March 1, Morning
Now even though Maisie is only a month old I’m already giving the evil eye to would-be suitors. Yeah, that’s right I caught a two-month-old looking her over and immediately let him know in no uncertain terms that anyone who wants to date my daughter first has to go through me.
Yeah, I could see what low-brow plans he had circling in his head. Take Maisie to the Pre-School dance, flirt with her at the pediatrician, invite her over for some innocent strained bananas, then just up and leave her for some other six month old. Yeah, I know your type Mr. Powder Blue Footsie With Ducks And Bears Embroidered On The Chest—love ‘em, leave ‘em, make em cry. Well, you make my kid cry I’m coming after you. Well, actually everything makes my kid cry at the moment, but I’m sure it’s all somehow Powder Blue Footsie’s fault.
March 1, Evening
One of Maisie’s favorite grown up visitors is Maureen or Aunt ‘Tini as she is known in every bar around town (actually Aimee’s the only one who calls her that, we just tell Maisie the every bar in town story to create a favorable impression). Aunt ‘Tini had probably the best advice for Maisie I have heard so far…
“Don’t get engaged until you have a job. You hear that kid.”
ABOUT MOTHERS-IN-LAW. This is usually the part of the story where the husband/father goes off about his “in-laws,” especially his “mother-in-law” who did this and did that and stayed for a month one week yada yada yada like a bad nightclub comedian who has run out of material. But my mother-in-law deserves the purple heart, medal of honor and the Little Orphan Annie Spy Decoder Ring for all she did in the line of duty this last month. Ro (that’s short for Rosemary and not Robocop as I was originally led to believe by Cousin Bobby) did everything but remove asbestos in helping us make the transition from two lazy people to two lazy people with a kid. She was there cooking just about every evening, cleaning the house, moving furniture, building cribs, lifting furniture, pulling drivers from burning automobiles, boiling water, making formula, holding the baby, watching the baby and freezing enough food to keep us in stir-fry for the next six months. She just left to go back to Florida a couple days ago, and now it’s suddenly become clear that This Sporting Life is now forever gone and has been replaced by This Chained-To-The-Kid-At-The-Wrists-And-Ankles-Life. What do you mean we have to actually plan ahead and keep schedules now?
ABOUT FATHERS-IN-LAWS. Aimee’s dad and I can both personally attest that baby furniture from Costco weighs approximately the same as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
REAL DIRECTIONS ON THE SIDE OF A PACKAGE OF BABY FORMULA:
DIRECTIONS: Mix 2 ounces of water with each spoonful of powder. Do not mix 1 ounce of water with 1 spoonful of formula even though that makes the most sense at 3 A.M in the morning. And it follows that if you mix 4 portions of powder with 4 ounces of water at 3 A.M. in the morning you spend the rest of the night not getting any sleep because you’re certain you’ve poisoned your daughter. Dumb shit.
I’m sitting holding Maisie in my left hand and writing with my right. It’s Friday afternoon at 3 P.M. The living room has changed in the last few weeks. There’s a stroller in front of the fireplace, next to it is a blue chair with a type of roll bar thing from which hang a green stuffed turtle, oblong yellow rings and an orange thing. There’s a dirty pacifier on the corner of the table, two empty baby bottles, tissue, blanket. In the corner is a crib and two oblong boxes next to it. Near that is another chair. This one swings and plays music—some of it recognizable, some of it not.
She’s asleep now. But when she’s awake, it’s no longer just blank staring. She sees–you can see her filing things away in her brain. Like the lamp behind the couch, or the size of her father’s nose.
Then she falls asleep and dreams. I watch her, study her. Every facial expression, every emotion plays across her face in a matter of seconds. Happy, sad, shocked, smiling, grimacing, crying, Elvis (this is when she raises the right side of her lip in a Presley scowl). I try to imagine what she might be dreaming about–according to expression. A white furry rabbit (smile) steals her pacifier (frown) and waves it in front of her face (angry). A giant Cloud Being throws a Balpein hammer (happy) at the rabbit and hits him in the head. The pacifier lands on the leaf of a Eucalyptus tree in the middle of the Antarctic (wonder) where Elvis Presley (scowl) retrieves it and returns it to its rightful owner (happy).
Or maybe it’s just a dream about a big giant boob.
I’ve always promised myself that I would do everything possible to shield my child from The Wiggles, Raffi, Barney, basically all bad children’s music in general. So beginning today, Maisie and I are on a mission to keep questionable kiddie music at bay. We mutually decided (mutually meaning I brought up the idea and she didn’t cry) to sit her in front of the stereo and play a classic album every couple days. Figuring it might be better to break her in gently rather than diving head first into Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast, we broke out the first Beatles album (the British real version not the stupid American one). Judging by her crying she wasn’t too fond of the songs “Boys” (sorry Ringo) and “Ask Me Why” but she smiled during “Please, Please Me” and “P.S. I Love You.” However, she must not have thought all that much of “There’s A Place” because that’s when she threw up. All in all though, a good start.
YET MORE ABOUT POOP. There are few sights in the world as fear-inducing as seeing poop coming out of the sides of a diaper. And today, Maisie broke the indoor poop record. There was poop on her back, on her belly, down her leg, on her feet, and in other places that defied the laws of physics.
I have learned to deal with most poop situations, but this one was especially challenging. Once the diaper was off and we could see the extent of the blow out, Aimee started to gag. And that caused me to gag, which caused Maisie to gag. So I of course did the prudent thing and called 911 immediately.
ONE FINAL NOTE ABOUT POOP AND THEN I WILL NEVER BROACH THE SUBJECT AGAIN, PROMISE. I never really used the word “poop” before, preferring the more descriptive and mature “shit.” But having a baby does strange things to you.
Aimee thinks Maisie’s butt looks like the face of a sharpei. Not sure if that reflects badly on the sharpei or Maisie’s butt, but it’s probably a fair assessment. I don’t think they make baby butt implants, but will check Babies R Us next time I’m there.
CLOTHES. Maisie now had more clothes than I ever owned in my life. And most of them she wears two or three times then grows out of them. Me, I’ve worn the same pair of jeans since high school.
Methods of soothing a crying baby are infinite, and this morning I got the opportunity to use all of them. It was simply one of those mornings where Maisie had her mind set on crying and nothing was going to get in the way of that (especially the threats to sell Maisie to the gypsies, donate here to the Salvation Army or trade her in for soap). The more the crying continued, the more my vocabulary degenerated…
“Awww, you got a tummy ache there kiddo? Oh no, don’t cry little Maiso. Why are you crying, you are the most beautiful peanut in the whole world.”
As the crying gets worse, you start repeating things six or seven times…
“Daddy doesn’t like it when you cry. That’s right, Daddy doesn’t like it when you cry. Did you know daddy doesn’t like it when you cry. No daddy wants you to be happy, and crying makes daddy sad. So when you’re sad, it makes daddy sad. That’s right Daddy’s going to cry.”
Then you shake it up a little bit by throwing in a pet name.
“That’s right, daddy doesn’t like it when his little Q-Tip cries.”
When that doesn’t work you try another tactic…
“You know the world’s not going to end. That’s right, the world’s not gonna end so you can stop crying. That’s right, there’s no reason to cry. Aww, what’s wrong with my little pumpkin.”
After reasoning fails, that’s when you resort to bribery…
“If you quit crying, Daddy will take you to Disneyland every year. I’ll pay for college. I’ll let you watch R-rated movies when you turn thirteen. I won’t be overbearing. I’ll buy you popcorn. Just quit crying. That’s right quit crying for daddy.”
And after that doesn’t work, you pull out the ace in the hole, the last resort, the cure-all, be-all, end-all to soothe a crying baby. You begin speaking gibberish.
“Zabba dooby, baby, zippee, pee dippee. That’s right, dooby dibby dabba, dabba, wooee, woo. Wo’s the bawawawa bawi waba, babo, babi.”
Of course in the end, all the kid needed was a bottle, but where’s the challenge in that. Dawa doobie doobie.
Maisie met her aunts for the first time this last weekend. Flying up from Fresno, California they were quickly taken in by her evil baby powers. Within five minutes I realized that whenever more than two women come to visit I can expect to hold my kid for a grand total of 7-8 minutes every two days. It is great, though, having them here because both Bonnie and Barbara were so excited to see the kid, they actually volunteer to change diapers. This lasts usually until the first major blow-out, then they call for their younger brother to come take care of this mess because I have more recent experience with oversoiled diapers. And because they’re older.
My niece Kristi also came down to meet the Maiso, and imparted much child-rearing advice from her 20 years of child-rearing (due to a mistake in accounting, my sisters are much older than I am, meaning my sister’s oldest Kristi, and my oldest Maisie are 40 years apart). The most applicable advice was the burping-like-you-mean-it method or as it’s otherwise known like-you-are-trying-to-dislodge-the-esophagus method. Then there was the tip to feed your entire supply of formula at one sitting so the kid will sleep through the night. And part of the next day. And into the following week. Both worked like a charm.
- KRISTI BABY TIP #6 Never pitch a baby more than 25 feet in the air or throw from the roof like a football.
One thing you learn in the process of having a kid is you become quite good at feeding with one hand and using the other hand to work the television remote. Or eat. Or write. Or sign the National Anthem. Operate a motor vehicle, make a bundt cake, build a log cabin, play the flute, build a nuclear reactor, send a missile to destroy China, etc.
On a personal note, this last month, it seems I have been doing nothing but meeting with lawyers. Agency lawyers who are handling the agency closing, personal lawyers (who I actually like) who are making sure I don’t get screwed by other lawyers, lawyers that begat other lawyers. Anyway the point here is that before Maisie was born there would have been nothing out of the ordinary about the way I dressed for said meetings…jeans, sweater, shoes, maybe a change of underwear. But four weeks after she was born, things are definitely different…
I hope everyone in the lawyer meetings today enjoyed and appreciated the Hello Kitty band-aid that was wrapped around my index finger after cutting it on a crib box yesterday.
Today Maisie’s friend Oliveen called and asked if she was busy Tuesday afternoon. But upon checking her calendar, I saw that Maisie had scheduled pooping between 2:00 and 3:00 that day. So Oliveen had to reschedule.
FIRST FIRSTS. Also today, we’re pretty sure we heard Maisie’s official first laugh. And it came not while interacting with Mom and Dad, or talking to Grandma and Grandpa, or just checking out all the cool stuff we bought for her room. No, it came while James Franco was cutting off his own leg in 127 Hours. It was on cable.
THANK GOD I HAVE A BABY TO COME HOME TO DEPARTMENT. Here are a list of things that have gone wrong since the first of the year:
- Main client fired us
- Closed the agency
- Basement flooded
- Ants showed up in the kitchen
- Main client threatened lawsuit
- Car ran out of gas
- Smited with dreadful boils
- Possessions all destroyed by a ruach
- Plague of hail showed up shortly followed by locusts
- Fire fell from heaven
- Chaldeans attacked and carried away all the camels, etc.
I was playing with Maisie today. Doing the baby talk again, pretending I was the voice of her stuffed Donkey/Nameless Animal…
“Hello Maisie, I’m Mr. Donkey. I’m walking on your chest.”
Then I sang a little song:
I’m Mr Donkey
I ain’t no monkey
Cuz I’m a Donkey
Named Mr. Donkey.
Anyway in the middle of the donkey performance she looked from the donkey over to me with that innocent look that cuts right through everything sees everything perfectly. For at least 30 seconds she just stared and you could see her mind working…
“What kind of idiot are you? You’re 53 years old. Act your age.”
Actually, I think she was just pissed because I lost one of her socks.
THE DONKEY SONG, VERSE 2
I’m Mr. Donkey
I ain’t no honky
Cuz I’m a Donkey
And was domesticated around 3000 BC
I then created a pretend reality TV show called Donkey Prison which she seemed to enjoy except for the TV-MA rating for crude indecent donkey language.
Maisie has already outgrown her clothes after six weeks. The purple and black striped onesie that makes her look like a crazed convict on her way to Grandma’s house no longer fits. The one with the butterfly on her backside is now consigned to wiping up formula. And the button up pink Guido sweatsuit no longer buttons and makes her look like a wife-beater with a pot belly. Some of these she wore a grand total of two times.
OTHER OUTGROWN CLOTHES CHECKLIST
- Long nightshirt onesie that has x’s and o’s all around
- The pink jacket and pants/sweatsuit with poodle.
- The oneside that has words like Magical, Love, Fairy Princess, and drawings of castle towers, carriages, crowns and hearts that ride up her butt and shows way too much skin.
- The yellow striped outfit that makes her look like a giant crazed bee.
BABY MASSAGE. Maisie and her mom went to a Baby Massage class yesterday. And while my mind was racing with visions of pampering, aroma therapy, oils and little baby masseuses, the reality was a far cry from that. Like literally. Far cry. Far loud cry. The first thing they did was sing nursery rhymes. There are two things wrong with that. If you’re two months old and have been promised a massage, the last thing you want to do is be made to sing some dumb song before getting the massage. The other thing is Maisie hates that pattycake bakerman crap, she’s into Led Zeppelin, Dylan, Muse and Tom Jones damn it.
Anyway things didn’t improve after the nursery song fiasco. After some token back massage, Little Frankie next to Maisie started to cry (this was OK, because he was giving Maisie the eye anyway), then that got Little Jennifer crying, then Little Edgar, then before you know it every Little baby in the room was wailing. And Maisie’s just sitting there thinking to herself, “What the hell is this?! I come down here for a relaxing massage, and I have to put up with all this racket.” So she started crying too. Everyone’s crying. It’s now a Crying class. Baby Massage 101 or How To Get Baby To Melt Down On The Spot. I recommend it.
SHOTS DAY. While getting Maisie ready for the two-month pediatrician check-up, it was hard not to feel like we were dressing her for the firing squad. It was Shots Day and the conversation before leaving went something like this.
“OK, we’re going to the doctor’s today but you’re not going to like it.”
‘You’re going to get a shot and they’re going to hurt.”
“Ya ka ka.”
“Actually you’re getting three shots, and that’s going to hurt even more.”
“Yee Ya Ya.”
“So when you’re getting your shots and you’re crying at the top of your lungs, just remember this. It’s…not…your…daddy’s…fault.”
“It’s your mother’s.”
So we get to the doctor’s office and Maisie does the usual fussing during the weigh-in and fussing during the height measurement (this was all good by the way—in the 50th percentile, absolutely average). Then the doctor checked Maisie over while Maisie fixated on the walls and the stethoscope and the blood pressure machine.
She had no idea what was coming.
With a shudder Nurse Ratchet burst in with the Hypodermics (OK, she was actually cute and blonde and her name was actually Vicki…Vicki Ratchet). She laid out the instruments of torture on the bed while Maisie just kind of waved her arms and gurgled. She smiled, looked at the nurse, smiled again…
Then just like that, her world of innocence was shattered.
All color simultaneously drained and rushed into her face, she opened her mouth so wide it looked like it had come off its hinges. She let out a scream so loud and so milk-curdling that it shook the foundation of the Doctor’s office and the Taco Bell across the street. That was followed by a louder scream. And by the third scream it was like she had become her own little epicenter. She braved it like a trooper, though. Within ten seconds, she was down to a dull roar and in 20 seconds the blood pressure tester had regained her full attention. But her bubble had still been broken, she now knew Doctor’s office pain and like every living adult, would fear it the rest of her life.
FIRST WORD. I am not sure exactly what this signifies, but Maisie’s first official understandable word was “Ow.” She was asleep when she uttered it, so she may not have actually meant Ow. But it was the first recognizable thing she’s said since coming home from the hospital and proclaiming, “Why is this place such a mess. Don’t you ever clean this dump.”