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Pickle Me This

May 17, 2010

Dispatches from another dimension

“Without question Tess was getting bigger and more complicated every day. But she was also growing her story. Growing a life that acquires its own description. Babies have only a handful of verbs. They eat, shit, cry, spit up, sleep, smile and wiggle. As a new parent, you live inside those few verbs with your child for the first year. In a sense, that’s part of the disorientation on top of sleep deprivation and all the other usual suspects. Some mornings I’d catch myself sitting with Tess and shaking the rattle, as I had the day before, and the day before that, or listening to her cry, or to her feed, and wonder where the hell all my verbs had gone. Could somebody open a window in there?

This might ultimately explain why parents are so punishing with their anecdotes. We are ecstatic, as if thawed from a long cryogenic sleep, with each rejuvenating action taken by our kids, no matter how banal. Like tourists with too many holiday slides, we prattle on to bored strangers, celebrating our return from new frontiers. ‘My god,” we say, ‘you should have seen the baby and the thing he did with the garden hose the other day! And this morning he made a brand new sound, sort of like he said, ‘multifaceted’ but, thing is, we don’t even use that word around the house, do we hon?’ Parents– all of us– send dispatches from another dimension where babies watching dogs, or futzing with garden hoses, is something blockbuster. And it is. Like, wow.

Or maybe you just had to be there.”

–from C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark by Ryan Knighton (and my review is here).

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