The warm water ran down my back, washing away 36 hours of sweat and grime. I systematically defunkified each of my body’s nether regions with my extremely manly loofah and inhaled the warm, misty scent of my 2-in-1 shampoo.
It was beautiful.
You should have been there. (But it’s probably for the best that you weren’t, because I was naked and that would have been awkward for you, due to the devastatingly chiseled one-pack bulging from my abs.)
As a parent of twins, I’ve grown to truly appreciate the quiet, reflective alone time a shower buys me, and twelve days into being a parent of three, I was absolutely loving the opportunity to finally hear myself think for five freaking seconds.
As you can probably imagine, adding a newborn to the mix has turned the Pseudonymous household into even more of a zoo than it already was. My wife and I settled on fielding the incessant requests for Lego-building assistance and “another snack after diss one” from the Twins as our “new normal” about a year ago, but we’ve added some new floors to our funhouse with Baby Number Three. On top of our typical twinherding duties, my wife (who is also monumentally wiped out from breastfeeding) and I now also spend our days attempting to get our new addition on a suitable feeding/sleeping/not crying schedule–all the while shushing the Twins like two shaven Grinches as they excitedly play with their noisy new Christmas toys two inches from their slumbering sister.
Our meals consist of shoving granola bars and fast food into our faces the moment the opportunity arises, and while we fully intend to shower daily, it doesn’t always pan out.
Now, as I’m sure many parents will agree with, none of this is all that difficult when you’re well-rested, but when you have a newborn, the concept of “well-rested” becomes your own personal Everest. I think my wife’s Ob-Gyn at the hospital put it best as we were getting discharged: “I’m sure you guys already know what you’re in for, but sleep deprivation is literally used to torture prisoners. Sleep when you can, and get all the help you can to make that happen.”
And we have had help–both my family and my wife’s have kicked SO much ass. But still, at some point, our help has to go home…
My son has discovered the joy of blowing bubbles. Not the sudsy kind that can be purchased at the store that are equipped with plastic wands. His bubbles are homemade, mouth-crafted from his own bodily fluids, including saliva and spit-up, as well as fluids intended to become bodily, such as breast milk, formula, and baby food. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing–eating, playing, fighting crime–he’s always perfecting his new hobby.
He employs two methods in bubble creation. His first, preferred technique is by sustaining the “TH” sound, partially sticking his tongue out just underneath his forthcoming top row of teeth, allowing bubbles to emanate from either side of his mouth. The second strategy involves vocalizing the “hard C” or “K” sound and holding it, creating a sort of artificial static white noise usually incorporated in the use of imaginary walkie talkies.
Whichever method he employs, he is growing in both enthusiasm and proficiency daily, making him a veritable sprinkler. Most of the time this is incredibly adorable, as he sports a proud, accomplished grin at demonstrating such bodily control. However, this new talent can be cumbersome when attempting to feed him.
He’s hard enough to feed as it is. At 6 months old, he is highly distractible while eating. Books I do not have time to read suggest that many babies at this age have newly-acquired 20/20 vision and are thus becoming increasingly aware of their surroundings, which can be infinitely more exciting than eating, their first love. This newfound awareness does not seem to faze our daughter, though. Despite these biological developments she is a focused eater, eyes on the prize the whole time. She’ll chug an entire bottle without once coming up for air and is always ready for each new bite of baby food, oatmeal, rice cereal, or whatever else we’ve prepared.
In stark contrast, I’d estimate my son’s feedings to average 1 1/2 times to twice the length of his sister’s.
At mealtime, his attention is everywhere except the intended ingestion–the pictures on the wall, the pattern on Daddy’s shirt, the swirly shape of our pole lamp’s energy-conserving bulb, the toy I’ve given his sister to occupy her since she finished eating 20 minutes ago, etc. While drinking a bottle, teething has even prompted him to nipple-gnaw instead of drinking through it.
And then, of course, there’s the Spoon Games. One of his favorites involves putting his head down so his chin is virtually attached to his chest, making for a less-than-ideal spoon delivery. Another is when the spoon comes his way, in the time-honored tradition of pretending it is an airplane, he denies the plane in what we have dubbed the King-Kong-F*ck-You Swipe, rendering the plane useless as its engine fuel splatters the floor. Luckily, our dog waits patiently for this occurrence and is an excellent cleanup crew.
I’m sure you can imagine what bubble blowing had contributed to this repertoire, particularly as food is often sent back to the chef in an aerodynamic manner. I have removed puree’d peas from my eyes on several occasions.
Regrettably, in frustration, I recently I caught myself uttering a phrase I hoped never to utter to my kids, particularly because they’re twins and will always compete for our approval: “Why can’t you be more like your sister? Look how fast she eats, Buddy!”
Totally my bad, but trust me, 20 minutes of desperately trying to get him to eat even half of his food seems way longer than it actually is.
At the same time, the battlefield that is feeding my son recently provided the setting for what may be my favorite father-son moment to date.
The meal was carrots and green beans. Having seen the stains the carrots leave on some of our baby spoons, I looked down in horror at my off-white $40 Paul McCartney Tour t-shirt. He smirked at me from his high chair, as if petting a supervillain cat in his lap.
“Be right back, Buddy.”
Once I slipped into something more ruin-able, a bell sounded, signaling the beginning of Round 1. Luckily, King Kong was tame today, and he actually started out cooperatively. After a few successful spoonfuls, however, as the plane approached the hangar, I saw him winding up. His tongue partially protruded, the “TH” blowing technique was imminent, and would be unleashed the moment food hit baby mouth. I found myself in a game of “chicken” with my 6-month-old.
Then, a half-inch from impact, I pulled the spoon back, saying, “Oh, no you don’t. I know exactly what you’re doing.”
Shocked, he stared wide-eyed for a split second, and then just started dying laughing. But there was something special about this gigglefest, and it’s a moment I will remember for the rest of my life because it was my first real intellectual interaction with my son. I could tell he knew that I knew he was about to blow green beans and carrots all over me, and he recognized that Daddy was on to him–that I was a formidable opponent.
It blew me away. We had connected and communicated on a higher level than greetings, tickling, or wanting to be held. This was an intellectual, joking moment between the two of us. My son was being a smartass, just like his Dad.
Arriving at this realization, paired, of course, with the contagiousness of baby laughter itself, I had no choice but to join him. We giggled at each other as chunks of carrots ran down his chin and he gleefully slapped his high chair tray.
Once the laughing fit was over and he acknowledged me as the Undisputed Champion of Bubble-Blowing Prevention, the remainder of the meal went off without a hitch.
This, along with the recent arrival of tiny teeth, admittedly makes me a little sad, as the initial “baby” months are really starting to fade away. At the same time, though, I’m elated to see my son becoming the sharp little man he seems to be turning into. I have a feeling he and I will riff with each other for years to come, much to the annoyance of the females in our household.
I can’t wait.
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If not, please don’t spit food in my face. I get enough of that already.
“Okay, so it’s all set up. If you keep it plugged in, you can just leave it on. You don’t even need to touch it!” I winked in full infomercial swagger. As my school year winds down, my mother is wrangling the kids on days my wife and I are both working, so I was giving her a crash course on not touching the baby monitor so she would actually be able to use it all day.
“Just the way I like it,” she snickered. My mother’s technological savvy is just a cut above my four-month-old children’s, so she appreciates when I minimize her button-pushing obligations.
My daughter furrowed her brow and “Guh guh guh-ed” at Grandma through the nipple in her mouth, which translates to, “You shut your mouth while you’re feeding me.” She has a strict policy when eating: “No talking and no eye contact—I’m focusing.”
I have attempted to implement this same policy in a reciprocal manner. Whenever I’m seizing a precious free moment to shovel my entire meal stomachward in one gulp and she “interrupts” me, I’ll point an accusatory finger and throw that “Guh guh guh” right back in her face, but it’s an exercise in futility akin to expecting quality from a Kate Hudson movie. I’ve even tried to sit her down and explain to her that she’s holding me to a double standard, but then she’ll do the thing where she smiles so widely and intensely that her tongue trembles, and her damp, elated eyes literally sparkle. So, as the cuteness melts my face off, the only thing I can say to that is, “I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!”
Making sure my son was secure in his jumper, I took a step towards my bedroom, still dazed from his 4 a.m. wake-up call. (“Hey, Dad! Watch this! See this thing on my foot? If I pull it, it comes off! You gotta try this! Oh…were you asleep?”) I then realized I should see if my mom needed anything before I passed the munchkin baton, especially because I now realize she endured this madness for me when I was one of them.
“Are you good? I was gonna shower.”
The proud grandma cradled my daughter, whose unrelenting cuteness had begun to melt her face off as well. “I’m more than good.”
“How are you feeling?” I asked my wife, who was getting ready for work. She hasn’t been feeling so hot this week, due to a debilitating cold. It’s the first time either of us has fallen ill since the Twins’ Earthen premiere, and it’s been daunting running on fewer cylinders than usual with the added two miniature, dependent cylinders.
“Alright, I guess,” she replied. “I don’t feel any worse than yesterday but I don’t feel any better either.”
It is a national day of mourning when she’s sick. I’ve always felt it’s better me than her. As a victim of terrible allergies for my entire life, I was a sickly child, always carrying tissues in one pocket and cough drops in the other, while my bastard friends always had room for cool things, like Swiss Army Knives and G.I. Joes. Don’t get me wrong—I despise being sick as much as anyone—I’ve just gotten used to it. My wife, not so much.
Plus, because she is the organized one—I like to think of myself as the “idea” guy—when she is sick, bills are neglected, appointments are forgotten, and basically any planning ahead whatsoever does not happen because I find thrilling new ways to drop the ball when I sub in. On the other hand, if I’m sick, the most devastating tragedy is usually that our iPods are not perfectly synced with our iTunes libraries.
But I am an excellent caregiver. As a soon-to-be-former middle school teacher, filthy tweens have blessed me with nearly every illness there is to have over the years, aside from the ones you need a vagina for. This—paired with the fact that my mother is a pharmacist—has yielded a fine assortment of remedies for every occasion. One that I swear by is hot tea, especially when you unload about a half-bottle of honey into it. (According to the leading e-mail forwards, honey has transformative healing powers and is said to be the best remedy for sore throats, unrelenting coughs, and even the occasional Saturday Night Fever.)
I’ve made tea for my wife every night this week. This is because I am the world’s greatest husband.
So on that fateful morning, upon hearing that my wife was still not feeling well, I inquired, “Do you have teabags at work?”
“Yeah,” she sighed, frustrated. She had that defeated look in her eyes that you see in uncoordinated people trying to play Guitar Hero. Something needed to be done to lift her spirits. Something epic. And as I was undressing to get in the shower, I decided to be hilarious.
“Would it make you feel better if I teabagged you right now?” For those who are unfamiliar with the act of teabagging, go ahead and Google it, and I’m sure you’ll find your answer. It involves likening a certain region of the male anatomy to a “teabag” while “steeping” it in a certain cavity of another consenting adult—in my case, a smokin’ hot female.
She finished blowing her nose and just stared at me. “Are you kidding?”
Well, of course I was kidding. As you remember, I was being hilarious. But that’s not to say I would have been upset if she had been up for it, either.
“You’re smiling on the inside,” I quipped. Then I got one on the outside. Boo-yah. My mission accomplished, I jumped in the shower.
Stop picturing me naked.
Just a few minutes later, my wife came creeping back in. As she peeked into the shower, I wondered if my beverage-innuendo-driven proposal had been accepted. Then I noticed an odd look on her face.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Um… Your mom…” She was whispering. “You know the monitor over there?” She pointed at one of the cribs in our room.
“You forgot to turn it off. I think she heard…about the teabagging.”
“Oh sh*t! Really?”
“Wait, do you think she even knows what it means?”
“I don’t know!” She hissed. “Do you want me to ask her?”
“Of course not!”
Several days later, the topic has not been breached. We’re okay with that.