A guided tour of Baba’s nightstand, nearing the end of week one of kidling #2. Otherwise known as What’s Really On My Laptop.
1. Phone stand, empty due to the fact that the beloved is on the phone that it cradles, telling The Tale to yet another dear friend from afar. Or maybe fine-tuning tonight’s dinner order.
2. Books currently being read or on deck. Will now be staying on deck until such time as Baba can manage to read more than a paragraph without falling asleep, because she is now caught up on her sleep debt. Am calculating this will be circa 2009.
3. Photograph of self with nephew, the first infant I held and diapered, now and evermore in the ether (in the photo we’re hiding behind a tree). Will be on my nightstand into the forseeable future.
4. Alarm clock, perpetually set to three hours from when the last time we fell asleep. So’s to wake the wee bundle and feed him yet again. We yearn for the time when we can chuck it out the nearby window. The alarm clock! The alarm clock!
5. Mini flashlight, for use in (a) re-setting frickin’ alarm clock, and (b) tip-toeing next door and peering at kidling #1 for some reason or another, usually related to administering a dropperful of cough medicine, it being winter & all, even in sunny CA.
6. Fancy Chinese cough medicine, a gift from the downstairs sis-in-law — “Natural Herb Loquat Extract” — for self to take slugs from throughout the night. It being winter & all, even in sunny CA.
7. Standard issue baby books, recently pulled down from the shelf and dusted off. The upper book is a hand-me-down issue of the Sears classic, useful for many things medical, such as reassuring one that maconium poop is supposed to be the color and texture of blackstrap molasses. But we only read the physiological stuff. Much of the sociological stuff we find sorely lacking. The stuff for fathers, for instance, is often utterly appalling.
The “For Fathers Only” sections in the chapter “Postpartum Family Adjustments” made me want to chuck the book out the nearby window. Subsection titles include gems such as
Is anyone this stupid? Could this actually reflect any facet of reality? Don’t answer that! If the answer’s yes, I don’t want to know. Okay, one last look at the accident before we drive on past. From “Be sensitive”:
Dads, be aware of your wife’s needs. As one mother confided, “I’d have to hit my husband over the head before he’d realize I’m giving out.”
Don’t even let me get started on the “More Keys to a Better Marriage Adjustment” section.
The most articulate response I can muster to most all of the “For Fathers” material is: What the fuck? If I’m living in a wacky, Northern Californian, left-wing, feminist-liberated, queer-friendly haze, then lord love me and leave me there! Because none of that stuff, but none of it, would do anything but patronize and insult any men friends of mine. If it doesn’t, it should! And woe betide the wife of the man who is genuinely enlightened by any of this.
If kidling #2 tends towards the ladies, and odds are he will, then lucky will be lady that is partnered up with him because none of this material will do anything but appall him, too. I can be fairly certain of this on account of my first-hand observation of another lesbian feminist-reared man, the Know-It-All-Brother-In-Law, who skipped that balderdash entirely and went on to read the material on postpartum nutritional needs or what have you. By the time our son’s of spawning age, I hope it appalls the rest of his generation, too. As they swaddle and cuddle their newborns with one hand and whip up a healthy meal for their healing sweeties with the other.
The Penelope Leach book beneath it we love, partly because we like a lot of what she says, partly because our dear and hecka smart friends Ayelet and Ofer gave it to us so it must be right. Also, Leach is a crisp, tart Brit with a crisp, tart Brit style, and I fashion dreamy images of Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins when I’m reading it.
8. Finally, we arrive at the laptop itself. Whose primary purpose these days is not to facilitate reading or writing or analyzing or informing, but to play and replay the pictures of the kid when he’s asleep and we’re not. Because that seems to be all the edification we need. For now.