Saturday, January 22, 2011

Try Not to Hurt Anybody I Like*

An enormous box of infant clothes found its way to 4242 this week. It has dozens and dozens and dozens of little outfits and they are all adorable and pretty and precious. Baby clothes can really only be one adjective: the four-letter c-word, but I try to keep it out of my writing for obvious reasons.

It’s pretty cliché to say that looking at those clothes, which all are for boys but great nonetheless, made this whole baby thing “real,” but that was sort of how it felt. [1] Obviously, it is both exciting and scary to contemplate caring for this little life yadda yadda yadda [2], but what interests me most -- other than what (spoiler alert Terrence!) this little girl is going to be like -- is whether I will really change all that much. I have been the same person for almost 30 years, and while I have literally grown quite a bit, I don’t see myself as all that different from a younger version of me. I think the same things are funny, I spend way too much time thinking about sports, and I like reading books. I fully expect this kid will change me greatly; that is undeniable. But I am interested to find out in what way. I am more interested in meeting the little person, but, in a nod to the self-interest we all have but conceal with varying degrees of success, I want to know what it will mean for me! [3]

People I know with offspring warn me about how many Disney movies I will watch and how conversant I will become regarding the minutiae of princesses, but I have a hard time envisioning that. However, I remember being younger and having a hard time envisioning having two dogs and an iPhone (obviously, this is not too surprising considering dogs hadn’t been invented yet!). But what I really mean is this: can I hijack this child’s life to teach it to like only things I like? And, if yes, is that a good idea? The likely answers are no and no, and that is probably for the best.

Today, Kat and I were discussing whether you could keep a little girl from liking pink. She said it was not possible, and I agreed. Unless you resort to offensive scare tactics or manufacture childhood trauma [4], I think there is nothing you can do. But I guess what makes it exciting is that you get to watch as a little person becomes who she is. That seems wonderful to me, but I also know she has to overcome her DNA. However, I think she can do it.

In addition to this pile of baby clothes, Kat bought a car seat, which I guess means the kid will be quickly shepherded into our brave new world of frightening motility and devastation of natural resources in the name of “being somewhere.” [5] It just means the kid can ride in the car -- apparently, as a baby this was the only way to make Kat fall asleep, so hours of driving around aimlessly may be in our future -- and be safe while doing it. Kat’s mom also sent a very nice dress for the kid. It seems so small, but I guess she will be able to wear it for up to a week. That will be a very pretty week.

I don’t know anything about childen. I don’t know anything about girls. I don’t know anything about girl children. But I’m very excited to be a part of this project! [6] I hope to catalog how it goes. In thinking about what is to come, I lean on the mantra from The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit:

It doesn’t really matter.
Here goes nothing.
It will be interesting to see what happens.

While I don’t know if I always agree with the first part (rather than child-raising, the titular character would say his mantra before jumping out of a plane as a paratrooper in WWII), I definitely agree with the last two. I do have a good attitude toward the baby, and it definitely will be interesting to see what happens!

* As a bit of an occupational hazard, I now cannot operate without footnotes. Blogger does not really support them, so I made my own. Yay footnotes!

[1] I think personal blogs exist solely for the creation of clichéd writing. After all, things only become cliché because they are universal. S o, the moral is: just because something is cliché doesn’t mean it cannot have meaning or be resonant. Anyway, back to the clichéd stuff.

[2] This is just too cliché to even discuss. In its place, I give you this great Paul F. Tompkins joke about people who say that they know the first time they hold their child that they will do anything for her:

“Let’s say you know 100% beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’d take a bullet for your child. Let me ask you this: why are so many people trying to assassinate your baby?

[3] My mother will probably use this as further proof of my -- and this is a direct quote -- “bad attitude towards this baby.” I think I have a more realistic attitude than some others, but per usual, we agree to disagree.

[4] “That’s why you always leave a note!”

[5] This sentence actually was stolen from Noam Chomsky’s blog about his grandkids: “NoamPa.”

[6] Similar to Dr. Peter Venkman.