One of my baby’s favorite authors is Dr. Seuss. Well, at least as far as the illustrations go, because although his grandparents say he’s a genius, and I find myself totally agreeing with them, I’m still not so sure he fully understands or appreciates the words/plots.
Reading to him, I’ve found myself compiling a sort of wish list in my mind. It’s the kind of thing I usually do with websites or stores that are far too expensive for me, and with the American Girls catalogue (still). Now, I realize Seussian machines and inventions would totally improve my life.
For example, after making a mess of the children’s house, the Cat in the Hat has this car he comes in on, unexpectedly cleaning everything up. The car’s a typical Seussian machine, funny shape and robotic hands everywhere. And while it’s not the kind of vehicle that would make me go into reveries on an aesthetic level (although, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the good doctor’s drawings as much as the next person), I frequently find myself thinking, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for something like that!”
Cat in the Hat, if you can hear me, could you just drive that thing on over here? I try to avoid vacuuming because it’s the chore I hate most, but no matter that I do it once a week even so, and no matter that I sweep every other day; our cat Ali’s luxuriant coat leaves constant dustballs (or, if he swallows enough of it, hairballs…), and there always seem to be cookie crumbs around (this may actually be my fault), and it’s hard to keep things neat, no matter how often I pick up after everyone. There are burp cloths, Cat, burp clothes everywhere, and then there are the pants. My husband just can’t seem to resist putting his pants in the most improbable of places when he gets into his PJs at night. Actually, this sounds like something you might do, too, if you wore pajamas (though I think gloves, a bow tie, and that hat are your sole sartorial possessions).
There are other impossible things I wish I had:
-Shoes that would make me move with absolute grace and silence when I put them on. I picture them looking like beautiful pink ballet slippers, and sometimes I think I should just get myself a pair of house shoes or slippers or whatnot that are soft and would make it like I was walking barefoot, but that still wouldn’t solve the problem. I tend to clomp around regardless of what’s on my feet, and I’m sure I’d also step on something or bang my arm on one of the door handles for the umpteenth time. Our cat is used to my inherent noisiness by now, but I often wonder if being silent would make my son sleep just a leeetle more at naptime?
-A magic blanket. Well, not a blanket, since those are supposed to be dangerous now (suffocation hazard) — but like a magic baby sleeping bag that I could put on my son regardless of the weather so that he’d be, à la Goldilocks, neither too hot nor too cold, but always “just right”.
- A permanent wrinkle remover cream that actually works and that I could just snap my fingers to apply. You know those pictures where they compare a President at the beginning of his term, to what he looks like at the end? After just a year of motherhood, I feel like you could do that with me and see almost as significant a difference.
- Sophisticated, comfortable, non-barf- or stain-showing clothes that cost little or nothing. I know they have to exist. I don’t know why becoming a mom has suddenly made me feel the need to look “sophisticated”, which has always been one of the adjectives my name is least likely to be anywhere near in a sentence (unless it’s in the negative sense, I guess).
- Some of those Dr. Seuss robot hands. You know what, Cat? I don’t even need your whole clean-up car thingee. I think if I could just have one or two of those robot hands, I’d be good. I could probably rig them to the baby carrier that was supposed to keep my two real hands free, but that my son hates above all else. It would be wonderful to be able to give him a bottle and, say, sweep the floor at the same time — or, even better, carry his folded carriage down the many stairs of the Metro while also holding him. Or, to effortlessly schlep him, his diaper bag, and the folder of important and oh-so-loseable papers from desk to desk like I had to do when I signed him up at this great government-run pediatric center yesterday. Gosh, the robot hands could have been useful then! Or say when we come in from running errands and I’m so thirsty but so is my son, so I have to give him a bottle with my own throat dry. I can sometimes manage to drink water at the same time, but it’s a perilous operation (I’m really clumsy, remember?) that usually results in one or both of us getting soaked.
- How about a good babysitter who’s around whenever I need him or her, no matter when? I know you could hook me up with Thing One and Thing Two, but they’re a bit wild. Maybe one of the more docile creatures from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish? Do you know them? Like the lady creature who calls Ned whose bed is too small. She seems really conscientious and reliable. Could you give me her number?
I know that Dr. Seuss books normally make you think of all the crazy, fun things you could do with those gadgets. And I know, Cat, that fun is good. But I promise I’d smile and at least have a little fun — or be contributing towards later fun-having — every time I used one of these things (or called upon that perfect babysitter). So please do consider it. Also, if you come to drop these things off at my place, I will let you balance precarious stacks of various (non-fragile) household objects because I think that would be really cool to see in real life.
I originally posted this on my blog on Open Salon when my son was four months old. He’s about a year old now, and the wish list hasn’t really changed.