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Wow - 250 pounds of silly putty.







Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Let me say this about parenting a baby: sometimes it sucks.

Don't get me wrong, the tired cliches about how rewarding it is and how it's all worth it when you see a smile, blah blah sentimental-barfcakes - they're all true. I can endure endless hours of screaming for one sweetly demented baby grin; I can sing "Rip, rip, rip your pants, gently down the seam" until the next ice age arrives, until humans evolve into photosynthesis-based gaseous clouds, just for one whiff of the top of his head.

However, sometimes there is just no pleasing He Who Screeches Like Howler Monkey and all the songs, bottles, toys, and canisters of amyl nitrate in the world won't plug his crying little whine-hole. What I wouldn't give for a baby-savvy Lassie, when Riley is cranked up to eleven and I've run through my bag of tricks.

"What is it girl? Is the baby tired? Hungry? Trapped in a well? Angered by his socks? Gassy? Mourning the death of Christian Slater's career?"

Yesterday at some point between Riley's afternoon bottle and nap we entered a long dark tea-time of the soul together, and all was Woe. He wasn't quite crying, but making the sob-precursor complaining noise that indicates his great displeasure: "Eh-heh, eh-heh...mehhhh. Meh. Eh-heh." I tried rocking, I tried a binky, I tried flapping my arms like a chicken and moonwalking. I even tried telling a joke.

"Hey, Riley, do you know what Bush's opinion is on Roe v. Wade? Huh? Give up? He didn't care how the Katrina victims got out of New Orleans. Ohhhh SNAP!"

Nothing worked. He kept semi-crying, getting louder and louder, I kept trying different things, and finally I - well, I just sort of...tossed his blanket on him, covering his head, and walked out of the room. I had this vague hope it might act like a parrot cage cover and put him to sleep, but let's be honest; I just wanted to irritate him as much as he was irritating me.

No, of course I didn't leave him like that. After a brief, startled pause, he immediately began yelling - not crying, but yelling angrily - and I counted to ten, came back, picked him up and took him to his room where I read Goodnight Moon three times until he finally, blessedly, miraculously fell asleep in my arms, looking like a perfect little cherub.

JB and I were talking about parenting the other day, and we agreed that it's like riding a roller coaster, that we're constantly experiencing these dizzying peaks of contentment and joy, then plunging into pits of frustration where our nerves are flayed raw and we gulp Advil like Tic-Tacs.

"Have you ever..." I said hesitantly, "fantasized about throwing a cup of water in his face?" Riley had just wound down from a particularly obnoxious screaming fit that had me searching his scalp for the 666 birthmark. "Just to see his expression change?"

"Oh yeah," JB said. "I thought that just the other day. God, it would be great."

"Yes!" I was relieved he hadn't been horrified by my confession. "Can you imagine it - the sweet shock of silence? That moment of blissful peace, before all hell broke loose?"

"It would almost be worth it," JB said. We both looked at Riley, who was studiously blowing spit bubbles at his stuffed turtle. "Almost."

Is it possible to both love your four-month old son with every cell in your body, and to entertain daydreams about hurling a glass of water on him? Yes. Yes it is.

When JB got home yesterday, I wished him good luck and streaked out the door. I spent three solid hours roaming the aisles of Fred Meyers, having gone there to pick up a storage container and found myself so enjoying the novelty of being out and about completely unfettered by child I just kept moseying around. I tried on bras, an activity I normally put on par with having rabid possums gnaw my intestines. I tried on jeans. I puttered around the makeup section. I sniffed jars of bubble bath. It was fabulous.

When I finally came back, recharged and carrying two new Vanity Fair Body Contour bras, I found JB in the living room surrounded by a pile of items obviously used, one after another, in an attempt to entertain Riley: the boppy pillow, his activity seat thing, the bouncy chair, rattles, stuffed animals, a bottle. "The boy," JB said heavily, "has been grouchy."

I swept Riley into my arms where he looked deeply into my eyes, smiled, and softly said "Glnplxsth." Thank you for giving me this new life, I thought as I nuzzled his cheeks. Thank you for the unbelievable gift of knowing you. Then he furrowed his brow and said "Eh-heh, heh. Meh", and I glanced over at JB. "Say," I said brightly. "Will you fill a glass of water for me?"


This is a Swedish angel chime, which I'd never seen before but apparently was a Christmas tradition in JB's household when he was growing up. We bought one from eBay to introduce to Riley, who seemed duly interested in a mothlike kind of way.


The Baby Einstein whatchamathingie, which can distract Riley for whole minutes at a time. You should hear the voice JB uses for the green dinosaur puppet thing. Think EB Farnum from Deadwood. "Well hello there Mister Riley, could I interest you in a tall glass of STFU?"


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