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)

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)

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)

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)

Autumn on the Edge (#262)

Nursing moms never sleep in. Not on holidays, and not on weekends. Even if you could sleep through a crying baby, you probably can’t sleep through aching, leaking boobs. So up you get at 4:30 AM, changing the baby, feeding the baby, and then maybe entertaining the baby if baby is suddenly wide awake.

After all, your poor partner works hard all week, providing for you and the child. There’s probably a stressful project at work, or maybe he had to travel. And since you’re already up, you take a last, wistful look at your comfy bed before closing the door and letting your husband sleep in.

You don’t know it, but you’ve taken the first step to divorce.

Or murder. Continue reading Autumn on the Edge (#262)

When Baby Met Dogs (#261)

We had two three-year-old rescue dogs and two old rescue cats when Baby D was born. Even though the dogs were well-trained (mostly), you never know how your pets are going to react to babies.

Well, in one case we knew. Beowoof (Woofie for short) loved everyone and everything. Especially kids and puppies. The greatest day of Woofie’s life was the day he escaped and went to Science class at the local middle school.  Half the kids were on their desks, shrieking, but, as usual, Woofie was convinced everyone loved him.

Woofie had been waiting for his own boy forever. He was gonna be thrilled…as soon as the kid was big enough to play.

I expected Bat Cat and Commando Cat to be utterly indifferent until Baby D was old enough to terrorize them.

Fey (orange) and Woofie (dark brown).

My biggest worry was Fey. Continue reading When Baby Met Dogs (#261)

Something Is Under the House (#236)

I thought I’d made peace with the freaky-assed crawl space below our house in Los Angeles. It’s not a nice, solid basement, but makes sense to have easy access to plumbing and the electrical lines for our drip system. And after multiple years, the only scary thing lurking under our house had turned out to be our own mischievous dog.

Until recently. Continue reading Something Is Under the House (#236)

Pets Versus Dinner (#176)

Christmas Bunny, just prior to attacking a confused cat.

My family has always had a multitude of pets. I grew up with dogs, cats, turtles, rodents, and more. We even had a very special Siamese rabbit named Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Normal people have bunnies named Peter, but, hey, my little sister was only five when she found him in a New Jersey parking lot. Christmas was a New Jersey street tough masquerading as an adorable bunny. He spent ten happy years terrorizing the family Labrador and several cats while eating the antique Italian Provincial dining room set. Continue reading Pets Versus Dinner (#176)

Adventures at the Dog Park (#141)

Andy wanted a dog. We adopted a rescue named Woofie.

Woofie wanted to play with everything, including the cats. The cats did not want to play with Woofie. In vain would Woofie bark and prance around in front of them. The cats would only hide, hit, and hiss.

Woofie was sad. Until we discovered the Redondo Beach Dog Park. Continue reading Adventures at the Dog Park (#141)