Two weeks ago I reached a major milestone in my life: My first Father’s Day as a dad. The baby got me 8 bars of vegan chocolate, which is probably the best Father's Day present I've gotten so far. Much like the chocolate, the day was bittersweet, as it made me realize that I am growing older, and that heck, I could die at any moment from any number of things. So I spent most of Father’s Day thinking of my own death. That’s what children do for you: They make you think of death.
Button has been growing a lot. He's actually now kind of chubby, developing rolls and puffy cheeks. He's been smiling and talking more, sometimes being so adorable that I am amazed that Jameelah and I made this human all by ourselves. With no help from anyone at all.
He has gotten louder, having learned to scream, sometimes making this weird jackhammer-like sound, like this: "Waaaaaaaah, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh! Waaaaaah, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!" We still have no sleep pattern. He sleeps whenever, and tosses and turns at night. He is always alert and playful at 5am, though, which is great, except that neither of his parents are morning people. Two weeks ago, in a desperate attempt to regain some sanity, we asked Button’s aunt to babysit so that we could go out with some friends. We had a great time clubbing at an awesome 30's-and-over club, and came home at 3am (don't judge!). A long, long time ago, we would just sleep in till noon the next day, then spend all day watching TV. Well, this time was different. We forgot to tell the baby that we needed him to sleep till noon. At 5am, like clockwork, he woke up, talking and being cute and wanting to play. Nursing a slight hangover, I tried to play peek-a-boo with him: "Peek a boo...ow, ow, don't laugh so loud, baby, Daddy's head hurts..."
He is certainly more assertive now, and this was confirmed by an astrologer, whose daughter moved in to the condo unit below ours. We've been getting lots of reactions from complete strangers. People really love babies, and random people will stop us just to say hi to the baby. "Aries," said the astrologer when she met him and we gave her his birthday, "his sun and moon signs are both Aries! He's a double Aries. He's all fire!" She asked for my birthday, and when I told her I was Pisces with a moon in Scorpio, she looked sympathetic. "You are all water. He's all fire. You two will conflict." Great; he’s probably going to grow up to be a hipster, a gluten-free one, I just know it. The next day, she brought over his chart, showing yet even more planets in Aries. "He's going to be strong-willed," she said.
The astrologer was convinced that the baby will grow up to be a leader. She was lavishing praise on him. Everyone has been. This kid may become arrogant. Thankfully, we have the Asian community to bring balance. The other week, I was taking Button to work. In the parking lot of my office, two elderly Vietnamese women happened to pass by. They stopped, their eyes lit up. "What a cute baby. He's so cute!" said one. The other quickly stepped in. "Don't say that," she said. Apparently, in Vietnamese culture, it is bad luck to compliment babies, afraid that spirits may be angry at the arrogance and make them hideous, or take them away, or worse, turn them into a social workers when they grows up or something. The proper thing to do is to insult babies, which makes them less tempting a target for these baby-stealing spirits.
So for 15 minutes the elderly women verbally abused my son. "You are such an ugly baby," they said, "yes you are, yes you are. You are much uglier than your dad. You're the ugliest baby in the world! Yes you are! Yessss you are! Who's ugly? Who's so ugly?” Of course, I wasn’t going to just stand there and not say anything. I mean, I was a father now, as was certified by the Father’s Day card I got with the chocolate. I had to defend my son.
But then again, I am an Asian father, and we have customs to maintain. “It's you,” I said to the baby, “you're ugly!"
(If you grew up with other crazy baby-related customs, it'd love to hear about it in the comments).