Inadvisable use of hands

There is a picture going around the internet of me holding my friend Stephanie’s baby during a recent lunch.

This photograph, which is evidence of something that probably really occurred, should not be taken as a license for people to start handing me babies willy-nilly. The incident in question was triggered by exigent circumstances where mommy had to go get more napkins, and should not be considered an endorsement of the holding of babies in general.

Science has shown that, regardless of their cuteness, babies are notoriously squirmy, drooly, and fragile. In addition, babies have only one diagnostic message (“wah”) which they report in any situation, from “mysterious childhood ailment” to “It’s 2:47 AM. Do you know where I am?” to “mommy went to get more napkins”. Science does not understand why they do this.

It is my position that babies should only be handled by professional baby wranglers, or parents who have received extensive baby-management training, such as Lamaze.  (From the French ‘lamaze’, which possibly means “I don’t know, have you tried changing him?”)

Also, make sure you have plenty of napkins.

(Note: The characters Squirmy, Drooly, and Fragile did not score well with test audiences for Walt Disney’s reboot of Snow White and the Ten Dwarves. Their scenes are being reshot. The Squirmy Drooly Fragile ride at Disneyworld has been delayed until 2019.)

Epilogue: There are rumors that a picture exists from three years ago of me holding Stephanie’s other child (code-named ‘Hrothgar’). This probably also happened, but I have written it off as a youthful indiscretion.

I think my sister also has a photo of me holding my nephew as a baby, using the traditional “running-back” technique (below)**. I am pleased to say that I did not fumble him, although I did suffer muscle cramps from trying not to move my arm, out of fear I would break him. (Disclaimer: This is not me.  Picture courtesy of “Google man holding baby”.)

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** Not to be confused with the “immaculate reception” technique (below) popular in Pittsburgh during the 1970’s. This style of baby holding was discontinued after extensive controversy as to whether the baby touched the ground.

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A cry in the wwwwwbbbbb

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Recently, I wrote about a study carried out by Finnish and Swedish scientists since the 1950’s which concluded that science cannot tell why your baby is crying.

I have a friend who is currently on maternity leave after having her first child, and it seems unacceptable that crying babies should still remain a scientific mystery.  After all, babies have been around for over a century, and have been crying since at least the 1950’s (apparently).

So I decided while I was driving home from work this evening to research the problem myself, so that I could come to an informed conclusion regarding this thorny dilemma.

(Disclaimer: Thorns, if used incorrectly, will cause babies to cry.  Please be responsible.)

(Disclaimer #2: The following explanation is 100% informed conclusion-free.  No research was utilized in the writing of this explanation.)

I decided to approach the problem using deductive logic.  (Disclaimer: If your doctor induced labor, inductive logic is more appropriate.  If your child was delivered using technology, such as a C-section, you might just as well send your baby to Finland/Sweden to be experimented on, for all the good it will do.)

First, let’s eliminate some of the old wives’ tales.  Most layparents attribute crying to the child being hungry, or needing to be changed, or needing to be held, or needing to be rocked.  That is just ridiculous.  Babies are the most fed, most changed, and most cuddled class in modern society.  If cuddling children worked, the only time you’d hear babies cry is when they were left in airports to be raised by feral children whose parents forgot to take them home.

About the only time babies don’t cry is before they’re born, so this seems like a good place to start.  If unborn babies don’t cry, and born babies cry at the drop of a hat, maybe there’s a difference between being born and not born that acts as a contributing factor to crying.  Let’s take a look: Continue reading

Evolution of the iconic family

Once upon a time, long ago, you used to see minivans bearing a sign indicating that there was a “Baby on Board”.  Back then, babies were notorious for boarding minivans, and then tooling about town lording it over pedestrian babies who had nothing to board but a mommy-powered stroller.  (Babies can be cruel that way.)

Over the years, those older babies got tired being babies and stopped.  Newer, more enlightened babies were produced, who didn’t need to brag about their boardedness, and the signs came down.  This left a huge unblind spot on the minivan’s windshield.  And who wants an unfettered view of traffic?

And thus were born the Family Icons.  They started out primitive, barely more than stylized restroom door signs, crudely suggesting gender.  They came in different sizes, crudely indicating relative age and family status.  There was even a crude crawling icon to indicate the presence (but not the boarding state) of a baby.  These symbols served a vital function in large families by acting as a kind of family legend (the map kind, not the ancient lore kind).

Dad (loading the trunk after a day at the beach): OK, time to go!  Is everyone in the car?

Mom (counting heads):  One, two, three… wait, I think someone’s missing.

Dad (consulting the rear windshield): Hey, you’re right!  We’re missing the second largest child!  The one with hair like Marlo Thomas from “That Girl”! Continue reading