Catherine Connors is a mother, writer and recovering academic who traded the lecture hall for the playroom and discovered that university students and preschoolers have much the same attention span. She still dips her toes into academic waters by writing the occasional scholarly article about the place of motherhood in Western philosophy, but mostly now she changes diapers and wipes noses and indulges in long reflections on whether Yo Gabba Gabba is a harbinger of the decline of western civilization. Oh, and she blogs: in addition to Bad Mother blogging at BeliefNet, she is, among other things, the author of HerBadMother.com, Managing Editor of MamaPop, moderator of Her Bad Mother’s Basement, co-founder and co-editor of WeCovet, Contributing Editor at BlogHer, and (deep breath) founder of and contributor to Canada Moms Blog. And in her spare time… oh, wait. She doesn’t have spare time. But she’s okay with that.
As has been well-documented in these virtual pages, Baby’s best friend and Head of Security (Toy Detail) has, for some weeks now, been Whoozit. Baby and Whoozit have been inseparable, and Whoozit has been an integral part of Baby’s governing regime. Whoozit stands guard while Baby plays with the Barnyard Posse, for example, and he screens all new toyz that come into Baby’s ‘hood. More recently, Whoozit’s power had been growing, as Baby began consulting him more frequently on matters pertaining to law and order in the nursery (1).
Tell me, Whoozit…
… who can I trust?…
… Really? I too think that the NanaDoob is working against us (2) …
… Can you take her?
Whoozit had also recently taken on the role of Baby’s personal trainer, and they had been working on her arm strength. This is where the trouble began.
The other day, they were in the middle of a session, working the right arm, then the left, with several breaks for Baby to suck on her hands, when Whoozit said something (I don’t know exactly, because I can’t hear him (3)) to the effect of: “The time has come, Grasshopper, for you to take on your master.” Then he challenged her to an arm wrestle.
The struggle was long, my friends, and Baby lost her footing – er, handing? gripping – many times along the way. But – wait for it – she won.
Whoozit was pulled, by two of his many arms, from his perch on the play-arch, and crashed to the ground.
And Baby burst into tears.
They were, I think, the tears that come when one realizes, inevitably, that one’s heroes are not invincible; tears that we all cry when we discover that those we considered to be strong, to be our protectors, are, at the end of the day, human-all-too-human (or whoozit-all-too-whoozit) and, so, limited, and vulnerable.
It was a sad day, but an important one. Baby grew up a little, that day. And it is a day that will come again, when she realizes that her parents, too, are only human, and not the amazing superhero wonder-people that she no doubt currently believes us to be. Barring greater tragedies, God willing, that will be the saddest day, but probably the most important, of her childhood. It will, I expect, mark the end of her childhood.
Whoozit, BTW, was immediately fired.
Footnotes! Now you’re in for it!(4)
1) I use the term ‘nursery’ loosely, as a catch-all to refer to Baby’s general territory. Baby, in fact, only occasionally sees her nursery, as she sleeps in Mommy and Daddy’s room and spends her days in whatever room Mommy is in. The toyz, of course, follow Baby. So, really, it’s all her turf now, and so we might as well call the whole damn house ‘The Nursery.’
2) The NanaDoob recently, of her own accord, expanded her security portfolio to include a language-monitoring detail, having decided, it seems, to restrict languages spoken in The Nursery to just one, English. This would not be a problem, were it not for the fact that Baby is fond of two French storybooks, which are read aloud to her in, yes, French. (Yes, I am that kind of mother. I am reading to my baby in French. Why? Because I can. And, because I need something to offset the wussy-assed Attachment Parenting impulses that I can’t shake (5). I’ll address the issue of my overfunctioning Mommy-geekness some other time, when we can all sit down and establish what ‘anal’ really means, other than ‘of or pertaining to the bumhole.’) Anyway, the NanaDoob has been protesting the French LOUDLY and occasionally nipping at my elbow while I read. I don’t know. Maybe she disagrees with their politics? She’s pretty conservative…
3) Funny, but while the Husband has voiced concerns about my swaddle rants being possible early indicators of post-partum psychosis, and has stated that he finds it weird when I address him directly in these posts (“it makes it seem as though we never speak in person”), he does not seem to find it at all strange that I have anthropomorphized all of Baby’s toys and ascribed to them personalities and language. Memo to husbands/partners/co-livers/whatever who are also new daddies: ranting about baby-related challenges is not a sign of impending insanity. Nor are efforts at direct communication, even if these occur over the Internet. Constructing an alternate parallel universe where your child’s toys and pets have military and governmental posts may, however, be such a sign. MAYBE. In my case, however, it is not. Note that I said that I cannot hear Whoozit. If I could hear Whoozit (and if I could, he’d be crying about losing his job, poor guy) – which I CAN’T – then I might be crazy. But I can’t, so I’m not, so there. (You hear that Honey? I’M FINE.)
4) I am a footnote FREAK. Exhibit A – this footnote, which is a footnote to the footnote heading. I had, like, 200 footnotes in my dissertation proposal. I’ve lost count of how many are in my (as-yet-UNFINISHED) actual dissertation. I LOVE footnotes. It didn’t occur to me to use blog footnotes until I saw Jezer do it on her blog (Note – and note that I am not so cheeky as to actual footnote a footnote – I continually reference Jezer because a) I love her blog, and b) she’s the only person who comments on my blog and so the source of the only evidence I have that anyone other that Hubbie actually reads this.) Which caused all footnote hell to break loose.
5) Exhibit B – a footnote to a footnote! Apparently I am that cheeky! (Or, as my Husband is probably thinking right now, losing my mind). Anyway, what I wanted to say here was – prior to the birth of Baby, I was ADAMANT that I was going follow some very strict parenting principles, beginning with MOMMY (and Daddy, sort of) WILL BE THE BOSS. There was going to be a schedule. Baby was going to sleep in her own room. Toys and gear were going to be vetted according to Mommy’s aesthetic standards. No out-of-control demand feeding, no ‘babywearing,’ no co-sleeping, NONE OF IT. Well, that lasted about, oh, zero minutes. Baby is the boss. That’s it. HOWEVER, there remains one small corner of this new Baby-centric world that I can unilaterally impose my will upon, and that is the corner that is her intellectual development. And I cling, obsessively, to that.
Originally posted at Her Bad Mother, 2006. Copyright Catherine Connors 2006 – 2009.