May 1, 2006

Grizzly Bear, Grizzly Bear, What Do You Taste?

I‘m thinking that one involves a pair of hikers who are, unfortunately for them, down on their luck.

So, in the file of What They Neglect to Tell You Before You Go About Birthin’ That Baby is that said baby will need to be ENTERTAINED. I am not sure about other’s babies, but OUR baby needed to be amused from the very beginning - pretty much the same day we carted his newborn bony butt home. At first, it was enough to drive him around the car, or just walk him around the house. Ceiling fans and lamps also provided loads of Entertainment Mileage (EM). Unfortunately, this phase didn’t last long and his entertainment needs started getting more complicated. Fortunately, we received the ugly-smugly Lamaze multi-sensory cube as a gift (aka The Most Hideous Toy Known to Man). When I opened this thing, I was appalled and considerered returning it - which would have been a grave mistake on my part. As luck would have it, I am such an easy mark for brand marketing that the word “Lamaze” on the packaging screamed Harvard Bound! so, I ripped open the damned thing. Later, when Arun was around a month old, in a fit of desperation, we sat him in his high chair in the reclining position, placed the cube on the tray in front of him and he sat there for FIFTEEN minutes, just staring at it with his big ole bug eyes. At that point, he didn't even KNOW he was in possession of HANDS, much less have the capability to do anything WITH THEM. Anyway, when he would begin crying, we would just switch the cube to another side and he would sit there staring for ANOTHER fifteen minutes. This shit was better than Baby Einstein! We could never get him to sit that long in front of the RidiculousTV - in fact, we have gotten far more EM out of the CNN newcrawls than Baby Einstein.

Speaking of videos, don’t get me wrong - we are not against them. If it won't make the kid go blind or give him seizures, plug that shit IN. We just haven’t had much luck with videos. So far, Arun would rather hunker down with some toys (although, I'm still stocking up on Jonny Quest, JUST IN CASE). However, when the Sesame Street Beginnings controversy started, I KNEW that my boy needed to be a part of THAT, so of course, I had to purchase one of them. I bought the Make Music Together DVD and honestly? I was impressed. Although, I’ll admit this disappointed me because I was hoping to get a snarky post out of it. But NO, it turned out to be a nice video. The best part of it is that it encourages parental interaction. Arun didn’t really care for it until I sat him in my lap and actually started singing and dancing with him. One thing, though. Does it bother anyone else that Prairie Dawn is so fucking PINK? That's one muppet in serious need of some sunblock. Also, baby Cookie Monster has GOT. SOME. MOVES. ON. HIM. That monster can DANCE. Very hot.

Truth be known, before I had children, I swore I wouldn't litter my house with plastic primary colored crap (I also swore I would let my kid "cry it out", but that's ANOTHER post entirely). Anyway, I quickly discovered that all the cool, uber-Euro wooden toys are fucking EXPENSIVE and couple this with the fact that I stopped bringing home a paycheck AND wellllll, Fisher-Price started lookin' mighty FINE. Hands down, we have gotten the most EM out of the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Rockin’ Gym. I bought this when Arun was about 5 weeks old - all he could do was lay on his back and stare in fascination. If he got excited and kicked around it would rock and turn the music on. Then, he learned to bat at the dangling fish, then he progressed to actually grabbing them. Now? He sits at the thing pulling all the toys out and "steering" the little wheel. I love this toy because the music is a fun calypso series. In fact, I love the entire Ocean Wonders set so much, I kinda went “overboard” with it and thus, we are the proud owners of the Aquarium, take along swing , fishbowl , high chair, octopus portable mobile , musical stacker , and even the fish rattle . I think most parents would agree, it is damned HARD to find Noisy Toys that aren't irritating. When you find something that doesn't make you want to rend your garments, you buy ALL of the shit.

Now, let's talk about BOOKS. First, I LOVE books. Not only do I have books from my own childhood, I have been collecting children's books throughout my adulthood - particuarly vintage ones from the 40s and 50s (I love the stylized art and storylines). So, Arun did come into the world already owning a hefty set of books. Throughout my pregnancy, as I lovingly rubbed my big ole baby belly, reading pregnancy book after pregnancy book, I learned how critical it is to read to your baby. Otherwise, he will end up with low test scores, no personality, no job, and ultimately, no eternal soul. So, I harbored grandiose visions of hours spent with my precious progeny poring over classic after classic. And even though I hate Goodnight Moon, how could I resist a book that could so easily incorporate the very name of my son? But alas, my hopes were quickly dashed in the Reading Category, as I ended up mostly with this:

It's only been recently that he will allow me to actually TURN the pages, but ONLY if I do so with an attitude that each page JUST MIGHT contain a thrilling conclusion to the aura of mystery I have already created in the previous page.

Lately, in desperation, I have been visually scanning the house for anything else that might assist in amusing in our kid - I call it Going on the Cheap. Empty soymilk carton? 15 minutes. Wooden spatula? 10 minutes. Spoons? 2 minutes (per spoon) Chess set? 30 minutes (with CLOSE supervision!!! It’s great for fine motor skills.) Empty bathtub with hangers? 30 minutes:

Finally, while I rued the day that all this primary colored plastic crap would take over my house, I secretly hoped I would be able to resist my boy’s baby browns. Ha! We have a veritable Toy Parade of Gay Pride running through our house:

But that’s okay. Like I’ve said before , I may not treat my boy like a Princess, but he can become a Queen later if he wants to. It's all good.

The scariest part of this post is that I have only covered a FRACTION of the toys to which the kid has access. I have what I refer to as Entertainment Kiosks set up through the house - baskets filled with toys and books and then per room, one "big" toy (i.e. a gym, exersaucer, etc). It's crazy. I am just grateful Arun is only one of FOUR grandkids, so my parents haven't gone apeshit buying him crap.

You should see the all the shit littering my SISTER'S house.

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