case things got gross. It turns out that the whitehead-looking thing that was under my left eye for the last several months was a cyst, which explains why it wouldn’t go away. Nothing dangerous about it, but I was tired of seeing it out of the corner of my eye, and it can't have been any treat for Mama Dog to look at. The doctor gave me a shot of lidocaine and nicked the cyst off with a blade. Little round band-aid marks the spot, in and out in ten minutes. Baby Dog chatted away throughout, saying “Mama!” to Mama Dog’s Timbuktu bag, which I’d brought along in case a diaper change became necessary. She said "woof" to the dogs in her new book. Then she started playing the “Da-DEEEEEEE!”/“Bay-BEEEEEEE!” game, which the doctor seemed to think was pretty damn cute. Baby Dog’s first minor surgery, though I don’t think she saw any of the gnarly stuff. She seemed to be having a fun outing, all in all.

I got my timing down today. Had morning snack, lunch, and nap time at the appointed hours, and then didn’t take her out again until afternoon snack. We went to a park, where she swung on a swing, went down a slide, patted a tree and called it “tree,” played with trucks, said “Moo!” at a brown-and-white spotted pit bull, and got to pet a little white dog leashed to somebody’s stroller.

Tomorrow will be another big day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Daddy at Home Week: Day 1

It’s Daddy at Home Week. Today Baby Dog had her first ride on a bus, which we took to get to Habitot. Lately, Bus Stops had become a favourite book of hers, and once I got it through to her that the thing we were riding in was a bus, just like in the book, she wouldn’t stop repeating “Bus! Bus! Bus! Bus!” It being the 40 line, this was probably useful for other passengers in grounding them and helping them get a handle on their whereabouts.

The main thing I’ve got to work on in the Stay-At-Home-Daddy business is my timing. When we left, it seemed too early for snack time, but by the time we got home it was rather late. That in turn meant that I had to try feeding her lunch only an hour or so after her snack, which is just no good. She wasn’t interested in the food and, worse, she seemed to be falling asleep in the chair. The daycare says their regular nap time starts around 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon, so we’ve been trying to keep her to that schedule when she’s at home. Only problem is, she always seems sleepy by 12:30, right when I want to feed her so she can nap right after lunch. I asked her if she wanted to go night-night. She nodded sleepily, and repeated “night-night.” I set her in her crib, pulled the cord in the butterfly’s ass to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and kissed her goodnight. I went to check my e mail. For a few minutes I heard her chattering to her stuffed animals, then all was quiet. I still can’t believe how quickly and easily she went to sleep.

She had a good big lunch when she woke, and we played in the living room for a while, watching Coast Guard S&R daredevils in New Orleans, dangling from helicopters, picking people up off their roofs. It was really pretty dramatic, even with the sound off.

Later, we took a walk with no set destination. We ended up at Diesel, where I thought we could browse the baby books. When I went to the children’s book section, though, it was gone; it took me a few minutes to figure out that they’d swapped spots with the magazine rack. The kid’s books were now at the front of the store, which turns out to be an inspired move on the store’s part. The front spot is a nice little alcove, which always seemed a little confining for magazine rack use, but which is perfect for the children’s books; toddlers are now out from underfoot and out of harm’s way. Baby Dog was the only little one in the store, so she had the run of the bottom shelf, pulling things down faster than I could pick them back up. She was particularly fascinated with a kid’s anatomy book with a plastic visible-organs guy inside. She has lately started learning names of various body parts – nose and teeth she has down pat, but she gets eyes and ears confused. She’s always grabbing my ear and saying “eye!” I got her two books to help her learn all these complicated anatomical terms: Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?, which is essentially a game of peek-a-boo on paper, sure to be a big hit; and Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes, which is possibly a little too text-heavy for her to bother with right now, but which I think she’ll be old enough to like soon.

Mama Dog surprised me by phoning as Baby Dog and I were returning from the store. She had planned to go to a post-work yoga class, but found that she had to enrol for a whole series to get into that class, and came home instead. I suggested she meet us, so we met up with her and Doggy Dog halfway home. I had been worried that Baby Dog might fall asleep in the stroller, but Mama Dog’s arrival perked her right up.

We decided on an impromptu dinner out and managed to get the Pirates to join us at the Chaat Café. They’re off to Bumbershoot tomorrow, so it was our last chance for a week. Baby Pirate is at the age where she’s not content to sit in a high chair and is much more interested in running around all parts of the restaurant and perhaps exploring outside and down the block a bit. Mama and Papa Pirate switched off; one sat at the table conversing and eating while the other pursued the child hither and yon. As always, something to look forward to.

Monday, August 29, 2005

What Has Happened Down Here Is the Winds Have Changed

Here’s how lame I am: Avenuu called yesterday to let me know she was in Memphis, safe and sound. “Uh…from what?” I asked. She told me to turn on a damn television or look at a damn computer, and that’s how I found out about the big natural disaster story that apparently everybody but me had been glued to all day. I’d heard about Katrina and the waves in the days before, but I’d had no idea it had gotten so huge and no idea that it was headed directly for New Orleans.

I guess it’ll be a while before the damage tallies are sorted out, but I fear all the places I loved in the Quarter are thrashed. Most of them were on Decatur Street, with nothing between them and the levee. Oh no, poor Café du Monde! It’s too bad Kagan’s went out of business when Kagan died; this might have finally gotten the floors clean. Well, I’ll be glued to Cable News Network and Cable News Network Period Commercial for the next few days. If you’re one of my New Orleans friends, get in touch with me when you can. I’ll be thinking of you here from dry ground.

I was talking about the hurricane with Mama Dog this morning. She said something along the lines of, “I can’t imagine going through that!” I pointed out that hurricanes are to the Gulf Coast what earthquakes are to California. People who live elsewhere think “How can people live there, when that can happen at any time.” But if you live there, it’s just the nuisance you put up with. Most earthquakes are so small you don’t notice them. Most hurricanes miss the city. But every now and then, you find yourself on CNN.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Children's Fairyland

Today we took Baby Dog for the first time to Children’s Fairyland which is something of an Oakland landmark/institution, though one neither Mama Dog nor I had visited since living in the Bay Area. Adults must be accompanied by a child to enter, so we’d never before had adequate bona fides. Mama Dog had been there as a child, but I’d only ever passed by it on the bus, and we’d both been very curious about it in different ways. Mama Dog hardly remembered anything about it except that she thought it was fun as a child.

Well, it’s hard to say how much Baby Dog understood of what she saw, but she seemed to enjoy the excursion. Mama Dog and I, on the other hand, were thoroughly charmed. The place is a time capsule of children’s entertainment from a bygone age. There are no thrill ride monstrosities, obnoxious video displays, or pyrotechnics. The most adrenaline-inducing ride was a small and slowly-moving Ferris wheel. Everything is made of painted wood, not moulded plastic. There are live animals rather than animatronic ones. Baby Dog got to see an alpaca, which we mistakenly told her was a llama (like her beloved Fernando), and she yelled “Yama! Yama! Yama!” at it. We also petted a pony, which is a big thing because she’s recently learned about “neighs.” It took a bit of work to convince her that this particular animal was a “neigh” rather than a “moo,” but she caught on eventually.

Mama Dog and I took turns carrying Baby Dog through the Alice in Wonderland maze, which was completely deserted and very fun. The story is depicted in murals on the walls and in life-size diorama scenes. Baby Dog doesn’t know the story yet, of course, but she was able to identify the bunny and various other elements in the murals. Again, probably more fun for us, but she seemed to like it.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Birthday in Laurel Heights

M&F had a party today for their little boy A, who’s turned one, providing yet more evidence of the aerodynamic properties of time. We stopped first at Bedroom, Bathroom & Beyondroom to get a new shitcan for Baby Dog’s room, the old one having been taxed beyond endurance in the past week. (Actually, the lid broke off.) By the time we got to M&F’s, the little girl had fallen asleep in the carseat. That’s what happens when you have a party for babies and start it at noon. Fortunately, A wasn’t in his crib when we got there, so we were able to pop Baby Dog in for a snooze and spent the first hour or so of the party unencumbered, just like childless folk. How novel! It’s always a boon to go to a party where baby infrastructure is already in place.

There were many babies there, most of them littler than Baby Dog, and none of them anywhere near as chatty. We heard the parents of a two-month-old sighing in wonder at the sound of her playing the “Da-DEEEEE!” game. “That’s what we have to look forward to,” the mom said. Yes, that’s so.

Unfortunately but perhaps inevitably, A was in a cranky mood for his party, and when everyone gathered for the singing and cake cutting, he was screaming and refusing a bottle. M took him out on the porch to calm him down. Partygoers milled about. Mama Dog thought the porch might be a nice place to sit, so we joined M there and compared babies. After we chatted for a while, F came out with the cake and a few guests who were growing restless and/or leaving. We sang Happy Birthday to A out on his porch while he cried. After everyone finished clapping, Baby Dog clapped and said “Yay.” A birthday to remember, though of course he’ll have to take his parents’ word for it in the future, unless this post is still kicking around the blogosphere in years to come.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Evolution of "Daddy"

Mama Dog and I started trying to conceive back before we were even married. We used to have a joke about how we’d be able to call our child a little bastard and mean it in a strictly technical sense.* I used to play an imaginary scene from our future parental endeavours. Doing my best Foster Brooks (which isn’t very good – get Bernardo to do it instead), I’d say to our imaginary child, “Get Daddy a martini, y’ li’l bastard! And don’t skimp on the olives!”

When we got Doggy Dog, we made little effort to disguise his standing as a surrogate child. When speaking to him, we referred to one another as “Mummy” and “Daddy.” “Go see Mummy, Doggy Dog.” “It’s time for Daddy to take you for a walk.” It quickly became second nature to talk to him that way, but there was always a touch of ironic distance. The quotation marks never left “Mummy” and “Daddy.”

When at last our chances of pregnancy passed from the theoretical to the actual, we made some shy effort at removing the quotation marks. From time to time, I would address Mama Dog’s belly. “Hey, (Baby Dog), it’s Daddy,” I’d say. It seemed weird to be speaking to a belly, but weirder still to be referring to myself as “Daddy” to someone of my own species.

When Baby Dog was born, the first words addressed to her were spoken by me, and they were, naturally, “Hey, (Baby Dog), it’s Daddy.” We had read in all the books that you’re supposed to refer to yourself in the third person to reinforce your identity, pronouns being a touch too abstract for the developing mind. We inculcated the habit, trying to remember to narrate our actions to help develop her grasp of language. “Daddy’s going to put your diaper on now. Okay, now Daddy’s going to snap your onesie back up.”

What could never quite be achieved with the dog was quickly realised with the child. We referred to one another and to ourselves as “Mummy” and “Daddy,” and we misplaced the quotation marks. We had acquired an extra set of names. We were Mummy and Daddy.

Nowadays, one of Baby Dog’s favourite games is to call out in her throaty roar, “Da-DEEEEEEE!” I respond, “Bay-BEEEEEEE!**” She grins and replies, “Da-DEEEEEEE!” and I give it another, “Bay-BEEEEEEE!” and so on we go back and forth until some other matter of interest arises to distract her. In fact, I could happily continue with it indefinitely. She’s far more likely to lose interest.

Today at work, I had kind of a busy morning. I’d had one more cup of tea than usual and a pressing deadline was keeping me from a sorely needed bathroom break. When I was finally at a point where I could stop, I thought, “Okay, Daddy’s going to go to the bathroom now.” It was a few seconds before I realised that I’d done that – thought of myself in the first person, as “Daddy” sans quotes, entirely without affect or disingenuousness. I realised that at some point I had crossed a Rubicon or had perhaps (to muddle my allusive metaphors) become some sort of Daddy Kurtz, cut loose from the conventional rules of address I had always known. It seemed I could now call anyone anything and mean it. I haven’t yet said to a co-worker, “Okay, Daddy’ll have that for you by close of business.” But it’s coming. I can feel it.
*Kind of a family tradition there. One time after I made some smartass comment, my Mom said, “Oh, you little son of a bitch!” That left me in a filial quandary, of course; would it be more disrespectful to agree with her or to argue?
**Actually, I say the two-syllable diminutive of her given name, but I’m not going to type it here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Piled Higher and Deeper

I don’t know how she could have found out what last night’s post said, but I kind of thing Baby Dog viewed it as a challenge. This morning’s pre-daycare diaper went past baroque and approached the apocalyptic. I won’t got into great detail because I don’t want to scar Charles forevermore, but…well…she somehow managed to hit her shoulder. How’d it get up there?

Judy, no, nobody’s sick – at least, not anything worse than the residual effects of the cold we’re both still trying to shake, consisting mostly of sniffles. The little girl just seems to be generating waste quantities greater than the capacity of the diaper. Mama Dog suggested this morning that maybe we need to switch brands. They do seem to have containment problems. I can’t even remember why we stopped using cloth, but I sure miss it. For one thing, when the diaper gets out of control like that, you can always sop up the excess with another cloth diaper. Try doing that with another Huggie.

In other shit – how about that frothing nutcase and alleged “man of God,” Pat Robertson? My suspicion is that when he called for the assassination of Hugo Chávez, he was just following the consistent tendency of his confreres of the extreme wrong, namely getting his centuries mixed up. While wrong-wingers normally travel back in time to the nineteenth or eighteenth centuries, Robertson was taking only a short trip to the late twentieth, mistaking Chávez for Salvador Allende. If that’s the case, his bewilderment over the criticism he’s received is understandable; he was just articulating U.S. government policy in Latin America (ca. 1973).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Daddy at Home Day #3

Much time with Baby Dog today. Very fun but very tiring. Started the morning with a baroquely pooped-up diaper. Cleaned her, wiped her, put on a fresh diaper - then turned her over to snap up her garment and found she'd managed to send a geiser of faeces halfway up her back. Yikes! I look ardently forward to potty training. At least this saw to it that I did laundry today; I might otherwise have lolligagged.

I'd write more, but I've already utterly repulsed Charles for a good 24 hours, and it's time to get some shuteye anyway.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Still More Cases of Mistaken Identity

I would have mentioned this yesterday if I’d thought ahead and brought the book with met to scan, but… Baby Dog’s new favourite book is the board book of Hop on Pop – or, as she calls it, “HOP!” – the kind birthday gift of Anonymous Beantown.

When I get to this page:

Baby Dog unfailingly points at feisty young Jim and exclaims “Daddy!” I’m not sure what the association is there. The psycho eyes? The antisocial behaviour? Perhaps the dungarees? I think actually it might be the haircut, which resembles my recent buzz. Whatever the case, I can’t be too insulted because she also points at the weird prehistoric feline mutant looking thing and says “Woof!”

Furthermore: the other night, Baby Dog pointed at the armoire in her room and observed “Woof!” Puzzled, I looked where she was pointing and saw that the wood did indeed feature burls that looked kind of like a dog’s face; two black spots for eyes, a black spot for a nose, and swirly stuff around for a face. How about that? Our girl has an imagination!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Other People Baby Dog Has Pointed to Pictures of and Said "Daddy!"

I posted recently about the Al Franken incident. Since then, Baby Dog has also mistaken Raffi:

and the guy on the Adobe Acrobat box:

for her loving papa. I get Al Franken - it's the glasses - and Raffi - it's the beard - but the Adobe Acrobat guy? I don't even wear a tie! What's a bloke to do?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Dinner at One of Those Indian-Irish Places

Mama Dog wanted a meal out tonight, so we tried the new Oakland location of Khana Peena. It’s rather a strange spot for a restaurant, a Flatiron-type wedge in a spot that was for as long as I can recollect occupied by a liquor store. Mama Dog checked to see whether or not the place was baby friendly, and it was. They said there was already a baby there and we could sit next to it. We ended up at the narrow end of a wedge chatting with a lesbian couple and their five-month-old boy, who flirted ostentatiously with Baby Dog. Both babies were in good moods, so there really wasn’t much of a litmus test, but it did seem fairly baby-friendly. Best of all, the high chairs were brand new and not yet suffering from every conceivable shortcoming, as has been the case in most places we’ve tried. We ate, Mama Dog sharing her lamb curry with Baby Dog, and me ducking about with my back to the narrow path between tables. I recommend the cashew raisin golden naan.

The staff is an odd mixture. The head waiter was Indian, but all the waitresses seemed to be Irish, judging by their accents. After I was done eating, I shifted over to Mama Dog’s side of the table, the better to pacify Baby Dog, who was finally starting to head toward fussiness. I looked across the street and saw a group of layabouts out on the porch of their house, apparently staring in at the restaurant. One guy had his shirt off and was drumming on his stomach. Two other guys were shading their eyes, looking our way. It struck me that they looked Irish, too. Perhaps there’s some huge Irish family in the employ of this Indian restaurant chain, and they all live in this one big house off College Avenue?

While we were waiting for the cheque, Baby Dog really started to fuss, so I picked her up and walked her about outside. As we stepped out of the restaurant, I noticed that one of the waitresses was across the street at the layabout house, chatting animatedly with one of the layabouts. Then she seemed to realise she was supposed to be still working; she dashed across the street, almost getting hit by a car in the process. I heard her exclaim “Jaysus!” at the close call.

When she got to our side of the street, the waitress stopped short when she saw Baby Dog. She came over and asked how old, what’s her name, etc., etc., the usual questions. She opined that Baby Dog would be tall, given her height already at 14 months. “I’d take her on a date if I could,” she said in a thoroughly charming brogue. This was the first time Baby Dog had ever lived up to her alleged status as a chick magnet for me. But then she had to go and yell “Mama!” as Mama Dog was getting up from the table, so I didn’t have the chance to continue doing nothing whatsoever untoward.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hanging Out With the Little Kids (A Brief Sketch)

We had an anarchic playdate today with the Whippets and the Kenilus. We met at the new East Bay location of Caffe Trieste. Three couples, three babies, two of them only five months old. I’m sure the management and the laptop-gazing clientele were eager to see us leave from the moment we showed up. This was my first multi-baby playdate. Mama Dog is a veteran of lunches with five or six or seven babies in attendance, but for me it’s usually been just Baby Dog and Baby Pirate. It’s a different dynamic entirely; you have to look in three directions to figure out for sure which one’s crying. The Whippets and the Kenilus were both astonished by Baby Dog’s chattiness and mobility. I remember that. When you spend your day with a five-month-old, a fourteen-month-old looks like an astounding creature from an Outer Limits episode.

Nobody gave us the hairy eyeball about all the baby noise, which was nice. We were just there for a coffee. I had a slice of some really great zebra cake and an entire pot of Earl Grey tea. When I went to the sideboard to get milk for my tea, I was confounded to find pitchers containing nonfat, half and half, and soy, and nothing else. Nothing between nonfat and cream? Is the place patronised only by cadaverous supermodels and porky suburbanites? I had to wait in line to get some of the 2% waiting by the espresso machine behind the counter.

Baby Whippet and Baby Kenilu were born less than a week apart and their parents, who became friends when they discovered their congruent due dates at Baby Dog’s baek-il, have been working hard to ensure that their sons grow up to be best of friends from the cradle. Right now, their interactions seem to consist of being held face to face until one of them starts to cry, which might not be the best foundation for bosom budhood, but you do what you can until they become interactive. We’re still waiting for Baby Dog and Baby Pirate to truly grok one another.

After coffee, we all trooped over to San Pablo Park, where Baby Dog delighted both herself and the parents of the small children by swinging in a baby swing. “I can’t wait until he can do that,” Kenilu said of his progeny. I remember that, too. It used to seem incredible just to think that Baby Dog would one day hold her head upright. Now look at her.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Nine Months to Make, Ten Months to Categorise

We’re not going to Canada until Christmastime, so I figured that starting six months ahead of time was more than plenty for getting my passport renewed. I knew that before I got the passport, I had to get one of these newfangled Proof of Canadian Citizenship documents. These things didn’t exist last time I renewed my passport, so I’ve never had one, but I reckoned it couldn’t be that much more involved than getting a passport from out of the country. I’ve done that several times now, and am becoming quite a whiz at it.

As you know if you’ve been reading this faversham for a while, I decided I might as well get Baby Dog’s Proof of Citizenship at the same time. I dawdled a bit, but eventually had everything together: we had our photos taken, I made copies of all the necessary identification documents, had the photocopies notarised, filled out all the application forms, wrote a cheque for the processing fees, and sent the whole magilla off to the Consulate in L.A. with a handy tracking stamp on it. I sent it on a Thursday and got confirmation that it was received the following Monday.

This week, I received a package from the L.A. consulate. “That was quick!” I thought. I tore the thing open, and naturally it did not contain our Proof of Citizenship documents. It contained a receipt for my payment of the processing fees, which was nice. But it also contained our photos, sent back because I had failed to write the date they were taken and the name of the photo studio on the back. Okay, that was my oversight. I do remember seeing the instruction to do that and my only excuse is that I thought I saw a studio stamp on the back of the photos. I should have double-checked before sending, of course, but like I said, I was under a misapprehension.

The thing that cheesed me off – as my mom says when she’s really annoyed – was that they also said I had failed to send a copy of my green card. It’s true, I hadn’t sent one; but nowhere in the online instructions did it say I had to! I thought it was a strange omission in the list of documents, but was happy not to send it along. I always figure that if I’m not asked, my immigration status is my own business. I don’t see a need to volunteer.

So, I wrote the info on the back of the photos and made copies of the green card and got the copies notarised. Then I jotted a note on the rejection form they sent me and bundled the whole thing back up to send – and just as I was sealing the envelope, my eye was caught by a singular phrase. I pulled the form back out and looked again. Sure enough, it really did say at the bottom of the form that the minimum processing time was ten months! Ten! Months! There’s another thing they forgot to bring up in the online instructions.

I mailed the form and shot off an email to the consulate, asking if that processing time was accurate, because if it was, there was obviously no way I could have my passport in time for Christmas. I also talked with D the RSCG, a chap at the office who went through this process himself a while back. He confirmed the length of the processing time.

“That’s insane!” I said. “Why in this day and age would it take ten months to do anything?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “They can take over a country faster than that.”

And it struck me – it takes longer to get the child’s Proof of Citizenship than it does to make the child. Well, okay, it took us five years to do that, but I mean, most people.

I heard back from the consulate lady today. She says, yes, the ten month thing really is true, but I can get a temporary passport to travel under at Christmastime. She told me who to contact about that, and I’ll get on it next week. I’m going to step away from it for the weekend, though. I can’t believe that working on this six months in advance wasn’t enough.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Quickie Before Sleep

Mama Dog went with the pirates on a late playdate to Ah-Bee-TOE while I was out at a meeting with some guys about some stuff. After the playdate, they all went to dinner at Mel’s which, as it happens, was just a few blocks where I had my meeting. When I was done with the guys, I called Mama Dog and found she was still at Mel’s, so I hied thither. I was favoured with a very enthusiastic greeting from Baby Dog, who was playing very happily with a yellow balloon. This was her first balloon experience, though she had become familiar with the word “balloon” because there are balloons pictured on her toybox. The concept in action was very new to her, and she seemed thrilled with it, tugging at the string and bouncing the balloon here and there.

Very busy at home: Mama Dog bathed baby and put her to bed while I walked Doggy Dog, took out the garbage, put away the dishes, did my freelance work, and sent emails that couldn’t wait any longer. My head feels like the balloon Baby Dog was bouncing around (courtesy of the very second cold she gave me), and I really need to get some sleep. So nighty-night to you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Daddy at Home Day: "No!"

One of the words Baby Dog picked up in the last couple months is “Yes!” She started saying it as “Yesh,” which is how we habitually say it in homage to that cat in Mutts. When we realised we might inadvertently give our daughter a speech impediment, we started saying “Yes” very deliberately, but with similar emphasis. She says it exactly that way. “Yes!” It’s very charming.

Sometime in the last couple of days, she’s discovered “No.” That’s somewhat less charming. Today’s been a fussy eating day. At some point in each meal, she has thrown up a hand to block the spoon and exclaimed “No!” Perhaps this also is in homage to Mutts – a classic shnubbing. At lunchtime I invented a little song that helped get most of her food down. It goes like this: “Nummy nummy good food, num, num, num!” She was so delighted by my delivery that she didn’t notice I was still feeding her.

We had several conversations today that went a little like this: “Come on, have some more toast.” “No!” “Can you say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no?’” “No!” “Daddy liked when you were saying ‘yes’ all the time. Can you say that again?” “No!” “Are you sure?” “No!” “So you’re not sure?” “No!” “So maybe you might say yes again?” “No!” “Didn’t you just say you weren’t sure?” “No!” “Come on, I heard you say it, you said you weren’t sure. You want me to read you back the transcript?” “No!” And so on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Very Second Cold My Daughter Gave Me

Baby Dog's been suffering interrupted sleep the last few nights, likely because of her stuffy/runny nose. We've been suffering interrupted sleep as a consequence. This afternoon I started to notice the initial cold symptoms creeping up, and now sure enough my nose is running like a faucet, my throat's all scratchy, and the roof of my mouth is swollen all to hell. Sure enough. She's been in daycare for two weeks and the cycle of disease has begun.

We're going to watch a movie now. Night all.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Black Helicopters

It turns out that the police activity yesterday had to do with an armed robbery suspect being taken into custody. No meth lab, no hostage situation. I was just being a smartass when I said, “Maybe that’s just what they always say when they block off a street,” but now I wonder. It really seems like this is some sort of urban myth that spontaneously materialises in a neighbourhood to explain unexplained police activity.

The Papa Dog Decade

So, last night I was carrying Baby Dog in the kitchen when she announced “Daddy!” and pointed at the bookshelf. I’m still not positive, but I think she was pointing at the picture of Al Franken on the cover of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Well, that’s right, honey, we both wear glasses and we both despise (to employ a tautology) right-wing assholes, but other than that I don’t think the resemblance is very strong.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tranquil Family Walk Mixed with Police Activity and Growling

Mama Dog had a dog-walking date this morning with her predecessor at her new job, who is dogsitting an Akita-Shepherd – a mix very similar to Doggy Dog, who is Akita-Husky. At the last minute, we spontaneously decided to make it a family outing, so we suited up Baby Dog, broke out the stroller, and all headed out at the crack of 9:30, running just a little bit late. About two blocks from the rendezvous point, we noticed a police car – and then another police car – and then more police cars in the distance. As we neared the intersection, it became clear that the street between us and the rendezvous point was being cordoned off. A policeman was standing at his cruiser in the middle of the street, talking into a cell phone. He looked back our way, and I pointed questioningly to the right. He nodded and waved us that way. Detour. Mama Dog was flustered because she and her predecessor didn’t have one another’s cell numbers, and since we’d been running late anyway it looked possible we might miss them. The detour was around a very long block with no through streets, so it was going to take some time to backtrack to our rendezvous point. Overhead, a police helicopter circled relentlessly. Whatever was going on was no small potatoes.

We made it back up to the cross street we’d planned to meet on and squinted down the several blocks, looking for people with a dog. We couldn’t see anybody, but it was a bit of a distance and hard to be sure. Mama Dog thought they’d probably have gone on to the café. We almost went on, but then she spotted some people in the distance. I decided I should check it out, and went on ahead with Doggy Dog. Sure enough, after I’d gone a couple of blocks I could see they had a dog with a curly tail. I called Mama Dog and told her I’d found her friends. The police helicopter droned overhead.

We all walked on to the café together, the dogs taking appreciative sniffs at one another’s hindquarters and the people speculating about the police activity. If you believe the realtors, we live in Rockridge, which is unequivocally an upscale neighbourhood. We’re on the far outer reaches of Rockridge, true, but still, we don’t see stuff like this very often.

When we got to the café, relations between the dogs broke down, almost predictably. Doggy Dog gets restless when we stop like that on a walk anyway, but the presence of the other dog made things worse. When the other dog happened to get between Doggy Dog and the baby stroller, I had time to think “Oh, that’s not good,” and then growling ensued. We pulled them apart before it could turn into a fight, but I knew that having coffee with both dogs could only be a recipe for stress. I elected to bow out, and took Doggy Dog home. I’d already had enough of an outing anyway, and it was a longer morning walk than he usually gets.

Weird coincidence: when we were approaching the blockaded intersection, Mama Dog recalled how her boss had recently been late to work because the block she lived in (in Albany) had been cordoned after a police raid on a meth lab had turned into a hostage situation. On her return from coffee, Mama Dog had occasion to speak with several folks in the neighbourhood about the police activity. The story that emerged was that the police had raided a meth lab and it had turned into a hostage situation. Maybe that’s just what they always say when they block off a street. Don’t suppose I’ll ever know for sure.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Interrupted Sleep, Youngsters at the Passport Office, and Ah-Bee-TOE

Last night was the hardest one we’ve had in ages. Just a couplefew posts ago, I said something about how Baby Dog has been reliably sleeping through the night, so Doggy Dog has decided it’s his turn to wake us up in the wee hours. Well, last night Baby Dog woke up at 1:30 and didn’t go back to sleep properly until after three. Mama Dog and I took turns going into her room and trying unsuccessfully to get her to settle down and sleep. Nursing, rocking, shushing, singing…nothing worked. Thinking the culprit was teething pain – which seems likely – Mama Dog gave her some baby Tylenol, and that got her to stop screaming, but it was still another hour before she went to sleep. At wit’s end, Mama Dog brought her into our room to sleep between us. That looked for about a minute and a half like it would do the trick. Then Baby Dog started fidgeting, and the fidgeting turned into kicking, and the kicking turned into kicking and crying. “All this is doing is making sure that none of us can sleep,” I grumbled. I took Baby Dog back into her room and played the “Donald and Lydia” card. That finally did the trick.

In between all this, Doggy Dog got into the sleep preventing act. Whenever one of us would get out of bed, he’d whine to be let out. At one point…it’s a blur now, so I can’t remember if it was after Baby Dog was asleep or between attempts to get her there…we were lying in bed listening to his stomach churn and growl. “Is that me or him?” I asked, too tired to figure out where the noise was coming from. It was him. Mama Dog got up in the middle of the night to feed the dog, just so his stomach wouldn’t keep us awake any longer.

Happily, Baby Dog slept in until almost nine, and so did we. All’s well that ends well. Small mercies. Etc.

We had a pleasant morning in Berkeley. We went first to apply for Baby Dog’s American passport. The passport office is in the unlikely location of the Recreational Sports Facility on campus. I hadn’t been in that building since 1986 when – you’ll doubtless be shocked to learn – I played racquetball there on more than one occasion. Mama Dog and I agreed that it was fun going to such a student place again after so many years, seeing how the kids live their little student lives with their little campus jobs waving people into the gym and filing important government papers on our behalf. It took me back a couple of decades to when I was one of the young people populating the Berkeley campus (though not attending its classes).

After that, we went to Habitot, which is presumably pronounced like “Habitat,” only with an “o” instead of an “a” at the end, but we like to pretend it’s French and pronounce it accordingly – “Ah-bee-TOE.” The Pirates introduced Mama Dog to Habitot, taking her and Baby Dog along as guests. Mama Dog was so taken with it that she joined. This was my first time checking it out. It’s a wonderful play environment for little kids. There’s a room where kids can paint and model with clay, another where they can play with water, a gigantic toy ambulance, a pretend hospital, all sorts of stuff. As Papa Pirate points out, your kids make a complete mess and then you just leave without cleaning up. A parent’s dream!

There’s one area that’s specifically for infants and toddlers, so that’s where we took Baby Dog. Everything is padded, so it’s a great place to practice standing and walking. There are all sorts of toys and puzzles to play with. We had fun with a big mirror set at floor level in one of the bits of padded furniture. Baby Dog went right up to the mirror and I asked her who was in there. I meant for her to say her own name, but she said “Daddy!” and then kissed herself in the mirror. When she did that, she expanded her field of vision and saw Mama Dog. “Mama!” she added. Then she looked behind the mirror to see if we were all behind there. I thought she had the mirror concept down already, but I guess there’s still an element of mystery to it.

We played with one puzzle that I was particularly taken with, a wooden board featuring pictures of different farm animals. Each animal is a removable puzzle piece. When you put the piece back on the board, it makes the sound of the animal. Since Baby Dog is very keen on animal sounds these days, the puzzle seemed like it would be a big success if only we took it to someplace less filled with noisy children. Conveniently, the puzzle was on sale at the gift shop. I bought one to take home, where it did in fact go over very well.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Daycare, Kisses, Colouring, and Tree Slapping

End of the first week of Baby Dog in daycare. Went well. She loves it there. She has completely enchanted Mama Y, the daycare lady, who sends her home each day with high encomiums. Apparently Baby Dog speaks more, eats better, and sleeps longer than any of the other babies there. Mama Y can’t get over the fact that Baby Dog eats broccoli. That’s her mummy’s influence. She’s also quite impressed with Baby Dog’s recently developed ability to kiss not only stuffed animals but people. She now happily complies when I say “Give Daddy a kiss,” and as of the second or third daycare day has started kissing Mama Y goodbye. It’s going very well.

We had an end-of-the-week dinner out tonight at Rick & Ann’s which turned out to be kind of stressful because Baby Dog was a tad overstimulated. She was colouring with crayons for the first time, successfully making marks on a paper placemat provided by the restaurant. At first she just tentatively dotted on the paper. “She’s ready to do pointillism,” I observed. Then she started making sweeping lines back and forth. Then she started whipping the placemat off the table, looking at the back side, slapping it back down. I think maybe she thought it was like the Magna Doodle and was trying to erase it. She managed to stay more or less presentable through dinner, sharing our food and even getting a little taste of Daddy’s milkshake. She started to get unruly after Mama Dog ordered dessert, though, so I took her outside for a stroll along the block. I showed her how fun it is to slap trees, and she got into that. I also showed her the turtle-shaped bread in the bakery next door, and though turtles are one of the animals she recognises these days, I don’t think she got the resemblance.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Fake Sneezes and Doggy Diarrhoea

Baby Dog's new favourite joke: the fake sneeze. “Ah…ah…ah…ah…ahCHOO!” I don’t even remember why I did that a few days back, but it made her laugh. I did it a few more times and she laughed each time. Then she started imitating. “Ah-choo!” was her first stab at it. Then she decided that the build-up was the funny part, so she started saying “Ah…ah…ah…ah…” I switched things up on her a bit with the fakeout fake sneeze: “Ah…ah…ah…ah...ah…ahhhhhhh.” (Pause.) “AhCHOO!” That went over big.

Tonight, putting her to sleep was a bit of a task. She was surely tired but wanted to keep reading the owl book, keep saying “Mama!” to Fernando the llama, keep doing anything but go to sleep. She got a bit tantrummy. When she finally calmed down, I was rocking her in my arms, singing her “Donald and Lydia.” She was whispering something while I sang. It took me a minute to realise she wasn’t singing along. She was saying “Ah…ah…ah…ah….”

In other developments – despite the occasional bit of reluctance at bedtime, Baby Dog’s been reliably sleeping through the night for ages. Perhaps to make up for that, Doggy Dog has decided to be nocturnally restless. He’s become preoccupied with whatever might or might not be on the other side of the south fence at night, running up and down, jumping up on it and disturbing Mama Dog’s sleep. The other night he barked at nothing in the wee hours. It’s a little less dramatic most nights; he just decides to pace, clickety clacking around the hardwood floor, standing at the side of the bed, staring at us and panting. Last night he started whining to be let out around two a.m. and kept at it at irregular intervals until sometime around four I just left the back door open and tried to get the remainder of a night’s sleep. Most times when he whines like that in the night it’s to go after a cat, so I tell him to forget it and lie down. He was so persistent last night, though, that it must have been a more immediate concern. This caused a lot of worry when we left for work in the morning; if indeed he had the trots, would he be able to contain it for the length of a working day? Happily, the floor was unsoiled when Mama Dog returned. Pity a dog walker doesn’t fit in the budget anymore. Those were the days for Doggy Dog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Now I'm Gold-Toothed, Like a Rapper

So, two weeks ago when I got the temporary crown in, Dr. Kamunist told me that for the next week I should as much as possible chew on the other side of my mouth. The crown is on the left side and I’m naturally left-chewed, so it was a challenge, but the sort of challenge I seem to be well suited for. Dr. Kamunist said, “I know it’s not possible to do it 100%, but as much as you can,” so I took that as a challenge. I made a scrupulous point of always chewing on the unaccustomed side for the next week. I got so used to it that I continued doing it through the second week as well.

Today I got the permanent crown put in. Turns out this part of the procedure – in marked contrast to the temporary crown - doesn’t require anaesthetic and only takes about ten minutes to do. Zip, zip, in and out. When he was done, Dr. Kamunist said, “Don’t eat anything for about an hour, and for the rest of the day treat it the same way you did the temporary crown. Tomorrow, breakfast, you can eat normally.” “Sure,” I said.

Tonight at supper, the very first thing I did was pop a potato chip in my mouth and bite down on the left side, right on the crown. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Discreet Charm of the Commuterie

Worst sardine ride in a long time homeward bound on BART today. I’ve been trying to get out of the dirt farm earlier, and it was so slow today that I cut out before it was even 5:30, placing me on the train at peak commute hours. Faced with spiralling costs and dwindling ridership, BART has been shortening trains. Ten-car trains to the East Bay are full at commute time. For a long time we’ve made do with nine-car trains. Now they’re running eight-car trains at the absolute peak. From a cost-benefit point of view, this is presumably a sensible thing to do. From a customer relations point of view it is – oh, what’s the term? – full-blown lunacy. I heard the driver talking it over with an irate customer, explaining how cutting the cars saves X million dollars a month. This is no doubt accurate. But the operating costs are only half of the equation; loss of ridership is a huge issue. Take it from me, BART – forcing people to cram into overstuffed overheated cars with their noses wedged into one another’s armpits is not going to increase ridership. I rode for twenty minutes from Embarcadero to Rockridge literally smashed up against the doorway with people pressed on every side of me, my arm bent up and my neck twisted back, trying to read my book. It was like being in Japan, only with fat people. When the train got to Rockridge and my door opened, I had no room to bend down, so I just kicked my briefcase out onto the platform and jumped free, gasping for breath. It was a swell ride.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic public transit advocate than me. BART has been my principle mode of transportation for most of the past twenty years. Hell, I’ve long argued that private ownership of automobiles should be against the law. But after today, if there were a workable alternative for me, I’d be taking it. Listening to the people complaining in the car leads me to conclude we were pretty much all on the same page. I’m quite certain that most of them are slightly less extreme in their anti-auto zeal than I. There are probably more than a few who consider driving to work a viable alternative. Way to chase them back onto the freeway, BART.

Me, I’m stuck with you. The nearest Transbay bus stop is too far away and the casual carpool fills me with dread that I might have to make conversation with someone. But, damn. I’m never getting on an 8-car train at Embarcadero in rush hour again. Sorry, Mama Dog. I’ll have to ride back a few stops, get a seat, and be home twenty minutes later. If you were someone who wasn’t me, it would be enough to make you want to drive.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Yes, Nerf

Baby Dog is getting ever more mobile and finding new hazards to scare us with every day. With Halmonie leaving, babyproofing the kitchen jumped to the top of our to-do list. Perhaps that’s not immediately intuitive…without the extra minder, there are going to be more and more occasions where there’s nobody to watch Baby Dog in, say, the living room while, say, Mama Dog makes supper. Up til now we’ve been able to get away with leaving her in the playpen or the high chair in such situations, but now that she’s more mobile she really won’t be content with that. So…down to the basement with the 6’10” metal shelf full of CDs that always looked like it might tip over in a stiff breeze, let alone with a baby dangling from the second shelf trying to reach my Family Guy first season DVD set. The tricky thing was, through most of the basement the space from floor to ceiling is significantly shorter than 6’10”. It could only go in the garage room, where the floor is for some reason several inches lower, and there only in one particular spot where there’s no pipework along the edges. I was talking with my brother while I was measuring the shelves and the space in the garage. “Measure twice, cut once,” he said with his patented deadpan faux sagacity. Not really applicable when the shelves are made of steel, but that’s my brother. I did in fact measure twice, but I was dumb enough to do it in not exactly the spot the shelves were going, just to save myself the trouble of moving a box which I had to move later anyway. It turns out the floor of the garage slopes up slightly at the walls. There was no way in hell the shelf was going to fit snug against the wall. I got it as close as I could, and left it wedged tight against the ceiling. The good news there is that the only way they’ll fall over in an earthquake is if the roof collapses on top of them. Knock wood.

We still have a lot of work to do on the kitchen, but that’s a start.

Tonight the hazard room was the bathroom, where Baby Dog gave poor Mama Dog perhaps the biggest scare of her life by slipping while trying to stand up in the bathtub. She bonked her head on the faucet…which we now realise we have to put some padding on, stat…and ended up with a big bruise on her forehead. We were greatly worried about the possibility of concussion. We left a message for Dr. Chuck-Morris, and consulted the wisdom of Mr. Spock, who pretty much allayed our fears. Baby Dog did not lose consciousness and experienced no vomiting, which are two of the big danger signs. She played normally right after her bath, and seemed pretty much her usual self. She had a large display of crankiness just before bed, but that’s attributable to any number of other factors, including the new daycare situation and the departure of her beloved Halmonie.

Time now to cover the entire house in nerf.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Still Can't Seem to Stop

Halmonie's last night here, and by way of celebration and to make up for Mama Dog's gypping of the night before, I took everybody out to Fenton’s. There was a 20-minute wait for a table, which is always a tense thing when you have a small child with a looming cranky hour, but I managed to keep Baby Dog pacified through the wait by walking her around the lot and letting her look at parking meters, leaves, small dogs, and other points of burning interest. Also, she got to hold the restaurant beeper thingy for most of the wait.

We had decided this would be the night to give Baby Dog her first taste of ice cream. She's had almost no sugar so far, a taste of her birthday cake being about the extent of it. Tonight she had several spoonfuls of my dutch chocolate chip sundae and Mama Dog's banana sundae. When she tasted the banana ice cream, she at first grimaced as she does when fed anything cold, but then exclaimed "Nana!" Discriminating palate. Comes from the mother's side, I'm afraid.

The high point of the evening for her was when one of the wait staff called for attention and directed everybody to sing happy birthday to somebody named - I'm not making this up - O.J. Baby Dog was amazed and delighted that the whole restaurant full of people suddenly started singing the same song. She also quite enjoyed the clapping that followed.

Earlier today, I caught a matinee of Batman Begin. It was much much better than I expected, but I'm a little confused by the title. Unless I missed some pre-credit sequence, the movie had nothing to do with Menachem Begin.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Sissy Myth of Us

In the words of the man who couldn't stop, "Hmmm...can't seem to stop."

Since it's probably our last chance to see a movie together for a while, Mama Dog and I again took advantage of halmonie's baby sitting and went out to see Brownstein and the Confection’ry. Pretty much crap, though I did laugh at the bit where Grandpa Joe says, "Of course, I was a much younger man then." The best part was, we got in for free. We went to Bernardo's theatre, and although Bernardo's not there - he's off in Paris seeing if there's anything he can possibly do to lower France's opinion of the United States* - his boss happened to be working the ticket counter, and he refused to take my money. That was nice.

After, we tried to go to Fenton’s for ice cream, but they were hella crowded. We went instead to Dreyer’s which was not only not crowded but downright sleepy. After a lengthy ordering ordeal prolonged by the mumbling fuckwit behind the counter and the excessive volume on the shitty music playing in the store**, we settled on a rocky road sundae for me and some sort of chocolate monstrosity for Mama Dog. The mumbling fuckwit ran about like Larry Fine searching for Curly Howard to bump into for a few minutes, then came back with his supervisor, who explained that they stopped serving sundaes at 9 o'clock. Which the fuckwit didn't mention as soon as we started ordering sundaes because...? No wonder Fenton's is turning them away at the door and this place looks like ladies' night in the Kabul disco, ca. 2001.

We were there for ice cream, though, and ice cream we would have. I took it as a cue to order something I would never ordinarily order, so I decided for the first time in my life to try bubblegum ice cream. I had always thought it too ridiculous a flavour to even try, and I was right on that...but I can't completely call it repugnant. It was kind of pleasant after I got used to it. Though the little gumballs mixed into it are just plain weird. Do you eat them? Do you chew them? Do you spit them out in disgust? Hard to know which way to go.

Hey, I wasn't going to blog at all today, and here I've done a more thorough post than on many days when I really felt it was my duty to do better. Go figure.
*Short of mooning Versailles with an American flag painted on his ass, probably not.
**Delta Dawn, Helen Reddy, 1973. I mean, really.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Big Lebowski

Here it is, the Big Lebowski, so named at the suggestion of Mama Dog, who is alluding to that movie’s terminal position in my year-long movie streak of 1997-1998. You post for 365 days and what do you get? Another year older and (as it happens) slightly less deeply in debt.*

I have several things I’ve been meaning to write about all week, only to find myself too pooped to post in the evenings. Maybe, by way of anniversary celebration, I’ll pop back in to do those posts later tonight. In case not, I’ll stick with this one.

It’s been a slow day at the dirt farm, so I’ve had the chance to TCO a little B. When I vanished briefly this morning to make a field trip to the post office, I passed by the daycare on the ground floor of my building. A passel of three-year-olds was being taken out for a perambulation round the plaza. There was a teacher at the front and teacher at the back and in between a line of kids all holding on to a curious kind tether – a rope with padded hand grips at regular intervals. Each child had hold of one of the grips, and the teachers held the ends of the rope. They shuffled along together like a tiny little chain gang. I smiled, because that’s what I do when I see children nowadays. I can’t help it. If they’re smaller than Baby Dog, I think “I remember when she was that size,” and I smile. If they’re about the same size as Baby Dog, I think “Baby Dog’s about that size,” and I smile. If, as in this instance, they’re bigger than Baby Dog, I think, “One day she’ll be that size,” and I smile. A few steps later, the smile froze and the warm fuzzies were replaced by a sense of obscure loss. It took me a minute or two to puzzle it through. I was, I realised, saddened by the thought that Baby Dog would one day – and soon – be part of such little mass movements of children…larger and larger ones as time goes on. Up until now she’s occupied the centre of a very small universe. As of next week, she’ll spend her weekdays being one of three little girls cared for by trained professionals. Before long, she’ll be part of a larger group of two- or three- or four-year-olds. Then she’ll be one of a kindergarten class, then one of progressively larger classes and pools of children. Then, eventually, she’ll be the sort of anonymous city dweller that most of us become, with nobody to impress upon her on a daily basis that she is the little miracle of her parents’ greatest hopes.

Of course, all that’s called is growing up and entering society. It’s what happens. We’ve kind of known that all along, even before she was conceived. But still…it’s hard to imagine her ever being just one of the kids in the line.
*Made regular mortgage payments, never ran a balance on the credit cards.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Limping to the Finish Line

You'd think, as I near the one year anniversary, I'd be making an extra effort to be sure I had time to post every day, and something to say. You'd think I'd be building towards some sort of anniversarial crescendo. You'd think.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


So, the forms are in the mail. In an unspecified number of weeks, Baby Dog and I should receive our certificates proving our Canadian citizenship. Then I can get my passport renewed and she can have a special extra status to make her feel superior to her little classmates until they all find out that Loverboy came from Canada too.

Tomorrow is test day #2 at the daycare, so we’ll once again be on a tight morning schedule. Must get a bunch of stuff done before I sleep, so I’ll have to leave it at that for today.

Friday's the one year anniversary. Be sure to vote in the dumb poll by then.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Baby Dog Meets Kittycat

Baby Dog’s first day in daycare went just fine. She cried when Mama Dog dropped her off, but that’s to be expected. Soon she was playing and having a good time. The daycare ladies pronounced her “very independent,” meaning I guess that she’s happy entertaining herself. That reminds me of me as a child. For now it’s good, but I hope she doesn’t turn grow to be as shy and self-absorbed as I was within a few years of her age.

Halmonie wanted to take us out to dinner to celebrate the successful first day. The choices were Cha’am (paul, you had dinner with us there once) and Shen Hua. Since baby seating at Cha’am is so impractical, I cast the deciding vote for Shen Hua, greatly pleasing Halmonie (who’s not too keen on Thai).

We wanted to beat the dinner rush as much as possible, so we resolved to leave immediately. Of course leaving “immediately” with a small child translates into what I would otherwise call leaving “in a while, when we get around to it.” Baby Dog was actually ready to go, but there’s all manner of bustling and packing that goes on before we depart – I’m really not clear on what all of it is – so we had a little time to kill. I took her outside for a look around the immediate environs, and I spotted a cat sprawled on the sidewalk in the next block. “Look, a kittycat!” I said to Baby Dog, who squinted uncertainly in the direction I was pointing. The problem with real animals is that they don’t tend to look much like their children’s book representations, especially from a distance. I decided to give her a closer look, and strolled across the street.

I have certain methods of approaching a strange cat, mainly involving saying “pss pss pss” (which would be “Puss Puss Puss” abbreviated) and “kitty kitty kitty (self-explanatory), waggling my fingers, and trying in general to approach slowly and from a low altitude. Knowing that Mama Dog would be out and ready to go at any moment, I couldn’t really approach that slowly, and with Baby Dog in my arms I couldn’t really get down comfortably to a low altitude, but I still managed to transfix the cat, drawing its attention without causing it to bolt. All the while, I kept reminding Baby Dog that we were now looking at an actual live kittycat, but she still seemed unconvinced.

When we were close enough, I squatted down and waggled my fingers and the cat came over for a sniff. It touched its nose to my index finger. “See?” I said to Baby Dog, “it’s a kittycat.” The cat stretched up on its hind legs and rubbed its face against my hand. “Ufff,” Baby Dog said tentatively. That's her dog bark sound. “No, not a doggy,” I said. “It’s a kittycat.” All at once, a light clicked on behind her eyes and she smiled. “MAO!” she bellowed, and the terrified cat streaked away down the street. “That’s right,” I told her. “Kittycat says ‘meow.’” She’s still yet to hear one say that. But now I think she knows what the real deal looks like.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My Arms Feel Like They're Ready to Fall Off

Mikef told me early on in Baby Dog’s life that when you have kids, you get really strong arms. I saw pretty quickly what he meant, lugging the child around in the carrier seat and all – the seat adds a whole bunch of extra pounds, and you just can’t take the infant anywhere without it. Somewhere along the line, though, a comfort zone got attained. Baby Dog outgrew the carrier seat, and as she started to spend time on the floor, there was less constant carrying involved. When she outgrew shushing and graduated to being rocked to sleep, the arms got a break too.

In recent weeks, though, the rocker has lost its efficacy, and in a strange little regressive twist, the only thing that gets her to sleep at night is being rocked in my arms. When she weighed ten pounds, that got tiring after a while. Now she’s almost 23 pounds. Rocking her to sleep entails holding that 23 pounds in front of me with my arms locked at chest height for ten, fifteen, however many minutes it takes to get her to doze off. It’s like one of those Final Three Survivor challenges where they have the players stand on one foot on a fencepost until one of them falls off. Now there’s an idea for a reality show – Survivor: Newborn. Lock a bunch of childless singles in a house and make them take care of an infant. Last one to flee is a millionaire.

Changes will continue to abound. Tomorrow is Baby Dog’s first day in daycare. Halmonie is still here to smooth the transition, but we’re going to treat tomorrow morning as a dry run to see how we handle a new morning routine. We’ve drawn up a schedule for the hours from 6 a.m. to Mama Dog’s 8 a.m. departure time. The schedule is probably wildly optimistic, but we’ll see how it goes in practice and make refinements as necessary. Every week a new adventure.