My son, current nickname Dirtbaby, is 14 months old. He has been walking for three months and no longer holds his arms in front of him like a zombie. He says “thank you” and “book” and “ball” and “hello” and “bye-bye.” He also says “mama” and knows that it’s me I HAVE A SON AND MY SON SAYS MAMA THE SHOCK OF LOVE PULSES INWARD FROM MY SKIN HITS MY CORE RADIATES BACK AND BOUNCES TIMES INFINITY HAS ANYONE EVER KNOWN SUCH LOVE.
He sidles up behind me when I’m crouched in front of the refrigerator, squats, and blows raspberries on my skin where my shirt pulls up. Then he makes a lion face, a huge smiling mouth and a scrunched nose and a silent roar, and we have no idea where he got it or what he thinks he’s doing but it’s really fucking cute. When I’m eating breakfast, he looks at me seriously from his Bumbo in the next chair and unleashes a string of nonsense that ends on an upnote, like a question, as if he’s asking, “Do you enjoy eating the same thing for breakfast every morning, Mommy?” I say, “Yes, darling,” and he carries on dropping chunks of cornmeal pancake on the floor.
At the same time, we have entered a phase I call NONONONONONONO GOD NO.
Jenny: My son, whom I love and cherish, would you like to wear some clothes today?
Dirtbaby: NONONONONONONO GOD WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME.
Jenny: My son, whom I adore and whose safety is paramount, do you mind if I remove this choking hazard/sharp object/power tool your father left in the kitchen REALLY? GARDENING SHEARS? from your precious hands?
Dirtbaby: NONONONONONONO THE INJUSTICE THE DESIRE LET ME JUST SQUAT HERE LIKE A SUMO WRESTLER TO EXPRESS MY RAGE AND FRUSTRATION OOOOH IS THAT TUPPERWARE.
Jenny: My son, without whom life is not worth living, will you please hand me that tin can you just fished out of the recycling and are chewing on?
Dirtbaby: NONONONONONONO GOD NO GIVE ME THE CAN GIVE ME THE CAN GIVE ME THE CAN GIVE ME THE CAN.
His main activity these days is putting things in things. We have discovered empty beer cans in the mixing bowls. Puzzle pieces and a flashlight in the recycling bin. A yo-yo in the teapot. Toys in the garbage. My clothes in the diaper pail. Also, the other day, he lifted his small, fat hand and handed me the switch to a floor lamp that disappeared MONTHS ago and which I searched for under the futon with a flashlight BECAUSE IT IS SHAPED LIKE A PLUG THE WIDTH OF A BABY’S TRACHEA. Knowing it was somewhere in the house was eating away at me. Also, I couldn’t turn on the lamp. And he just handed it to me. OK THEN HOUDINI.
In my spare time, between working full-time, writing an advice column, and picking up pairs of black socks from the floor of the bedroom, the floor of the guest room, the floor of the living room, and the floor of the kitchen BUT NEVER THE LAUNDRY BASKET I WAS MARRIED BEFORE SO I WAS AWARE THAT MEN WEAR SOCKS AND UNDERWEAR MORE THAN ONCE IN A ROW BUT IT IS MY MISSION TO HIDE MY HUSBAND’S DIRTY SOCKS IN THE ONE PLACE HE WON’T LOOK FOR THEM SO HE CAN’T PUT THEM BACK ON HIS FEET, and spending as much time as possible with Dirtbaby, I’m studying Spanish on Duolingo, since Dirtbaby is learning Spanish at daycare. Duolingo makes me say things I would never say, such as, “Sin sal, por favor” I WOULD LICK THE STREET IF IT HAD SALT ON IT and “Yo quiero un hambuerguesa de pescado” WHAT DOES DUOLINGO THINK WE EAT IN AMERICA. On the other hand, I can now say “I want” and “I need,” which are very useful, especially if one has endless wants and needs and occasionally confuses the two.
Also in my spare time, I flip through magazines I don’t remember buying, such as Parenting. Last month the question for the advice columnist was the following:
“How do you navigate weekends, with all the social eating and unstructured time?”
WAIT I’LL ANSWER JUST AS SOON AS MY EYEBALLS STOP BLEEDING.
In another unexpectedly free moment, I watched a YouTube video on how to install a car seat. This gave me the idea for a YouTube channel: people giving instructions on how to do things WHILE WATCHING A TODDLER AT THE SAME TIME. WHY HAS NO ONE ELSE THOUGHT OF THAT SHIT.
And finally, we have to talk about The Runaway Bunny.
Overall, this is one of my favorite kids’ books. It’s a sweet concept: the mommy bunny showing patience and unconditional love for the little bunny, who is testing her boundaries. I think I love it so much because when I was five, I threatened to run away, because what I really wanted was for someone to say, “No, Jenny! Please don’t run away! We would miss you too much!” Instead what I got was I WORK MY ASS OFF TO KEEP YOU FED AND CLOTHED AND YOU WANT TO RUN AWAY WELL RUN AWAY THEN LITTLE PRINCESS DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR ASS ON THE WAY OUT.
Anyhow, I always make it up to this part:
“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny, “I will become a little sailboat, and I will sail away from you.”
“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,” said his mother, “I will become the wind and blow you
Then the little bunny says:
“If you become the wind and blow me
WAIT A MINUTE PLEASE.
I’ve searched the internet for complaints and found none. All I can think is that I’m the only one who has a problem or no one else wants to be the first person to say something. So I’ll be the first person to say I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER MARGARET WISE BROWN.
Jenny: I love just having quiet days at home.
SJ: That’s the thing about quiet days at home with you. They totally stress me out. You’re like, we have to do blah-bitty blah blah blah.
For this delicious congee from my favorite magazine Real Simple, which SJ hated but I loved, you need:
- 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 lb.) (I just used the no-bone, skinless chicken we had.)
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 13.66-oz. can coconut milk, well shaken
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 3-in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar (NOPE NO ADDED SUGAR)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 bunch scallions, 2 sliced, remaining left whole
- Cilantro, roasted peanuts (RANDOMLY THE FARMERS MARKET HAD FRESH PEANUTS SO WE SHELLED THEM AND ROASTED THEM WITH SALT AND OLIVE OIL OOH WERE THEY GOOD), toasted coconut, sriracha, and lime wedges, for serving
You need to:
- Place chicken, broth, rice, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, sugar (STILL NOPE), salt, and whole scallions in a slow cooker; stir to combine. Cover and cook until chicken is falling off the bone and rice has a porridge-like consistency, 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high.
- Discard ginger and scallions. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred meat; discard skin and bones (MINE DIDN’T HAVE ANY). Stir chicken back into rice mixture.
- Top congee with sliced scallions, cilantro, peanuts, coconut, and sriracha. Serve with lime wedges.