Twaddler/toppler: morning notes starring our 11-and-a-half-month-old baby.

by waxbanks

From the archives: August 2011. I hope posts like this bring you even a fraction of the joy they brought (and bring) me. –wa.

  • I lie on the ground pretending to be unconscious because I’m a good and caring father. He crawls over to me and begins to poke me in the face with one of his wooden drumsticks. I get up before he has a chance to begin whacking me on the skull.

  • He mounts a low box in order to climb to a slightly higher one; falling backward off the low box, he lands on one knee, then rises up en pointe (without the benefit of e.g. ballet shoes or professional dance training) and executes a sly leaping maneuver to get back on the low box. I grab him before he has a chance to mount the coffee table and destroy all our possessions.

  • I challenge him to a duel, i.e. I grab one of his drumsticks and start whacking the drumstick he’s holding. At first he is confused by the obvious stupidity of this activity. Then he shifts his drumstick from right hand to left and closes on me with a series of attacks learned from the master Thibault. I am driven back nearly to the edge of the Cliffs before realizing I can, in fact, simply reach over and pick him up or crush him like a grape. Sobered, exhilarated, flushed with battle, I surrender manfully.

  • Places his drumstick gets caught during his solitaire game of ‘Whack the puree-pouch lid around on the ground, hockey-puck-style, with my drumsticks while dad watches’: his diaper, my underpants leg, folds in the blanket, eddies in the spacetime continuum.

  • My, that is an enormous quantity of vomit, isn’t it.

  • My friend Farhad once proposed to write a rock opera setting the water-stealing backstory of Chinatown in outer space. Among the songs he listed ‘Love Song of a Dying Robot.’ What he does not know is that I’ve actually written and even recorded several versions of the song (and other songs from the cycle, including ‘Space Ace’ and a variety of asteroid-miner shanties) in the intervening years. I’ve never been happy with any of it. Sample lines:

it takes these words ten minutes to reach you
a million miles away
longer still when you were in my arms
dear, that’s why today
feels much like yesterday

and of course

oh, row, the sailor sings
of polycarbon starship wings
oh, row, the solar winds
carry me across the galaxy

  • now i’m going nowhere
    but there’s nowhere else that i would rather be*

That sort of thing.

  • We listen to parts of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… and my son’s actions take on a somewhat louche character. He plays with his outlandish Sassy foam-grippy-rattle-ball object, possibly the most psychedelic/seizure-inducing item I have ever seen in real earth life, with a kind of fin de siècle dissipation, as if biding time in the unlit corner of some cabaret waiting for the secret police to cancel not just the performance nor the fun, but the very idea of progress or continuance; as if aware that he can’t stay a twaddler/toppler forever. His cynicism, if that’s what it is, is elliptical. Or is it resolve? Or does he need a diaper change? I put on some Duran Duran to lighten the mood but it all feels very, very several-years-too-late…

  • He attempts to climb onto the futon/couch. Mercifully, it’s too high for him. He contents himself instead playing with my hospital ID bracelet, which I take away because it’s probably the single least sanitary object in this impressively unsanitary apartment. Then he reaches for the nightmare toy, about which I will say nothing more at this time in case it reads my blog and decides, in retaliation, to steal my eyes while I sleep.

  • He engages in good old fill’n’spill behaviour with his colour/shape blocks, with a twist – he only pulls the blocks out of their little pail in matching pairs (two orange stars, two green squares, two red triangles). I encourage this racist behaviour because of how I was brought up, in a rural area.

  • Yay! Stackers!

  • Yay! Affectlessly throwing all the stackers over the side of the playpen over and over and over again!

  • I would do anything for him. Indeed, I suspect I will: the scariest thing about parenthood, which is to say in the right light the most joyful, is that twenty or forty years from now I’ll remember sacrifices and transformations that today, 20 August 2011 in Cambridge, I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I have no idea what he’s becoming. I have no idea what I’m becoming.

Meanwhile my wife catches up on sleep just offstage, which she desperately needs because as hard as I feel like I work, she works ten times harder, dies a thousand times when our son cries, is lifted up and lifts me up with each stumbling advance or strange detour he takes. She is the molten core; she’s his light, and mine.

  • Duran Duran do not have a limitless supply of great songs.