Me and My Shadow: More baby brain fun

March 17, 2016

I read in one of my baby books that at around 18 months old, babies go through a cognitive growth spurt as language skills start to come on line. Today is Cozy’s 19-month birthday and the last month has been fascinating. Andrea and I are living with someone who, seemingly a few weeks ago, was just a fetus the size of a kumquat and is now pretty much a fully functioning alien, ready to pick out an outfit or climb the stares to go dive into the beanbag chair.

It’s incredible to watch this little creature learn how to make sense of the world. Our Cozette has a very real personality now, full of humor and bravery. Freud argues that the personality forms when the pleasure-seeking id is balanced by the external demands of society, which he called the superego. It’s the balance of “I” with “they.” “I want an Elmo cookie but they won’t give me one.” I know there’s a lot of this ahead when the potty training becomes more of a focus, but you can see the wheels in Cozy’s head turning. “What can I get away with?”

One of her favorite words of the moment is cracker. Ritz Crackers are her crack. She’ll point to the kitchen (where the goodies are) and say, “Cracker?” And I’ll say no because she’s already eaten half a box. So she’ll cry loudly like she’s on fire and then, with a sly smile and her head cocked to the side, say, “Cracker?” It gets me every time. She already knows how to manipulate her dad.


The language boom is intense. She’s only got about a dozen words in her vocabulary but, “Uh oh!” has now been joined with, “Oh no!” and she knows when to use each. Cozy understands plenty of words, like “Spit it out” and “That’s mommy’s.” The second one comes in handy on a daily basis because she is a bit obsessed with Andrea’s make up and has already ruined a few Mac lipsticks. I don’t know if that’s gendered behavior or she just wants to run off with the circus, but it’s pretty funny. Until mom finds out, that is.

Being a stay-at-home dad gives me lots-of-time to help her cranium along. She’s still clueless about colors but on body parts she’s a valedictorian. Ask her to show you her ears or her toes and she’ll do it with a smile. If she shows you her bellybutton, there will be an expectation of tickling and a “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?” look if you don’t.


Today was a rare sunny day in Portland so we took a walk in the neighborhood. (Strollers are for babies.) We met flowers and cats and a guy remolding a hundred-year-old house. She stopped at the first sight of her shadow. Then she raised her hands and realized that this odd phantom was connected to her. Hopping and giggling and dancing, Cozy and her shadow. What must have been going through her mind at that moment. I can’t wait until she has enough words to tell me.

It’s an odd thing how we start out life these completely dependent, relatively inert beings, slightly above sea anemones, and day by day we begin to see ourselves; in a mirror, in a shadow, in our parents eyes, in society’s expectations. I don’t know how any parent can’t be glued to that process. Maybe it’s a “first child” thing. It’s like the first time you have sushi and you wonder why everybody doesn’t know about this amazing thing. All I know is that Cozy’s evolution is the best binge-watching I can imagine.

Baby Brain Wonders 2 – Pickles the Cat

Baby Brain Wonders 1 – My baby is smarter than you (and me)


Dad Love, Pt. 6 – First Steps

July 17, 2015

I’m learning there are a lot of “first times” when you have a kid. I’m sure my father remembers the first time I told him his car was “hit in the parking lot.” (There would be subsequent times.) The first year is full of non-stop firsts. Like the first time I saw Cozy figure out how to use her thumbs. Mind blown. There was the first time she rolled over on her own. That was pretty amazing as there was about a two week build-up of valid attempts and then BAM. I was there for that.

There are a couple of big ones. Yeah, she got mama before dada, but she rocks “Dada!” a lot more these days. Maybe she is saying, “Where is Dada and why does he only appear on Mama’s laptop? If I pretend to be asleep, perhaps I’ll hear them explain why.” It must be confusing because of all the,  “Oh, baby” business. “Me? Are you talking to me? You said, ‘oh baby,” Dada.”

I mention this because yesterday Cozy took her first steps and I had to see it second hand in a video Andrea sent me. Cozy walked her first walk in the same house Andrea took her first steps, in Morelia, Mexico. Her mother and her sister were there as well, all coaching my daughter on. All the Mexican relatives call her by her middle name, Valentina, because Cozy sounds weird in Spanish. In the video, you can see how proud Cozy Valentina is of her accomplishment. “Bravo! Bravo!”

Of course I’m sad that I missed it. Two more days later and I could have been there to clap with the whole family. But in a way, it’s good timing. She walked yesterday, today is her eleven month birthday and tomorrow morning we will all be  reunited in the Mexico City airport, probably by the Krispy Kreme. I haven’t seen them in two weeks but I plan to drop to my knees and have Cozy walk to me. And then have grandma take the baby while I throw my wife onto the baggage claim belt for some seriously inappropriate PDA. That week will all be about catching up and then all of us return to the isla where I will be the first one to walk on the beach with her.

But I’m not that sad that I missed it because I got to see so many firsts when Andrea returned to work after the birth (including the first solid poop #winning). There will  be many more to come. She will have her first birthday, four weeks from today, here on the isla. We have first sentences and first eating with a spork. She had her first trip to the hospital last week (just a cold), but her first sea turtle should be pretty wild.


I did an incredible drift-dive yesterday. A big group of us jumped off the boat in our scuba gear, raced down to the bottom and let the rapid current whip us around to the other side of the island where the sea turtles live. We were like a mob rolling into their turf. It was a first for me and I’m still buzzing from it. I hope I can give Cozy the wonderment that all the first moments nature has to offer. If the environmentalists continue their battle against the money people, she should have lots, but it’s certainly not guaranteed. The natural beauty of this island, for example, is being eroded by the tourist industry. Talk to a diver about the reefs if you don’t believe me. I want this all to be here when she is ready to suit up and see it for herself.

As a feminist, there are other firsts I fear. The first time she hears that being pretty is more important than being smart. The first time she realizes that “like a girl” is used as a put-down. The first time she learns that there are men and boys that will mentally, physically, and sexually abuse her just because she is a girl. The first time she realizes that most people think God is a “He.” All that is coming and we gotta prepare her for the bullshit as much as the wonderment.


But for now, I’m gonna watch the video of her walking one more time and get ready to see her do it in person tomorrow in Mexico City.  Our first walk together.

Felices once meses, mi hija!