Daddy's Coming Honey!


Fatherhood everywhere

I’m seeing fatherhood everywhere. I’m haunted. I feel like Jim Carrey in some movie in which every time he looks in the mirror he sees himself holding a baby and then contorts his face with a gasp, trying to hide it. And it is in this manner I feel like a child again, because when I was a kid I constantly imagined my life as a Jim Carrey movie. I bet you never imagined that.

I see fatherhood when I’m mowing my own dad’s lawn because he’s trying to take it easy before going to the doctor for a procedure.

I see fatherhood when my brother tells me his dog had about five puppies—meaning that they just had five kids before we had our one.

When I stand before my students and see them as young, impressionable kids with a handful of problems from the school they attended, the way they were raised, I see fatherhood.

When I sit in my linguistics class next to a soon-to-be mother, about as far along as Carrie is, I see fatherhood.

I drive Carrie up to see her parents this past weekend, and Friday night the cat crawls into bed with us and wants to sleep. I see Fatherhood.

Guests arrive for a shower. That’s the signal for the men to go on a walk to the local apple orchard (I don’t make this stuff up). The old men talk of retirement and ask me my career plans, the young buck in the picture. Like they’re training me. Fatherhood.

We return from the shower where a majestic quilt-patterned cake is ready for us to eat. Carrie shows me the gifts: assorted clothes, toys, books, a baby swinger, and a breast pumping factory. Just more things to fill the nursery in preparation for the real thing. Fatherhood.

Carrie’s cousin Jenn is with us, and she brings her daughter Ailey. Ailey and I chase each other back and forth across the house, until one of the women tells us to stop. She races her Barbie racecar over my feet. She has me help her act out Han Solo and Disney Princes Belle go racing in the car. She dances with me in circles. We watch Wallace and Gromit until she falls asleep at my side, her arm around mine. So this is what it would be like to have a daughter. Fatherhood.

We drive home and in the evening while we have Bible study in Blacksburg two other parents sit their little toddlers next to us and we watch them eat. Fatherhood.

It’s beginning to grow on me.


Licensed Practitioning Mother

This woman—do you know what she did? She passed one of the most notoriously difficult exams in the United States, and has now become a Licenced Practicional Counselor. She did this while seven months pregnant. Behold, a Renaissance Woman!

There are things you can’t obtain certifications for: Skydiving with elephants, selling snake oil as a cure for disease, giving tours of the moon, testing move-about-freely-at-your-leisure roller-coasters, being a parent. In the eyes of most of the world, you can’t be fully qualified. You can only be unqualified. Like if you screw up big time. Big time. But if anyone deserves a certificate, it is my wife. If all goes well, she is going to deliver our child by natural means.

I deserve a certificate too. Men should be given something akin to the purple heart for undergoing what I have gone through. I do need ask for your prayers or tears, but I must tell the world that I have witnessed over nine live births in the past two months. Ok, when I say live, I mean that I saw films of live births.

We’ve seen it all: Documentaries of women whelping as alien beings emerged from places nothing that large should emerge from, families in the bedroom mesmerized and captivated, children wide-eyed and curious, mothers calmly kneading dough at the kitchen table and telling us the process was a success, doctors slicing in places knives should not be unless there is an emergency, babies with heads so warped from birth the father is left wondering if his wife had an affair with a cone-head, and—to top it all off—unshaved Brazilian women in a zen-like stance of complete serenity, pushing out dark hairy babies as easy as one squeezes chocolate icing on a cake.

And yet nothing, no single image from the preserved kinescopes of cinematic horror, equals the Lovecraftian emergence of a placenta. No nightmare from Stephen King, Wes Craven, Stuart Gordon or Clive Barker can compare to this.

And yet they call it beautiful. I think you have to be in the heat of the moment to call it beautiful. Or have the desensitized antennae of an OBGYN.

Why am I doing this? Why don’t I let the doctor just slice ‘er up while I sit patiently in the lobby?

Your first thought could be that we are one of THOSE couples. Yes, everyone else hates their children and doesn’t care about anything, but we’re better than you because we’re doing birth the RIGHT way. Well, to tell the truth, the way God designed it is the best way, but lest you think we’re one of THOSE couples, keep in this in mind: We’re just doing what we know is best from what we’ve learned.

So do I think that if you are one of those fathers who waited in the lobby while your child was born that you are a failure? No. Are you a failure if you were in a mandatory meeting and had no choice but to miss your child’s birth you are a failure? No. If you sat in a bar on the day of your child’s birth and drank away your idealized manhood and drowned in sorrow because the nightmare of fatherhood would ruin your lifestyle—then you would have been a failure.

Not all vegans look down on meat-eaters. Not all recyclers look down on garbage-in-garbage-out-toss-it-and-forget-it consumers. Not all voters look down on non-voters. Not all gun owners look down on non-gun-owners. Not all tie-wearers look down on non-tie-wearers. Not all G-rated-moviegoers look down on PG13-rated-moviegoers. So don’t assume we are THAT elitist couple. But do know that we encourage you to try it out next time you get knocked up. And we will be more validated proponents after the birth, if everything goes well. Then we might be that couple. And if so, please rebuke us, not for our advocacy, but for our ‘tude.

What you must know is this Lots of couples go around saying “yeah, we wanna try natural birth,” then show up all panicky at the hospital and she gets an epidural before you can say “watch where you stick that.” They take the obedience classes the hospital offers and learn to pant like a hot dog until the doctor comes in to pump you full of roids.

My wife is the expert between us, but we’ve been preparing for the Bradley method, a tried-and-true method of pushing out the baby without the use of any drugs or stabbing weapons. And just think about it: Shouldn’t that be the logical way to go, lest there be an emergency?

Why am I involved in this? Because the husband is the coach. Certified Licensed Birth-coaching Husband. Some say a real man hides himself away during this womanly demonstration and doesn’t surround himself with the workings of the womb. I say if you start it, you should finish it. A real man gets in there and takes responsibility for what he made. So if you make fun of me, I promise you we will become THAT couple.

So if all goes well, we will have a natural, lucid, joyful birth, and within minutes of entering seeing him enter this world we will be holding little—

oh, wait. I haven’t told you his name yet. Should I?

No. Ah! Wait a second.

How about I give you a clue? Let’s just say he won’t be a fighter or a fleer, but a floater. Let’s just say he’s going to look out that hospital window and see a rainbow. Let’s just say he could grow up to be a great zookeeper. Let’s just say he’s going to try out his sea legs. Let’s just say he better not drink too much wine off the vine. Let’s just say his life will end up being an incredible…arc.

No. Ah! Never-mind. You’ll figure it out eventually.


“Little Mountain Escape”

I did not invent the babymoon, but I would have loved to. At the end of Spring Break, we took ours in Paris. I mean the Paris of the South: Asheville.

Well, it’s debatable. Others would call New Orleans the Paris of the South, and Asheville the San Fran. Maybe Orleans is just the Europe of the South, period. But if we’re to compare European cities only, then Asheville is Paris. And what is Boone? Amsterdam. Charleston is the London. Atlanta is Athens. Or maybe Nasvhille is Athens. Athens, GA is not Athens—that’s for sure. Fort Lauderdale is Venice. Memphis is Memphis—no, wait, just because it has the same name and a pyramid? No, Memphis is Instanbul. Mobile is Pompeii. You get the picture. Roanoke is Moscow, trust me on that one. I guess that makes Blacksburg St. Petersburg.

Anyway, so we went to Asheville. Came in Thursday. Friday her parents came down to go to the Biltmore with us.

The Biltmore. Paragon of Capitalist decadence. When it was built, that is. What was once an affront to modesty and stewardship as a private home for a single family is now a historical site open the public to provide sustainability to the surrounding area through tourism and such. The excesses of the Gilded Age were deceitful, and a man thought he could build a luxury resort for he and his kin that would last. The Great Depression was the angel of history laughing at such a thought, while also mercifully offering a shot at redeeming the estate by letting the poorest of the poor dwell for a day in a home no American was any longer rich enough to dwell in and not lose dough. No philanthropy is too small, and the more conspicuous the consumption and leisure the more profane the dabs of “charity”. To whom much is given much is required. This I will teach my son from day one.

But it was nice to tour a home and wonder what it would be like to raise a child in a dwelling so magnanimously large, especially compared to the little womb.

They have a killer library, by the way. If wanted to build a mancave on an unlimited budget, it would be something like the billiards room, smoking room, and gun room of the Biltmore crammed inside the library.

We say goodbye to Carrie’s family and have dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe. Kind of place that makes lamps out of gramophone horns and runs all their ceiling fans off a single pulley system to save juice. I ordered the Stroganoff, Yall, and was apparently the first person to actually say the “Y’all” in the name. Uppity elites can’t admit they’re from the South. And what I had was a Southern riff on a classic Russki recipe, creamy sauteed pork tenderloin in a cremini mushroom gravy, served over goat cheese grits and topped with jalapeno cilantro pesto and sour cream. Oh, and by the way, I also got an orchid on top of it all. A pink orchid. No Stroganoff Y’all is complete without orchid petals.

In the evening we enjoyed a swim in the saltwater pool, Carrie more than me. A woman seven and a half months pregnant yearns for the opportunity to float weightlessly in the water, her feet unburdened and the baby within in equilibrium with the water without. But I enjoyed the hot tub more than she did because, like a barefoot child in the snow, she could only enjoy it for a minute before having to get out.

Saturday was a day downtown. Got to see guitarists who we’ll later point to and say “oh, everybody likes them now, but we saw them perform on the street way before they were popular. You had to be there.” Bookstores, chocoshoppes, dog treat boutiques, Nepalese Buddha-ware stores, fortune tellers and other salesmen of idolatry and divining, but mostly stores and restaurants offering choices from a local, sustainable, and organic, food industry. Hungry, hungry hipsters.

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s so 2008.” You can take the fake fortune-tellers and the statues of Krishna, but leave the wool tunics, the smoked cooking salts, and the milk from a grass-fed cow shipped from a farm less than 30 minutes away (or at least I imagine it is). I enjoyed mashed potatoes, applesauce, and trout all from local locations without additives. Did I mention jam made by the elves of Lothlorien?

So we ended our night by stopping by a do-it-yourself pottery place and painting letters for our baby’s initials and having them fired in a kiln. Go ahead, drunk nerds who walk by and make fun of us: “We’re painting our initials cuz we’re in love!” You wish you were in here with us. And yes, this implies we know his name. Oh, do we! But you don’t. And why should you? I can’t spoil you all at once.

So that ends our trip. And on Sunday we went to a church where Stanley Tucci’s twin brother makes announcements.

Babymoon accomplished.


A Modest Proposal

I had a couple of ideas for my next installment, but an article I read sparked an immediate interested. Time to flesh out a reaction.

Here is the article
And here is my response:

I am so thankful that Oxford scholars were able to figure out this puzzle, and they have finally made it clear. The taking of an infant’s life before it passes through the vagina is ethically and morally the same as taking an infant’s life after is passes through the vagina. And they take this premise to its most sensible conclusion: if you gotta kill it, kill it. Of course, if you have a C-section, you can kill that human any time you want, because they never pass through the vagina. If a man enters again into his mother’s womb, can you kill him and it not be murder? This keeps Nicodemus up all night, were he a surgeon.

So it is for this reason I propose that any life can be taken when it is no longer legitimate for the good of…well, just about anybody.

And I quote the doctors: “[It’s] not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”. Given that this statement makes perfect sense, and given that I will completely agree with it because it came from a scholar, we must conclude that a) these doctors are mentally retarded, and b) that they are also right, so therefore c) they must be aborted so that d) we can spare them what will certainly be a meaningless existence, and e) we can spare society having to put up with them. Thank you, Oxford docs for being so bold and committed. Your sacrifice will be remembered.

I don’t know why people are so shocked. As Professor Savulescu said, arguments in favour of killing newborns were “largely not new”. Why, the kingdom-state of Sparta in ancient Greece made a practice of it long before we did. These people invented democracy, and since we are a democracy, perfect logic demands we would do well to follow their every move. This is madness, you say? This is abortion!

Now, these scholars are misunderstood in their time. We just have yet to see the point they are making. And since they have received death threats, it follows that whenever someone receives a death threat in the mail, they are automatically inducted into the hall of victims and martyrs, and are thus untouchable in the justice of their cause.

But on to my main point. I’m sick and tired of all these liberals and their championing human rights. Oh, just because babies are minorities we should just refuse to abort them when it’s feasible. Just because babies can’t speak for themselves and can’t contend for their own rights doesn’t mean we should give them a voice. If a baby wanted to live it would do things like, I don’t know, attach itself to the mother and consume nutrients using some sort of filtering organ that feeds into a tube that leads directly to its stomach. If a baby wanted to live it would do things like kick around when you injected acid into the womb to abort it. They tried the same stupid argument against the grand old days of vivisection, and now look where we are: You have to anesthetize a dog when operating on it! Animals feeling pain—pah! Mere clockwork.

So yeah, I’m sick of all these liberals and their trying to tell women that they’re smart enough and powerful enough to raise and care for a child. It’s time to go back to our conservative, sound roots: If it’s conceived in a fiscally unstable household, it needs to be gotten rid of. If it was conceived by some lab in a test tube trying to play God, it’s not human and needs to be thrown out. And, most of all, if it was conceived out of wedlock, it’s a curse and must be extinguished.

Just letting babies live and giving them rights just for being here—liberal lies! First they want to overtax the rich to feed the poor, now they want to overtax hard-working money-earners by making them take time off their job to feed some sloppy baby that won’t work for itself.

Worst of all, I can’t stand these liberal, “religious” nut jobs and their consistent arguments. The practice of killing unborn children insults the blessing of maternity, a beautiful feature of womanhood? Pah, I reject such a notion, and eventually I will come up with a good reason why. And why is it that even though they believe in this outdated notion of marriage, whenever a woman becomes pregnant out of wedlock they turn around and help her out, sacrificing even their own time and money? All this nonsense about forgiveness and love—if they had any love for themselves they would let her rot, and if the child rots with her, it’s all her fault.

Oh, and then they go and adopt unwanted children? Uh, excuse me, but if you really don’t like abortion, you won’t feed the unplanned pregnancy machine by adopting all those babies. Those women made their decisions, and their children should pay the biggest part of the price possible.

Look, when a woman gets an abortion, three things are always certain: a)She hates the idea of maternity, b)She hates children, or c)Just wants a career. And don’t feed me this garbage about society pressures and pregnancies that result from rape. Everyone knows that pregnancies can’t result from rape. What’s what? Ok, so they do. Well, you know what? If she was raped, it was clearly because she was flaunting her stuff. Guaranteed, every time. I suppose you’re going to tell me that the violence of abortion coarsens the soul just as the violence of rape and sexual abuse. More liberal lies.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard your slippery slope argument before: “As folks become more permissive of abortion, they become more desensitized to its violence, and more likely to devalue the sanctity of human life when other situations arise, allowing folks to consider taking the lives of those deemed less viable for the livelihood of the strong and self-serving.” I suppose you’d also say that if the economic conditions in a place are so dire that desperate men to steal bread for food, that the society itself shares in the guilt of thieves for producing the conditions. The only problem is that this comes from weak people who follow a weak God. My God comes riding in on a golden chariot, theirs would be lucky to grab a donkey.

I bet your version of Jesus stands up for adulterers and makes excuses for why they shouldn’t be stoned. Weak. Your mother was wrong to let you live.

—————————————————
Footnote:
This manuscript was found by archivists researching the American 21st century blogosphere, briefly before the decline of the American Empire state. The genre in practice here is an ancient from known as satire, widely popular to some authors from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first, when it was eventually abandoned. Despite being an industrialized empire, increasingly more Americans came to prefer more rudimentary styles of text they referred to as “picket signs”, “bumper stickers,” and “tweets.”

One operating theory is that, through the use of satire, the author both chastised the actual “liberal” camp for hypocritically not including prenatal humans in their progressive human rights agenda, while also chastising the “conservative” camp for being ignorant, impotent, and ill-equipped to effectively advance the cause of prenatal live-rights in a fashion that would actually persuade the “liberal” camp instead of antagonize them.

This recently discovered text, we shall see, was unsuccessful for a number of reasons:
1) It did not reach many people, as it was the work of an amateur.
2) It belongs to a short-lived genre of literature called a blog, which by its nature was narcissistic (and there is no doubt this author was narcissistic).
3) This particular author was often very crass, and offended people on a regular basis.
4) By refusing to parrot the texts of both the popular camps, he was among many who were ignored by the mainstream culture of that period.

We also know that this author had a child of his own, so our researchers have decided to abandon the search for more texts. Writing about potential humans in a previous century will tell us little we could learn from.


“He’s Gonna Be a Soccer Player, Yes He Is!”

Kickers run in the family, from my mother’s cousin’s husband who kicked for Virginia Tech using only half a foot (lawnmower accident, common in Southwest Virginia— remind me to tell you about the incident of the toe-gobbling lab/retriever sometime), to my brother leaping on the couch and kicking at me wildly to defend himself as a youngster, to me being nick-named “Thunderfoot” when I was the only 8th-grader to play rec soccer, and thus had to play with a bunch o 6th and 7th graders that year.

I felt the first kick on Christmas Eve, and ever subtle it was, when not a creature was stirring, except for a late-gestational-stage prenatal human fetus.

At the first visual scan, it was confirmed that we had a very active boy. Since then, he’s been kicking like a mad dog.

Last night, I tell you, this kid just about kicked his way out of the bag, so to speak. Lately we’ve been able to feel for not only kicks, but body parts that seemed to be resting against the womb wall. Judging from last night’s performance, it seemed he had nested his back against Carrie’s spine and proceeded to execute an under-water bicycle kick.

It was like playing wack-a-mole. We kept feeling bump after bump from one side of the belly to the other, kicks growing stronger and stronger. I actually felt it in my own stomach, it was that powerful. I’m really not sure if my wife is cooking a baby or popping popcorn in there. Either way, when he’s done we’ll have to share him and then clean up all the mess.

There is a technique called kick-counting, which hasn’t been proven as accurate, but is a great emotional placebo for anxious mothers:
The following is from Kick-Track.com
The occurrence of frequent baby movements during pregnancy is an excellent indicator of fetal well-being. The first fetal movements or “flutters” are usually felt by the mother between the 16th and the 20th week of pregnancy. Movements generally increase in strength and frequency through pregnancy, particularly at night, and when the woman is at rest. At the end of pregnancy (36 weeks and beyond), there is normally a slow change in movements, with fewer jabs and more rolling and stretching movements.

Kick count is the maternal counting and tracking of fetal movement. Medical research supports kick count as a simple, valuable, effective, reliable and harmless screening of fetal well-being during the third trimester in both low- and high-risk pregnancies.

Kick count is fetal movement counting which includes kicks, turns, twists, swishes, rolls, and jabs but not hiccups. Significant changes in the fetal movement pattern may help identify potential problems with your pregnancy that may need further evaluation and treatment before the baby’s heart rate is affected. In this way, it can help prevent stillbirth.

There are different ways to do kick counting. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you note the time it takes to feel 10 kicks, twists, turns, swishes, or rolls. A healthy baby should have 10 movements in less than 2 hours. Most babies will take less than 30 minutes. Some providers may recommend that if there have not been 10 kicks in 1 hour, you should contact your provider for further evaluation.

_______________

I think tonight we’ll test to see if he’s sending a morse code message. Maybe something like, “hey, tell the lady upstairs I want barbecue tonight! Gettin’ tired of all this balsamic spinach and strawberry stuff!”

Feel those kicks: He’s gonna be a soccer player!


The Face

When I was a child, I knew as a child, and I knew that 4D was what happened to 3D when the Muppets took over. If you went to MGM studios, you knew this, and you got a pie in the face.

But yesterday the grandmothers and my sis-in-law and Carrie and I all went to what is called a 4D ultrasound. I didn’t bother to ask the technician why it’s called 4D, so I will make something up. The three dimensions of time and space plus the dimension of color=4D. 3D movies always had color, but they forgot to include the other dimension before. See, a regular ultrasound is not only 2D, but in black-n-white. The color adds a sort of…extra life to the image.

What you get is something like this:



Cute, ain’t he?

He was a little shy. Turned his head to the side and had those hands up near his face. And he was smirking the whole time. Little devil. He takes after his daddy. But one thing’s for sure: He has his mother’s cheekbones.

So there’s the face. In four dimensions. I suppose when he arrives he will be in five dimensions. Including smell-o-vision.


Brainchild

I’m grabbing some Education classes to put under my belt to make me a better teacher. In one class I’m in a group with some mothers. We were assigned to write about a topic other than the topic of teaching writing this week, so I decided to write about my fatherhood, but to make everything cross-referenced I shall compare emerging fatherhood to emerging writing.

That is, as a writer I consider each one of my works my brainchild. And soon, very soon, I shall have my CHILD child.

I am very deliberate, and very private, about my writing. When I set writing to something I often have in mind exactly what I want to do. Of course, the creation itself evolves over time, grows, like a living thing, like a…..what’s that thing called again? That thing I’ve been talking about for the past few mo—oh, a baby! As much time as I am spending sharing my thoughts on preparing to raise a child, I shall spend less blogging about actually raising the child. That you will hear from me in smaller bits, as well as extended personal conversations. We all must move on.

As it turns out a lot of advice about writing also applies to babies. Except for William Faulkner’s advice: “Kill your darlings”. That’s never a good idea. But otherwise, raising children and writing have much in common:

Patience
Creativity
The ability to lose sleep
Someone to help you through the process
A babysitter
Whiskey (ha….ha……)
Diapers
Listening Skills
The willingness to be poor
The ability to cope with failure

But as I said, with my writing, I don’t like to show people a work in progress. And that means talking about it. And yet here I am talking about our child as a work in progress. But, I realize, it is not the child himself I speak of, but our preparation for him. And humans are always in progress. But our progress in the world begins after our birth, hence why we celebrate birthdays, not inception days. Thus, I will go ahead and tell you now that when this child arrives, I shall no more blog about him. It’s easier to say “stop” when he’s born than to choose that time when it will be awkward for him to read about himself. That and as busy as I will be as a more active father, the writing time I do have will be dedicated to more vocationally productive writing.

So crafting a son’s character as a parent is like crafting a writing. I treat my writing as a thing I don’t always control, a thing that, if I love it, I will let take its own course. And if I don’t like it, I can yell at it later and make it feel guilty for disappointing me and continually ask it if its happy with the choices it has made in life. Or if I come to a point where I’m stuck I just leave it in the backseat for a while until I figure out what to do with it. Or it’s screaming at me for attention and I panic.

But for now we wait. We wait for this child to come to us, as I wait for moments of inspiration. The baby has already been his own source of inspiration. I’m sure the fountains will pour forth once that baby comes. If not, in exchange for writing I will have the consolation of a living being to look after.

No sweat.


No Assembly Required

Was a full weekend: In-laws came in to visit, we ate at the new and famous restaurant in town, The Cookout, the old and famous Homeplace, celebrated the birthday of my old and balding (even faster than I am) cousin-in-law Adam. Oh, and we also mentioned to build a bed and a chair. Completely from scratch. Chopped down the wood and everything. What? Not a good liar? Then I’ll tell the tale in the truth genre. Oh the part about the restaurants was true. They’re everything everyone says they are.

When we purchased the crib and rocker, from a place out West, Carrie began to count down the days until its arrival. We also planned for the child’s grandparents to all be present for the “ribbon-cutting” ceremony. I knew I would need at least one person to hold the crib still as I fashioned the pieces together (I like the word “fashion”, for it implies I did more than just screw things together). We had to remove the futon and old-fashioned TV (remember when they used to not be flat?) and now they’re in the preacher’s office, needing a place to go. If you are in need of a bulky television set and an uncomfortable college couch that transforms into a less comfortable bed, contact us.

When the items arrived, I wasn’t sure if I should tip the FedEx guy. Wasn’t sure if that was the norm so I didn’t. I told him to have a good day. That’s a fine tip right there. We should all have good days as often as possible. Everything was in its right place. When we opened the boxes Carrie felt the wood, admired the color. Both the crib and rocker are of the same color wood, a dark, rich wood.

I had Grandpas one and two come up and “help out.” I’m not too ashamed to admit when I need help, but I am man enough to declare that I don’t need help with directions, and that any man who isn’t a fool will need help with the assembly of large, bulky objects. Clamps alone don’t save you enough time. So the grandpas came. We played 70s music. I read the directions carefully, even deciphering the confusing bit about the product label vs the warning label (one of which was not in the right place). All the screws and rods were provided, and the manufacturers even threw in an L-wrench, also known as an Allen wrench, because some guy named Allen thought he would name it after himself instead of what it looks like. Jerk.

The crib and rocker look a little something like this:

The crib did come with one flaw: A small crack in the wood on the edge of one of the rails. We fixed it with wood glue and duct tape. Not in the ghetto way. THe duct tape was to hold the piece together until the wood dried. Then we refinished the crack with a marker. A wood marker, not a crayola. As I said, not ghetto. I don’t mind the crack. Like I told Carrie, it gives the crib character.

The crib is strong. I tested the weight. That thing will hold three bears, a giraffe, a monkey, a penguin, and an elephant. That’s more than John Denver can say about his grandmother’s feather bed, who until now held the record: 8 kids, 4 hound-dogs, and a piggy they stole from the shed. Still, our mattress isn’t made from forty-leven geese, but instead some manufactured material that, unless directly ingested, is perfectly safe. As for the rocker, it rocks smoothly back and forth, not quite as pendulum-like as a classic rocker, but rather a mechanical motion more akin to a Kalamazoo trolley being operated by an old man. And it comes with an Ottoman you can put your feet on. By ottoman I mean a footstool, like the dog from Beauty and the Beast. I would never condone purchasing a Turk to put your feet on. I think the International Criminal Court would frown on that too.

So everything came together quite nicely. The gathering of men was a mutually beneficial man-gagement that needed not be explained. They knew I would need help holding the pieces together, yet also knew I could manage to perform the actual task and wanted to demonstrate that to them. I knew they wanted to be there to assist, yet also knew they wanted to see the son/son-in-law they are still proud of. Fathers helping their sons build as fathers for their sons: The line runs deep like the rings of an old tree, one that is cut down for timber to build a cradle, a cradle which will hold the babe who will then grow to be a man which will then chop down another tree to build a cradle. Ah, the circle of life.

No, none of us ever chops down a tree and builds furniture from it ourselves. Rather, one set of men with machines mass cuts one section of forest after another, while another man hauls the lumber off, another set of men shaves the bark off and cuts the lumber into workably rectangular beams, while then another cuts and measures pieces to assemble, while perhaps another molds the pieces, another paints and polishes, another assembles the primary pieces, while another packages, another sells, another delivers, and another opens and assembles, while finally another sleeps, cries, and poops in it. Then we toss it. Or pass it on, if we’re conscientious.

I wish I could teach my son master carpentry, the ways of choosing a tree and felling it (I always wanted to use the verb “to fell” and I finally get to), using its wood to craft with your skilled hands a perfect specimen of furniture. But do I feel less a man for assembling an idiot-proof crib that my wife purchased? No. Not at all. I made a baby. I’m not walking out on that baby. And I prepared the crib and rocker for that baby. What have you done today?

This is what happens after you build the crib and have the child.”>This is what happens after you build the crib and have the child.


We’ll Take Your Baby

Responsible parents start searching early. Or they make grandma do it. But since neither grandma is retired yet, one is in another state, and the other has to raise a Chesapeake Retriever and assist a sleep-apneac, Carrie and I are getting an early start on the daycare situation.

We’ve only checked out one place so far. The first perk, we knew, was that it was within walking distance of Carrie’s new office, the name of which will remain undisclosed, because I don’t want anyone to kidnap my child. But that brings me to another perk.

The place is safe. The doors are locked electronically, and only parents are issued a security clearance card. I’m sad to say they do not have voice-recognition or retinal scan software, but they try their best.

Carrie knew the place from one of our friends who takes her baby there. Boom. Connection. We’re in, right? See, in case you didn’t know, visiting day cares is a tryout. But its not a tryout for you. It’s for the daycare service. You may have a tendency to think this is like enrolling your child in a prestigious school: The proprietors interview you, look you up and down, whisper in each other’s ears, and end the visit with “we’ll keep in touch. By mail. Most likely.” No, these guys just want your cash. If you can pay, they’ll sit for the day. They’re the ones trying out.

So they tried out. First thing I notice is that there’s a dude at the front desk. Daycare’s are stereotypically female-staffed. First person we see is a dude. Of course he’s a very well dressed dude with hair gelled into a canopy like a widow’s peak resurrecting from the dead. That would turn some away. He’s good with babies. I don’t judge.

The place is all divided by age groups. And by that I mean they’re specific. See, there’s a difference between infants, toddlers, AND waddlers. I’ll say it again: Toddler, AND waddler. Ok, I don’t know which comes first by their definition, but they’re different. This determines which lasso to use to round them up.

In the baby room, three different women are quietly rocking and feeding little babies as we take off our shoes (shoes have germs and socks don’t, and babies crawl all over these floors, mind you—-we could learn a lot from the Japanese). There’s a chubby kid knocked out in the crib beside us. Another is bouncing in a bouncy thing that I’m sure Carrie recognized immediately and knew the name and price of.

Carrie used to work at a daycare, a five-star daycare. Of course, in the North Carolina Appalachians, a five-star dayday care probably involves not dropping the babies on the sawdust floor, taking them to the trough at least three times a day, and having mobiles made from possum bones and dried apple cores. Hill people milk (140 proof!) is used to soothe the children and put them to sleep.

Nonetheless, Carrie knows her daycare qualifications: a fire crib to put the babies in if there’s a fire, a sanitary diaper-changing routine, ample feeding breaks, 15-minutes SIDS checks (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome—sorry to be so morbid, but it happens). While she barrages them with questions, I scan the room for more important things, such as noticing from the diaper bag cubby holes that, contrary to Carrie’s notion that one of the names we’re thinking of is getting too popular, none of the babies have that name. No, they all have names like Paul and Ivey (Ivy with an E).

The diaper-changing pads have big frogs on them. Who wouldn’t want to have their diaper changed on a frog? I know I would.

There’s also a camera. But it’s not a security camera. Well, it is that. But it’s also a spy camera. Parents can log on to the camera from any computer and watch their child sleeping, being fed, being rocked, or having their diaper changed. They can also watch other kids having their diaper changed. Nothing weird about that. I know that if we choose this place Carrie will have a constant feed in her office computer. I know that I will also have a quick on my Mac. “Just gonna check and make sure they’re not strangling little Ralphy.” Yes, we’re naming our baby Ralphy. According to my dad, that is.

Here’s a link to the webcam so you can view the babies too.

Make this blog real interactive, don’t you think? I don’t think the other parents would mind. I already planted a few other secret cameras in that place while we were taking the tour anyway. The same thing I do with people’s homes whenever I visit, just to make sure its a safe place. You wouldn’t believe what some people do when they don’t think anybody’s watching. Gross. Stop scratching that.

See you next week.

p.s. If you walk into a daycare and see this, its best to try someplace else.


Things I will teach my baby

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████████ So keeping that in mind, I guess we’re both in fur a surprise. I don’t think anything I said was too controversial. I think my doctor would agree.