Dig Dug and the Intersection

From birth to death, people are influenced by everything and everyone they encounter. The earlier an influence occurs, the greater the shadow it casts over every subsequent experience. The best that a parent can do is to try to give a child a useful framework to allow her to adapt and deal with those experiences on her own.

To survive, people will and must adapt to whatever is around them. That’s what learning is. Learning changes a person. And the thing about learning is that it can’t happen in a vacuum. Each of us is born with just two eyes, yet to understand a thing you need to see it from all angles. To expand one’s perspective, one needs to consult with other people; compare and contrast views, to try to find the fullest and clearest picture.

The more perspectives that you take in, strip down, and fit into the puzzle, the greater that your own becomes. If you take the view that your perspective is who you are, then as it grows, so do you.

Without the benefit of interacting with others, sharing one’s experiences, listing to theirs, arguing, butting heads, and verifying the boundaries of one’s world, a person has no chance to build her own identity — the complex, faceted lens which will allow her to survive in a complex, faceted world. Rather, she will live out her life as an avatar of her formative experiences, attempting to kludge every situation with the same hammer, unable to distinguish one dimension from another. It would be like setting Dig Dug free in the world of Grand Theft Auto.

He’s a 2D character armed with a tire pump. He’s going to keep walking to the right, and won’t even know to turn his head when crossing the street.

Assuming one has the opportunity, the weight of one’s experiences, and therefore influences, will occur far outside the influence of one’s parents. It’s the job of one’s parents to provide the resources to make the most of those experiences. It’s the job of the child to actually have them.

Another Year of Tweet Nothings

My wife and I married in front of Grant’s Tomb on December 31st, 2010. That would be two years to this date. Thus as before, here follows in sequence a year’s worth of 140-character Internet frippery. This year, however, brings a new complication. The remit of this post has therefore been expanded.

1 Jan 2012 – My wife found a Nerd in her pants. Then she ate it. I think I married Liz Lemon.

12 Jan – Wife: “You’re a foot-and-mouth lizard! That’s a thing! I saw it on the news before!”

16 Jan – My wife insists that people no longer punch each other in the nose. Is this true?

16 Jan – Wife, angrily: “And don’t make a pun about sofas!” [long pause; then, giggling:] “I just made a pun about sofas in my head. It was funny.”

18 Jan – Wife: “Go on, eat your doughnut. But I’m watching you.” Me: “You’re… watching me eat doughnuts?” Wife: “I’m watching you…”

19 Jan – Wife: “And what the (redacted) is an armadillo, anyway?” Me: “It’s a mammalian ankylosaurus.” Wife: “Why you talking like a stroke victim?”

24 Jan – Wife: Don’t look at me like a frog! I’m not a frog! Me: How do you know how I look at frogs? Wife: I know how a (redacted) owl looks at frogs.

27 Jan – “Even when he’s not talking he can’t stop bobbing his head! I hate this F—ing rooster f—!” – Wife, on EADA Jack McCoy in Law & Order

27 Jan – I like how my left hand now goes clink when I grasp metal.

15 Feb – My wife just signed me up for fencing lessons. Is there a metaphor in here somewhere?

15 Feb – My wife and I make such a good team. I roll the toothpaste; she unrolls it.

17 Feb – My baby has a better mobile than you!

19 Feb – Wife: “You know what I would do for an ice cream sandwich bar?” Me: “What?” Wife: “I would eat it.”

22 Feb – Wife: “You’re not a trained seal. You don’t get a kiss every time you stand up and barf.”

26 Feb – Character on TV: “I’m scared.” Wife, to TV: “Me too. Wait, what are we scared about?”

1 Mar – Apparently black people aren’t allowed to see Van Halen. My wife tried to check in and the guy redirected her to a Trey Songz concert.

2 Mar – Is it such a bad thing to taste like clay?

3 Mar – TV character to his double: “I know you’re lying. I see those same expressions in the mirror.” Me: “You lie to yourself in the mirror?” Wife: “Of course. I do that. Don’t you?” Me: “No.” [Long pause] Wife: “Me neither. That’s weird.”

3 Mar – (My wife is wonderful.)

8 Mar – Pay attention to the fucking patient, not the machine. Don’t just run in here, look at a screen, and leave.

8 Mar – Well. This day has certainly taken a turn.

10 Mar – Kicked out of my wife’s hospital room for the night. Now chatting across a language barrier with an old Japanese lady in the NICU lounge.

10 Mar – I have no clue what she’s saying; she has no clue what I’m saying. We’re watching the Cartoon Network and neither of us understands a word.

10 Mar – At least I can see my baby. I don’t want to wake her, though. She has to build her strength. This is a strange time for me.

11 Mar – @jeniquerenee It’s cold down here.

11 Mar – @jeniquerenee Maybe at seven we’ll both get some sleep.

12 Mar – My wife’s bed is haunted.

14 Mar – My daughter is a squeaky little Fraggle.

14 Mar – I am smitten with this creature.

16 Mar – How is Penelope such a hard name to pronounce or remember? Seriously, people.

19 Mar – More than seeing my own work published, my proudest thing is seeing my daughter’s name in print: birth certificate, insurance card, ID…

23 Mar – There aren’t too many contexts in life where you’re going to be saying, “More poop! There’s not enough poop!”

27 Mar – I think Penelope has an imaginary friend, who I will dub Basquiat the Mastodon.

3 Apr – Life of a baby: “Oh no! I have to put my leg into my pants? What could possibly be worse than this?!”

5 Apr – My wife uses the term “cock diesel” and is then surprised when my mind turns to Vin Diesel’s untold regions.

8 Apr – Me: “Rule number one: keep babies away from boiling oil.” Wife: “Oh, was that a rule? That makes sense.”

10 Apr – Whoever holds the baby controls the entertainment. Hooray! Time at last for Paradise Towers — with cast and crew commentary!

11 Apr – It’s getting so whenever my daughter sees her mother, she turns into Ms. Pac-Man. Mmm, power pellets…

12 Apr – Sounds my daughter makes, #1: “Awooooooooooo-pthbbbt!”

13 Apr – She has my wife’s brow, chin, lips, nose bridge, forehead, cheekbones, hairline, eyewells, and ear shape… But my earlobes and nose bell.

13 Apr – Also my wife’s personality and mannerisms…

19 Apr – Daughter to mama (translated): “No, you’re holding me at completely the wrong angle! Turn me two degrees, three minutes counter-clockwise!

28 Apr – My wife makes excellent soup and is also a weirdo.

5 May – My daughter sounds like a primeval jungle.

5 May – You know you have an easy life when lint collects in the creases of your palm.

7 May – My daughter’s eyes are a pair of solar eclipses.

8 May – It can be hard to approach a person. Too fast, you startle them. Too slow, you creep them out.

8 May – A barista resembled a lackey of Imhotep; as we left the cafe I said, “Remember that Brendan Fraser Mummy movie?” “YES!” my wife exclaimed.

10 May – I seem to regularly baffle my wife with my choice of idioms. Yesterday it was “Now that’s a fine kettle of fish.” Today it’s “How’s tricks?”

15 May – Recently – Me, to Penny: “Are you going to grow up to be goofy like your mother?” Wife: “I’m not goofy! You’re goofy, dumbass!” (THUD) “Ow.”

18 May – This child is flaunting all of Newton’s laws. In her case a body in motion stays at rest, and a body at rest stays in motion.

19 May – Me: “That’s pretty clever.” Wife: “It’s not clever. It’s normal. You’re dumb.”

20 May – Only my wife would make kissing a competitive event.

21 May – Wife: “I feel so gross now. Thank you.”

21 May – Wife: “What’s that guy’s name? Stone Phillips?” Me: “You think every news guy is Stone Phillips.” Wife: “No! They’re all the same guy!”

21 May – Wife: I should know! I’m the one who can tell guys apart!” Me: “No, that’s me. You’re the one who can tell women apart.”

23 May – Wife: “How much cake is too much cake? I don’t even know.”

24 May – Me: “We’re fine. I was reading her poetry –” Wife: “She doesn’t write poetry! What are you talking about?” Me: “… Reading poetry to her.”

3 Jun – New song for my daughter: “It’s Mrs. Patootie Head / and her bucket of farts…”

8 Jun – When I sing my daughter a lullaby and dance her around, all I achieve is putting my wife to sleep.

11 Jun – My daughter just let out the most evil cackle.

15 Jun – Being around my wife when she’s sick must be what it’s like to be around me on any given day.

17 Jun – According to a Java application, my daughter looks 4% closer to her mother than to me –mathematically speaking. Probably for the best!

22 Jun – Another random woman approached us: “Ooh, I’ve got to get closer to your baby!” Then she spotted me. “Hey! YOU’RE THE FAMOUS GUY!” Um.

24 Jun – I love to watch my wife eating plums.

25 Jun – The way my daughter bobbles her head, she could be a district attorney someday. #lawandorder

25 Jun – To daughter: “Now I’m gonna snap you up / Now I’m gonna snap you down / Now I’m gonna tuck you into / Your nightgown.”

27 Jun – Daughter glances up at us; Me: “What?” Wife, in derp voice: “Nobody here but us assholes.” Beat. “No, wait. Wait, what did I just say?”

28 Jun – Whatever I say, my wife hears something dirty. She is aghast! Then I repeat myself, and she eyes me suspiciously.

2 Jul – Wife, to daughter: “You see how Papa plays Mama?” Me: “Like a game of Russian Roulette?” Wife: “Like a game of Russian Roulette.”

2 Jul – When preparing tea, my wife’s instructions are simple: make it the same color as her skin.

4 Jul – Sometimes I like to repeat my wife in clipped, precise English. “Did you hear that? Your mommy is sweating like a slave up in this bitch.”

6 Jul – … And Penelope with eyes aflame came whiffling through the tulgey wood and burbled as she came…

7 Jul – Penny playing idly with rattle. Mommy reading at computer. Penny: “GAWOOOOOOO!!” Mommy leaps from chair: “Ngah!” Penny continues in silence.

9 Jul – Wife: “Watch your toes.” Me: “My toes are watching me.” Wife: “Watch your toes!” Me: “My toes are watching ME.”

10 Jul – I’m in the process of lying down, and suddenly the baby is right under the small of my back… Urm.

14 Jul – My daughter, in my wife’s arms, saw me walk out the door and vanish — and she flipped out. She kept calling after me until I returned.

15 Jul – I could conduct a marching band past my wife and she wouldn’t wake, but tiptoeing across the room — that’ll do it every time.

15 Jul – I love my daughter’s little Haribo ears. UM NUM NUM NUM NUM!!

23 Jul – A recipe for a good morning: waking up to a happy little girl, and the smell of blueberry muffins and fresh mint tea.

24 Jul – Today I woke to my wife pulling on my lips. “Where’s your hair?!” She sounded frantic. “Where’s your hair?!” Then a beat. “Oh. You shaved.”

26 Jul – My wife was convinced that Sam Waterston had also died recently. Then she realized that she had merely killed him in a dream.

28 Jul – This little goofball keeps making sounds like Eliza Doolittle. Aeoooooohhh!!!

29 Jul – The other day, someone paid my wife with this. Shall we call?

3 Aug – My daughter just flipped her head back, looked at me dead in the eye upside down, and said, “Oo-ga boo-ga.”

3 Aug – I like this kid. She’s got style.

10 Aug – Why is it that, when faced with a sleeping baby, everyone’s first impulse is to get in her face and wake her? Back the fuck off, people.

10 Aug – Penelope has befriended the girl in the mirror. We call her Anti-lope.

16 Aug – Wife: “I hate it when you wear a white T-shirt. I can’t tell where the shirt ends and your flesh begins. HA HA HA (SNORT)!”

22 Aug – Wife, to daughter: “Are you going to leap over buildings with a single bound?” Me: “Well, she’s already a bounder — ”

22 Aug – Wife: “Oh boy. We’re in one of these moods today, are we?” Me: ” — But at least this way she’ll be constructive.” Wife: “Not today, please.”

7 Sep – Wife: “A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar… ‘Ouch!’ ‘Oy vey!'”

9 Sep – So since birth my daughter has been chatty. Now she’s making a concerted effort to copy us. She’ll stare at our mouths with determination.

9 Sep – Then she’ll roll a syllable around and around until it’s right. I say “Penelope”; she says “Puh, pheh, bih, pih, peh, meh-meh-meh-meh-meh.”

12 Sep – My daughter grabbed my hair, pulled my face to hers, and yelled “ADAPT! ADAPT!” I am adapting, sweetheart. I have no choice in the matter.

15 Sep – My wife commented that until this series she never understood why people classed Doctor Who as a kids’ show. Now, this — this is tiresome.

17 Sep – Good grief. Did my daughter just say “Gluck ga-ga”? Honestly, where does she pick up this kind of language?

21 Sep – My daughter’s favorite game so far is Space Turkey and the Gobble Ghoul. I’d explain, but it’s probably too complicated.

27 Sep – Since I met my wife, no one has stopped and asked me if I’m European. Now they just stare or mistake me for someone famous. Which is better?

27 Sep – I feel a weird pang, weeding out my daughter’s old clothes. No, she’ll never wear that again. Or that. Oh, I used to like that one. No more.

16 Oct – Coming from Brooklyn, my wife is puzzled by the courtesy of Maine drivers toward pedestrians. There is one notable exception: Pickup trucks.

16 Nov – Wife, to daughter: “Pretty please with sugar on top / Mommy wants to go to slop.” [LONG PAUSE] “Sleep.” [FULL REPEAT] “I just said that…”

17 Nov – I’m glad that I don’t have to explain to my wife what a Peahat is.

18 Nov – The overworld is one thing, and that’s great and all — but she also knows the Goriya by name. GRUMBLE GRUMBLE

18 Nov – My daughter actually says “UM NUM NUM NUM” when she eats.

30 Nov – Why is my daughter so friggin’ slimy?

4 Dec – I give my daughter a toy and all she wants to do with it is play Antiques Roadshow.

23 Dec – Can’t wait for this girl to go off to college so I can touch my wife again.

27 Dec – Me: “That’s not Richard Belzer, it it? I can’t see from here.” Wife: “That’s Ellen DeGeneres, dear.” Me: “Oh.”

30 Dec – This girl is always either honking or quacking. That’s not how you play Duck Duck Goose, Penny. I keep explaining this.