19 May

Our baby has somehow become obsessed with penguins. Or rather, with the few examples of penguins that exist around our house. And in completely inexplicable fashion, he has somehow come to a different relationship with these different manifestations of penguin. Here is a little Brooklyn Baby penguinology:

Case 1 – the smothered candle

This penguin is a weird figurine that mother-in-law brought home as a present from her trip to Israel (Yes. I agree. Let us just let that sink in for a moment. MinL went to Israel and brought us back a penguin candle). This penguin, or ‘peh-peh’ as baby calls it, sits on wife’s dresser, or, more recently, on the bookshelf right next to the bed where after-bath-put-on-shoes ritual takes place. Because if it is not in sight, then increasingly frantic ‘peh-peh, peh-peh!’ pointing happens.

If you look closely at penguin (and you should – look closer…closer, Clarise, closer…), you will have noticed: a) that penguin is holding a book on his foot. The book, which is an integral part of the penguin experience, used to be held by his flippers. Repeated pulling of the book has resulted in a book that is now separate from the rest of penguin, and that penguin only has one flipper with which to hold penguin. Against his one foot. The other of which was, we think, eaten by toddler; b) that penguin looks a little frantic. This is because his beak has been somewhat chewed off and is now stuck tenuously back onto his face. For now; and c) that penguin is in fact a candle, his little tuft of white hair being actually a wick. After some discussion (and by discussion I mean that I suggested this, and wife told me that I’m insane), I have come to realize that if we actually were to light penguin up and let him fulfill his candlish destiny, Baby would completely lose his shit. This is, I submit, the most well-loved penguin-candle in the history of penguin-candles.

Case 2 – the one-armed flapper
We do a bedtime ritual that is pretty much the same every night. Eat around 6, bath at 6:30, shoes and brace at 6:45, bed at 7. This will vary a bit, but generally if baby isn’t in bed by 7:30, something’s gone wrong or someone is in town to play. This routine is smooth like silk, except for the shoes and brace.

(Let me pause for a second, since people often have a mis-perception about his brace. I often say that it’s fine except that baby doesn’t like to be restrained, and they nod and think, who would want to be restrained, the Mitchell Brace is, well, restraining. The truth is that he doesn’t care about the shoes and brace at all, he doesn’t like the process of putting them on. Once they’re on, he’s back to happy as a baby clam).

So we use books as a way to distract him from getting his shoes on. And, you know, cause books is to making baby smert. This bathtime peekaboo book is a favorite. Every time he gets to this page, we say ‘Can you flap your arms like a penguin?’ and baby wildly flaps one arm. Disturbing. Is the one arm an early sign of asymmetrical brain activity? Does he know something about penguins that we don’t? Is he trying to tell us something?

Case 3 – Scary bath penguin
And then there is the penguin which actually sits in its natural habitat. Well, water at least. A baby gift along with rubber ducky, this penguin has wind-up flippers, so that it swims around the tub. This penguin was initially interesting, and many baths have required non-stop winding. But something happened a few weeks ago. Now penguin is a problem. If he sees penguin in the bath, he tries to throw it out of the tub. If he sees it in the box of bath toys, he shakes his head emphatically and whimpers (‘no no no no no no no..’until you make it disappear. We’re loathe to throw the thing away, since there have been turnarounds before (don’t get me started with bath-dinosaur), but it’s also a kind of awesome wind-up penguin.

As an aside to this post, our baby is entering a phase where things are endlessly fascinating to his parents, but are clearly the dullest possible things that could be happening, if it’s not your kid. I’m considering switching to a full-on ‘here’s the shit that’s crazy about my wife’ site until this phase passes…


One Response to “Penguinology”

  1. Davin May 20, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Sure, spice things up some night après-bath and set peh-peh on fire. What could possibly go wrong?
    Your take on parenting is always worth a read, and reliably more interesting than the average mommy/daddy blog post about “the penguins in our home”. You just need to follow your gut more often, particularly when Baby Mamma isn’t around to stop you.

    In related news, I predict that BB will turn out to be one the most unflappable humans on the continent.

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