A few days before my first daughter was born, I started keeping a journal about her life. This was inspired by those baby books, where you put in footprints, stats about size and weight at birth, milestones, etc. As far as actual use goes, those baby books are surpassed only by exercise bikes and crock pots in unfulfilled good intentions. Usually the first couple of pages are diligently filled out, and then the new parents get overwhelmed and the rest of the book is blank. I vowed to do better. The result? A mammoth 450-page document, spanning my daughter’s entire life thus far, which I presented to her last week when dropping her off at college.
A note on the text: it’s written in the second person (i.e., “you”) because its real audience is my daughter. I’m just offering you albertnet readers a taste. Not because you care about my kid’s childhood, but because as a parent, or a recovering kid, you might relate to some of it.
December 11, 2002 (age 1)
It’s too early to tell for sure, but you may have your first word: No. You have said this many times when someone does something you don’t like, such as taking something away from you. You cry out, “No no no no no!” The problem is, it sounds a lot like generic baby babble, and “n” is one of your favorite consonants anyway, so it’s not for sure yet. Of course, given your willfulness it wouldn’t surprise us a bit for “no” to be your first word.
January 13, 2003 (age 1)
As I’d theorized long ago, you have settled on your official first word: No. You say it very clearly and distinctly, in proper context. You even point as you say it. For example, on New Year’s Eve, as your mom was nursing you with a bottle (an early foray toward weaning you), you kept pulling back from the bottle, pointing at her, and saying, “No. No. No.” After much wracking of my brain, I have finally figured out a) why this is your first word, and b) why you often point as you say it.
“I had a ...”
“I had a ...”
“I had things going, mister, in this ...”
“I got laid off, down at the ...”
“Lumber yard.” (Note that through this song, you now have a general sense of what layoffs are, so you can relate somewhat when I talk to your mom about the massive layoffs my employer is perpetrating.)
“Then I’ll admit, things got...”
And so it goes in this vain, until the climactic scene, where I sing, “And I dropped to my knees, hung my head and...”
“Cried!” You deliver this word with the depth of feeling that can only come from a literal crybaby. You even hang your head as you utter it. It’s a beautiful thing.
I got a nasty electric shock from the Christmas tree lights the other day. I’d been lying on my back, lazily lolling, [our cat] Misha on my chest, while your mom was getting out the ornaments and lights and such. I started unraveling two twisted-together strands of lights, which were plugged in and showing signs of defectiveness: half of each strand was out. Suddenly it seemed as though the cat were attacking me, sinking a claw deep into my neck. Even after she jumped off my chest, I could still feel her claw in my neck; sometimes a cat’s claw gets stuck. But when she was at least four feet away and I could still feel that claw, I realized something else was going on. A bulb was stuck to my neck, shocking me! Your mom pulled the lights off of me, and I jumped up, cursing. You started bawling. It really shook you up! You comforted me for awhile, continually asking what happened. Very compassionate. A day or two later, you asked who shocked me. “It was an accident,” I said. You replied sternly, “A shock is never an accident.” So I guess you’ll grow up to be a personal injury lawyer! (I realized later that you were paraphrasing your mom telling you, “Hitting is never an accident!”)
May 15, 2005 (age 3½)
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