The Ballad of No Baby Brother (#274)

I have a lot of relatives with Asperger’s and Adult Residual Asperger’s. Same for my Chinese-American husband. I was prepared for our child to be, at the very least, a little introverted.

Baby D was not. Baby D craved human interaction. He never liked playing with toys by himself. He was fascinated by other children. Once he was mobile, he enjoyed swim classes with other kids, playdates, and even Childwatch at the local YMCA.

When I hovered while dropping him off at his first day of preschool, my three-year-old waved a dismissive hand and said, “You go now, Mommy.”

Baby D’s favorite kids were the older kids on the block. These kids were anywhere from 3-6 years older than Baby D, but he was immediately welcomed into their group. Block Leader A was thrilled to have another player to flesh out imaginary worlds, while Baby D embraced his roles as head of security/ sheriff/ stormtrooper (anything that gave him a weapon).

Baby D loved his neighborhood friends more than anything. The minute he heard them outside, he clamored to join them.

“But we’re about to have dessert,” I’d say. “Don’t you want chocolate cake?”

“My friends are the best dessert!” Baby D declared—to the utter befuddlement of his foodie parents. We would have no peace until he was charging down the block to play “Town” or film videos.

Some of the worst temper tantrums Baby D ever threw were when we had to drag him home for bed while other kids were still playing.

As much as he loved other kids, we shouldn’t have been surprised when four-year-old Baby D announced, “I want a brother.”

I said, “Hahaha, I just got some of my life back and you start kindergarten next year, NO.”

Baby D said, “Please, Mommy?”

“Sweetie, a baby brother is not like you think. He wouldn’t be able to play with you for years. And he would take up all Mommy and Daddy’s attention, just like you once did.”

“I want a Baby Brother. I don’t care.”

“Trust me, you would care. You would have to share everything, including your room.”

“I will share! I will share my I soft blankey with him. And I will share all my stuffed animals, and I will save him if there is a fire and, and, and I will share soft blankey with him.”

Andy asked, “What if it’s a girl?”

“It won’t be a girl.”

“It might be.”

“It won’t be!” Baby D insisted. “Right, Mommy?”

“Right,” I agreed. “It would be another boy, contrary and energetic and non-napping and exhausting, just like you, which is why we are not giving you a baby brother.”

Baby D harangued us about a brother for months. Until his Redheaded Baby Cousin came to visit.

Redheaded Baby Cousin was about six months old, daughter of my youngest, most infamous Boyfriend-Stealing Sister and her new California Husband. They were visiting her in-laws and came by for an afternoon with us.

Since I was absolutely, positively done with babies unless their parents needed me to hold them while they ate, I hired Baby D’s Favorite Teen Babysitter. We adults went out to dinner. We adults had a lovely time.

Baby D did not. Our four-year-old was fuming when we returned. His favorite sitter turned out to be a total baby hog. She carried the baby everywhere, cooing. Her games with Baby D were half-hearted. She outlawed the usual Nerf Wars, lest the infant get injured.

Once our relatives and the sitter left (with one last coo), I asked Baby D how he liked his cousin.

“I do not like her! She is noisy! She is noisy all the time! And obnoxious! She can’t do anything! And she got all the attention! I do not like Redheaded Baby!” he ranted. Before I could point out the obvious, Baby declared, “I do not want a baby brother!”

Andy, smothering laughter, could not resist asking, “You sure?”

“Yes! I do not want a baby brother!” he reiterated, with a glare at his father. “I want a cat!”

Good call, Baby D.

Felines & Persuasion (#273)

My child was always fascinated by cats.

My cats were only fascinated by my child when he was an immobile source of warmth. The minute he developed enough motor control to grab their fur, the cats were out.

Bat Cat and Commando Cat had been my pampered bachelorette cats. They grudgingly adapted to both husband and rescue dogs. But small fingers pulling fur? Hell no. They hid up in their scratching posts or heated cat bed.

Baby D had a boy-loving rescue dog who would have happily played chase or keep away with him for hours. But Baby D was contrary. He scorned the in-your-face, I-love-you-so-much creatures. He wanted the ones that were hard to get.

“This,” I told my husband, “does not bode well for his future dating life.” Continue reading Felines & Persuasion (#273)

A Tree-mendous Christmas (#272)

As children, my younger sister and I used to lie under our Christmas trees. We had minimal Christmas decorations, and no outdoor lights, but we loved our small trees. Not only were those colored strings of light magical on their own, they were also a visible reminder that parties, presents, and the North Polar Bear were coming.

When I got my first apartment, I got a tree. It went…poorly. Not only did my roommate JM have allergies (sorry, JM!), but we had cats. 5 pound Bat Cat raced delightedly up and down the tree, ornaments flying in her wake. At 25 pounds, Shamu Cat was incapable or climbing any tree. Instead, he pulled branches down and sat on them, almost as if telling Bat Cat, “See? I am also in the tree!” Continue reading A Tree-mendous Christmas (#272)

Dirty Baby, Healthy Baby (#270)

Unless it’s in his garden, my Chinese-American husband doesn’t notice dirt. I’m the one who notices when there’s pet hair piling up and hauls out the vacuum—usually every few days. I like my house neat, especially if we have company coming over.

But once our high maintenance, non-napping Baby D arrived, the vacuum disappeared into the hall closet, sometimes for weeks.

We soon had two dozen dust bunnies to go with our two dogs and two cats. Continue reading Dirty Baby, Healthy Baby (#270)

Taste Test (#268)

I am a picky eater. Take onions. I’ve hated onions with a passion since biting into my first McDonald’s burger and recoiling in horror over the raw, diced bites of bitterness wrecking my burger.

Unfortunately, onions are everywhere. No burger, sauce, or burrito is safe.

I’m normally a people-pleaser. Not when it comes to onions. I will quiz the wait staff before ordering a new dish. I will send that dish back if an onion shows up (very nicely and apologetically). And then I am NEVER going back to that restaurant.

My Chinese-American husband can and does eat anything. Animal brains? Check. Animal testicles? Check. Bitter melon? Check. Fish eyeballs, jellyfish, chicken feet? Bring it. The guy could have killed it on Fear Factor. Continue reading Taste Test (#268)

Pretty Binary (#267)

My son got a ton of hand-me-downs from his older girl cousins before he was even born. My Chinese-American husband’s frugality warred with his old-fashioned views on gender when those boxes first arrived.

“You’re not gonna dress him in pink, are you?” he asked.

“I dunno,” I said with a shrug. “We’ll see what fits in which season. Would you rather he wear pink or we save money?”

I let Andy wrestle with this dilemma for a while—because I am cruel like that—before telling him he wouldn’t have to choose. Continue reading Pretty Binary (#267)

Hand-Me-Downs & Halloween (#266)

There were two great things about being taller than my older sister by age five.

  • She couldn’t beat me up anymore.
  • I didn’t have to wear her hand-me-downs.

Instead, I got a new dress for the first day of kindergarten. My parents actually asked what color I wanted. I wore that dress at least twice a week until my growth spurts made it into a crop top. Continue reading Hand-Me-Downs & Halloween (#266)

The Hard Way: East & West Parenting Manual (#265)

When Baby D was an infant, my husband thought he was the easiest baby. Baby D was content to nap on Andy’s chest while Andy lay on the couch and watched TV. Entire seasons were binge watched during his family leave.

Once Baby D figured out how to move, it was a different ballgame. Baby D learned to crawl–solely for the purpose of cat-chasing.

Baby D learned to walk at 10 months. For five seconds. After his first three steps, he ran.

This was a rough learning curve for Andy. His once-lazy weekends were now about chasing his son, usually with food or band-aids. When Baby D wasn’t running, he was probably arguing. Continue reading The Hard Way: East & West Parenting Manual (#265)

Fun Dad (#264)

I was primary caregiver to our son. This meant that I was also primary disciplinarian, Sayer of “No,” Destroyer of Fun.

It’s no picnic parenting a headstrong, contrary child. Ideally a parent can redirect a toddler to a non-destructive activity. But sometimes, you just gotta say no. Then you have to back it up with consequences. Otherwise, you’re raising a privileged monster who flouts the rule of law and does whatever the hell he wants. (You know, your basic born affluent white man.) Continue reading Fun Dad (#264)

Parental Expectations: East vs. West (#263)

My husband had Chinese-American parents. Mine were white, uptight, and Anglo-Saxon Protestant/ Atheist.

Andy was expected to obey his parents without question. If his parents said his curfew was 10 PM, Andy was home at 10 PM. If Andy’s father wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV, Andy could forget about participating in Little League or any other sport.

I was expected to obey, but not without question. My mom was an attorney. Dinner table discussions in her house ranged from abortion to capital punishment. Everyone was encouraged to express their own opinions and defend them. If I could present a good argument for a curfew change or pierced ears, these items might be considered. (Lost on curfew, won on pierced ears.) Continue reading Parental Expectations: East vs. West (#263)