Attempts at parenting – Friday 11 December 2015

The following is a self-help checklist to determine if you are likely addicted to Crystal Meth… or Baby Einstein:

  • You have developed a dependence and tolerance to it. Do you feel like you need it to get through the day, to feel better or for any other reason?
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms, you use again to counteract withdrawal symptoms;
  • You are losing or have lost the ability to control your usage;
  • All of you priorities start to revolve around its use; eg. you are preoccupied with getting it, you have to have it in your possession to ‘feel okay’, you do whatever you can to get it including missing work, family obligations etc.

Based on the above checklist we have concluded that Milo is developing, or potentially already has, an addiction to Baby Einstein, the nonsensical, psychedelic, youtube sensation that bypasses a baby’s capacity for conscious thought and injects itself directly into his or her reptilian brain. Readers may recall Baby Einstein was introduced to Milo some months ago to counteract his regular distracted demeanour at breakfast time. We found that Baby Einstein rendered Milo immobile, save for his little jaw which pistoned up and down in an involuntary fashion, allowing a well-timed spoonful of Weetbix to be deposited.

Unfortunately what started as an innocent folly has spiraled out of our control and can now only be described as a breakfast dependence. All manner of distractions and other strategies have been employed to break this oppressive cycle; cats chasing a laser pointer, eating with novelty sized salad servers, using the baby-monitor handset as a mock telephone, dad wearing a cycling helmet, mum wearing Oma’s sunhat. None of it works. Milo points frantically at our pockets which house the Baby Einstein machine saying ‘baaa, baaa’ over and over (Baby Einstein regularly features puppets of animals, including a strange baby hippopotamus that sucks a schnuller and is pushed around in a pram. It is weird). If Milo’s efforts are not rewarded swiftly he, quite frankly, loses it. The chance of any Weetbix being deposited anywhere near his mouth is immediately forfeit, any projectiles within his surprisingly extensive radius are immediately seized and projected, and he begins to clamber his way out of his high chair with the unbalanced determination of an injured T1000.

Earlier this week I decided it was time to break the cycle. I visualized an addiction gnawing away at my poor child. I saw him shunned from sleep-overs in primary school because of the embarrassment the morning after would bring. I imagined my dream of hiking the Inca Trail with him some day shattered; no phone reception means no youtube, and no youtube means no Baby Einstein. And no Baby Einstein for three days means, well, I shivered at the thought. It was time for some parenting.

Being an expert on addiction, and parenting for that matter, I decided the cleanest and most logical approach would be ‘cold turkey’. Surely a child as hungry as mine would quickly concede defeat, return to his chair, apologise for his disruptive behaviour, daintily consume his Weetbix and then likely thank me for my provision of sustenance, and adroitly administered discipline.

Not so.

Milo bellowed as if his very world was collapsing; as if the planes would never again take off and land, as if the global supply of corn cobs had been exhausted, as if the little guy he sees sometimes in the mirror had stopped waving back, as if organic macro crackers and mini Italian bread sticks were no longer a thing, as if the little daisy buds that he loves to pluck from the sacrificial bush had just stopped growing. He was sad. And angry. And confused. But mostly angry.

As I am the adult and he the infant I held firm, reasoning with him as he writhed around on the ground, mucous and tears running in rivulets down his cheeks and joining forces just below his neckline to flow together into a damp stain in the shape of a V on the front of his shirt, as if he were a slightly out of shape middle-aged man shamed back to a lunchtime cross-fit class with his colleagues, sweating uncomfortably and wishing he’d just gone to Subway.

Eventually Huckleberry mustered the courage to investigate the cacophony, which distracted Milo momentarily and caused the bellowing and sobbing to eventually peter out. I congratulated myself on my patience and thought Milo and I had achieved a great parenting victory together. I welcomed him back into his high chair and offered him a little more Weetbix. Milo paused, his mouth firmly shut, looked at my pockets and delicately but definitively said “baaaaa”. I declined Milo’s gentle request for a quick glimpse of Baby Einstein which, perhaps predictably in hindsight, quickly precipitated a return to yelling, sobbing, writhing, injured but determined T1000.

It was about this time that Kuepps emerged from downstairs, showered and ready for the day. It was a Tuesday and therefore her day at home with Milo. Needless to say Kuepps was none-too-impressed with my attempts at parenting, and far from amused as I handed her a pink-faced, hungry, disheveled, slobbery child… but I was late for work.

Needless to say this morning (Friday, our day of adventure) Milo and I laughed heartily together at the antics of the creepy little hippo baby puppet, our jaws moving up and down with involuntary reptilian unison, as we enjoyed our Weetbix together.

 
A man sits alone; alone with Baby Einstein

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