Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Jim the Baby Nephew passes his days honked off at his teeth. They’ve been arriving for about a month now, and up until last week he hadn’t progressed much past the constant announcement that he, The Prince, is displeased.

“He’s learning that pain is an unavoidable part of life,” my mother said as he yowled in the background. I always assumed that he received his primary lessons in this every Sunday afternoon, when his parents sit him in front of a Bengals game. I guess that doesn’t involve enough learning about drool, which is also apparently an unavoidable part of life.

Jim, unlike his aunt, is of the opinion that figuring things out is the best fun ever. He has this toy with all kinds of levers and pullies and seizure-inducing spinning things, and the last time I was home the two of us sat and twirled things for the better part of an hour.

“He’s really not playing,” said his grandmother. “He’s learning. This is work for him.” I watched as Jim banged for the eight thousandth time on a tiny blue star that flashed when he hit it. As this involved approximately the same amount of skill level as my last day job, Jim is practically middle-management material.

The toy also has a musical mode, but instead of tinkling piano or soothing bing-bongs, this thing emits a playlist obviously performed by the Carter-era band playing the cocktail lounge at the Holiday Inn down the street. Call me retro, but the last time I checked "I'm A Little Teapot" did not involve synthesizers and a rimshot. We do not switch on the musical mode, because as far as this child will be concerned, the seventies never happened, musically. He is far too intelligent to risk exposure to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head."

What I’m learning is that babies create utter personality alteration in the adults around them. I saw my accountant sister gather Jim to her the second she came in the door from work, saying happily, “I haven’t seen you all day!” She plopped him on the couch and made a series of faces and noises I formerly only associated with people on horse-level methamphetamines. I have honestly never loved her so much: At last, purposful idiotic behavior. We are equals now.

Country The Brother-In-Law, on the other hand, has become more grim: “I’ve had just about enough of your crap,” he announced as he strapped a whining Jim into his car seat. My father’s voice rises at least eight octaves in the presence of his grandson, but as Jim and I are basically at the same level of social development (“Look! FLASHING LIGHTS!!”), I remain unaffected.

1 comment:

tvykTJHr said...

Hi, I like your blog. I have a site on Car Seats maybe we could trade links?

Previous Tastings