If this blog did not already have a fabulously witty title, I would name it stopjudgingme.net. Because I am tired of you people looking at me slitty-eyed when you see my baby playing with sharp objects, priceless electronics, and used drug needles, is what. Here are the toys floating around my baby’s bathtub this very minute: a glass wine stopper, an empty insulin dispenser, and a plastic dinosaur. Care to guess which toy he doesn’t give a milk-filled shit about?
Here’s the thing: unless your baby is exceptionally stupid, he knows what things you play with, and what things you don’t. Unless you are exceptionally stupid, you are not spending hours staring intently at a plastic dinosaur. Fuck that shit, give him the shiny box with the big round button on it that is always glued to your hand. Anything you touch and play with has value. (And by the way, no he is not fooled by your two-minutes’ feigned fascination with his plastic farm animals. Fuck you.)
Babies value our things because they value us. They trust us to read and interpret the universe for them. They want to be with us, and on us, pretty much 24/7. The only way you are going to get a baby to not be interested in your things is if you get a baby to not be interested in you, and you can get a head start on that by holding and interacting with your baby as little as possible, I guess. There are plenty of days when that seems like an acceptable solution to me.
Of course, none of us prefer developmentally appropriate toys, truth be told. My husband has a thing for coonhounds, the more beautiful, fleet-footed, and witless the better. I can’t think of a worse dog for him. Coonhounds like to run; my husband’s two speeds are amble and stroll. Coonhounds need space; we live in a crowded neighborhood. Coonhounds like to pretend they can’t hear you when you tell them not to race into the truck barreling toward them; we live next to a busy road. If we need a dog at all, with four kids and a crazy chaotic life, we need Nana, or a fat sedentary Labrador who can pick up the kids’ socks, not some high-maintenance bouncy fuckwit. But what can I say, my husband loves them. If he were to stick with developmentally appropriate, he should acquire a basset hound, but the only basset we have ever owned he loathed as a useless, graceless lump.
|She is very pretty. She's staring into space because she barely has the neurons to swallow.|
Anyway, developmentally appropriate is completely over-rated. I’m not a developmentally appropriate match for my husband either – high-strung, overly verbal, and emotionally needy, I am the human equivalent of the coonhound. What more could an older, solitary man with Asperger’s possibly want? Like his beloved redbones, my husband might not understand me, but he does love to watch me run around chasing my tail.
Wanting what is not essentially good for you is pretty much the definition of the human condition. If my son could understand me, I would tell him this: Son (I would say) your whole life, people are going to try to persuade you that the plastic farm animals are what you really should play with, the Lab is what you should own, the nice safe girl from church youth group is who you should date. Screw ‘em. You can’t be safe all the time. It’s not that I want something to happen to him. But as Dory reminds us, if nothing ever happens to you, well. . . then nothing will ever happen to you.
It’s true, most of my parenting wisdom was acquired from Finding Nemo. It taught me everything I need to know about life: your mom’s gonna die, your dad’s best gay friend is never gonna marry him, sometimes creepy older guys with facial scars have important things to teach you, and in the end, you’re probably gonna have to figure out how to save your own damn self. Oh, and always – always – touch the butt.
And now I have to go pry that sashimi slicer out of Sharkbait’s hands.