An Open Letter to the Word "No"

Dear "No,"

The "No" Police (aka my mom and dad) have been bandying you about lately, and I don't like it.  You are obviously associated with restraint, and that is a characteristic I joyfully lack.  Ever since I began developing the motor skills to actually do something beyond laying around on the floor like an injured seal, Mom and Dad have been using you against me.  

The other day, I tried to remove some unnecessary pages from the Baby 411 book, and I got a "No, no , no!"  It was a gentle, almost melodic denial, yet it stopped me in my tracks. 

This morning, immediately after I fashioned a Slurpee straw out of an electrical cord, I got a resounding "No!" that just plain freaked me out.  Cool it, Mom! I wanted to say.  There's enough here to go around.

"No," I am told when I reach for a pair of glasses.  "No, no," in the morning when I push my cereal off my tray.  "No, no, no!" all day long as I grab a fistfuls of Scout's fur. 

"No," you never seem associated with anything positive.  It's almost like you are the antithesis of my favorite word, "Yes."  Frankly, my studies of late have revealed that there are an inordinate number of words in the English language, so many that it would behoove us all to dispense with a few...starting with you.  Instead, let us replace this monosyllabic atrocity with words and phrases that better convey what I would like to hear, such as "absolutely," "be my guest," "by all means," and "go for it!"

"No," who do you think you are?  Do you think I will sit idly by as you wage this oppressive war?  No.  I will not.  

I will learn to wield the very implement used to keep me down and turn a problem into an opportunity.  I will be indestructible.

I am watching.  I am waiting.  When the time comes, I will be ready.

It's on.


Little A


Game Changer

Something momentous has occurred.  

Until now, I attributed my lack of mobility to my royal status.  It seems appropriate that someone of my sensibilities would be carried around the house in a parent's arms like a princess in a sedan chair.  Yes, this caused some setbacks when it came to speed, exercise, and generally going in the direction I had in mind, but I just chalked all of those up to the sour grapes of a celebrity lifestyle.  But everything has changed.

I can crawl, people.  It may merely be a military slither, and it may be lopsided (I don't like to use my left leg so much), but it's an independent mode of mobility.  After I realized I had it in me all of this time, I must admit that I wondered if perhaps my parents were carrying me around in order to take away my God-given freedom of transport.  A momentary hurricane of fury clouded my judgment, and I may have soiled a brand new diaper in anger, but I am now at peace.  More to the point, I know that with my new superpower, vengeance will be mine any day. 

Lock up the breakables.  Set up a barrier at the top of the stairs.  Hide important paper goods.  Go ahead.  But one of these days, you will slip up, and I'll be right there waiting.

On a lighter note, I am submitting a form to my parents and the condominium Homeowner's Association suggesting some design and structural improvements I think we could make in the interest of baby-friendliness.

Design and Structural Improvements Checklist
Form 123-ABCDEFG
Name: Little A (aka Small Resident)
Date: Today
Pursuant to building code 123, section ABCDEFG, the following improvements are requested at [address of residence].  Urgent attention is sought in this matter, as one Small Resident feels her rights are currently being violated by the grown-ups-only floor plan of the previously referenced condominium.  Video evidence is included with this form to corroborate the aforementioned Small Resident's demands.

Item A: The Staircase 

It is believed that this is a colossal waste of space and simply a barrier to baby-friendly transport.  Small Resident suggests collapsing the staircase and combining the first and second floors of the home or installing a small button-operated lift at the foot of the stairs.

Item B: Tile, Laminate, and Carpeting

Small Resident has noticed chafing of the kneecaps over the past three days.  She proposes replacing all unreasonably hard/rough surfaces with materials better-suited to kneecap travel.  Suggestions include down feather pillows, memory foam, and/or baby bunnies glued together with marshmallow cream.

Item C: Doorways

While Small Resident believes the idea of a doorway is inherently good, current design of all residence doorways make them useless for her daily transit.  Coincidentally, Tiny Furry resident is in agreement.  Apparently, the two Tall Homeowners have been in violation of the Equal Access for Small, Non-Verbal Individuals Act for an egregious length of time.  Immediate action in initiating construction of Digitally Operated Great Gateways for Instant Exit (or D.O.G.G.I.E.) Doors is requested.  

Item D: Coiled Piles of Power Cords

Photo evidence reveals yards of electrical cords in nearly every corner of every room in the residence.  Small Resident commends the easy access to rubber chew hosing.  Says Small Resident, "You guys are doing great here.  Keep up the good work."  No action required.

Item E: Lighting 

While not related to issues of mobility, Small Resident feels it is imperative that overhead lighting in both bedrooms be replaced with a mirrored disco ball that plays "Staying Alive" and turns on automatically at 3:00 AM every day.  This is to ensure she does not miss her wake-up call due to infant sleep disorders such as pleasant dreams, a full belly, general comfort, etc.

Item F: Toilets

While Small Resident has no plans now or in the future of actually sitting on this decorative porcelain chair, she has suggested adding a long hose/Slurpee straw (like the ones on beer guzzler helmets) for easy access to water.

Item G: That Thing that you Dropped on the Floor and Forgot 

Just leave it there.  Small Resident says she has plans for it.

Item H: Counter Tops

Small Resident admits these have always carried an "out of sight out of mind" aspect, but she plans to spend time in the future deciding how that space could be better utilized.  One salient proposal is that there be no counter tops at all, providing easy access for all household goods from the floor.  While consideration for such a large scale renovation is underway, she requests that the Tall Residents at least install one Pedal-Operated Baby Bottle Maker (like a frappuccino maker but for formula) on the kitchen floor.   

Item I: Scout's Food and Water Dishes

Small Resident  and Tiny Furry Resident are in agreement that these are in the best possible location.  Small Resident simply requests that Tall Residents please fill the bowl on the left with something better.  Suggestions include: sweet potato, yogurt, ice cream, or cupcakes.  Tiny Furry Resident agrees and adds "chicken."


Small Resident thanks Tall Homeowners and the Homeowner's Association for their consideration of the above requests.  Inquiries are not necessary because she does not plan to entertain them in the least.  Please do it, and do it now.


Anger Management

Dear People, 

Today I am 8 3/4 years / 455 weeks old.  I just want to say for the record that measuring your life in weeks is ridiculous.  I'm just trying to fit in.

Mom and Dad are currently upstairs trying to put The Little Human down for a nap, so I thought I would put paw to keyboard.  From the way things sound up there, it's going to be a while.

There have been no dramatic developments over here since we last communicated, and I find that unsettling.  She still poops in her pants--indoors.  She still cries for reasons none of us can fathom.  She is still unbelievably uncoordinated.  In a nutshell, she is a very, very late bloomer.

Sure, I have observed some subtle developments around the house, but they only serve to complicate my concerns versus quell them.  

For starters, let's talk about food.  I eat the same thing every day.  I have eaten the same thing every day for my entire life: kibble.  It is dry.  It is hard.  It tastes like the insole of an old shoe.  They toss a treat on top of my morning and evening meals like some sort of participation trophy, but we all know it's merely a consolation.  

This used to be one of the areas where I felt The Interloper and I were truly aligned.  In some ways, I thought she actually had it worse.  I mean, my diet is dull, but at least it's not entirely liquid.  Then Mom and Dad started giving her other foods.  You may recall that Little A's first foods were avocado and broccoli.  Again, I felt sorry for her.  Who wants to eat that?  She basically told them they could take their avocado and broccoli and shove them where the sun don't shine, and I thought, You're not so bad! 

As time passes, however, her menu grows.  Not too long ago, they added chicken to her diet.  Chicken!!!  I will have you know that chicken is my raison d'etre.  I have a taste bud love affair with this flavorful fowl.  These two goons ran out and bought the kid a breast of chicken from some bird that lived the high life on some organic farm, and then they turned it into a puree.  A puree.  Blasphemy!  And what does The Little Human do?  She spits it out like it is no better than kibble.  Words cannot adequately express my rage in that moment.  Sure, it was pureed chicken, but it was still gourmet pureed chicken made from the parts of a chicken people actually want to eat.  Some people do not appreciate the finer things in life.

I'd also like to discuss what happened the other day, as the disparity leaves me livid.  I've had to listen to Tubs of Fun over here whine non-stop about her visits to the doctor.  And yes, I agree with her that doctor visits are unpleasant.  No one likes shots or getting investigated from head to toe.  The difference I would like to point out, however, is that Little A visits the doctor and I stay with the doctor.  That's right.  They leave me there.  My mom will tell you that all of the dogs and cats stay with the doctor for the day, not just me.  Okay, fine.  That's true.  But let me share this conversation I overheard when Erica, Dr. Berry's vet tech, called my mom:

Erica: Hi!  I'm calling from Banfield to let you know that Scout did a great job today.  Everything looks good, and she is ready to be picked up.
Mom: (Unintelligible response.)
Erica: Of course!  Not a problem.  I have a little guy myself, and I know how awful it is to wake them up from a nap.  When she's up and you guys are ready, come on over.  We'll see you later!

When she's up?!?  Are you kidding me?!?!  I had to sit in that place for an extra forty-five minutes so The Little Princess could catch a few more winks.  Even the beagle next to me--who was shaking off the effects of anesthesia and wearing the cone of shame--even he looked sorry for me.

I won't even go into how they took my temperature while I was there.  

Is it any wonder that when we got home, I slipped out of the patio door when Mom took Little A onto the deck to swing, ran up to an oblivious and rather dopey-looking terrier, and tried to rip off its face?  I swear he was casing the house from the outside.  And what happened then?  I had to sit inside while they played.  Well.  You see what you get for asserting yourself around here.

Lastly, I'll just go ahead and address the elephant in the room.  Now that Monster Truck is gearing up to walk, will she have to wear a leash?  Only time will tell...but you can bet I will be watching.

I know, I know...so much complaining!  Don't get me wrong...I love Little A.  She's my buddy.  She lets me lick food off of her face, and she smiles at everything I do.  When she wakes up in the from her naps, I stop whatever I am doing to run upstairs and greet her.  She and I are practically the same size, so we see the world similarly.  

I just hope she understands the hierarchy of a pack and remembers her place.  

I was here first. 

Thank you for your undivided attention.  That is something we are sorely lacking around here these days.  Feel free to come over to play fetch and watch a movie with me.  I'll let you know the next time the coast is clear.




What's with the Frantic Gestures? I Heard You the First Time.

Someone is losing their hearing in this house, and it's not me.  Every time I want a bottle these days, Mom cups her right hand and taps it several times on her open-palm left hand and says, "Bottle?  You want a bottle?"  

"Yes, I want a bottle.  For the love of God, stop it with the phalanges modern dance routine and whip one up."

Dad does it, too, but he has a distinctly different style and often forgets to use one of his hands.  It tends to look like he is violently milking a cow or about to pound an invisible bottle into his face.  Then Mom starts showing him how to do the gesture correctly.  Meanwhile, I am left watching this train wreck and wondering when someone is going to make that bottle.  

Few things leave me speechless these days, but my word escapes me at moments like this.

"More?  You want more?" Mom asks me during dinner as she taps the closed fingers of her two hands together a few times.  

"Oh, I'm sorry.  Was staring wistfully at the spoon with my mouth wide open and drool running down my chin not clear enough for you?  Do I have to participate in your little game in order to get serviced around here?"

For the life of me, I cannot understand why they persist with these charades.  Recent data analysis reveals that they are getting nowhere.  

Success Rate of My Parents' Mode of Communication

Success Rate of My Mode of Communication

Between you and me, I have been practicing some new syllables in my head lately, and I fully intended to put a few of them together and try them out loud next week...maybe a "Mama" or "Daddy" or "guitar."  I guess that's not what these people want from me, though.  If we are all going to wave our hands around and make goofy faces instead of speaking English, so be it.  But don't get upset if my first word is "Scout."  

She's the only one in this house who doesn't insult my intelligence.


One Word to Rule Them All

Today I would like to discuss my new word.

I have a word.  It is one syllable, and--when said expressively--makes good things happen.  That word is "Da."  It is pronounced "dah," like in the word "dock."  It is a most existential word in that it means everything and nothing all at the same time.  

Let's give it a few practice runs just to see how it works:

*Note: If you click on the comics below, you can zoom in on them.*

Take One
Take TWO
Isn't that fun?  It's a magical word that means whatever the listener wants to hear.

Now let's play those back with what I am actually saying.

Rewind One

Rewind Two

Because you are my loyal fans, I give you permission to try using my word in your everyday life.  Just keep in mind that this word will only work for you if its meaning remains fluid.  It must be applicable to any and every situation, and the listener must truly feel like he or she has "cracked the code," so to speak.  Imagine the possibilities! 

Let's practice:

Experiment in Linguistics Take One

Experiment in Linguistics Take Two

And there you have it.  Don't say I never gave you anything.  This is a phonetic goldmine.  

* My mother and I would like to encourage our readers to try "Da!" out and share how it went or describe a hypothetical situation where it would be useful.  Seriously.  Leave a comment about when you wish you could use my magical word or (for the truly brave) give it a test run and let us know how it goes!*

*Coming Soon: A discussion about my parents' recent retaliatory decision to stop using words.*

The Peanut Gallery Librarian

It has come to my attention that my mother has been speaking on my behalf when it comes to "our" opinions on the literature we read.  I've read some of these supposedly "joint" book reviews, and I must say that I threw up a little in my mouth.  Granted, I do that several times an hour all day long, but this was definitely out of disgust.  She may glamour you with her charming anecdotes and frilly adjectives, but I am here to set the record straight.  Yes, some of those books are worth reading.  And some are part of a larger conspiracy to brainwash babies. 

Here is the real scoop.

The Peanut Gallery Librarian
* The book titles below contain links to my mother's online reviews so that you may compare her version of reality with...reality.*

Image borrowed from http://www.babylit.com/shop-books/shop-books-prideandprejudice/

Do not be fooled by the fancy title and nod to actual literature.  This is a math book, people.  No matter what my mother does to hide that fact--reading it in a British accent, elaborating on the life of Lizzy Bennet, commenting on the pretty dresses--nothing changes the fact that this is a covert publishing experiment to get you to count.  

So here is a little math for you: page 8 tastes better than page 7.

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
Image borrowed from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/olivia-and-the-fairy-princesses-ian-falconer/1108614433?ean=9781442450271

This is the story of a little piglet named Olivia who is trying to tell her mother something very important as she gets ready for bed, and her mother just wants her to go to sleep so she can check Facebook.  If my peers were following the dictates of some fascist cult leader with a penchant for pink, I certainly hope my mother would listen to my warnings.  However, seeing how I daily find myself competing with the iPad for attention, the outlook is bleak.

I like Olivia's personality very much.  The moral of this story is to ask questions related to a single thread of conversation over and over and over until you wear down your opponent (aka your mom).

I like the illustrations, and this is definitely the only book I own that uses the phrase "corporate malfeasance."  Kudos to Falconer for having faith in the intelligence of his audience.  By which I mean me.

George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends
Image borrowed from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/george-and-martha-james-marshall/1100470105?ean=9780618891955

This is a collection of stories about two hippos struggling with their weight.  Throughout all of their ups, downs, and addictions to sweets, cigars, and pranks, they are also very supportive of one another, which makes for an excellent side story.

The moral of all of these stories is to watch your back in case your best friend does something rotten.  And always be ready to get him back.  Revenge is apparently funny.

I appreciate that Martha doesn't mince words.  I often take a similar approach with my best friend (we'll will call him K-Diddy here).  Like George and Martha, he and I are inseparable.  He is the meatball to my spaghetti.

Sometimes I need to remind him who is boss, and I am the fork to his meatball.

* * * * *
So there you have it, folks.  The real reviews.  As the saying goes, if you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself.  

As if I don't have enough on my plate these days.

If you have any additional insights on these books or other book recommendations, you may write me.  Don't bother sharing anything with my mother.  Apparently she will just say whatever she wants and then give you half of the credit, whether or not you want it.  


My Parents' Brand of Heroin

In honor of my induction into solid foods, my mom and dad have decided that we need to all sit together at the dining room table, which I heretofore believed was a storage slab for sundry objects in our house no one felt like putting away.  Turns out, it is actually a common area where people are supposed to convene and share food.  Who knew.  

Eating together at the dining room table instead of the living room coffee table sounds like a pretty simple adjustment, but from the way these two have been carrying on, you would think someone asked them to eat dinner on the bottom of the sea.  I am sure you are wondering right now what could possibly be the big deal about migrating to a table that is located approximately twelve feet away from our former dining spot.  Well, let me tell you: it's the t.v.  

My parents love watching t.v. while they eat.  I think I would love it too, but I am not allowed to watch it because the blasted Baby 411 book claims I shouldn't watch any screens for my first two years of life.  Before, they would always spin me around so that I was not facing it.  I think this is called "a double standard."  Mom says to get used to it because there will probably be more of those in life.  I kept arching my back and alternating between turning my head to see the t.v. and then staring at them with big, dewy eyes while they ate their food, and Mom finally had an emotional epiphany. 

"We can't do this anymore," she said.  

Good, I thought.  Now spin me around, and let's all watch Mad Men.  

"We're just going to have to all sit around the 'real' table for dinner and watch t.v. after she goes to bed."  

I looked to Dad for support.  Surely he wouldn't agree to this tomfoolery.  

"Yeah..." he said slowly, "I think the time has come."  


So now we all sit around the dining room table and stare at each other while we eat.  Once and a while, Mom or Dad will turn around at stare wistfully at that powerless black rectangle resting silently on the entertainment center and sigh, "I wonder what's happening on How I Met Your Mother lately?"  

I don't know...why don't you turn it on and we'll all find out? 

"I just don't look forward to dinner like I used to," Dad noted the other day.  

"I know what you mean," Mom said.  "Dinner and t.v. has always been like a reward at the end of the day."

I chewed on my spoon and launched a liquid cannonball of yogurt and sweet potato onto the shiny dining room table. 

From my perspective, I would have to say that this arrangement ended up being an improvement.  I mean, you would think someone asked them to eat dinner without breathing.  Watching them carry on is sort of like having my own sitcom unfold before me.  Or one of those reality shows about recovering drug addicts.  

I guess everyone has their own brand of heroin.

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