This morning, Sophie was sitting on her baby-toilet, reading the New Yorker. Before you conclude that I am bragging about my brilliant baby, let me hasten to explain that Sophie doesn’t actually use her baby-toilet yet for anything other than a reading-seat. She won’t even agree to pull her pants down when she sits there to read, and she gives me a look like, “Are you crazy, woman?” whenever I even suggest that she might want to remove her diaper before sitting on the toilet.

So she sits there, fully clothed, on the toilet, reading. We figure that’s a first step, getting comfortable on the potty. Her dad taught her about reading on the toilet long before he left for Britain. She has been stalled at this first step for a while, but she is still young, after all.

She usually has more age-appropriate reading material next to her infant toilet, like Surfshot Magazine or Bicycling Magazine, but since her Dad’s away, the only reading material in the bathroom right now is one floating waterproof baby-book (with which she is thoroughly bored), and the last two issues of the New Yorker

She was flipping quickly the pages, but then she slowed down to carefully examine one cartoon of a husband hanging from the ceiling, while the wife declares something like, “I’m tired of treating you like a pinata.” She wanted me to explain this cartoon to her. “Stuck,” she declared, the man is stuck. He is also floating mid-air, while waging an unequal battle of the sexes. It was all impossible to explain to a 24-month-old who is only capable of uttering 3 words at a time.

My own godfather refused to apply for American citizenship until he could understand all the cartoons in the New Yorker. If that’s the bar for American citizenship, then I myself would not pass it every week.

I know I declared that I didn’t mean to brag in this post, but of course I am bragging: my baby just asked me for advice interpreting a New Yorker cartoon. Hopefully this is the first of many times she will ask this question over the next decades. Unfortunately, it’s probably not the last time that I will fail to adequately explain the New Yorker cartoon to her.


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