24 November 2008

Living Down to Her Expectations

Nothing I have experienced in my life so far has made me feel as inept and clueless as being the father of a small child. Nothing. Not even having been laid off three times in less than two years back in ‘Nineties and that was a very trying time for me. I always thought of myself as adequately smart and capable enough to handle just about anything on a daily basis. When it came to having a raising a kid, I thought “How hard can this be? From what I’ve seen it ain’t much different from raising a dog that can talk. Right?”

I should point out that I have not had a dog since dear departed Lucy, back before I was in college. Even then, the burden of dog rearing was primarily on the near sainted Mom of Gumbo. MOG was pretty good at it, too, especially since she was also rearing yours truly and his Big Bro at the same time. Oh, and minding Dad of Gumbo (DOG?) as well, although DOG may not want to admit to it.

So my experience of babies and infants and toddlers was pretty much based on theory and long-range observation, including recall of how MOG and DOG raised Big Bro and I. Hmmm, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of tearing of hair and hollering (them, not me) there, I suppose I should keep that in mind. Yeah, I’ll never do that…

Now anyone in all walks of life, from soldiers to football coaches to nurses to production line workers, can tell you that there is a big gap between theory and practice. Theory allows you to speak with unfounded confidence on matters over which you have no experience with the expectation that events will prove you right. Practice is what happens when that gets applied to the Universe as it really works, affording multiple opportunities to make one look like an ass.

I felt like that the first time I changed a diaper. Not the early ones where Wee Lass was still getting mother’s milk. I mean the ones the pediatrician warned us about: the solemn “There will be a change in the movements (what, this is a symphony?) and not for the better as it relates to ODOR and CONSISTENCY (emphasis mine). Jeez, was he right. It was the difference between handling small blocks of Swiss cheese to handling big blocks of Limburger cheese THAT ARE RADIOACTIVE, STICKY AND SMELLY. Not so smart now, are ya, college boy?

Then Wee Lass grew and grew and started to walk and talk. On top of diaper patrol, now I had to keep track of her. And keep her out of the toilet, cat dish, CD collection, etc. There was learning to interpret the various squeaks, grunts, howls, flapping of limbs that she used to communicate her imperious commands. It was like trying to learn Chinese or Vietnamese without even a phrase book; intonation meant everything sometimes. How was I supposed to know that a chuffing grunt with an upward lilt meant “I love you, big person” and the same grunt with a downward lilt/growl combo meant “Help! I have just pooped up my back!”? That sort of misunderstanding could get you imprisoned in some countries. Or at least suffer a beating at the hands of grandmotherly shopkeeper trying to sell you some discount CDs.

So now that Wee Lass has gained the power of discretion (loosely, I mean; how discerning can a four-year old be?) along with a phenomenal vocabulary, the game has changed again. Here is a sample of a recent exchange between Wee Lass and The Spouse as they were discussing counting numbers:

TS: “Very good! Mommy can count numbers in French, too.”
WL: “Daddy was counting numbers in French!”
TS: “No sweetie, Daddy was counting them in German.”
WL: “Oh! Daddy is smart…..sometimes.”

Wow! She IS right! I AM smart, sometimes! I’ll remind her of that when she hits her teens…


  1. Don't let her discretion fool you, these little beings love it when we let our guard down.

  2. Ok, I've seen you all over the Captain's place and now I have to check you out.

    The good thing about all of this? It only gets better. And by better? I mean funnier at YOUR expense!

    I have an 8 year old...trust me.

  3. Ha ha ha! Just started this routine with our three-year-old. Her German is better than mine ;).


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