Sunday, March 24, 2013

Some Thoughts on Child Rearing

Although I would not recommend it, one could go back and reread all of the blogs I have posted on this blog and others and would find that the only real theme in my posts is that I only come to understand the actions of others and myself long after those actions have occurred.  This was pithily summed up on a wall hanging in my grandparents' bathroom that said:

You are too soon old and too late schmart.

This wall hanging contained the accumulated wit and wisdom of hard-working Baueren und Landwirte from Deutschland.  Because it was in the bathroom, I had plenty of opportunities to read it, and it has stuck.  And now that Ada is around, it is more true than ever.

But, notwithstanding the fact that I learn everything too late, here are a few nuggets I have picked up as a parent.

People say it is impressive that babies can pick up language so easily, but, in reality, it is their lives that are so easy and this makes learning language simple.  If an adult did not have to do anything all day -- including feeding one's self and dealing with bodily functions -- I know that adult could learn French in no time.  I have gone over scores of words with Ada REPEATEDLY and she is only now getting them.  Babies are great, but let's not go too far.

That said, Ada is doing very well with learning English. (She is doing terribly at learning German!  I tell her each day: Ich heisse Ada. Wie gehts?  But nothing sticks!)  Anyway, I heard her say her first complete sentence to me the other day, which, unsurprisingly, was a critique of my parenting skills.  While I was carrying her to the grocery store, she clearly said: "I can walk." I immediately put her down, at which point, she tried to run into traffic.  She is duplicitous, but I like it.

During that same trip, I put her in a shopping cart that has a little "car" on the front of it.  She enjoyed it, but even when we were done, she would not get out.  She was just sitting in it in a cart corral.  I was stymied in luring her out, so I had to tempt her with pizza.  That worked, but then I had to buy her pizza.  She is duplicitous, but I like it.

I took her swimming yesterday, and she did very well with going under water.  In the past, she had cried, but she was learning to close her eyes and mouth while under.  I was relating this to Kat later, and I said that I was able to hold her under water for up to a second without getting any crying on re-entry.  Kat was a bit, to use her word,"judgy" about me holding Ada under water, but I told her I just want to "stretch" Ada.  We'll see if Child Services understands what it means to "stretch" a child.

Even though I clearly am a first-class parent, there are some quandaries for which even I have no answer.  One that currently bedevils me is the proper response when people think Ada is a boy.  This happened three separate times yesterday at the library and happens regularly.  I think Ada clearly looks like a girl, but I can also remember many times in my life when I looked at babies and was not sure.  My technique was to use non-gender specific language to refer to the child, like "What a cute baby!" or "Look at that little monster" or "It's Pat!"  Other people, however, are not doing that.  I'd like Ada to be as tough as any boy, but I'd also like her to be referred to properly.  My technique is to just ignore this rather than correct people.  But I do not know if this is good or not.

Other impressive Ada feats: stacking things up and then saying "Too high" as it falls down; falling down the stairs; helping us buy a new house; watching the Muppets very intently, and, my personal favorite, drumming perfectly in time whenever Proud Mary by CCR is played.

I like watching the old Muppets shows with Ada. Some of it was pretty subversive.  Yesterday, Ada and I watched as Peter Sellers, in a not-even-thinly veiled impersonation of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele (complete with Hitler mustache) gave an evil massage to an unwitting pig.  It was hilarious and disturbing.  Ada now knows more about World War II, though, so I think it was helpful.

The uninteresting foregoing stores are all very reminiscent of what happens when there is a comedian that you like who has children and then his or her entire set is now about babies.  Everyone hates that, but I have fallen prey to the same disease.  I know people came to this blog to read my sharp takes on the world of sports or the books I'm reading, but now its Ada Ada Ada.  I hear you loud and clear, and the rest of the blog will be thankfully Ada-free.

College basketball is basically backyard fights at this point.  I don't think it is even watchable.  However, for some reason, my opinion that the NBA is in absolutely every way superior is not accepted by many people I meet.  If a certain baby I know and I end up watching college basketball (like if the remote breaks) I remind this certain baby that this is an inferior brand of basketball, but, you know, any port in a storm.

But I filled out an NCAA bracket nevertheless.  My theory for the bracket was that the most annoying storylines are bound to happen, so I need to predict them in advance.  This was the thought experiment: What is the most grating thing that Jim Nantz could repeat ad nauseam until I want to stab my own ears and eyes?  I decided it has to be Indiana winning the title as Nantz tells me for the thousandth time that Tom Crean is Jim and John Harbaugh's brother-in-law and that the Harbaughs faced each other in the Super Bowl (because, of course, I forgot that).  The Super Bowl was even on CBS this year, so it all fits in a beautiful, terrible way.  So when you are seeing repeated Harbaugh crowd shots, remember who told you first. 

My bracket is doing terribly, however.  I thought an Indiana-Butler regional final would be really annoying (and thus occur) because it's an in-state battle, would have constant Brad Stevens pharmaceutical mentions, Harbaugh crowd shots, past Butler near misses, and blah, blah, blah.  Well, that is not happening, but a man can nightmare, can't he?

Shout-out to Owen Gautreaux, the manliest Gautreaux yet.

I'm reading The Help because I'm a Midwestern housewife in 2008 apparently.  It's been a long slog.  If only I had someone to assist me in finishing it.  Oh well.