Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Genius Baby

I'm referring to this little girl from England. I'm ashamed to admit that when the news hit I was pierced with envy. I want a genius baby too, dammit. Isn't that disgusting? Yesterday I found myself drilling Flea on her colors just a little too strenuously, stacatto-clapping and barking, "Look alive!" Okay, it was a joke, but still: someone needs to grab me by the shoulders and shake me.

When I shared the news with my daughter's "teachers" (that's what they're called at her child development lab school, and I don't put it in quotes because they're underqualified but because, come on, teachers? for infants?), they scoffed at it, eyes rolling, and agreed, "Luca could do all that," which redoubled my insecurity. Why did they say Luca and not Flea? Of course, their observations are accurate; Luca is this insanely verbal kid who was pointing to me and saying "Fia mama" at the age of 12 months. And he's bilingual. But still, why not my kid? Don't you people know how special she is?

This whole obsession is, obviously, a product of raging insecurity about my own basic value as a human being. The only thing I've had on my side my entire life is intelligence. I'm strange-looking (not ugly, but far from beautiful, at least by my own aesthetic standards); I don't come from wealthy or educated stock; I'm socially anxious; and I'm about as cuddly as a lizard. In short, I am not inherently lovable, the way a kitten or a pug is, or the way Michael Jackson used to be.

So I've found that I can be of value to people, pragmatically if not emotionally, by offering them the fruits of my mind. Not that I'm a genius (I would never take an IQ test because my whole self-concept would be riding on the outcome, which is way too much to risk), but I'm smart enough to come across as smart, which I cling to like an octopus with separation anxiety, to quote my pal Amy.

So here I am hoping that my daughter will exceed my intelligence so that, if she doesn't have the beauty or poise or talent or social contacts or charm that magically open doors, she can figure out a way to jimmy them open with her superior engineering skills.

That's not too much pressure for a toddler, is it? Is it? Seriously, somebody shake me. Before I start enrolling her in pageants.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Girly Girl?

On June 21st Flea will be 16 months old, which is just about the age at which toddlers develop strong attachments to teddy bears and blankets and other "loveys." Flea's favorite lovey is a stuffed rendition of the blue-striped bunny from the classic children's book Goodnight Moon. She knows how to make a "buh" sound (as in "baby") but for some reason chooses to call the rabbit "Money" instead of "Bunny." I hope we're not getting a glimpse of her future values. Her other lovey is Elmer, the patchwork elephant. She's learning her colors and likes to practice on Elmer. Yesterday I was reading her the Elmer book and asked which color was her favorite. Without hesitation she pointed to pink and said, "ping." I thought it might be a fluke, but today I showed her the stuffed elephant and asked again. She pointed to a pink square and said, "ping." I guess it's official, then: her favorite color is pink. I swear I didn't teach her that. She doesn't have Barbies or lots of pink clothes, and I rarely wear pink. So where does she get it? Is it somehow programmed into the second X chromosome? And--horrors--does it condemn me to 5 years of princess mania?

(And, while I'm throwing out questions, why am I so embarrassed to admit that pink is my favorite color too?)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Modern Problems

My oldest brother (T), who is gay, told me recently that the sperm he donated to a bank was picked up (eww) by a lesbian couple, who are now pregnant with a son. This means that my daughter will have a first cousin.

T claims that both he and the couple have agreed that they can contact him, when and if they wish. But the donor can't make first contact, for obvious reasons. Ordinarily this is the sort of thing I'd hear about and, true to my liberal/libertarian soul, proclaim, "Right on, great system, power to the people, yay to same-sex parenting, and of course they should have the right to maintain their privacy even if it is my brother's seed," blah blah blah. But now that I have a child, there's a side of me that wonders if my daughter has a right to contact her cousin, when and if she should choose to do so. It's another one of those ethical issues whose appropriate resolution seems crystal clear only to those who've never gazed at life on the other side of the fence.

I have no intention of trying to contact people who don't want to be contacted, but I did beg my brother to tell the couple that their son-to-be has a cousin whom they are welcome, no, urged, to contact at any time, and to give them my address, phone, and email. He said he would, hiccuped, and hung up. T, you see, has a long history of alcohol abuse and compulsive lying. He has a heart of gold and I really love him, but at the same time I can't always trust what he says. I'm not 100% certain that he even donated sperm, or that a lesbian couple used it and got pregnant. This cousin-to-be could be entirely fictitious--which makes it all the more difficult for me to know how to proceed. My daughter could have a first cousin, or not. And I'm powerless to do the detective work necessary to find out.

So for now I have to sit back, and wait, and hope that someday, I get that phone call.

Cool resource: ever wanted to know the difference between 1st, 2nd, 3rd cousins once, twice, 3 times removed, etc? This site helps you figure it out.