That's My Boy

I'm finding that one of the coolest parts of being a parent is getting to watch my son figure things out for the first time. Everybody always talks about "the wonder of a child" and seeing that "aha" moment, but it's easy to lose the significance when you repeat phrases like that over and over again. The thing is, everything really is new to a young child, and when you stop and thing about it, it's kind of a marvel that anyone ever figures out anything.

Earlier this evening I was watching Jason play with a piece of string. He had the string doubled over and was holding it in one hand so that it formed a little loop. Now, Jason has seen loops of string before and what he usually likes to do is stick a finger or arm through it. But what confounded him this time was that as soon as he got his arm through the loop and let go with the other hand, the loop was gone and he was just left with a piece of string draped over his wrist. He did this probably three or four times, each time surprised that the loop changed and a little confused and frustrated about what happened to it.

Now, I imagine that this little scene may seem a little banal--after all, it doesn't seem such a big feat to grown-up eyes to figure out that if you let go of the ends of an untied loop of string, you don't have a loop anymore. But if you stop and think about it, it's kind of amazing that that sort of thing is such second nature to us. And seeing someone come to that realization for the first time is just fascinating.

Actually, tonight turned out to be a bumper night in terms of figuring things out, because Jason also figured out how to get out of his crib tonight. Juliette and I were just starting to eat our dinner, having put Jason down about 15 minutes earlier, when we heard him start to fuss. These days that's a little unusual, so Juliette went to check on him, expecting to find that he'd thrown his blankets and stuffed animals over the side of his crib. In fact, she did find that, but she also found him standing on the little pile next to the crib. Fortunately, the crib can still be lowered one more notch, which I'll do tomorrow. For tonight, we set up the portable playpen in his room and put him in there--so far, he hasn't been able to get out of that.

It definitely keeps you on your toes, this parenting thing.

Bust a Move

Jason started figuring out how to dance a while ago. Until recently he really only had one move: bouncing up and down. That's probably because that's mainly what Juliette and I do when we're showing him how to do it--bounce at the knees in time to the rhythm, sometimes adding in shoulders or arms. It's very cute when he bops along, especially since he invents his own highly syncopated beat.

In the last couple of weeks he's shown us that his repertoire is expanding:

(Just in case anyone is curious, that thing on his belly is a band-aid that he had been playing with.)

A Letter to Amy Alkon In Response to Her Recent L.A. Times Editorial

Dear Ms. Alkon,

I had the pleasure of reading your op-ed piece "Screaming kids and airplanes: Mayday! Mayday!" last week and I just wanted to write and let you know how refreshing it was to finally hear from a kindred spirit. This country has been overtaken by rude and selfish people and seeing someone tell it like it is was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Like you, I have never been loud in a public place. Just as you described for yourself, my parents instilled in me a strong sense of propriety, which is why the occasion of my birth was an calm, orderly affair, without any of that obnoxious crying and mewling that you so often hear about. I have no idea why newborns these days are so self-centered and ignorant of our vital social conventions but it is simply unacceptable. Parents, take note: just because your child doesn't have the ability to speak or understand language or control their limbs or bodily functions is no excuse for them not to know and follow the rules of polite society. And don't bother trying to tell me about cognitive development or any of that nonsense--we both know it's just a ruse to try to distract from the obvious fact that you're a failure as a parent. Am I right, Amy? (May I call you Amy? I don't want to presume.)

I also applaud your exhortation of people to take responsibility for their own life choices. If you are thinking about having a child then you need to consider the possibility that your little Johnny might inconvenience other people for a few hours. And if there's even the slightest possibility that that could happen, you had damn well better keep little Johnny away from them, even if that means that he doesn't get to meet Granny until he's 17. I don't care if Granny can't get the time off work to come to you, or if you don't have the money to fly your whole family across the country for the holidays, you should have thought of that beforehand.

I am a bit concerned, though, Amy, that you might be bowing to pressure from the unwashed masses in limiting the scope of your article. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that you're willing to put Mr. Cell Phone and Ms. Unruly Child in their places, but there is so much that you've left out. I mean, I can hardly go into a Starbucks or Panera Bread or even the grocery store without having to hear people talking. And I don't mean on the phone--thankfully, you already covered that. No, I'm talking about those oblivious, obnoxious jerks who have the audacity to have face-to-face conversations in public places. Don't they know that every time they open their mouths, I have to hear them? If their parents had done their jobs, maybe, but that must not have happened because it's getting to where I can't go anywhere without having my ears raped by their noise-pollutive talking. (People have told me before that I shouldn't used the term "rape" that way because it's hyperbolic and downplays the seriousness of the crime, but fortunately I know you haven't been infected by that ridiculous PC nonsense. I bet you even had people complaining about your having used phrases like "social thuggery" and "stealing" and "victims" in your piece. The nerve of those people...)

Along those lines, why do people think it's OK to wear ugly clothing in public? For that matter, why do they think it's OK to be ugly? I shouldn't have to pay the cost just because someone chooses not to have plastic surgery. Ugly people should stop being so selfish and keep themselves in the basement where they belong. And I don't want to hear "Oh, but plastic surgery is so expensive." Well, maybe you should have thought of that before you decided to be poor.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know as a like-minded individual how much I much I value your writing. People are always telling me that what we really need is patience and tolerance, and that if these are the worst of my problems that I'm pretty well off. You and I know, of course, that all that is a bunch of nonsense. Because, after all, it really does come down to this: I should never have to experience anything that I dislike in the slightest, and anyone who makes me do so is nothing better than a terrorist.