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.

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