I must have missed this chapter in all the baby books. Hey, I’m not a slacker, I did the reading, but never did I encounter the development stage I’m calling ‘The Neanderthal Swordplay Stage.’ Catchy, I know.
I first witnessed this phenomenon one summer day, out on the sun porch, me doing a crossword, Bub still lounging in post-lunch ecstasy. One thing led to another, he got hold of my writing vessel, and I let him hang on to this eyeball hazard because he didn’t immediately shove it in his piehole. Turns out he had something else in mind for Mr. Penmate.
He suddenly took on a look that can best be described as caveman-‘roider, made an O shape with his mouth and loosed this guttural wail. Interesting, I thought—let’s see where this goes. Well, it went to him waving the pen around like the tiniest little magician who had lost his hat. Actually, waving it is not quite accurate—he was wielding it. He looked straight ahead, eyes fixated, focused on nothing, like a samurai about to commit hara-kiri, the whole time making a noise like an idling baby chainsaw. Creepy.
So, citing ‘choking potential’ (read: Daddy wants to finish his crossword now), I confiscated the pen. He cried for a minute, but then was pleased to be re-introduced to good old Mr. Diving Ring. Fancy meeting you here, Bub, on a Tuesday and all. And so their conversation went; no more wild eyes, no more grunting or aggressive posturing. I thought it was an anomaly; I was wrong.
A few days later, we were in the kitchen. I was cooking or cleaning or doing something very domestic, Bub was on the floor, looking bored. A red rubber spatula crossed my path, and I decided to hand it to the lad. I know, I shouldn’t spoil him with so many toys. He took it greedily and immediately started revving that chainsaw, defocused his eyeballs and started slashing the air with velocity that would scare young children. Kind of scared me, frankly. Bad day to be the air in our kitchen.
I thought for a while that maybe Bub was blessed with some preternatural fencing abilities. He would be the world’s youngest Olympian, barely taller than his epee. But as this continues, I realize there’s something too crude, too primitive about his moves to register anywhere on the graceful scale. He doesn’t just stick and move with it, no. He slams it into the ground and against anything in an eighteen-inch radius, smacks the ground, smacks himself, drops it, picks it up, drops it just so he can pick it up. Foam tubing, cardboard poster holders, spoons, anything remotely phallic—all mere showpieces in his grotesquely Cretin ritual.
Now, not to sound sexist, but maybe only male babies go through it. I met a few guys in college who were still going through it. Since I only have a male baby specimen to base my observations on, it will undoubtedly remain a hypothesis for some time. More data needs to come in, more case studies. Surely I’m not the only one going through this, right?