Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ix-Nay on the Ursing-Cay

Recently we noticed that Sidney was using fewer random phonemes and instead engaging more deliberate speech.  He is repeating sounds he hears a lot, and repeats some simple words very-often.  He also now does a running commentary, utilizing a structured babble (consisting of these learned sounds and small words) to narrate as he goes about his day (you guessed it, now there are two wandering philosophers in the house, except he makes considerably more sense).  Now, as an inveterate linguaphile (Exibit A), I was ecstatic because my first thought was "front row seat to linguistic development!"  As an inveterate potty-mouth (I am a lawyer, Exhibit B), however, I was petrified because my second thought was "holy @#!&ing $#!^ I have to seriously stop cursing."  I have no doubt all parents experience this epiphany.  Indeed, the euphemisms employed by loving mothers and fathers to avoid exposing their treasured young to the harsher, more vulgar, near barbaric corners of language outnumber the actual curses (almost).  The problem, as you likely guessed, is not with the idea, which is probably near universal in acceptance; no, the rub lies in the practice.  

I am not a fan of neutered curses.  Intellectually I find them dishonest.  When someone says "gosh darn it" or "gee willickers" we all know full well they mean "goddamnit".  We also know full well what someone means when they say "shoot", "shucks" or "sugar" in that tone, and there is no need to get into "F it", "F off" and "are you gosh darn F'ing with me. Shoot."  You're not fooling anyone, either curse or completely refrain; this was my intellectual stance on the subject.  You see where this is going.  My new role as "Dad" put me in a bit of a pickle, a cognitive conundrum (Exhibit C) if you would.  Do I compromise my intellectual stance, or do I risk turning my son into a potty-mouth (a few years early; we live in NYC and Nana and the Admiral are in Philly people, it's inevitable).  The solution I am trying to implement is the "completely refrain", this way I can satisfy both my intellectual convictions and my fatherly duties.  However, nobody plans on cursing (except for Quentin Tarantino), it really just flies out in the heat of the moment.  So what we end up with is me cutting myself off mid-sentence the moment I realize I am about to curse (when we're lucky).  This, unfortunately, leads to conversations that sound like I have either been struck down mid-sentence or am suffering from intermittent selective-mutism.  

So, the good news is Sidney will (hopefully) hear incredibly fewer curses at home and I do not have to compromise my intellectual snobbery.  The bad news is Sidney is going to grow up thinking his father can't finish a goddamn sentence ... oh $#!&.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Did I really just say that?

There is a concept in the law (an exception to the "rule against hearsay" to be specific) known as the "excited utterance."  In a nutshell, things people hear others blurt out in the "heat of the moment" are given slightly higher weight than regular old over-heard stuff because, the theory goes (and I am over-simplifying here, so don't go quoting Moore's Federal Practice on me), folks are more likely to speak their mind honestly under Sudden High-Stress and those over-hearing such sudden blurts are more likely to remember them accurately because of the intensity used in aforesaid blurting (ah lawyer, verbosity is thy name).  Now, this may be enlightening in the context of an investigation or trial, but it is downright worrisome when you apply the erstwhile aphorism to what can come out of a parent's mouth when their offspring induce Sudden High-Stress.  It's not so much that what is said is any less "honest" than the usual parental chatter (to the contrary, they are mostly raw unfiltered truth) but that the sentences themselves border on the nonsensical to the overhearing ear.  Both uttering parent and over-hearing "witness" are left with something that everyone agrees was said, but without a whole lot of context sounds daft, at best, or insane at worst (which is most often the case, naturally).  To illustrate, here are some Sidney induced excited utterances; imagine hearing these coming from inside an apartment or on the street without having the context:

Don't grab the poop!

We do not throw food in this house!

Don't pee ... don't pee ... don't pee!

Fine, you want to push buttons?  Now you watch QVC!

I said don't grab the poop!

We do not punch the puppies!

Please don't lick the window.

Did you just poop in the shower ... again?!

What are you doi ... oh no you don ... OH SERIOUSLY?!

Please don't lick the coffee table ... again.

Under what set of circumstances is flinging dinner helpful?

My point?  When your kid doesn't make you sound like a wandering sage dispensing wisdom, he makes you sound like a raving lunatic with stress-induced tourettes.  Then again, most of Nietzsche's writings indicate this is a thin line to begin with. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Wandering Philosopher

Sidney had been cruising for a little while (walking while holding on to things), but finally made the jump to full on walking just a few weeks ago.  Where once all we had to worry about was his apparent ability to teleport while crawling, now someone has to pretty much follow him around whenever he decides to walk out of whatever room we are all in (which, by the way, is always).  Our participation in the never-ending game of Follow Sidney has lead me to an epiphany: Socrates and Lao Tzu were following toddlers around most of the time.  Hear me out on this one.  We are all familiar with Socrates and Lao Tzu's reported founding of Peripatetic Schools (well, you are now), wherein they wandered around and espoused teachings to anyone whom was following them along. Now, the rub is that an inordinate amount of Socratic "wisdom", much like Taoist, is versed in the form of aphorisms that the listener then figures out the "true" meaning of for himself.  That is the touted "brilliance" of the methods.  However, as I listen to myself, The Wife, Nana, Abuela (Socrates is multilingual), The Admiral and Abuelo following Sidney around, we're all posing what could be perceived as Socratic/Taoist questions to an observer that does not realize we are following Sidney.  To illustrate, here are some of the things we have said while trailing Sidney and what an unknowing observer would take to be their "deep meaning":

That table is not going to get out of your way:  We must recognize obstacles that require us to modify our paths.

Why would you cover your eyes when you are walking?:  Be mindful of where you are, and what you are doing, life happens all around you, but only if you pay attention.

You can't carry that and walk at the same time:  Know your limitations.

Are you seriously trying to go right back from where we just left?:  Always move forward, the past is gone.

Where is your other shoe?:  No, seriously, where is the damn shoe ... you just had it on a second ago and it is nowhere near where you are standing now.  How does a shoe disappear?!

So the next time you hear someone drop an apparently deep truth wrapped in a mundane observation, look around, odds are they are high-tailing after an escaped toddler.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No, seriously, I am going to post more often.

My Wife has pointed out that I have all but abandoned the blog despite the fact that Sidney continues to do hilarious things. The feeble defense I proffered was that my masterfully long posts took time to craft, time I was electing to spend instead with our bouncing baby boy (or sleeping...ok, mostly sleeping).  She has since destroyed the defense with the outside the box solution of making shorter posts (forgetting that lawyers have no concept of brevity).  So, going forward, shorter, but more plentiful, posts. 

As for Sidney, he preferred the longer posts.  Gave him something to do during breakfast.

Stay tuned for musings on Sidney's recent graduation to full bore on walking.