Baby Half-Wit

When I visit my parents, I usually take one of the dogs for a walk. Dorothy and Sylvia are the two creatures that make me most happy in this world, and a walk is the very least I can do to show my gratitude. And it is on these walks that I reacquaint myself with the neighborhood in which I grew up, show the people from my youth the ease with which I can now grow a beard — that 4'11" freshman-year-of-high-school Adam is long gone, curb-stomped to death by a posse of raging hormones.

"Yes, my second testicle did descend, Ms. Johnson!" I have been known to yell across a street. "Glad to see your lawn still looks like shit, you old bag."

Recently, however, I have noticed a disturbing type of woman about my boyhood turf. She is young, she is good-looking, she is trim, and she is a mother. But she is not a MILF. And why not? Because she is a terrible mother — and bad parenting is just such a turn-off, mmmkay, girlfriends? For as these women sashay their gym bodies around the neighborhood, pushing their fleshy offspring in decorative strollers rather than, I don't know, talking to their children — pointing out that that's a stop-sign, that's a dog, that's that old banshee Ms. Johnson — they gab the entire time on their cell phones.

"I don't know, Beth, I think if we do Pilates first we'll be fine for hot yoga afterwards. Besides, that class is with Toby, and Toby's soooo hot. Blah, blah, blah, look at me, I'm a whore. I'm driving my husband to the bottle."

And what happens to the kids in the process? They just continue stumbling about like little snotty orbs, frustrated and impatient, so they go to kindergarten and bludgeon some kid with a shovel for his saltines, then grow up and get full-ride scholarships to play lacrosse. At Duke.

I can hear those women now: "But Adam, you don't understand. You don't have kids; you can't be expected to spend every second of your life with them. Sometimes you need to talk on the cell phone and get a piece of your own, separate existence back."

Well, that's where you're wrong: I have had kids. But I knew I was not at a point in my life where I could dedicate every second to them, so I drove them to the park and set them free. If our love is true and they come back to me, then I will know that it was meant to be. And so far, none of them have.

Apparently infants who watch the Baby Einstein DVDs won't come back to their parents, either. Not because they don't love them, but because they're too stupid to remember the address. A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington found that for every hour spent watching programming like the Baby Einstein series, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than babies who didn't watch them. Julie Aigner-Clark, the Denver-area schoolteacher who created the series and then sold it to Disney for $20 million and the rights to Walt's frozen corpse, says right in her profile on the Baby Einstein website that she was trying to give parents a way to interact with their kids and help them learn. What she didn't count on was legions of fitness lady gangs using her videos to babysit the kids while they work on inflection with rotation alongside Toby.

I sat down to watch the Baby Einstein DVD, with no interaction from my parents whatsoever, and after mere seconds of Discovering Shapes: Circles, Squares and More!, I could see the harm this type of video could cause an unmonitored baby. For starters, before the thing even began, right there on the menu screen was an animated scene featuring a rhinoceros and a raccoon. Raccoons and rhinos together? Christ, man, they're not even on the same continent! I recall vividly the first day of second grade, when the teacher welcomed us and then administered a one-question quiz: Do raccoons and rhinos live on the same continent? Those who got the answer wrong were immediately rounded up and taken on a short bus to the special-ed classes on the far side of campus. So congratulations, fitness lady gangs, welcome to life with a child who wears a helmet.

I continued watching the video, a whirlwind of colors, sounds and shapes — but at the clip of a puppet rhino, squirrel, raccoon, giraffe, either a pig or a cow, and three birds emerging from the same tent unscathed, I had to call bullshit.

We should have known something was up when President Bush big-upped Aigner-Clark and the Baby Einstein franchise in his State of the Union address last January. Any time a president shouts-out the inventor of a DVD for toddlers in the middle of a Vietnam, you know something is askew. (Turns out Cheney's been sitting Bush down in front of the Baby Bach series ever since the War on Terror started.)

The bottom line: Parents, you need to talk to your children. Fitness lady gangs, you need to put down your cell phones and show your children the world. When your kids are watching TV, try to watch it with them, be their co-pilot. And if you don't have time to do that, make your illegal-immigrant nanny do it. That way you will be a way better mother and, correspondingly, I will find you way more sexiful. And I'll start scheduling more trips to walk my parents' dogs. Don't think I haven't noticed how much you've been working out.

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Adam Cayton-Holland