Friday, November 25, 2005

And I ask you

If Hooters employs the large-breasted waitresses, then where do the one-legged ones work?

Give up?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Intelligent Design Prevents Therapy

So here we are, 2005, Planet Earth, and the debate over evolution vs. creationism/intelligent design continues to rage. A school board in Kansas pushes for more intelligent design discussion in science classes, while another in Pennsylvania finds its pro-intelligent design members ousted from office. In another surprising twist, a new theory of intelligent design that links our origins back to a flying pasta creature has got some scientists really rethinking old assumptions. So with all these conflicting points of view and all this available information, just how is the average Joe Citizen supposed to come to any sort of satisfying conclusion?

The Holmes understands this frustration. See, I went to Baptist school from kindergarten up until eight grade. It was a pretty good experience in most respects, I can't complain. But I must say, in ninth grade when I transferred out of a religious school where Darwin was equated with Ozzy Osbourne and Hitler in terms of Satanic servitude and the word "evolution" would send up hushed murmurs amongst a crowd, into public school where suddenly the Earth's birthday cake had a lot more candles on it, let's just say that it was a bit of an adjustment for young me. But I managed. As the years went on, the Holmes came to understand that evolution was not an attempt to lure young people into the lake of fire. My humble opinion formed itself around the idea that, while there may be a designer at work in the universe's origins, such beliefs aren't founded in science, and thus belong in a religious studies class, not in science class. Amidst all the hubbub in the news recently, I maintained this belief.

Until that fateful day that will forever be known as, The Other Day.

You see, ever since my kid was born, I've started making this dumb joke that goes something like this: anytime I or the Ash does something like cuss or make some slightly off-color remark in front of the baby, anytime a non-baby song is played or a non-baby thing occurs on TV, basically anytime anything remotely grown-up takes place, I'll say something along the lines of "oh shit, that's a year of therapy right there." A gunshot on TV may be six months of therapy. Dirty jokes are about a year of therapy each. And so on and so forth. At this rate, the little guy better get himself a kick-ass medical insurance plan once he's outta the house because he's gonna be in therapy for the rest of his life.

The whole therapy thing is a joke of course, but it's borne out of a very real realization that hits me every now and then, that every little thing I do or say with this kid could potentially have an affect on the person that he grows into. And not just the stuff I do with him, but the stuff that he observes me do. There's a lot of information available about child development, but there's so damn much that we still don't know, not to mention the number of library shelves you could fill with all we don't know about mental health and why people end up the way they end up. As a friend of mine expressed it, you sometimes feel very much like the butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo that's affecting the ocean currents off the coast of Florida. Except right now, little Henry's a baby, so there's sort of this free pass to do and say some stuff that we might not when he's older and is actually taking notice. He's not gonna remember that Dad made that lewd comment towards Mom, so screw it, right? As long as you don't wake him from his nap.

And I was thinking about all of this The Other Day when it occurred to me, is the fact that we don't start holding onto memories until we're at least a few years old an accident? Or design! Just imagine if you could remember your entire life back to babyhood. Do you really want to be saddled with memories of feeding at your mama's teet? Do you want to remember being born? Even if you were adjusted enough so that such imagery didn't send you running for the local asylum, you'd live the rest of your life with memories of the good life you lived in the womb, and really, how can any pleasure or comfort in this life really compare? Honestly I don't know, seeing as how I CAN'T REMEMBER! Clearly, some intelligent being was thinking when it realized that we human beings couldn't handle certain memories, and thus decided that our memories shouldn't have the record switch flipped to ON for at least a few years. Pretty scientific deducing there, eh?


Oh, an added note: big thanks to Marsha for emailing the Holmes to help him remember what the hell he meant by his Gother Than Thou/parenting analogy:

"Because the more effort you put into it, the more attentive and loving you are and the more you see to his every need, the more exhausted you are at the end of the day. If you win as a parent you lose as a sleeping human being."

Right you are Marsha. The Holmes and his countless readers offer their thanks!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Metallica for baby

So it was one of those semi-tense situations where Henry was teetering somewhere between kind of calm and definitely crying, so I was doing anything and everything to keep his little world relatively stable in a desperate attempt to keep him out of the crying zone. These efforts included the carrying, the bouncing, the rubbing the back, and of course singing because hey, while I'm doing all this stuff he still seems cool. Logical right?

Except the song I was singing, whatever it was, ended. Or maybe I forgot the rest of the words. And suddenly I found that all the lyrics to all the songs that I know just vanished from my brain right at that moment, all of them except for the loud headbanging part of "One" by Metallica, which is not to be confused with "One" by U2 which does not feature a loud headbanging part. And thought it wasn't ideal, it was all I had, so I sang it. Very nice and soothing like.

And from the other room, about when I'm getting to the part about the landmine taking my hearing and my arms and my legs, the Ash tells me to "sing something soothing" to which I respond that I'm doing the best I can. I mean, the content isn't soothing, but the delivery was maximum Mr. Rogers chillout. But at the same time, the lyrics to another song pop into my head, the theme to "Reading Rainbow" which is quite a bit more soothing lyrically, hands down, so I sang that cuz I was done with "One" anyway.

It's funny, at times, the more difficult times, the act of parenting feels a bit like a game of Gother Than Thou. For those who don't know or who are too lazy to follow the link, Gother Than Thou is a card game where each player attempts to prove that they are indeed the gothest of the goth. This is accomplished by securing a set number of goth points by playing cards for your character to perform various goth acts such as put on eyeliner or score a steady clove supply or spend the night on the grave of your lover who has left this world. The catch though, is that for every goth point you win, you're giving up points for health and money. So by the end of the game, whoever has won and been declared gother than thou is extremely broke and extremely sick.

This is like parenting how, you sick fuck?

Well you know, there's the sacrificing of the sleep and the time and the, you know, stuff, but at the end you get to be, um...I don't know. It seemed like a pretty good analogy when I started writing and now I can't remember why, much in the same way that I can't remember words to songs. Maybe it's just me wishing for more sleep. Fuck it, I'll hit Save anyway.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Give them all capes!

Yesterday as I was exiting the building to go hook it up with some lunchtime goodness at the local HEB, I walked past a mom and her two little boys who were heading into the office. One of the wee tykes was wearing a Batman mask and a matching black cape that was just slightly too long for his short little self. I'd have found it amusing anyway, but being a new father to a little boy of my own, I smiled extra broad. I recognized them from the pictures that sit on the desk of one of my coworkers, so later on when I saw him, I said, "Hey there fellow employee, I saw your kid dressed up as Batman, the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader yesterday." He laughed and went into the story about how the little guy's grandma made capes for both of his little boys. At this, I was instantly transported back to the time of my own boyhood, when I in all my glorious boyness enjoyed the wearing of my very own homemade cape. I don't recall who made it for me, but I assure you it was homemade and I wore it everywhere. I loved the shit out of that thing. This fuzzy little Wonder Years memory gets one to thinking that all the little boys and all the little girls should be given their very own capes for the wearing, capes in any color or pattern the little guys and gals may choose, capes for the young imagination sparking, for the superhero role-playing, for the tying around the young shoulders and declaring oneself to be a vampire to total strangers in the mall and having to be yanked away by embarrassed but amused parents. Yes, lots and lots of capes. That, my friends, would be an excellent use of a lot of fabric.

Monday, November 07, 2005

At the urinal

Ever notice how many stories start with the words, "So I'm taking a piss"?

So I'm taking a piss, right? Standing-up style at the urinal. And this dude I work with walks in. And said dude knows I've just returned to work after the birth of my son. And as I'm standing there, equipment in hand, the dude walks up and stands at the urinal next to me and says, "So how big man? Give me some measurements."

You're talking about the baby, right?

Yes, he's talking about the baby he answers, the look on his face telling me that he hasn't the slightest idea what else he could possibly be asking about. Oh, the badassness of unintentional comic timing.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yar, back to work

Well, here it is two weeks that I've been home with Ash and baby Henry, and they've truly been days unlike any other in my experience....wonderful, tiring, fun, exciting, new, revelatory. It's going to be really hard to go back to work tomorrow and leave the family for the day, but I'm fortunate to have had as much time as I've had. For anybody who's having a kid (and there's tons of you out there), and if you can swing it, I highly highly encourage a nice fat break from work, not just for mom (obviously) but for her partner as well. For all its family friendly posturing, the United States offers some of the most minimal provisions in the way of maternity and paternity leave of any of the civilized nations of the world. It almost seems as if any political energy available to spend on helping out families in this country is being focussed on the gay marriage battle, a fight which the right absolutely cannot win forever. Whatever laws may be getting passed now, there's simply no way they can build a dam big enough to hold back the historical tidal wave of change that is going to sweep the idiotic bigotry against gay people under the same shameful red white and blue rug as slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow. Maybe after that fight is won, then we can look to Northern Europe.

But I digress. The last two weeks have truly been amazing. A few observations:

- When it comes to sleep time, it truly does not matter what you sing to your kid, as long as you sing it nicely. I sang as much of "Fuck the Police" as I could remember to him the other night and it seems to have relaxed him fine. I'll let you know if he develops an unusually hostile disposition towards police officers at an early age.

- Can't say it enough, with boy babies, cover the hose during changings! I turned my head for one second the other day, and when I look back, he's peeing on the wall.

- Remember to scratch your dog behind the ears. He knows he's not top dog anymore, but there's no need to completely destroy his world.

- The sound of a mobile playing a lullaby as heard through a baby monitor sounds very much like an ice cream truck. If you hear this, don't go racing into the street shouting "ICE CREEEEEAM" a la Bill Cosby.

- We dress babies in a variety of patterns that we would never wear ourselves. I don't remember the last time I wore anything that featured even one, much less multiple, baby chicks.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not the green wire...any wire but the green wire

Every time I successfully get baby off to sleep, after I've rocked him and sang to him and done the whole please-go-to-sleep-come-on-I'll-do-whatever-you-wish-oh-great-baby-master dance, and waited ever so patiently for the telltalle signs of deep sleep, including the limp limbs and calm breathing, and I've gently set him down and ever so slowly taken my hands off of him and stepped silently away like some kind of ninjitsu-daddy, I always feel like I've just successfully defused a bomb. The sweaty brow, that feeling like I've been holding my breath for the last half hour, the rush of relief, the whole thing.

Seriously though, it hasn't taken long to start developing an appreciation for what parents are always talking about when they talk about the satisfaction that comes with raising a kid. Mine is just shy of two weeks old, and already, I get this incredible feeling of accomplishment and elation any time I can just do something right for him. Anytime I can figure out why he's crying, any time I can calm him down, get him to sleep, get him to follow a brightly colored object across his field of vision, I feel like, "That's right! I am DAD, dammit!"

Of course, the other side of that is when I can't figure out what his problem is. I just feel like a total fraud, like what the hell is society doing entrusting me with a child. I know that's ridiculous, especially when you consider some of the freakshows out there that are allowed not only to reproduce, but to raise their children, but the feeling still pops up. And as the years go by and little Henry's problems become more complex, the kind of thing that mom and dad can't just fix, I'm going to have to learn to go maybe a bit easier on myself.

But for now, I am Dad, and dammit, I can deal.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Baby's first bath

So baby Hank's first bath (besides the post womb exit scrubbing) went down tonight. Not that he's done much to get very dirty, but it was getting to be about that time. Not so much a bath really, as a wiping off with soap and warm water while sitting in a little plastic baby tub with a towel underneath. The baby books describe baths as a way to calm baby down. Let me assure you that this little guy was not calmed until the bathing was over. We may well have a little Pigpen on our hands.