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08/25/2005

In five minutes I will be very drunk indeed

Around here, a good baby day satisfies these criteria:

  • Charlie has at least one long nap and at least one additional shorter snooze
  • I end the day wearing the same clothes I began it in
  • I have not called my mother to ask for advice on whether I can smother Charlie with a pillow from my bed, or whether I must stick to the more appropriately sized throw pillow
Today was not a good baby day.

It started off promisingly enough, with Charlie waking in the night only long enough to moan for three or four minutes, long enough for Paul to get down the hall to the door of his room only to find he was already drifting back off. Oh, sure, he did this nineteen times between 11 PM and 5 AM, but the important part is that he required no intervention. When he woke for good at 7, I was happy to go to him so that we could start our day.

He was wearing a sleeper I like, a footed fleece affair with blue jailbird stripes, and he was solid and snuggly as I hoisted him from his crib. I swapped his sodden diaper for a fresh one while he chirped happily on the changing table, fed him almost all of an eight-ounce bottle, and took him out to the den to roll on the floor. And that is where the day of rage began.

For the rest of the day, he was impossible to please. His regular naptime came and went, with him rubbing his eyes and yawning, but howling in fury when I put him in his crib. I rocked him, I fed him, I walked him. I sang, I read, I whispered several interesting new swear words I'd just invented for his amusement. All of it was in vain.

So back out to the den, where he grudgingly acceded to a vigorous romp, the linchpin of my plan to exhaust him into torpor. And once he rubbed his eyes and yawned some more, back to his room and the rocker and the crib. And the howling. And the swear words. And the rocking. The rocking. The rocking. The rocking. The rocking, which finally forced him into a sleep deep enough that I could lay him in his crib and tear out of the room as if my spit-up-soaked clothes were on fire without his waking and yelling some more.

I thought then that the day could be salvaged. As his nap wore on, I felt good once again; it was a nap of respectable length, and I imagined he might be more easily managed after a decent rest. And in fact he was cheerful when he woke. He was friendly, eager to entertain and be entertained, guffawing appreciatively when I taught him a new trick. (Note to self: encouraging a baby to find head-butting hilarious is ultimately a very bad idea.)

But when it was time for his next nap, nothing doing. Rocking, singing, feeding, patting, all to no avail. In the course of all this, Charlie spat up on me not once or twice, which I would normally expect, but no fewer than four times, enough to make me suspect that it was an editorial comment of some sort. In desperation I thrice presented him a kingly Lunchable, which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious. (Right about now I was longing for a whole wagonload of Senators to come jolting down the Appian Way, ready to put me out of my misery by gettin' stabby wid it.)

By now it was near dinner, past the point at which the start of a nap would have been desirable, so we gave up. Paul gave Charlie his Prevacid, which I'd forgotten to do in the confusion of this morning's snit. He took Charlie outside, probably to escape the vomity funk that was now wafting from my clothes, and carried him around the yard. Charlie was calm and interested in the leaves and bark Paul showed him, and it all appeared to be going well, until Charlie spit up once again, a great gout of undigested milk mixed with the precious beads of Prevacid.

We couldn't know how much of the medication had stayed down, so in an act I can attribute only to razor-keen paternal instinct and deep, abiding love, Paul actually got down on his hands and knees in the grass, searching for the elusive patch of vomit to evaluate its contents.

Unable to bear seeing the man I love combing our lawn for baby hork, I took Charlie inside. I came to my office and put Charlie in what we've come to call his office, where he's surrounded by many important things to do: an appointment book to consult; an intercom with which to summon his secretary; a globe to whirl pompously, looking bored while others speak; that kind of thing. He was happy there, happy enough for me to lift my camera to take his picture. But the moment he saw my face obscured by the camera, he lost his tiny mind.

Soothing, then supper. After today's spit-a-ganza I wasn't going to chance anything more volatile than plain cereal with formula, which he ate agreeably enough. After his meal I left him happily occupied, sticking his spoon industriously into his eye — Annie, Queenie, the Baby Bjorn spoons are simply splendid for eye-sticking, and for feeding besides — and dashed upstairs to set up his bath.

When I got back downstairs not three minutes later to release Charlie from his feeding seat — thank you, Rebekah — I was met with a scene of carnage so gruesome that I will never be able to eradicate it from my mind's eye. See, there's a reason they tell you not to leave a baby unattended, ever. And it's not because of any concern for the baby's safety. No, it's because they know something I didn't: babies shit. (Okay, I knew that part.) And when babies shit, given even a whiff of an opportunity, they like to play in it. With their hands. With their toes. With their Baby Bjorn spoon, which they are sticking...in their...

I can't even say it.

Charlie had deposited a copious load, which miraculously left his diaper unscathed but instead escaped down the crotch opening of his onesie, down his leg, between his toes, all over his feeding seat, all over his bib — sorry, Nance, it'll never be the same — all over everything. Even his...

I can't even say it.

And so it happened that I found myself cradling a shit-covered baby against my vomit-reeking body, trudging up the stairs, wishing I were dead.

Et tu, Brute?

At least bedtime was easy. After a thorough bath for Charlie, a change of clothes for me, and a bonfire in the back to destroy every flammable item either of us had touched all day long, he dropped off with nary a peep.

But my day wasn't over yet. I donned my beloved yellow rubber gloves, shouldered the hose and the bottle of Clorox, and took his seat into the driveway, where I attacked it with a brush on a very long handle. Special tip: aiming a focused jet of water onto a blob of human excrement is a capital way to get it deflected back onto yourself in a cold, shitty torrent, just in case you wondered.

Fed up at last and glazed with a wet film of baby flop, I debated whether to take the chair behind the barn and shoot it, Old Yeller-style, since it has now acquired a taste for human feces, which can only make it crave more, ever more. But then I decided that sufficient unto the day was the destruction thereof.

Wait, that's not accurate. I have an almost-full bottle of vodka and my liver seems to be functioning just fine. There's still plenty more damage to be done.

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