Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Puppy Phase


I can’t believe I haven’t read about this somewhere else.  I mean really, with all the parenting stuff out in the world I can’t believe no one has mentioned the “Puppy Phase.”  Perhaps I am the first to have the perfect storm of Chihuahuas and child under one roof but it’s so clear to me I can’t believe it’s not already a thing.

Sorry, what the hell am I talking about?  I’m talking about the never ending need to dissect every phase of a baby’s development and give it a cute name.  I seem to remember that when my brother was a baby he was a “baby,” then a “toddler, “ then a “kid.”  The third phase lasted until he was a “teenager.”  Nice, simple, four steps to adulthood.  Not anymore.  It seems my son has been a “newborn”, an “infant”, a “pre-crawler”, a “crawler”, and a “cruiser.”  Soon he will be a "waddler," then a "toddler.”  I’m sure I’m missing some intermediate labels from that list.  Still, there’s seven stages before he can eat with utensils.  It’s madness.  And, as one who sees madness and endeavors to heighten it to a truly absurd levels I am now identifying, codifying, and proposing a new developmental stage, the “Puppy Phase,” which slots between “crawler” and “cruiser.”

As you may be able to guess the Puppy Phase is based on a child’s similarity, at this phase, to a dog.  During the puppy phase the child exhibits many dog-like qualities.  For example, many babies this age do not have the lip dexterity to smooch the way most humans are used to.  Instead they show affection with a type of open mouthed slobbering, much like being licked by a small St. Bernard.  This, along with babies tendency to chew everything they see, is probably the least noticeable aspect of the puppy phase, which is largely centered around mobility.

When my son learned to crawl it was a joyous occasion for all of us.  For him he was now relieved of the frustration he had found when he learned to throw his toys weeks earlier than he was able to retrieve them.  For me it meant we could now play fetch, which was way more fun than playing sit still.  Usually fetch involved my son or I throwing a ball or other toy and my son crawling off to fetch it and then either throw it again himself or bring it back to me; in his mouth.  The puppy phase started to show when he decided he wanted go visit his mother in the dining room, clamped a small novelty Frisbee between his teeth and headed off. 

Children this age also display other mobility related puppy behaviors.  For example a pre-lingual child in the puppy phase will careen off towards the door emitting shrieks whenever he hears the mail slot open or the lock turn.  The child will sit dutifully at the feet of anyone who seems to be eating.  If they are not fed (or if they just want attention) they will then raise up on their hind legs (like a little Rory Calhoun) and emote until they are fed, pet, or cuddled.

Other behaviors associated with the puppy phase include following you around the house, the afore mentioned desire to chew everything, and the need to curb occasional biting.  The puppy phase generally lasts a few weeks, can overlap with the “cruising” phase, and ends when the child starts standing or walking.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Your Mom Has Taken Over My Life

Photo by Tenysa Santiago

Sorry. That should read "Your Mom" has taken over my life. "What's that Sir Rantalot? What do you mean?"

Well as you may have heard (but probably not, I do have illusions about my reach in the world) I'm getting my fifteen minutes of fame. Back in July I decided to poke fun at a coworker by making up some "Yo momma" jokes. Specifically jokes that started with, "Your mom is so Berkeley..." We thought it was all pretty funny so I posted some of the good ones as a note on my facebook page. In the note I encouraged my friends to add their own "Your mom is so Berkeley" jokes.

After a while, as the note was shared around, I created a facebook group so we could reach a wider group of people. I figured this would be something we'd giggle about for a week or so and then it would fade away. But a funny thing happened. People I didn't even know started joining the group and posting jokes. When the group got to 50 members I was astounded. When it got to 300 members I sent out a message to the members thanking them for making the group "the most successful thing I've ever done on the internet." After that I didn't look at it for a long time because I figured that was that.

Then we got mentioned on what I thought of as "some guy's blog." It turns out it was on Berkeleyside which is a Berkeley news blog founded by some pretty serious journalists. This marked the first time someone mentioned a potential book from the material on the group. Since I didn't know who Berkeleyside was at the time I thanked them, posted a link on the group and again pretty much forgot about it. I checked in now and then to read the new posts, a couple more people suggested a book, but I really didn't think much of it.

Until about three weeks ago. That's when I went back to check it out and found that we had over 950 members. I watched it like a hawk for the next few days waiting for it to hit 1,000. When we hit that nice round number I sent out another facebook message thanking the members for their contributions. That message led to our second appearance on Berkeleyide.

What I said in the 1,000 members message is true. I really do see the concept as a way of honoring my mom through humor and community connection. I can't believe something I thought of as a way to kill time at work has touched so many people. There's something there that helps us Berkeley kids see our common bonds after growing up looking at the rest of the country and feeling like freaks.

Anyway, two Fridays back I received a facebook message from a reporter for the New York Times asking if I wouldn't mind being interviewed about the group. Sure, why not? The article came out in the Bay Area section of the New York Times on Friday, March 18th, 2010. I have to say, it was a pretty cool thing to see. When the interview was done the reporter mentioned that a lot more people might see the group after the article was published. Just as before I thought, "Sure, how many people read the NYT online?" Well it turns out it's a lot. But the article didn't just show up there. It was in the print edition (which I didn't expect). The other thing I didn't know was that when something appears in the NYT online it gets picked up and re-posted in a million places. Well, around 2,640 places according to Google. But that's a lot and includes NPR. NPR! I started thinking, "Maybe this book idea isn't so crazy after all."

In the past week and a half since the article we've added 580 members. It's crazy. In order to keep up the momentum I've added a blog and a Twitter account. These two endevors have taken up a lot of time. Today I read a post by a group member who mentioned that he saw a teaser on our local NBC affiliate's eleven o'clock new cast about a story on the group. Today I waited for two hours before they rescheduled to Friday. So now I might be on TV. For this thing that started on facebook. It's crazy.

I've been Sir Rantalot for six years, pounding out opinions for a readership of roughly six people. Now, in nine months I'm getting fifteen minutes of minor local attention for something that took me six minutes to come up with. Maybe this is my "Java Jacket." The simple idea that starts without fanfare that turns into something bigger than the creator expected. I know I never expected this. But now with the blog going, and the group growing, I'm trying to get this book out there. If it comes to fruition I'll be pretty stoked. I guess you never know what will come of your ideas.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tck tck tck Ouch! Crap.

Hello All,

No posts in a while. Usual malaise? No. Seems I have a torn ligament in my wrist and I'm supposed to lay off the typing for a
few more weeks. Drag. But I promise I'll be back soon.