Adventures in Baby-Proofing: Part 1 – There Will Be Blood
I wanted to finish baby-proofing our house earlier. I really did. But it’s the thought that counts.
I had the best intentions when I began work in October, and have slowly made what I believe to be significant progress given the circumstances, as the project has been narrowly constrained by multiple, immovable factors:
1) My Fans
I am apparently so incredibly awesome and compelling that my pint-sized fans cannot bear the thought of me leaving the room. Not to go to the bathroom, wash dishes, get diapers, or anything else that takes longer than five seconds. The Experts call this “separation anxiety.” I call it “the reason I can’t get anything done around the house unless I want an improvisational high-pitched duet as a soundtrack.” Due to sharp drills and screwdrivers and the same hazardous cabinet contents I’m trying to bar from their tiny, inquisitive hands, I can’t have them climbing all over me while I install latchery. Keeping them in the room with me as I work necessitates restrictive holding cells such as Pack ‘n’ Plays and Exersaucers, but they are proficiently crawling their way to walking any day now, and thus assertively refuse any restraints in efforts normally attributed to Wild Horses and Freebirds and Eyes of Tigers. These factors all imply that the ideal baby-proofing window is during a Nap Overlap or Ni-Night Time. Aside from the fact that a Nap Overlap itself is rare, the slightest of sounds from a pin dropping to a grizzly bear/man hybrid slamming a car door can wake them, so firing up the drill while they’re asleep is simply ill-advised.
2) My Schedule
Two of my weekdays are spent on campus studying in preparation for world domination. I have not yet taken my program’s Building and Remotely Controlling Your Own Robot Henchman 101 class, so baby-proofing production grinds to an unfortunate halt on these days. The remaining three weekdays are dedicated to house-husbanding and twin-wrangling, which, as I just mentioned, are not conducive to accomplishing anything but avoiding tantrums and occasionally escaping for a guerrilla laundry load. This leaves the weekends, the only time we are together as a family, during which we spend quality time driving around town running errands, and every once in a while, pretending we have a social life. This aspect has recently been amplified by…
The Quest for Redemption
By the Friday of every week I am completely exhausted. After wrangling the Twins, beating the snot out of my house-husbanding chores, and writing this fine publication (which many have recently remarked that they cannot believe I have time for), I am spent. So spent that my during-the-rest-of-the-week 2:00 pm crash usually hits at 11:30 am, while lying on the floor with my progeny in the middle of Tummy/Rolling All Over the Place Time, as I nod off mid-pseudo-engaging-baby-critical-thinking-question-about-the-toys-they-are-marvelling-at. (“What color is that ball? What shape is that ba–Zzzzzz…Ow! Did you just punch me in the nose? … What color is my nose?”)
With that in mind, I usually set few, very small goals for Fridays.
Take last Friday for example. It was the end of my busiest week in a while. In addition to my regular duties (huh-huh, I said duties), I’ve been doing some contracted tech work as well as boxing belongings and seeking out new residences for the Pseudonymous family since we have recently decided to move.
And so, as I resuscitated myself with my super-charged Friday morning coffee, I decided to aim low. Aside from the givens (twin care, dishwashing, ninjutsu training), my primary objective was to browse the iTunes store for music and determine what I would purchase with the $15 gift card my wife got me over a month ago for Father’s Day. (Would you believe I haven’t had time?) I’ve had it sitting out on the counter as a reminder ever since receiving it from my wonderful wife, and have caught taunting glimpses of it while making bottles, folding laundry, and soothing meltdowns.
With months of trophy husbanding experience under my belt, I believed this iTunes iTask to finally be within my iGrasp. Even if the kids were particularly grumpy, I could line up my sonic candidates like reality show contestants waiting for the red rose of approval, hit play, and discriminatingly consume. In fact, the Twinfants would most certainly enjoy the ever-changing sensory stimulation generated by the constant toggling of song clips.
No problem, right?
Well, of course not. Why would I write about that? It failed miserably.
The primary reason the plan disintegrated like a drool-drenched Graduates Puff was that we had absolutely no Nap Overlap. Those of you who are Loyal Readers know this means my children were never asleep at the same time. In fact, for the entire day, they were on completely opposite sleep schedules. As soon as I delivered one to Sleepy Town, the other was just waking up. All. Freaking. Day.
Now, I will admit this situation has its advantages, for instance facilitating quality one-on-one time with each of the twins individually, which is something all the books about twins that I don’t have time to read seem to say is important. On the other tiny hand, such a rhythm does not facilitate Daddy getting a freaking second to himself. Not to go to the bathroom, not to eat (unless I combine them), not even to accomplish tedious tasks like defunkifying dishes, laundering laundry, and listening to smooth on-hold jazz while waiting to haggle with customer service representatives.
Plus, at almost seven months old, the Twinfants are teething and especially irritable. As a matter of fact, amidst Frankenstein-monster moans akin to dueling banjos, transparent vampire-fang drool trickles flowing from each mouth corner, angry head-butts to Daddy’s sternum, and the frantic gnawing of foam books, plush pandas, and human fingers, we have sprouted the First Two Teeth of Pseudonymous: The Next Generation, with our son’s inaugural chomper emerging on Thursday evening and our daughter’s fashionably late pearly white fanfaring into view Saturday morning.
Guess which day was right in the middle? That’s right. Friday, the day iFailed.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Although both kids had their share of I-need-you-to-hold-me-right-now-Daddy-or-I-will-shatter-every-window-with-my-squeals moments, there were also a few peppered throughout the day when they seemed content, or, as Snoop Dogg wouldn’t say: “Rollin’ down the floor, sucking teething rings, sippin’ on baby formula, laid back, with their minds on their (stuffed) monkeys and their monkeys on their minds.”
Then, I got greedy.
On at least three occasions, I thought, Okay, they seem pretty chill. I could maybe squeeze in a song sample or twenty. I even lowered my laptop’s volume and strategically placed it in accessible but out-of-baby-sight locations, as I have learned they do NOT like to compete with Skynet for my attention. On my final Hail Mary attempt, I even tried earbuds. However, every listening session ended abruptly, about five seconds into the first clip, as they noticed I was not staring at them, hanging on their every gesture, the only proper response for which, of course, is a tantrum. This did not make for an optimal music previewing atmosphere.
I’ll admit I missed an opportunity around 2 pm, just after bottle-guzzling. They were happily cooing at their playthings on the floor, and I home-run trotted to my computer. This is it! I thought. It’s all happening! I chose an album (The Features’ Wilderness) clicked “play all samples,” and rejoined the munchkins on the floor. As they chattered and smiled at me occasionally, I laid on my back and stared at the ceiling fan, listening to my prospective new jams. Which made me think of seeing the band live when they came to Phoenix a few years ago. It was just my wife and me then. Simpler times. Not “better” times by any means, but definitely simpler. And I remembered the electrifying onstage energy the band had, and the badass hollow-bodied guitar their frontman rocked. Which made me think about how Pseudonymous hasn’t “Gone Electric” in a while. I’ve been folking out with the Twins acoustically, but haven’t “plugged in” for months. I should do that. Do I need new strings?
Before I knew it, the song previews had ended 15 minutes ago and I had still only paid attention to the first five seconds of the first song.
Now, before you decide that this poor, frustrated soul is clearly on his last nerve and take it upon yourself to send in your magical parenting guru suggestions about what I should have done in order to achieve my iGoal even though you: 1) weren’t here, 2) weren’t as tired as I was, and 3) have never met my children and thus don’t know what works (and what doesn’t) with them, I want to emphasize that in the scheme of things, I don’t care about the stupid iTunes card. (I also already tried your suggestion anyway since eating Wheaties daily makes me a Champion by definition.)
The more I pushed to “git-r-done,” the more I realized that purchasing music was just not in the cards for me that day. (Haha, get it?) Even more importantly, every day I could focus on achieving little tasks like buying music, getting every last dish washed, or writing yet another genius blog post–and in doing so, continually exasperate myself because the Twins usually need me more than I anticipate. Or, instead, I could remind myself what a privilege staying home to raise them is. Even though I spend more time with them than anyone else, it still feels like they’re growing up so quickly. I know although my wife enjoys her job, it doesn’t hold a candle to seeing them all day on weekends, and remember when I first returned to work from paternity leave, I felt like I was missing out all day.
Every moment I have with them is an opportunity for me to savor the awe-inspiring experience that is parenthood and, in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
There will be plenty of time for me to buy my stupid music in the future, and yes, over the weekend, I was finally able to redeem the gift card one night once the kids went to sleep. As it turned out, it was an even better Fathers’ Day present than it first appeared to be.
It reminded me how lucky I am to be a Dad.
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If not, maybe you just need a day off. It worked for Cameron.
Wife: Our son just flung vomit into my mouth.
Me: Yay, another milestone! Where’s his baby book?
I was not present at the Time of Flinging, for I was slaying daughter diaper poo in another room, but legend has it that the tragic trajectory events occurred as follows.
Our son is a loose cannon in the spit-up department. Since his first day outside of his mother, he’s had a flair for reflux. We’ve been told this is more common with boys than girls and that it typically disappears after 12 months. In the meantime, however, my son often needs as many wardrobe changes as you would expect from Lady Gaga live in terrible concert. Bibs are no match for his vomit comets. Sure, they work okay, but ponchos would work better.
As his parents, my wife and I are constantly in the line of fire, enjoying refreshing vomit rinses multiple times daily. I can’t remember a day since I began house-husbanding that I did not need to change my shirt due to battle damage. Now, keep in mind, it’s high summer in the arid, scorching Arizona desert. Wussy, coin-sized spots dry right up and do not necessitate a wardrobe change. In contrast, here is an accurate depiction of the quality of work you can expect from him, as modeled by my lovely Who t-shirt.
After the day’s last feeding, we always feel we’re walking on eggshells that have already been slightly cracked by someone at the grocery store and that actually burst apart when pulled from the carton in an attempt to assemble them into a walkway, leaving us with egg on our faces and everywhere else. But the egg is vomit.
This is because once he’s had his last bottle, he could blow at any moment, but we need to get him ready for bed and put on his pajamas. So we do, so that he can hose them down, prompting Pajama Change 2: Return of the Reflux. And then he drenches those. and we initiate Pajama Change 3-D: This Time It’s Personal. And so on.
Not only is this process simply annoying, the re-changes often re-invigorate him when he’s just about to drift off, keeping him up later than he should be, depriving himself of much-needed slumber, and most importantly, infiltrating Mommy and Daddy’s only few hours to ourselves. How can I pretend to be interested in my wife’s So You Think You Can Dance commentary while flinging Angry Birds if he doesn’t go to sleep?
So when Old Faithful is about to be faithful, we are perfectly okay with doing anything we can do to keep his pajamas dry, even to the point of taking the bullet ourselves. One method we like to use is the Use My Hand as a Barf Bag Method (UMHAABBM), in which the user cups a hand and, well, you get it.
All right, now that you’ve been briefed, here is how the Great Vomit Fling of 2011 came to pass.
Into my wife’s mouth.
Eyewitnesses claim it began with the groan we have come to identify as “Fire in the hole.” My wife, who was sitting with him on the couch, valiantly administered the UMHAABBM with great success, inheriting a wrist-adjacent pool of formula, breast milk, rice cereal and prune baby food, spilling only a few drops and leaving my son’s PJs unscathed.
As she deftly balanced herself so as to not spill this treasure, my son noticed his hand, and remembering it to be an excellent appendage on which to suck, brought it to his mouth, still dripping upchuck.
He then glimpsed Mommy’s Bangs, another tried-and-true snack with the additional appeal of The Squeaky Sound Mommy Makes When I Pull and Don’t Let Go. His hand shot right for it.
Now, I may get in trouble with our Clan for divulging this, but my wife and I are ninjas. So in a move akin to Neo’s Bullet-Time dodge in the only good Matrix film, she successfully eluded his swipe, but–after a long day at work–did not account for the globule of vomit launched in the strike.
In its wake, not a day goes by since last night when it happened, that I don’t hear people ask, “Where were you when the vomit fell?”
They respond with awe and wonder when I casually remark, “In the next room, changing a diaper. No big deal.”
But it was a big deal.
At least to my wife.
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
My wife has observed that Twincidents have tended to feature humor at her expense–sticking her face in my son’s feces for example. She explicitly stated that she does not mind because such experiences happen to all parents. However, she did suggest writing about my own unfortunate twin run-ins, to which I responded, “But I can’t think of one. Can you?”
“Actually, no, not really.”
“Wait, what about the time you…?”
…but that’s another story.
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If not, at least try to get it in my cupped hand.