We all need a little hand

Hey, kids: Want to get some leverage in the baby-child relationship? It’s a classic question. “Who’s in charge here?” On one hand, you can dictate when they go to sleep, and when they wake up (i.e. when you do). You can make them walk you around, at night, then you close your eyes and start snoring. As soon as you sense the relief from up above, BAM. Open your eyes, all innocent and awake and ready for a round-robin racquetball tournament at the club. You know what I’m saying? I think you do. So there’s that. Also, YOU decide when you start eating solids, and which solids you’ll accept. Anything you don’t love, you can make your point and be artistic at the same time, turn that Fisher-Price Dishwasher-Safe High Chair tray into a Jackson Pollock painting. It can be as simple as this: You laugh, they’re thrilled. You cry, they panic. It’s truly an awesome power. On the other hand, with no warning, your parents will decide to remove you from the activity mat where you were happily trying to put literally everything in the world into your mouth, and put you in the car seat and strap you up so that every one of your moveable extremities are (is?) useless. This technique was banned by the Geneva Convention in 1972 for prisoners of war (look it up), but still legal, and REQUIRED, for perfectly pleasant and non-homicidal babies to be transported by car in 2014. I kid you not, my junior friends. Point is, you have no control over this. Then they can take you anywhere they want, to see anyone they want: Grandma (yay), a periodontist (boo), Idi Amin (yikes), a Julia Roberts movie (shudder), IKEA (get yer saws ‘n hammers), whatever.  (Reminds me of a joke I heard once in the East Village: “What do you get when you buy bookshelves at IKEA?  A saw and directions to a forest.” Classic, and spot-on!) Now, you could always throw a wicked tantrum any time your parents restrict your freedom of movement, and here at Ava Reese is a Kick-Ass Baby, we don’t judge you, and we agree that the “Tasmanian Devil” approach can be extremely useful in the right situations. But you don’t want to go to that well too often, or you’ll get labeled as “colicky”, or just a dick. Either way, you have an interest in maintaining the good will of the people who feed you and keep you from being fed to the wolves and from entering you in the Republican Presidential Primary, where you’d have to debate Rick Perry, which would just make you sad about the world. So be careful about employing what we call the Nuclear Option. But there are things you can do to get what the Seinfeld folks referred to as “the hand” (see below). So here it is, folks: Use your noises. For instance, there’s a noise you can make that starts neutral, but depending on the reaction you get, you can take it in several possible directions. You can make it a laugh, then a cry, or vice versa, then go back and forth. Or, if you’re particularly advanced, when only one parent is in the room, and you’re giggling or gurgling or making generally-accepted baby noises, then you say, “Tuesday’s not good enough,” or “The South Will Rise Again,” or, “Caspar Weinberger.” The key to this is to NEVER NEVER EVER say it when the other parent is present. This is how you get some hand.

Happy Birthday, Notorious M.O.M.

Today is my mom’s birthday, and it’s her first birthday as a mom. And what a mom she is. Seriously, do you have any idea the sh*t she put up with to bring me into this world? Either do I, but I’ve heard the rumors, and boy, if even half of them are true, yikes. I mean, I don’t have much of a frame of reference, being only almost eight months old (speaking of birthdays, yo!), but it sure sounds dramatic to me. But it doesn’t end there. She thinks of me 24/7: is my diaper bag stocked, is it time for solids, what’s the funniest way to combine the words “potato” and “avocado”. When Dad comes from from his cushy office job in the city, he’s like, Oh, where’s my girl, there she is! and of course I smile like crazy, and he gets all warm inside and then I kind of lose respect for him a little bit, because, like, Come on, man, don’t be so mushy, but I don’t let on, I just keep smiling, and he loves it.

But my mom has been with me all day, trying to keep me occupied and happy and fed and nutriated and bathed and de-feced (that means she cleans my poop), and let’s face it, I’m still a young kid, I don’t do much on my own. I play in only the most primitive ways. And she’s been up since whatever time I decided to get up, and she can’t exactly send me out to a sleepover with my gal pals or have me play in my room by myself, because I’m barely over zero. I mean, I think technically I am zero, because I’m not one yet, and what’s less than one, am I right?  But the point is she’s pretty much on all day, and she doesn’t get much nap time, because frankly, I’m not a big fan of long naps, which means she doesn’t get them either. And I’ll tell you what, my mom loves to get her nap on. But it just ain’t happenin’ with ol’ Ava Reese. And yet with all she does, with all the sleep deprivation I cause, with everything she dealt with when she was carrying me in her girl parts, and then the not-uneventful birth (I’m told), she still never ceases to love me like nobody’s business. She lets me sleep on her even if her arm falls asleep (a concept I don’t really get but I’m told it happens). She’s everything you could ever want in a mom, and she’s MY mom. She sings Over the Rainbow to me over and over until I fall asleep. Who else would do that for me? (And she can carry a tune, which is more than I can say for her boyfriend.) And yes, I will admit I’m the cutest thing to land in these parts since I don’t know what, but cute don’t buy the groceries, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. So anyway, long story short, I just want to give a shout out to my beautiful mother Stephanie Crane Marsh on her birthday. I don’t even know the word yet, but I know I love you to death, and that will have to be enough until I get into MIT with my big brain in my big head and make millions as a hedge fund manager before going into the non-profit sector and saving the whales. A girl’s gotta have plans, right? Now who’s ordering the pizza?

Me and my girl sharing a cone. Grammar can kiss my a**.