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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pushing the Stroller

She moves like a bullet: straight, all of her momentum directing her at whatever target her sights were set on when she was fired.

She cannot be stopped, only deflected. Her momentum must be used rather than fought, and if it is used properly she can be turned completely around, forgetting her initial interest.

In a new place she deflects herself. And she does it with such regularity that it's a wonder she ever touches anything at all: "Ball, guys...ooohh kitty......wall?.....maMA!...trash...." She is dizzying to watch. There are so many new things in the world for her, every day, that she just can't choose: she is a living example of Buridan's Ass, the donkey faced with identical bales of hay who cannot choose, and starves. She doesn't starve, though. She spins.

All I can do for her is watch, wait, and occasionally offer something, anything that might tip the scales of her interest: "Hey kid, do you want this book? Well, you can't have it. It's my book."

Because if it goes on too long she'll grow frustrated and upset. My little Kierkegaard will despair of the infinite, and because she is too young yet to realize what finitude means, and so cannot yet despair of her lack of options, this is the only despair of choice she has: too much of it.

I don't want to limit her choices. I want her to see the world as wonderful and novel, and to be comfortable with that without needing someone to guide her. I am not Hobbes, to think that true freedom only exists with guidance, like water down twisting flue.

But she is wiser than I. When her frustration peaks she will focus all of her attention; she will limit herself, shut out the world, and push her stroller.

"Sometimes the world is too big, guys."


Ms. Single Mama said...

Benjamin is obsessed with pushing strollers, carts ... everything. I LOVE this post. Your writing is beautiful.

Natalie said...

wow. that was amazing. i really love reading daddy blogs. you see things that moms don't.

Badass Geek said...

The need to view the world as wonderful and novel should be a focus for people of all ages.

There is a scene in the movie "Knocked Up", where the lead character and his friend are at a park with the friend's children, and the kids are playing with bubbles. The friend remarks that he wishes he liked anything half as much as his kids liked bubbles.

That has always stuck with me... These small children so much enjoy something as fragile and simple as blowing bubbles, yet We as adults stuggle to find joy anywhere.

There is plenty to be learned from the attitudes of children.

Ali said...

and see i'm all "give me back the stroller, shorty, and stop pushing it into those nice people's ankles, pleasethanks."

clearly, you win


Swirl Girl said...

your daughter is so lucky to have you for a dad.

I tend to be all 'danger- danger will robinson' and the girls' dad let them explore without boundaries.

it's a good balance, as long as they are wearing their helmets.

for a different kind of girl said...

Seriously, I am going to STEAL a baby and/or toddler soon to relive these days you write about! You kill a small part of me, and yet you make it all better with the charm. Good job, you. Good job.

womaninawindow said...

Smart kid. The world is too big. International travel should break down and dollar stores should collapse so that we might all go backwards a bit...I'm just saying.

Kevin (ReturnToManliness) said...

Great post. I agree with badass geek. Everyone needs to have this wonderment. As a new father, I am not quite where all of you are at with the kids. I am still trying to keep his head up and his onesies clean. Can't wait to experience all the fun....

Headless Mom said...

Enjoy it.
Even though I have kids some of the wonderment goes away with age.

Sometimes I hope it's not me who killed it.

Mom o'Bean said...

That was really beautiful! It is so amazing to watch them as they make these discoveries that seem so small to us. But to them, they are galaxies.

crazymumma said...

Beautiful writing.

Sometimes we all need to be pushed in a stroller.

MereCat said...

Ah the wisdom of children. I have been studying this very thing recently. We could really go on and on with this topic.

Iago's Mom said...

hello there..

Backpacking Dad said...

ms. single mama: thank you

natalie: in many cases it's because we're taller.

badass geek: I love the dad-daughter awesomeness of Knocked Up. And "Daughter", sung by Loudin Wainright (sp?) III is on continuous play on my iPod.

ali: most people are quick to forgive when they get a glimpse of the mysterious engine propeling the stroller.

swirl girl: I'm totally buying her a helmet now. She's been wanting to do nose-dives off the side of the bed, or table, or stool, and I've been stopping her. But no longer!

FADKOG: I'm going to start scanning the headlines in your town for missing toddler news and amber alerts.

womaninawindow: I was with you right up until "dollar stores" it because they mass-sell imported useless crap that nobody needs but everybody buys?

kevin: don't bother trying to keep the onesies clean. invest in cheap white ones from Carters and just let it be. If they stain then you put them under something else, and everything looks fine. :}

headless mom: there's going to be some insane shift from wonder to know-it-all exasperation. I can't wait.

mom o'bean: "galaxies" was very nice.

crazymumma: your profile picture is doing crazy things as I stare at it. It's zooming in, like a wide-angle lens refocusing. I hope it's not me.

merecat: studying how?

iago's mom: well, hi there. How are you?

AEA said...

All this feel-good-universe-is-so-damn-big shit is making my head swirl.

Your daughter is going to grow up and think you are gay. Simple as that. Why? Because she knows that you know you're gay. Next time you look in her eyes, I think you should ask yourself seriously whether she's not really thinking you're gay. That's what those big blue eyes say to me when we get together. They say: "please help, Uncle A, my dad's gay."

Backpacking Dad said...

aea: You know how I know you're gay? Because of that time when you took me up to the mountains and woke me up every morning with a "Good morning, Brokeback."

AEA said...

Clearly you need to rediscover your testicles. But we should start slow. Do you want to see "Wanted" next week, and "drink the world interesting" for a couple of hours? It's about assassins, but J-Lo is in it too, so that seems about your speed right now. The beer might be a bit much, but I'm hoping it'll force a hair or two to sprout on your otherwise womanly profile.

Missy said...

Moving on from all the Brokeback... Great post. I love how the little things can be so much fun. I hope that too much is always better, that she never despairs of having too much choice.

AMR said...

For whatever reason, I found myself reading your post to the tune from "The Distance" by Cake.

"Reluctantly crouched at the starting line . . . ."

Honestly -- terrific post. Almost rhythmic.