“I got your ear! I got your ear!”
This quotation does not involve the unfortunate loss of an appendage due to a hyper-competitive boxer taking a match just a liiittle too far, nor an evil, metal-faced Japanese overlord exacting revenge on a mutated rat ninja master, nor the alleged madness of a Dutch artist (or, apparently, a covered-up fencing squabble). No, this utterance hereby ignites a story destined to be more legendary than the ear-related tragedies of Evander Holyfield, Master Splinter, and Vincent Van Gogh combined—without even any actual ear removal. It is a story that will live on in the hearts of the Pseudonymous family for years to come as the time we almost certainly won several thousand dollars.
“I got your ear! I got your ear!”
The faux ear threat in question was directed at my son, who was lying in front of my wife on our ottoman/living room changing table/Pride-Rock-style dog lookout as she knelt on the floor, hunched above him. This was about a month ago, with the Twins about to hit the 4-month mark, and they were just starting to laugh. Now, we’re not talking mere smiles here—those had been around for months (for most babies, the smilestone hits during the second month). No, these were full-on belly laughs accented with elated shrieks, and that was where my wife had my son at this very moment, as she lip-nipped at his ears.
He was in this position for a reason. We’d just watched him pinch out a massive dump while sitting in his bouncy chair, and my wife had lain him down to change him. However, once he was down, his bashful flirting with Mommy prompting a little playing before delving into his brown abyss.
For those who have never experienced infantile giggles, it has to be one of the world’s most debilitatingly adorable, heart-melting sounds. Just try to be upset near a laughing baby. It can’t be done, even if you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t like kids. I contend that even the Heath Ledger incarnation of The Joker would ask himself“Why so serious?” in the presence of this sonic euphoria.
And thus, as my son shrieked and squealed with belly laughter, my wife and I were aglow with parental enchantment, which, in cooperation with the perpetual exhaustion of our super-sized parenting stint, impaired our now ever-dulling alertness. Holding my daughter at the time, I propped her up on the couch and made a ninja-grade dash for the camera, as I am our family’s documentarian.
I am determined to capture the Pseudonymous family’s greatest hits in high definition for the following reasons:
1) It provides the possibility for me to auteur an Official Selection for the Sundance Film Festival (or at least phenomenally indulgent highlight reels for such occasions as 18th birthdays and weddings).
2) I am compiling blackmail as ammunition for the upcoming teenage years (and beyond, if necessary).
3) Finally, and most relevant to this anecdote, I am convinced that the more I film the World’s Most Interesting Children, I will eventually wind up with a videographic twincident that will earn us $100,000 in winnings from America’s Funniest Home Videos.
With this fervor at full blast, I was capturing a very touching moment between mother and son within seconds. As he squeaked elatedly, my wife kept turning to me, declaring, “I’ve never heard him laugh like this before.”
A week or two prior, we’d gotten our daughter in similar stiches by composing an impromptu chant to the effect of:
Gonna take a bath?
Gotta take a bath!
Gonna make a splash
In Daddy’s face!
There’s actually some Grammy buzz surrounding the chant, and we don’t want to be preemptive, but the Best Bathtime Chant Category has pretty few nominees this year, so we’re fairly optimistic.
Anyway, our daughter had just about lost her mind laughing at our chant, but we still hadn’t gotten him to crack yet. At that point, it seemed our daughter was hitting all of the developmental milestones about a week sooner than her brother—smiling, hand usage, chainsaw juggling, etc. At first, we worried our son was not progressing along as well as his sister, but we realized that if he were the only 4-month-old in the house (without another to compare him to), we wouldn’t even be thinking about this. He would just be progressing the way that he was and even doing so earlier than average.
We thought this could possibly be attributed to how they were born. When my wife’s body notified her of its desire to expel children, it was my daughter’s water that broke. She was the first to be born (in multiples circles this is what they call “Baby A”). Once she arrived, they actually had to break our son’s water at the hospital to deliver him (“Baby B”).
Typically, naturally-broken water means a baby is “ready” to be freed from The Matrix, but since his was broken by the fine staff at the hospital, we figure our son wasn’t necessarily quite “ready” and thought he might even be roughly a gestational week behind. This, of course, came from our own lay-analysis, and I have no idea if it’s medically sound or complete crap. In the scheme of things, though, it didn’t even matter because now, at 5 months out, this one-week delay is gone. They’re splitting milestones in half, with him perfecting many new tricks before her, and vice versa.
After recording baby laughter footage galore (probably more than I will ever have disk space for, considering the compounded baby laughter footage I will undoubtedly amass), I stopped filming, put the camera down next to me on the couch, and picked up my daughter again. I would later regret this, to the tune of thousands of hypothetical dollars.
Having sufficiently gotten my son’s ear, my wife decided she needed more, and trained her crosshairs on his stomach. “I’m gonna get your tummy! I’m gonna get your tummy!” she giggled, unsnapping his onesie and pulling it up, exposing his belly. It was at this point that I remembered how my wife and son had originally gotten into this position. It was not difficult to deduce because baby feces smattered his belly well above his diaper.
However, my wife did not seem to be aware of this, persisting “I’m gonna get your tummy! I’m gonna get your tummy!” as my son laughed his ass off. It seemed that during the undressing process, she had not broken my son’s gaze.
As she lowered her face towards his stomach, I told myself “She has to know,” as evidenced by the pronounced layer of peanut butter glaze coating his lower stomach, but she was headed right for it! I shuddered.
“Babe!” I called, but, alas, to no avail.
She “got” his tummy.
“What?” she answered, looking in my direction, allowing my viewership of the gooey, brownish-green, diagonal, prolonged soul patch of baby poo now caking her chin.
My son was equally surprised, staring with eyes wide at the guy who interrupted his giggle-fest. My daughter looked up at me from my lap, horrified by the sudden, loud outburst emanating from her chair/Daddy.
“Um, I think you just got sh!t on your face.”
“Look.” I pointed at my son’s bare stomach, still chock full of fecal spread.
“Oh my God,” she chuckled. ” I was just so focused on his laughing I didn’t see it.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
Cleaning her chin with baby wipes, she bashfully added, “Guess it’s time for more coffee.” Suddenly, she inhaled excitedly. “Did you get it on video?”
I spun desperately towards the camera, sitting idly next to me on the couch.
Had I kept rolling for just a few more seconds, I’d have comic genius in my hot little hands, a prime candidate for not only winning the episodic $10,000 first prize on AFV, but a contender for the $100,000 grand prize finale. But no, I had instead decided to exercise self control, to not overdocument, to conserve disk space. That’ll teach me.
I tried to convince my wife to reprise her role as “Sh!tfaced” Mommy, this time with the camera rolling, but she wouldn’t go for it. Plus, I would also have had to renegotiate a modified contract with my son’s agent, and that would have been a paperwork nightmare.
My head hung in shame, I did my best to move on with my life, pushing the what-could-have-been’s out of my consciousness–the waterslide I could have replaced my stairs with, the world-class recording studio I could have built in the Cluster Room, complete with a retractable grand piano for my wife that lowered from a secret ceiling compartment, the personally-pimped-by-Xzibit-Go-Go-Gadget Minivan we’d be rolling in, complete with changing table, cotton candy machine, and gold-plated Diaper Genie…
But no, I can’t let myself think about these things, because the video was never shot. Instead, I’ll have to settle for sharing it pro bono with you, O Loyal Reader, which, I guess, is better than nothing.
This past week was utterly exhausting. My wife and I have gotten into what we think to be a phenomenal rhythm given the fact that we’re simultaneously raising twice the children most do, but it was derailed by several unavoidable circumstances, and we have literally spent every scarce free moment sleeping. Among these disturbances in The Force were: childcare conflicts, altered work schedules (including me taking 2.5 days off work for a preseason exhibition of the stay-at-home fathering bidness), a visit from the Teething Fairy, and a raging deathmatch with an uncommon—possibly zombified—housefly.
So please forgive me, O Loyal Reader, for neglecting you. I know our relationship is still new and exciting, and you may even still feel those first-date jitters as you savor this page. Fear not, for as a result of the past half-fortnight, multiple twincidents are in gestation. I’ve just really gotten into this Rip Van Winkle impression. (I have the week-long beard to prove it.) In fact, in attempting to report these late-breaking developments, I even found myself a victim of the trite, unrealistic, melodramatic Hollywood cliché of literally falling asleep at my keyboard.
While mind-blowing twincidents exploring the aforementioned topics are forthcoming, in the spirit of the week, I thought I’d offer a portrait of its haze—my Sunday afternoon nap.
I’ve never been a napper, or even a sleeper for that matter. While I recognize that as a human I need sleep, I’d prefer not to. There are so many amazing things to experience in the world, and to me, sleep has always felt so…idle. My parents could tell you that even when I was a strapping young whippersnapper, they’d find me with my light on at 3 a.m. (even—*GASP*—on a school night!), reading such literary classics as the Choose Your Own Adventure Series and The Uncanny X-Men. “I wasn’t tired,” I’d say. Even with the arrival of the Twins and occasional sleepless nights, my body rarely needs a break aside from normal nighttime sleep.
This means that when I do decide I need a nap, you’d better let me. My wife knows this, and heeds this commandment religiously. This afternoon, however, there was some red tape involved in securing said nap.
I had just returned from the grocery store, finished putting our bounty away, and collapsed onto the couch. “So I think I do want to take that nap.”
She had noticed my fatigue earlier in the day and gently suggested that my less-than-chipper demeanor might necessitate a siesta. I had decided that since we had no food, I’d rather get groceries done first because I’m even more fun when I’m hungry. “I feel myself starting to get annoyed about stupid things. Like, at the store, I almost flipped out when the lady in front of me in the dairy aisle couldn’t figure out which yogurt defined her as a person.”
My wife, who was holding my son, smiled sweetly, sensing the impending doom if I stayed awake. “Well, she (our daughter) is down for a nap in our room, so I don’t think you should go in there.” This is because I am a champion snorer. I was even up for a Grammy in the “Snoring—Short Form” category last year. My snoring would undoubtedly wake my daughter who, unfortunately, has inherited her father’s sleeping habits. Her thirst for stimulation makes any interruptions in her sleep particularly traumatic—for us, not her.
Straightening up my wriggling son, his frog legs kicking spastically, she continued. “He just woke up a half hour ago, so it probably won’t be quiet out here. You can crash on the couch out here if you want, but I can’t promise he won’t scream his head off.” My son is proficient at this, especially in extremely short, unexpected bursts. There’s already Grammy buzz for when he’s eligible. He’s his father’s son.
“I guess I could try,” I replied, really attempting to convince myself it would work.
“We need another bed,” she mused, looking around the room, as if hoping for one to appear, like in a terrible, low-budget mattress commercial.
“What about the air mattress?”
“Where would we put it?”
“Maybe in the Cluster Room.” The Cluster Room is our only spare room, which has become more of a closet. Home to our towering bookshelves, furniture dethroned by baby paraphernalia, and a Rock Band drum controller, it’s quite the clusterf**k. (Hence the name.)
“No,” I realized. “The pump would wake her up anyway. Maybe I could take the crib in the kids’ room,” I snarked.
She chuckled. “Or their floor.”
“Can you think of a better idea?”
“Not really,” I sighed.
With that, I took the best available pillow, a five-dollar gem we let guests sleep on and have more recently been placing on the floor under our Exersaucer and jumper as a booster for our kids’ dangling feet so they can actually use them. I scoured it for poopy-diaper-blowout debris, and turned to my wife. “So are you coming?”
“Well, aren’t you gonna swaddle me and sing me a song?”
“Go to sleep.”
“I’m turning the monitor on. If you don’t hear me, just make sure I’m not suffocating under the blanket.”
When I opened the door, I heard the kids’ Sound Machine (we have been unable to confirm whether or not it is from Miami) still hissing white noise from my son’s last nap, and switched it to the “Womb” setting. Just for funsies.
Emptying my pockets, I camped out on the floor, and then decided, of course, to outline the whole occurrence for this very blog entry on my phone before actually attempting sleep. Even when I’m beat, I fight it.
As I finally closed my eyes, the Sunday-afternoon dread flooded in. I realized that I had still not figured out what the hell I’d be teaching all week; that the stack of neglected grading on my desk would be growing another story if I didn’t tackle it soon; that I have extra work projects to which I probably shouldn’t have committed waiting for me, and thus little desire to do them.
But then I realized that even if I wanted to put a dent in any of this, I couldn’t handle any of it as exhausted as I was. So sleep would have to come first. Plus, I remembered that I am trained in improvisational comedy, reaffirming my self-awesomeness at making stuff up as I go–at finishing sentences I’ve started without knowing how they’ll end. And that’s when I drifted off…
Two glorious hours later, I woke up with a stiff neck to the sound of my daughter throwing a hissy.