My present-day negligence in updating Holy Prepuce! has resulted in this two-month delayed announcement that the House of Prepuce has again reproduced! P2 is delightful, charming, and a more-or-less patient companion to her sister, now four and self-appointedly in charge of infant care. (The cat’s maternal instincts have also been activated, and require some supervision owing to the mismatch in texture between human baby skin and feline tongue.)
A question for parents with a baby and an older child: when you are out and about with just the baby and a stranger starts fussing over him/her, do you experience a compulsion to work your older child into the conversation? (Example: “I’ve never seen one so tiny!” “Neither had I. Her big sister weighed 9 pounds!” Or: “He looks so warm in that [car seat accessory].” “I know, I wish I’d had one when his brother was a baby.”)
This kept happening to me on days when I’d drop Little Miss P. at day care and then head out on errands with P2. At first I wondered if I was unconsciously sticking up for Little Miss P, as in: why should the baby get all the attention? Except that Little Miss P. knows how to work rooms like a lobbyist, so that’s never been a top concern.
Further self-observation suggested that my conduct was rather more vain than magnanimous: My subconscious mind simply couldn’t abide the patronizing way people talk to first-time parents. Or, more to the point, it couldn’t stomach the patronizing things that my paranoia led it to believe people might think about me, on the assumption I was a first-time parent. So it was making sure that everyone understood this baby wasn’t my first rodeo.
In light of this revelation, I resolved to face down my demons, accept kind words about the baby at face value, and not give in to compulsion. So when the cashier at the Hallmark Store cooed “how old is she?” I simply replied “five weeks.” Whereupon the grinning woman inquired--clearly certain of an affirmative answer--“is she your first?” I still haven’t decided whether the satisfaction of saying “no” was worth the preceding 750 milliseconds of agonizing condescension.
Speaking of my older daughter, Little Miss P. has evidently inherited the hoarding gene that runs in my family. It started with a ban on recycling any of the several dozen drawings she produces weekly, and has escalated to the point where we must absolutely retain forever the plastic box her toy camera came in. When the cleaning lady threw Little Miss P.’s “sticker pile” away, forgivably mistaking this linty collection of formerly-adhesive material for trash, a near-crisis ensued. A secure location for Sticker Pile II was immediately scouted, to ensure this catastrophe would never, ever be repeated. I fear my daughter will one day be featured on Hoarders 2055, Now In Holovision: “Citizen, you are out of compliance. Only 11 cubic meters of personal effects are permitted within ClimoDome.”
Something else: everyone’s favorite thing to tell you when there’s a newborn around is “support the head!” And it’s true that babies are born with minimal neck strength, so their heads flop around if you don’t support them. People get really worked up about this: “Hold her head!” “Make sure you’ve got her head before I let go!” “Be careful of the head!”
And that seems like good advice, although it’s never really specified what will happen if you don’t follow it. You know what you never hear on the 11 o’clock news? “Tragedy struck the family of a local newborn this evening, after police say a careless visitor failed to support its head.”