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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Whatever You Do, Do Not Look At the Dog.

My friend S. was invited to visit our friend R's dad. On the way over, with no explanation, S. was warned that he was not, under any circumstances, to look at the dog. The dog would be present and he was not to look at it. R. and S., both being male, didn't discuss the matter further, as two woman might have done. If they had, S. might have heeded the warning.

When they got to R's dad's house, everything seemed normal. I don't know R's father, but I do know S. and R. and, if they were being their usual selves, the conversation was interesting, funny and low key. S. has a great way of telling stories; he's a minimalist (unlike yours truly) and delivers a punchline with admirable finesse. In fact, I called him last night to try to get this story straight from him. I've only heard it second hand from my husband, who is a terrible story and joke teller. Only my mom is worse; at a party, she'll turn to you in front of other people and say, "Tell everyone that hilarious joke, you know, the one where the bear wipes his ass with the bunny." Then you have to tell it, even though everyone already knows the punchline. Humiliating. It's never easy to tell "that funny story" when you are put on the spot, so I told S. he should keep it in mind and tell me at a more opportune moment. We went on to have a bizarre conversation about vaguely homosexual moments between childhood friends. He told me a great story...never mind.

So, every thing's going swimmingly. S. could sense a very non-threatening dog napping in the corner and, for a time, resisted the urge to look. At a certain moment, curiosity got the best of him and he turned ever so slightly towards the corner, unable to imagine what could be so shocking about the sweet mutt. Immediately, the hound leapt to attention, tore across the room and commenced licking him, head butting and humping his leg, slobbering maniacally the whole time, like a bad prom date. The beast would not stop. Within minutes, they had to leave, because there was no stopping the madness. The moral of this story is...Do not look at the dog.

Or the baby. I'm not a cruel person, really. I just don't think you should mess with a baby when he's content. Especially if you're going to get him all fired up and leave. Can you imagine how R's dad felt, left alone with a fierce, leg molesting beast? I can. Baby J is perfectly happy to hang out playing with plastic cups or his Crusty the Clown action figure...unless he notices me. Then he wants to use my legs as a walker and push me around the house. And if I won't go, he'll crawl to his favorite place to plan, under the dining room table. He'll sit there for about four seconds, laughing because he knows he has my full attention, and move on to something he's not supposed to do, like opening the sideboard, climbing up the stairs or unrolling and eating toilet paper. Thus, my window of opportunity is lost. Like many mothers before me, I've learned to sit perfectly still, barely breathing, in an attempt to go unnoticed. It's an advanced form of meditation and some days, it's all I get.

Looking at the baby is fine, as long as you're willing to deal with the consequences. Baby J adores his Aunt V. and Uncle G. beyond belief, more than he loves us really. If they make eye contact with him and don't pick him up, even if he's already safe in the arms of one of his loving parents, he will freak out. In a millisecond, he goes from being completely relaxed to turning his stocky little body into a sleek projectile, aimed at his human of choice. Just like the dog. Earlier today, G. came over to drop something off and, when Baby J passed by in his stroller, stood perfectly still, flattening his body and making his face devoid of any expression. As much as G. loves him (it's kind of hard not to love a cutie wittle fat-fat who reaches for you with such passion), he knew we wouldn't be able to go on our walk if Baby J saw him. Whenever they can, G. and V. do hold him for us; they're the kind of friends every parent should have. But they've been known to run away from him, too, not because they don't love him, but because he's relentless.

I'm not saying you should never make a googly face at a cute baby. Baby's reactions are cute and funny and all that. And I gather from all those parenting books I never read that there's something to be said for human interaction. But if the baby is sitting quietly in a corner while his parents have a moment or two of peace, just don't look at him. And be willing to let him use you as a walker if you do.

Namasté, y'all!

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