Mack saw people eating outside on the grass by the apartment pool, and he decided that was how he should have dinner too. OK, we said, we'll have a picnic. "PIG-nic," he said, and made sure his three stuffed pigs would come along. As of yesterday, the pigs all have names: Pig-Stinky (above, right), Pig-Rack, and Pig-Lish. So everyone ate spaghetti, above the grass and below the sky (below, top).
CHILD, aged two years, eight months
FATHER [A bedrooom, in early afternoon, with blinds drawn. The CHILD lies on a bed, holding a blanket, almost but not quite still. The MOTHER sits on the couch by the window, reading a newspaper.]
[The door opposite the couch opens slightly. The FATHER sticks his head through the opening.]
FATHER (in a whisper): What kind of tea do you want?
CHILD (suddenly sitting upright, also in a whisper): What kind of tea do you want, Mommy?
Mack dictated the pumpkin design. We didn't have a real candle, and the Giant had only had cruddy little electric tea lights in a six-pack, which made it seem that five of them would be floating in the Pacific Garbage Gyre before Christmas. So I dug in the drawer and found a big candle in the shape of a 5, left over from a 35th-birthday cake. Once it was lit, he didn't want to leave it till I told him we were going to go around the building and look at apartment numbers.
Thanks to some of the display text, which made it sound like I was on an active quest for logo-free diapers, I keep getting mail from well-meaning readers telling me I can get plain white ones at Costco or Whole Foods, or suggesting I try switching to cloth diapers. Cloth diapers! Because what's really missing from my life is the chance to do a few more loads of laundry. Or I could get a diaper service, keep the reeking cloth diapers around the apartment, and reschedule household life around pickups. Glad you want to help me out, hippies.
The actual point is that I am lazy about diapers; I had to do too much diaper-hunting in Beijing. Now I just want to throw some normal, mass-market diapers in the shopping cart and not think about it. So I don't understand why Proctor & Gamble has to go and shove an Elmo promotion into the middle of this simple transaction.
Tom Scocca is trying to rent out the apartment via Facebook.
Tom Scocca is not very good at using Facebook.
Tom Scocca is, as someone who has never once used the "Status Update" function, not sure why he has started thinking in Status Updates.
Tom Scocca is, in one of his last acts as a Chinese housewife, baking oatmeal cookies in the countertop oven.
Tom Scocca is trying to fit "baking cookies" into his mental draft of a Periodic Table of Procrastination.
Tom Scocca is not worrying about how to scale 1 teaspoon of vanilla down to 2/3 of a teaspoon, now that he has remembered that the measuring spoons are packed away in a box somewhere between here and the Port of Tianjin.
Tom Scocca is thinking that the Facebook status updates are basically a steady chorus of other people's internal monologues, only externalized.
SIDS may be the single most alarming thing in all the quasi-medical parenting literature: Dear New Parent: Please keep an eye out for this affliction; we don't know where it comes from or why it happens, but the symptom is, when you check your baby in the crib, the baby is dead. Sleep tight, everyone!
What makes it even more disturbing is that, because nobody can quite say how SIDS works, the expert advice on the subject sounds suspiciously like magical thinking. And the closer medical science moves toward witchcraft, the more authoritative a tone it tends to take. SIDS is not suffocation--but please don't put your baby to bed with thick blankets or quilts! No, not because the baby might suffocate. This is not suffocation! And don't give your baby a pillow or a stuffed animal. But again, it's not suffocation we're worried about! It's SIDS, which is totally different. It's a specific medical condition, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. That's medical terminology, right there. We don't know what causes SIDS. But we're pretty sure it's more likely to happen if you give the child soft bedding and a warm bedroom. And for God's sake, don't let the baby sleep face-down. We won't tell you that sleeping face-down causes SIDS (because we don't know what causes SIDS), but we're pretty sure that not sleeping face-down contributes to not getting SIDS. Do bear this in mind--if you don't avoid your baby getting SIDS, your baby might die!
So basically the American Academy of Pediatrics ends up recommending that if you must put your infant down to sleep at all, you should put it down to sleep in a 60-degree room, face-up on a sheet of unvarnished three-quarter-inch plywood. All those nice soft blankets and crib bumpers your relatives gave you? They were trying to kill your baby.
(Perhaps in a lull between studies about which kind of teddy bear is most likely to kill your baby through not-suffocation, some pediatric epidemiologist might check into the relative timing of the mid-'90s Back to Sleep anti-SIDS campaign and the much-discussed mid-'90s spike in autism. Doctors urge parents to stop infants from sleeping in the most restful position, and young children begin to be diagnosed with cognitive defects at ever-higher levels. Not that correlation is causation! And most of us would certainly rather have an autistic baby than a dead one. It's probably nothing. Bad Thought. Forget about it.)
Anyway, this week, the SIDS experts have a new piece of insight into how to prevent your baby from dying of non-suffocation: electric fans.
Sleeping in a room with a fan lowers a baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome by 72 percent, a new study has found.
I love electric fans. But this is not so good--the story then goes on to say that the results were "not statistically significant" for babies who were already sleeping in doctor-approved sleeping environments. And the real scientific gem for the concerned parent is here:
Parents who worry that their child will be chilled by a fan should know that fans do not cool the air; they just move air around. A baby will feel a chill only if he or she is perspiring, doctors say.
(While I was busy uploading this picture, Mack got bored with standing around clinging to my outstretched shin, so he flipped himself over it and hit the tile floor headfirst. Real-time baby blogging!)
Mack decided to test one of his guiding principles--if you're eating it, I want to eat it*--on a lobe of durian I'd brought home as an evening snack. Durian flesh is basically custard, albeit custard that smells like a bus-station restroom, so I let him try a spoonful. Three or four more spoonfuls and a lot of lip-smacking followed: on the often-divisive issue of the King of Fruits, he is now a confirmed royalist. (This may have something to do with the fact that he's never smelled a bus-station restroom.)
- If you're wearing it, I want to eat it.
- If you're reading it, I want to eat it.
- If you're typing on it, I want to eat it.