b Papa Dog's Blog: (Truthfully, She's Already More Socially Adept than I Ever Have Been)

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Sunday, October 30, 2005

(Truthfully, She's Already More Socially Adept than I Ever Have Been)

We talk often about who Baby Dog looks like. I always say she looks like Mama Dog, because she does. The day she emerged from the womb I thought her the spit and image* of her mother. Mama Dog sees me in the baby. She says she has my eyes, my eyebrows, my hands and feet. We agree that the nose is a combination; my bridge, her nostrils. On the way home tonight from dinner at the Pirates’, Baby Dog was in a happy mood. She was making clicking noises, imitating our imitation of clopping horse feet. I looked back and she had a big, open-mouthed baby grin on her face, and smiling eyes. She looked just like a photo I have of myself as a baby, grinning that way. “She looks like me,” I said, possibly the first time I’ve ever said that out loud. “I always think she looks like me when I was a baby when she grins like that. “That’s funny,” Mama Dog said, “I always think she looks like me when I was a baby when she grins like that.

I see myself in Baby Dog more strongly through attitude than appearance. Tonight there was a moment when I was alone with Babies Dog and Pirate. I got talking to Baby Pirate, going through a picture book and asking her to identify different things in it. Socks, airplane, clown, clock, puppy. It’s the sort of thing I do with Baby Dog every day, but she’s my daughter and that’s my purpose in life. With Baby Pirate, it was just conversation. While we had our conversation, Baby Pirate and I, Baby Dog went on happily playing, absorbed in the plastic castle she’d come across. She chattered to herself and didn’t look up at us once.

It struck me later that I might have been looking at myself as a baby through a time-travel telescope. I remember that so well; playing by myself, focused on the stories I told in my head, entertaining myself in the midst of whatever other activity might be going on. When I went to kindergarten, it didn’t occur to me even to try to play with the other kids. They were a redundancy. Baby Dog has that inward tendency, that focus on her own little fancies. I know it to be a mixed bag, as personality traits go. I don’t think I’d be any kind of narrative writer now if I hadn’t learned to play that way when I was a kid. But I also don’t think I would have spent so many years being a truly lonely adult if I hadn’t always been so inwardly directed. So there’s another thing to watch, and to ponder, as she grows older.
*Yes, that’s actually the original idiom.


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