08-29-13 - Baby baby baby

I backed our car into our stroller last week. I felt like a real dad.

Baby is starting to entertain herself more. She's learning to grab at things, so we can put some objects in front of her and she'll flail her zombie-like arms at them for a while. She concentrates so hard, trying to get her hands to do what she wants. Thank god for small bits of relief. It's so damn exhausting playing with her. The first ten minutes are great fun, but then it just keeps going, and going, and going.

My sister is visiting with her toddler-age kids. Holy shit what a handful they are. On the one hand, I prefer playing in the yard and such activities over constantly walking baby around, but on the other hand they are just so chaotic. The standard idea that you take the kids to the park to "tire them out" seems counterproductive to me; we ran around for hours (or rather they ran around and I sat and watched) and I got tired out, and they were just ready for more destruction.

Baby laughed out loud for the first time recently. Sometimes she's just so happy, it's like impossible not feel good, even when you're exhausted and pissed off. Sometimes when she sees me she bursts into this huge smile and is so happy that her limbs just shoot out, and that delays my suicide plans for another day.

I diminished my child for the first time recently. Surely not the last time. I really don't want to do that.

We went to this party for new parents (a sort of masochistic exercise in awkwardness) in PEPS. Baby Bloom was just doing her usual routine, standing and proto-walking and waving her arms around, being super alert. Seeing the other babies made me aware how unusual she is; they all just chill out and sit in their parents arms with a glazed look on their eyes; BB is constantly active needing stimulation, almost never calm. Anyway, the other asshole parents see BB walking and interacting and they get all competitive, they start standing up their wobbly babies or putting them on the tummy and saying "my baby is almost crawling" blah blah. Jesus christ you assholes, the babies are not competing, they are innocent, they're just being themselves, don't put your fucking low self esteem issues on your child already.

(I'm as uptight as the next person, but one thing I have never tolerated is adults putting their shit onto children. Both the parents and 3rd parties. For example castigating them when they aren't doing anything wrong. Like if you set up a picnic in a park and some kids run around disturb you and you're like "fucking kids" , WTF you're in a park, it's a perfectly valid place for kids to go nuts, you are scum. A few months ago we stopped at some road-side place, and there was a line for the bathroom because a young kid was going and taking a long time, and some asshole adult was complaining about how long he was talking; jesus christ the kid is barely potty trained, you should be stabbed in the nuts.)

So anyway, with the new parents getting all intimidated by BB, I just reflexively diminished her. I spit out something like "oh, it's just instinct, she doesn't know what she's doing [talking about her walking]; and she's just terrible at tummy time" and "oh, it's really a curse, she just never chills out and sits still", trying to downplay her amazingness. It's just automatic for me to do that; I've been diminishing myself for most of my life, trying to fit in, not seem too cocky, pretending that I don't actually know everything about everything and that I'm not better at almost everything than almost everyone.

Well fuck, I don't want to do that to my child. I've been trying very actively from the beginning to not push her to learn anything, to not measure her progress or know where she is developmentally or where she's supposed to be. I just want her to be herself and do what she can do without feeling judged about it. But she's amazing and if you're intimidated by that you can go commiserate with the other losers who will inevitably team up against us and put us down behind our back to make themselves feel better.

(and the whole idea that your baby should be precocious and advanced is so retarded. Let the baby take its time learning things and experience each phase of life. Walking or talking early or whatever it is they're obsessed about is not going to make your child happier or more successful. As someone who progressed through everything in life very quickly let me tell you, it's not an advantage.)

In other news...

I love having a crying baby. When she's really bawling, I like to take her out in the yard or take her on a walk. I feel none of that mortification that I'm disturbing anyone, that I have to hide my baby away. I mean, I wouldn't take her to a fancy restaurant or a movie (wtf are some of your parents thinking?), but around the neighborhood, hell yeah I get to make some noise for once and I don't feel bad about it at all. I've been listening to your fucking lawnmowers, weed-whackers, pressure washers, constant home-improving, car alarms because you're too fucking incompetent to get in your own vehicle without setting it off, car locks that go beep or honk, unmuffled motorcycles, cell phone conversations outdoors, fucking bluetooth conversations in restaurants and elevators. All you fuckers can listen to my crying baby now. She's just being a natural baby, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Suck it.

Our homestead is pretty high maintenance; between the chickens, the cats, the big yard, the aging house, there's several hours of work to do every day. Before baby it was kind of fun. You've got to do something with your day, it's nice to just walk around the home and do some chores, I was enjoying it. Now that baby is here it seems like a huge fucking pain in the ass and a terrible situation. I have no hours to spare and no energy for the homestead maintenance, so instead of being a pleasant way to spend the twilight hours it has become another "todo" that I have to rush to get done and cram in between RAD work and baby work.

I'm in serious danger of becoming Dicky Boss about baby. Sometimes I'll work all day, then go into the house in the evening and find baby crying, and I swoop in to "do things better". What a Dicky Boss. Dicky Boss is totally uninvolved in the day to day operation of the company; they're off directing the construction of their Zen-style retreat using company money. But Dicky Boss loves to show up randomly and get in everyone's business and randomize them. You can't ever appear to be resting when DB comes around. It's classic in the restaurant business; a smart restaurant employee knows there are crazy rushes at certain times, so part of your job is actually to rest between those rushes so that you will be fresh. But oh, no, not when DB shows up, "what am I paying you for? go fill the ketchups". One of the classic stupid moves of DB is to be overly perfectionistic. They'll see something that's not perfect and tell someone to fix it. (and then they'll complain to their peers about how nobody at the company has the sense to just do things right, that they have to personally show up to point things out). In fact all they did was make people waste time on some unimportant detail that took time away from more important things. A smart worker knows that you can't perfect everything, so it's actually good practice to not worry too much about everything. In fact at many companies I worked at (particularly 3rd party game companies when the publisher decides to pay a visit), we would be so prone to DB randomization that we would completely hide what we were really working on and show them some earlier level that we had already polished so that they couldn't get their mits into anything too important. It was all a bit like when a Soviet Apparatchik would pay a visit to a coal mine, we'd grab a bunch of rocks and paint them black, put up some movie-set false building fronts to make everything look better. Anyway. Some imperfection is actually correct. You can't be busting your ass constantly. Those of us prone to Dicky Bossness need to just let the workers do their work. (*)

(* = on the other hand, being a Dicky Boss does make people work harder. It's a lot like the way that nagging and just generally being a pain in the ass does (sadly) work. Your employees might hate you, but they will do what it takes to placate you, just to make you shut up and go away. Whereas if you are nice and chill and let them work the way they want to, they will in fact slack off and do shittier work. For example if you hire some home-improvement contractor guys, you will in fact get better work if you are in their face every day monitoring what they're doing. Sad Facts of Life : being dicky is in fact rewarded.)

I'm also in danger of using job work to avoid family work. That's something that I always swore I would never do; I guess because my dad did it, and I've seen so many other dads that I've worked with do it, and I always thought it was so sleazy. But it's hard to resist. When you're at the office you know you could go home and have to deal with a crying baby and help clean and everything else, or you could just hang out at the office a little longer "working". Of course you do. The home office is a mixed blessing in this respect; on the one hand it means I'm at home so I can help out and I haven't completely fled the scene; on the other hand it makes it really easy to just pop out to the home office for some "work" when I can't handle the baby work any more. I've got to be strong and resist this.