Here’s a narrative from this morning where I played the part of Maisie’s floppy bunny doll with big ears and she listened intently. To get the full effect, imagine an evil French accent bunny voice…
“Ha ha, you want to know why I have the big floppy ears. Ho ho, so I can hit you softly in the head one after the other until you can’t take it anymore. Ha Ha, I hit you again. Now tell me where did you hide the pacifier with the soccer ball on it. What you refuse to talk? I hit you again, with my big floppy ears. Boom and boom. Now you shall tell me where is the pacifier or I will have to call in the stuffed fluffy green turtle with the crazy circular designs and his psychotic henchman. You know him, the one only known as “Zebra.”
It was Grandpa’s birthday today and Maisie made her own sign then proceeded to waste film while we were out shopping for fruit.
I noticed today that one of Maisie’s outfits features lions, hippos, giraffes and toasters. “That’s funny,” I thought to myself. When I pointed this out to Aimee she immediately enlightened me that “those aren’t toasters, you idiot, they’re penguins.”
MAISIE 1, BACK 0
This morning the 53-year-old in me struck back with feeling when my back twisted all to hell and halfway to Bakersfield trying to get Maisie’s car seat (with Maisie in it) into the back seat. Typically this back thing only happens when I’m doing extraordinarily demanding activities like picking up a sock or getting out of bed, and the pain associated with those is usually pretty minor. But this one…holy shit…it felt like somebody dropped a pallet of bulldozers followed by a dozen bridge supports on the small of my back. And within seconds I went from fairly mobile 50-something adult to a 95-year-old invalid with bad breath in need of a walker.
So here’s the extent of my life over the last few days…
- Sit with a Freez Pak (“just freeze and use over and over”) lodged between my sweat pants and my boxer shorts.
- Lie wholly prone because even the act of watching TV hurts (more so than usual anyway).
- And when Maisie does cry, walk over like an old blind leper in a Jesus Bible movie.
Yup, it’s never been quite this bad.
This morning I had to use the wall, the mattress, the door handle, the nightstand and a chair as leverage to just get out of the bed. Then it took me ten minutes to walk over to the bathroom, five minutes to open the door, fifteen minutes to negotiate the step into the bathroom, and ten minutes to complain bitterly in front of the mirror. After that, I broke the rules and dropped three Aleve at once then lay face down on the bed waiting for one of my organs to shoot out of my butt because I went over the two per day Advil maximum.
Anyway I guess I always knew my kid would make me old. But like this? You’ve got to be kidding. At least let me hurt my back teaching my kid how to field grounders. Or ski double black diamonds. Or throwing engine blocks into the neighbors yard. Not by lifting a car seat.
Oh great, now the Freez Pak is leaking all over my sweats.
Today Aimee accused Maisie of going out to the backyard and digging up worms. In her mind, how else do you account for the fact that Maisie always has dirt under her fingernails? (I didn’t tell her that we’ve got a stash of dirt under the bed and pull it out to play when Aimee’s not around.)
BABY FASHION STATEMENT. There are those who follow trends, and those who would rather set them. Maisie is pushing infant fashion forward with the Pants Pulled Up Like Gomer Pyle look
I believe we may have hit an all time record today for time delay between a baby’s mouth opening and a baby’s cry coming out of baby’s mouth opening. It was a good five seconds which allowed Maisie to work up enough volume to let everyone in the neighborhood know that she was not happy with having the bottle of formula wrestled away from her so Dad could do some repositioning and not lose his arm due to a cutoff in blood circulation.
POSSIBLE WORRISOME TRAIT FOR LATER IN LIFE. Maisie loves being neck-ed. And that’s neck-ed as in “C’mon down to the lake, we’re gonna get neck-ed and go skinny dipping” or “Let’s get neck-ed like Elvis,” or “Look at me, I’m neck-ed on the changing table.”
In looking back over the last two and a half months, it is amazing how quickly Maisie has evolved from a disassociated feeding machine to a person. This whole human being thing is starting to reveal itself in small ways, like her anticipation of being fed, smiling at the ridiculous behavior of her parents, watching in dismay as the Seattle Mariners’ season goes down the tubes and it’s only April.
It’s way past amazing. Seeing a personality develop out of thin air, and witnessing how already little bits of manipulation are already creeping into her character (knowing that our little Maisie has and will have her parents exactly where she wants them). I am both excited and saddened by this. Saddened in that the phases of infancy last for about five seconds without so much of an afterthought/acknowledgement, but excited for all the inspired idiocy that is to come (family traditions I believe they’re called). And also for the tears that will also come for whatever reason…falls, hunger, boys, wind changing direction…and the uncomplication of the consoling hugs that follow.
In fact, I can hear my daughter crying upstairs as I write this, and I can tell it is definitely now communication and not just some mysterious biological hereditary reaction.
Yup, that is for sure. She is telling me to quit writing and get off my ass and come up there and feed her.
Working from home definitely has its advantages. After finishing my work this morning, I went outside for a walk with Maisie and came across a sign tacked up on a telephone pole. The sign read, “Stolen. Pine Tree. If anyone has any information, please call Ray at 206-623-0232.” As I was reading, Ray himself walked up behind me…
“Yup, woke up one morning and it was gone.”
“Did you check around the neighborhood?” I asked.
“Sure did. Nowhere to be seen.”
“Did you check the pawn shops anywhere?”
“Pawn shops. Somebody probably tried to fence it you know. Probably looking for fertilizer money.”
“Or it might have just gone back to the forest on its own. Pine trees do that you know.”
He walked away shrugging his head.
SMART CHILD REARING TIP #132
Give the birds and bees talk when they’re a couple months old so you don’t have to put yourself in any awkward positions when they get to eleven or twelve. Of course it helps to have a couple visual aids so if you have a Barney or Hello Kitty doll close by feel free to use them to illustrate various “facts of life.”
Or maybe just wait ‘til they’re twelve.
WHEN I’M AWAY. Every day it’s so exciting to come home and see what new thing Maisie is doing. Like yesterday. She was hitting herself in the head with her right arm. And today she is hitting herself in the head with her left. Couple days ago she hit me in the eye with her fist and got her Mom in the nose. Then just yesterday she simultaneously pooped and hit me in the chin.
A PLAGUE OF ARM MOVEMENTS AND GUTTERAL UTTERANCES. I have yet to accurately describe how Maisie sounds when she sleeps. So here we go—it’s a wide variety of grunts, throat noises and shrieks mixed in with a couple of caterwauls punctuated by impressions of Tom Waits and Sling Blade. Now imagine these sounds mixed with uncontrollable arm movements like a priest trying to give the sign of the cross after too much Ritalin or a rattled boxer throwing up a right jab, left hook and uppercut all at the same time or a symphony conductor putting the finishing touches on a speed metal version of Bach’s Fantasia And Fugue In C Minor.
I know she’ll get her muscle coordination under control soon but one of my fondest memories will be of her wayward arm unintentionally hitting her binky across the room then her waking up crying because her binky was all the way across the room.
AUNT ‘TINI’S BIRTHDAY or PERMANENTLY SCARRED FOR LIFE. I’m sitting with Maisie right now, she’s dressed for Maureen’s surprise birthday party. Or was. Within two minutes, she had pulled off the tutu, lost the shoes and puked on her shirt. I don’t think this was any reflection of Aunt ‘Tini, more a statement about having to get dressed up.
Once re-decked-out, we were off. The drive over was fine, Maisie sat quietly in her car seat and did whatever babies do when they’re facing away from their parents in their car seats. And we arrive well in time to all gather in the bedroom of Maureen’s boyfriend Ed and wait for Maureen to open the bedroom door at which point we will all jump out and yell “SURPRISE” after which the fun and frolic will ensue. That was the plan, here is what actually happened. Maureen opens the bedroom door, everyone yells surprise which not only surprises Maureen but scares the piss, crap, and whatever else is left out of Maisie (her mom thrusting her out at zero hour probably didn’t help matters any). So Maisie howls and I mean HOWLS for about thirty seconds then settles down into a nice steady sob for the next two hours. Everyone takes turns trying to settle her down but the damage had been done.
Oh well, at least there was tacos.
NOTE TO MAISIE’S FUTURE FRIENDS. When she has a mysterious emotional meltdown at a surprise party, you’ll know why.
SMART THING FATHERS SHOULD DO. When doing a handoff with your wife and you’re running late for the bar, always answer the question, “did you check her diaper lately?” with “Yes, there’s some formula in the refrigerator” and leave as quickly as possible
OUR FIRST WALK TOGETHER. Today was the first warm day of the year (warm in Seattle usually meaning somewhere around 70 degrees), and it was a good enough reason for Maisie and I to go out for a walk together. It was my usual walk, one I had done a thousand times alone or with Aimee.
But today was different.
Today I got to see things though Maisie’s eyes. The first time ever seeing the sun (it is Seattle after all), the first time ever having a cool big dog come up and lick you, the first time ever having a stupid little dog come up and yap at you, the first time ever looking out over a clear blue Puget Sound over to the snow-clad Olympics fifty miles distant, the first time ever seeing the neighbor who likes to mow his lawn shirtless who should probably think twice about even stepping out of the shower shirtless. The first smell of newly cut grass, the first feeling of sun on the face, the first sight of the strange woman in the pink hat who smells like an adult movie theater, and the first feeling that every element in the world is perfectly in place.
The Royal Wedding was today. After receiving her invitation and taking note of the “hat etiquette,” Maisie dressed appropriately.
My e-mail communications have gotten much more interesting since Maisie showed up. Even though it’s possible to type messages with one hand on a keyboard and support a baby with the other, it usually results in messages like the following:
Could yo please sen thralx to Peter by 100:0 AM. On the 7hf
You pu for maybe a beeer next Thuesday with D. Cupertino Frec h. x s
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