Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Starter Baby

A lot has changed in the baby-raising business since I was inadvertently conceived and hatched. We still have Gerber Baby Food. Same baby on the label, too. But when our Borrowable House Baby showed up the other day with Gerber's Strained Risotto In Cream Sauce, I knew we had turned a corner. We used to just have strained fruit, or strained macerated meat flecks in a Crisco binder. Now the shelf at the store contains Strained Coq au Vin and Organic Mandarin Duck and you can strip off a flyer with recommended juice box pairings. Reportedly, incidence of infant food-splattering has come way down, but there has been a pronounced uptick in the misuse of the salad fork.

So that probably takes care of infant fussiness. In my day, parents used to like to tell their kids to quit crying or they'd give 'em something to cry about, but maybe they should have just given them Risotto. I'm told I was not a fussy baby, and it was probably just because I really loved Gerber's Strained Apricots. I liked them so well that I wanted them to be included in my school lunches. Mom was a nice woman and she decanted the Strained Apricots into a different container so that my classmates would assume it was applesauce.  I was at an age before kids started being real dicks to each other, but it was thought that bringing in a Gerber's jar might have put me in some social peril. The other thing in my lunch (in a brown bag, until I got the Quickdraw McGraw lunch box) was a peanut-butter and butter sandwich on Mom's homemade white bread, wrapped in wax paper with hospital corners. Same wax paper as today: Cut-Rite. It works well enough. Not as well as plastic wrap, but we made up for it with cleaner oceans.

Our Borrowable House Baby also has some nifty accoutrements, including a sippy-cup that does not appear to leak at all, even if you hurl it. Like a lot of other improvements, this one may have a downside, in that the child may not develop the dexterity to drive his mother around the bend like we used to. My own mother was just about unflappable. I know, because I was always trying to get her to flap, and never really succeeded until I was a teenager and had better ammunition. I am told I was spanked at least once a day for some unspecified two-year period of my life, but I only remember about three occasions, because I totally had the rest of them coming. The spankings only quit when they ceased to have an effect.

These days spanking is out of the picture. Even parents who make their own natural baby food and use natural wipes and natural diapers and natural foods and natural detergents will not lift a hand against their child, even though it's the most natural thing in the world to swat a two-year-old.  They're probably right, I don't know. I wonder. My dog Boomer had two puppies and she was attentive and loving for weeks and weeks and then one day she shut down the milk station and when they came after her making nuisances of themselves, she turned right around and snapped at them. With her teeth. Two or three days later they were model citizens. I never saw her reasoning or having any prolonged discussions with them. She never once said "we're going to go over to the food dish now. Do you want to hop or do you want to scamper?"

The new baby is Dave's and my Starter Baby. Yes, we're very old to be having a Starter Baby, but we didn't have to whomp this one up  ourselves. He was whomped up elsewhere and gets wiped down and carted over here for petting. True, his father and his aunt were made available to us as youngsters about thirty years ago, but we were drunk and didn't always notice. This one, we're paying attention. Still, there was no guarantee we were going to like him a whole lot. Babies make us nervous. We're both youngest children, which means our parents were tired and made do with hitching us to the clothesline when we were little, and when we were big they gave up on the curfews and settled for trying to get us to throw up at someone else's house before we staggered home. Our siblings had to help take care of us and we didn't have to take care of anything. If we'd had a baby we might have wrapped it up and stapled it to the carpet near a bowl of milk. So we needed a Starter Baby to ease us in, like a kid needs the gentle pony at the horse-barn, and this boy is it. Every dang thing in his life makes him happy. There was a five-minute squall when he briefly set himself on fire with the birthday cake, but it was surprise as much as anything, and then after that he thought the blister was interesting. He's being beautifully brought up, but I would imagine his disposition is a genetic gift. Either that, or it's the risotto.

Imagine! This is my four-hundredth post. 

104 comments:

  1. Ha Ha. Yes, they are being raised very differently. Or perhaps we remember very differently. Love my grandchildren...all three under the age of 7, but exhausted when they all come for a visit and really ready for them to leave when the time comes. Thanks for making me snort my coffee through my nose this morning. No sippy cup would work here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo! Marketing possibilities! The Murrmurrs Snortworthy Sippy Cup!

      Delete
  2. Congratulations on the 400th and on the Starter Baby who looks a real cutie. I was the eldest in our family and did a lot of looking after....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Raised four of my own and am now a practicing Memere/Nini for four grands. Don't think stapling them to a rug with a bowl of milk nearby ever entered my head but you might be able to market the idea in Texas. Have to go wipe the tea off the keyboard now.

    400 posts! As my two year old granddaughter likes to say, "WOW!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really should quit ragging on Texas. Some of my best people here are Texans. God, they must feel lonely.

      Delete
  4. Happy 400th post! Having the post all dressed up with a baby with such pinch-able cheeks seems very appropriate. Starter Baby looks none the worse for wear for having set himself on fire, I'm glad to see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plus, we nipped that pesky little curiosity thing right in the bud.

      Delete
  5. How fortunate that your starter baby is one of the Campbell's Soup Kids.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a cutie! I couldn't resist him either. And congratulations on your 400th post. That's a lot of laughter... :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. My favorite Gerber's was the pureed liver. I knew my kids wouldn't eat it but bought it anyway so after they'd refuse the first spoonful I'd have the rest of the jar to myself. Congratulations on #400... You're always right on the mark with your posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweet Fancy Moses. I think you can still probably get the strained liver, if you want. Probably the same jars of it that we rejected way back when.

      Delete
  8. He is SO cute. It's lovely to sit back and watch someone else raise them isn't it?
    congrats on number 400...they've all been winners

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! And I guess it would be even sweeter to watch someone else raise a baby if I'd done time in the trenches myself--but it's still sweet.

      Delete
  9. Yes, I look at my granddaughters and am constantly amazed at the changes. Imagine, family leave for the father, who takes an equal share in caring for the babies from infancy.

    My daughter-la-law, thankfully, does many things as I would do. I'm thankful because I would not ever tell the kids how to bring up their kids.

    I gave my babies commercial baby food only until I had figured out their allergies/sensitivities. Then I gave them people food. You can put spaghetti sauce, with meat, into the blender and serve it on mashed potatoes. If they were old enough for risotto, they could have some of mine.

    Boy, am I glad I don't have to do that any more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That IS a blessing to see eye-to-eye on child-raising, because you're right, you really shouldn't horn in. My father had a lot of praise for his mother-in-law and specifically said she was good at leaving them alone. Hey, she was my sweet GRANDMA, and I thought it was an odd compliment, but I guess he's seen plenty of the opposite behavior.

      Delete
  10. Tell those young parents to stop right now. If the first one is a joy, number two will be Beelzebub incarnate. They used up all the goodness on the first calf out of the chute, and there is nothing but an infinite variety of misery to follow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember Cosby's routine? I do think about that. What are the odds of hitting the perfecta?

      Delete
    2. I KNEW you would recognize my reference! What a broad and thorough education you have had. It matches my own!

      Delete
  11. That has to be the sweetest, cutest baby ever. No wonder you enjoyed having him to practice with.
    Our granddaughters (ages 5,3,1) are also very wonderful, but so busy. Always going. We have realized why the world assumes parents will be young...can't imagine doing that parenting thing at this point in life.
    Great #400!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that's where the staples come into play.

      Delete
  12. You just reminded me of the advantages of being the youngest, but forgot the disadvantages of hand me down clothes. Pants with missing belt loops and elastic that wasn't so elastic. At one point all my pants had ripped seats and I know I wasn't the one who did it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got a few hand-me-downs but my next sister was five years older than me and had been assumed to be the last. So they got rid of stuff. Heh heh.

      Delete
  13. That kiddo is a handsome a starter as you will find anywhere. Our youngest daughter was the shock of the century, 18 and 16 years younger than her sisters, I was 43. Ma Nature does indeed have a sense of humor.
    When I see all the new stuff and the things that parents fuss about, it is a wonder that any of us growing up in the 50s and 50s survived childhood. Fortunately, the daughter who is the mother of our grandchildren, ages 2 and 4 is a woman of supreme common sense, their father is the worrier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll bet your youngest is the luckiest one, too. My folks were 40 and 45 when I came along. All wore out and relaxed. My oldest sibs were 16 and 17 years older.

      Delete
  14. What a brilliant post ...it so made me smile. I also had a catch up of your other posts that somehow I missed ..they too were brilliant and such a great read. xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. If only everyone got a starter baby to practice on before they got one of their own. What a wonderful expression this little guy has!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He goes through expression stages. One week it's rock star, the next week it's Campbell's Soup Baby. The stick-the-tongue-out phase was fun too.

      Delete
  16. He is definitely an excellent Starter Baby! All that good cheer and indestructible, too. Enjoy him, and congrats on your 400th post!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Fun post, and congratulations on reaching that impressive four hundredth post. what an achievement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I started, I would have bet anything I only had twelve things to say. Actually, that's true, but I have a lot of ways of saying them.

      Delete
  18. Our mothers had to be related somehow...mine stocked large sized jars of Baby Peaches in the pantry for me up until I was about 10.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shoot, that's practically the same thing as strained apricots. Now I'm wondering if they're sweetened. Should I buy some and see if it triggers any primordial memories?

      Delete
    2. Funny you said that about buying some... I have recently thought of checking out the babyfood aisle in the store just to see if they still make "baby peaches".
      And I'm sure they were sweetened, otherwise I wouldn't have become addicted :)
      Next time I'm in the store I'll check, and report back...

      Delete
  19. Happy 400th!

    Risotto? Mandarin Duck? Next time I'm at Safeway, I'm hitting the baby food aisle.

    My favourite always was stewed prunes. Baby food stewed prunes; the home-made version didn't quite reach that creamy texture, so I ate them raw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, I'm new at this. Do babies get stopped up?

      Delete
    2. Gerber Triple cheese pizza? Pureed cheesy fries? Mac 'n cheese? Make that Organic Whole Grain Mac with Natural Cheese, by Gerber. You never know, these days.

      Delete
    3. It's possible I might have made some of that up.

      Delete
  20. My favorite was the stewed prunes as well, for some reason. I'd probably still be buying them, except that whenever I'm tempted, I hear my mother's voice reminding me that the purpose of baby food was to make babies fat. She was pretty obsessed about that, which probably explains a lot. In any case, I will echo the sentiments expressed above: Congratulations on your 400th, and that child is criminally adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My partner and I were both youngest children. I certainly grew up with the 'I'll give you something to cry about' mantra, but my parents were just plain tired of raising children and boundaries were relaxed. I was never a good aunt (being much more interested in some hell raising rather thank child raising pursuits of my own). Not a good aunt, but now a great aunt. And the only presents they get from me are books. Which naturally I have to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We got credit for being a good aunt and uncle, but that's just because our nieces and nephew are nice people. I intend to be a GREAT great-aunt. Wait...

      Delete
  22. I am a baby connoisseur, and this one is clearly exceptional. Lucky you guys! And congrats on your 400th...not a dud in the lot.

    ReplyDelete
  23. 400...good going.I look forward to more.
    And the kiddie-pics? Think: Norman Rockwell covers for the old Post.

    ReplyDelete
  24. In general I used to think it was a good thing when my babies got stopped up so we didn't buy the prunes. We did start early with the pastas. That is a darling starter baby you've got there and the pics are the most endearing reminder yet that I am ready to be a grandmother. I've friended my children's friends on FB who have children so I can make remarks like, "Wow, your college roommate seems to be juggling career and parenthood fine!" or "I think it's wonderful that your friend in the band is enjoying his new baby even if musicians don't earn enough to support children."

    Just 400?? No wonder you crank out such amazingly clever material! I didn't start to wind down until about 650 and then I found I was writing about nothing but my skin issues. When I discovered that those posts, especially the ones with photos, were getting thousands of hits and comments from strangers I sort of dwindled down to inane updates on FB. Now I'm afraid to go check on my blog. Congrats on some fine writing here, Murr- and thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No no no, thank you! I'll be badgering you specifically about skin issues now that I'm on the skin meds. Perhaps you can fly over and sprinkle rose petals on me and say "there, there."

      Delete
  25. INCREDIBLY ADORABLE BABY!! The kind of kid who deserves all caps.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm heading to Texas next week to see my granddaughter. They are past the baby stage, now ages 6 and 8. They eat regular people food, but had never been to McDonald's until Nana took them. Now when I visit they always want to go there for lunch. Ummm, don't tell their parents!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I distinctly remember my first McDonald's food. It was a revelation. And the hamburgers were fifteen cents.

      Delete
  27. A child with a lovely disposition is a wonderful thing. Add in a bunch of cuteness and - shazzam! Confirmed bachelors and stern old ladies alike are undone :)

    By the way, what is your title? You know, are you Aunt Murr, Auntie Murr, Graunt Murr (Great-Aunt) or what?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ought to be Grunt Murr. But I'm sticking with Great-Aunt. For my actual nephew, the boy's father, I've always insisted on great Aunt.

      Delete
  28. Your 400th? Awesome. Obviously you're not Starter Baby in the blogsphere. And if you survive this starter baby, . . . never mind. An untimely thought, given your ages.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If there's a personal baby in my future, I get to start a new religion.

      Delete
  29. This book is Un-American. It makes you think. Don't read it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Too funny Brewster. No comment, just a great read.

    ReplyDelete
  31. You rendered me speechless—in awe at you having produced 400 starter blogs and raised them up right fine!

    As usual, you bring up a lot of internal dialogue, and memories. Love the little one—who looks likes he comes in technicolor, as do you.

    I wonder how many of your genes he has hidden ready to sprout?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I can answer that one without doing any arithmetic in my head. Zero. He is Dave's sister's boy's baby. So no genetic contribution from me. That's one of the things that gives us hope. But it doesn't mean I can't mold him to my specifications. Heh heh.

      Delete
    2. Sometimes genes are catching, and that's what I think you're up to! If he picks up the writer bug, and the other amazing things you do, he will go far. Your sense of sly humor would be well passed along, and your political leanings...

      I favor my grandmother, I know, much closer relation, but I didn't really know her except through letters she wrote before I was born. You are here in his life to set him on the right road.

      Doesn't he favor you around his eyes already?

      Delete
    3. No, this boy has big eyes. Mine are pissholes in the snow!

      Delete
  32. That baby is AWESOME CUTE! When my son was that age, he decided he loved sauerkraut. No, I didn't offer it to him (although if I'd known, I certainly would have!) He just stuck his chubby little hand in the can I'd just opened. Yes, he was sitting on the counter, free style. Kurt was always Danger Baby...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sauerkraut is immensely good for you. Gets those good bacteria dancin'. That doesn't mean your danger baby wasn't odd.

      Delete
  33. Also, too, please notice the great new profile photo. The photographer is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A photographer is only as good as her dancing subject.

      Delete
  34. Congrats on #400... and such a cutie pie starter/practice baby. Jer and I certainly enjoy your posts! And.... don't you just love this rain?????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like we've come home again. Rain rain rain. I'm already happily settling in for the winter. For those of you outside the Willamette Valley, Portland just got its first rain since June.

      Delete
  35. "In my day, parents used to like to tell their kids to quit crying or they'd give 'em something to cry about"

    HA! I said that to my own son when he was little too.

    Also, can I borrow the Borrowable House Baby?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS: Huge congrats on your 400th post!

      Delete
    2. Man, he isn't mine to lend out. Maybe if he were more drippy or obstreperous they'd be happy to farm him out to complete strangers, but he's not.

      Delete
  36. What a sweetie you have for a Starter Kid. Many smiles and memories on this one. And 400 posts - congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I just happened to notice that 400. If you'd asked, I wouldn't have known if I was closer to 300 or 400. And if you'd asked four years ago, I would never have thought it possible! Lovely to see you here again.

      Delete
  37. In the Indian and Eskimo villages where my wife and I taught school the women would chew the salmon and moose meat and then place it in the baby's mouth - Risotto?
    the Ol'Buzzard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Starter Baby has an Eskimo mama. I wonder how much chocolate ever made it all the way to the kid.

      Delete
  38. Happy 400th!

    I don't have a problem with giving a kid a swat on the diaper when they've gone above and beyond the call of jerk-i-tude. That's how I was raised...and lots of people. We're quite fine examples of humanity, are we not/

    My mother, though, was an evil genius of psychological warfare. When we were being sheer turds, she would send us out into the yard, which was bordered with those big, weepy bridal veil shrubs...and make us pick a switch. Then, when we'd bring her back a switch, she'd say okay, I'll see what your dad says. So, it was hours of fretting. Then, when my dad got home....he'd make us go out and get a bigger one. And then we'd get it. A couple of times on the back of our calves. They didn't have to switch us very often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We didn't do switches, but the neighbor girl had to fetch her own. (Haven't even heard that word since I was a kid.) I do sometimes wonder. I don't think I was harmed by the old open-hand spank but I definitely did grow up doing whatever I wanted to do so long as I didn't get caught. Probably I had that attitude from the get-go and that's why I got spanked so often, and it's not cause-and-effect. But I wonder.

      Delete
  39. What an absolute doll! Love those first two pics the best. I'm jealous. Would love a starter baby of my own one day. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, definitely go for a Starter Baby of someone else's!

      Delete
  40. It's also amazing how much equipment these little ones come with - or must have these days. Ever since the space race, we've been inundated with must-have protective materials. Murr, I like your comment that "at least we had the excuse of a cleaner ocean," when we endangered our little ones with our practices. Kinda sad, really, that some in this generation of new Internet-educated parents don't feel their parents have any useful advice or experience. Some cultures assume that the older generation has something to offer, and it's not just labor. LOL Thanks for your irreverent laughs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think from this baby's parents' standpoint, Dave and I are not considered dead wood, for which I am grateful. And we both have a whole lot to offer, having never had to gain humility from raising our own rotten children.

      Delete
  41. He is adorable!! I found my son to be very easy until he hit puberty. Then he was possessed by a demon determined to make me crazy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's a mandatory demon. I hate to think that those who fly through adolescence unscathed end up saving it up and driving off a cliff later in life. Although, this baby's father never did figure out how to be obnoxious.

      Delete
    2. God gives each fetus a choice. "Do you want to be female, go through PMS once a month for30 years except when you spend nine months being a mobile home, and then spend five years going through the change, Or do you want to male and be a fifteen year old boy for a year?" Anyone who has ever observed a fifteen-year-old boy will go for female in a hot minute. No wonder primitive tribes used to give the pubescent lads a knife, a piece of flint, and a fishhook, and make 'em live in the wilderness for a year.

      Delete
    3. Shoot, I'd go for female just because the body fat layer is comfy to sleep on.

      Delete
  42. The little anecdote about Boomer and the pups reminded me once again why puppies are so much better than babies. Get a puppy and it knows more or less all there is to know about being a dog within about 18 months. Get a baby and if you're fortunate, they are starting to get down the rudiments of being human by time they turn about 25.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ironic that we're so dumb just because we have to get born early to get that big brain out the chute.

      Delete
  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Pardon the double post. Don't have a clue how I managed it.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Replies
    1. One time I went in to delete one of my commenter's double posts, and BOTH of them disappeared, so I left them both in there. Glad you were more precise.

      Delete
  46. The thing about kids is they're surprisingly smarter than their parents. They'll tell you so...for years. Maybe I should've have kept feeding the Risotto until he went to college?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup. Teach the kid not to talk with his mouth full, and then keep his mouth full.

      Delete
  47. It sounds like we should be checking out the baby food aisle, and we are both in our 50s!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plus we don't have to worry about cracking our dentures.

      Delete