New toys…Papi-style

I’m back!  Apologies for the small hiatus, things happen and life decides that blogging must wait!  Keep reading, I’ll keep posting.  There is no shortage of baby issues that need to bust out of my brain and onto the page.

My kid is almost 7 months and he’s getting bored.  The stations are no longer holding his attention for more than a few minutes and that means he drives me crazy all day with high-pitched requests for entertainment.  His toys are getting repetitive and that means that he needs some new ones.  So my wife and I begin doing research.  What toys are best and what toys will actually aid his development, rather than just send his little neurons into ADHD dysfunction with flashing lights and singing chipmunks that make me wanna crash through our third-story window and directly into my gruesome-but-quiet-grave.  While looking, I realized two things:  First of all, my kid doesn’t care what the toy is or who made it.  He doesn’t care that it’s made in china or Taiwan.  He doesn’t care that its recycled plastic.  He doesn’t even care that it looks cheap.  He cares about the craziest things.  He just wants it to be colorful and interesting to look at through the eyes of a human that has never seen about 90% of….things.  He wants it to not taste terrible and he wants it to not scare the living daylights out of it.  As long as a toy meets this criteria, he is all about it.  Secondly, he doesn’t actually care that we as adults label it a “toy”.  Not even a little.  He will pass up a fantastic little singing/light-up bongo toy and crawl across 20 feet of living-room no-man’s-land to wrap his little mitts around a hair tie my wife dropped earlier in the day. He routinely flips over his very expensive FAO Schwartz bear to play with the tag coming off its butt.   We as grown-ups tend to think that like 12-year-olds, babies want actual toys when really, they just want something that looks like it might fit their mouth nicely.

So the research…I’m in the wrong business.  The baby-toy racket is a gangster-speakeasy of price-gouging and extortion.  The cost of some of these toys is ridiculous to the point of laughter and I aint payin’ no Mattel gangsters $20 bucks for a plastic giraffe the likes of which I could get for 10 cents at the dollar store.

So…we started talking and realized that many of the toys we were seeing were fancy versions of stuff we could get anywhere…so we did:

Tubation
A set of tubes with connecting elbows and t-junctions.  List price:  $20.00  Guess what this is.  Exactly, its plumbing PVC, colored with kid-safe dyes, thrown in a box, given a silly name and marked up like a million percent.  A quick trip to the local hardware store and I got basically the same toy, except more durable and less fragile.

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Papiology Tubos Playset
This ingenious design was invented by the Romans during early human history in the form of aqueducts.  It consists of plumbing-grade PVC piping and matching fittings.  While it is unfortunately a monochrome white, the durability and adaptability of the playset more than makes up for its lack of color.  This toy is water-resistant, built to withstand industrial construction, and decades of use. Feel free to take this toy into the bathtub for extra fun!  As a bonus, this toy will grow with your baby!  Buy longer pieces and more fittings and as he gets older he can build everything from a complete home septic system to blanket forts!  This amazing toy can be yours for the low price of about $4.00 at any local Menards.

“Sassy” Textured Ball Set
These are exactly what they look like.  They’re balls.  They also have little knobs on them.  That’s it.  That’s all they are.  They “develop hand-eye coordination” (like everything else in his life right now).  These fancy bolas can be in the hands and mouth of your infant for the low list price of….$14.00.  Go back and re-read that.  $14.00.  For colored balls.  14…No.

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Papiolospheres
These magical, furry spheres of delight are actually just tennis balls.  Different colored tennis balls.  They were on clearance at the store for like $3.00 for a pack of four.  They do exactly the same thing as the “Sassy” balls…they roll.  He chews on them and guess what?  These ALSO improve his hand-eye coordination!  As a bonus, the mesh bag they came in can also be used, since babies enjoy packaging more than what comes in it.

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Peter Rabbit Teether-Toy
 Insert whatever toy you want here.  The stupid giraffe that is all over every baby store on the planet, teething rings, stuffed teether plush dolls and animals that serve only to alleviate my kid’s incessant need to gum everything in his path. List Price $15.25  Now, while $15 is still a crazy high-price to pay, I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt, since it uses fabric and stuffing, and dyes, and….no…nevermind.  Its cheap and it’s not worth $15 freaking dollars.

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The Papi-Chewmaster 2000
This lovable little yellow alien is actually a dog toy.  You heard me right.  It’s a dog toy.  It’s not used, so calm down.  Its made of all the same materials as the stupid rabbit above, but its built to survive a dogs jaws and because its made for predatory animals, its got that tough-factor you just cant get from an androgynous giraffe.  Its colorful and it squeaks when my kid chews on it.  He loves it.  I can easily see this bad boy becoming a favorite sleep-companion and as a bonus, when I meet my boy’s first girlfriend, I can tell her he played with dog-toys as a baby.  It was also on clearance:  $3.00

These are just a few of the wonders I have bestowed upon my son. He doesn’t care that they aren’t actual toys. He’s in heaven with his new playthings and treats each new one like I’m handing him the Asgardian Mjolnir.  In about 2 months, when he’s outgrown these, I’ll go out and spend another hefty $20 dollars to fill his toy box with a whole new set of Papiology-specials.  He’ll love them and I’ll be a hero.  Booyah.

Ambulation

My kid is on the very brink of learning how to crawl and I am scared.  I once watched a documentary on a woman named Temple Grandin.  She works with cattle and has revolutionized the ranching industry.  She has the strange ability to put herself in the mindset of a cow.  She’ll walk through a cow pen and will be able to tell the rancher what minute issues might stop a cow from being as comfortable and so as docile as possible.  At one point in the movie, she get on her hands and knees and walks through a slaughterhouse chute to see why the cows were scared to go through.  It ended up that one of the ramps was slightly too steep.  They fixed the gradient and the cows flowed through to their deaths as though it was the gateway to freedom’s green, green pastures.  I wish there was a Temple Grandin for babies.  I sit there, watching my kid figuring out how to chomp those thick little legs into locomotion and I am suddenly very worried about how my life is about to change dramatically.

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I no longer see the furniture in my house as decorative or functional, but rather through the lens of danger ratios and risk analysis.  The quaint old coffee table that accents our living room is now a jagged wood-cactus who’s corners always seem to point their spear-tips directly at his head.

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The radiators that keep us warm and dry are now searing hot hell-fire finger-traps that exist only to threaten my kid with a visit to the burn ward.  Everything becomes a potential hazard when your suicidal baby learns to move toward danger.  I have to rethink my whole house and I must adjust my tactics.  I’m dealing with a mobile enemy now and that takes away much of my current advantage.

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Now is when I need a Temple Grandin.  Part of the problem is that no matter how many times I poop my pants, drool all over my shirt and lay on the ground, I will never fully understand what draws my kids attention.  The other day I used hair ties to affix a really cool toy above him in his car seat.  He completely ignores the toy and goes after the hair ties like a crack head chasing that first high.  How do I combat someone like that?  How do I put myself in the shoes of someone who does the most illogical things at the strangest times?  The kid wont sleep when he’s too tired.  He wont eat when he’s obviously hungry.  He cries cause he’s got boogers on his face and then cries harder when you go to wipe them off.  Its looney-town crazy-thinking and I need a baby whisperer to tell me when and how this kid will next attempt to end his own life…but there isn’t one.  There is no one to warn me that my kid secretly eats every hair he finds on the ground.  There is no one to tell me that tomorrow he will suddenly be instinctively driven to taste the bottoms of any shoe he finds.  There is no one to remind me that this kid is desperately suicidal and will attempt to end his life using things adults take for granted as completely safe.

My kid is learning how to crawl.  A large part of me is very proud and a small part of me wants to tie him into a small potato sack that will keep him from going anywhere. Ever.  Where are the baby-whisperers?  I can’t pay you, but I’ll cook you lunch or something.  Just teach me how not to let my child die.

Boogers.

Today was not good.  Today was one of those days you survive.  You finish the battle bloody and war-weary, looking down at your fallen comrades…and maybe you cry.  No one would fault you for it.  Maybe you lose it for a few days and drink away the memories.  Maybe you lie in the infirmary and stare at the MASH-tent roof, waiting for wound to become scar.  Today my boy was sick.  Not like the dangerous kind of sick that you take him to the hospital for.  Not the kind of sick you call the pediatrician about.  Not even the kind of sick where he looks pitiful and you want to help him with all the paternal instinct in you.  No.  Today he was that kind of sick that makes him just miserable enough to cry all day but not sick enough to make me me feel sorry for him.  Sick enough that all he wants is to be held…I mean put down….I mean held….I mean put down….I mean….. You get the idea.  That kind of sick where he’s just aggravated that boogers are obstructing his ability to suck on things for more than 30 seconds at a time.  That kind of sick where he’s angry rather than sad and tries hard to gouge out chunks of your face or pull out handfuls of your beard hair in his little rage-filled fists. 

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Its amazing how a tiny touch of congestion can really just #$@* up a baby’s (and therefore a father’s) whole day.  Everything from sleeping, to eating, to just being held becomes a major undertaking.  I hold (then put down, then hold, then put down, then hold) this little mass of flailing limbs and kicking legs as he tries desperately to deal with emotions even most adults do terrible with.  Frustration, anger, fatigue, and irritation are radiating off of him like steam from a kettle and as the parent its my job to keep calm.  I’m supposed to ignore that he just spit on my face and just be ok with him yanking at my hair like he’s trying to snap my neck.  I’m supposed to just let it slide that he’s kicking me over and over and meet his screams with the kind of zen Buddha would have been hard pressed to conjure.  If this were an adult, we would be fighting to the death.  If it were a dog, I would call animal control to come take it away.  If it was any other kind of being whatsoever, I would never allow myself to be abused in this way, but it’s a baby.  Its a baby and so I meet spit with rag, hair-pulling with gentle kisses, kicks with tickles, and screams with “I know, baby.  You don’t feel good…its ok.”.

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The world is all topsy turvy now, spinning in a new dimension where I sit and stare at the wall, offering empty comfort to a baby who is not accepting it and is trying to murder me with his bare hands at the same time.  A world where his 2-hour naps only last 20 minutes and I still have things to get done.  A world where there is no such thing as “breaks” and the idea of having more kids makes me consider whether we’re being careful enough about birth control.

Today was a bad day.  I’m glad i have help and I’m glad my kid is sleeping.  I’m glad that his little immune system is actively hunting down the evil, stupid little virus that’s making him crazy.  I’m glad he has my heart so very devoted to him that even on days like today, I don’t ever consider calling animal control on him.   I’m glad I’m his Papi even though he sometimes wants to kill me.  I’m glad I can offer him comfort even when it doesn’t work.  I’m glad and I’m exhausted and today was a bad day.  Goodnight.

The magic of nap time…

Babies hate sleep.  Its like their little brains can’t handle the idea that losing consciousness wont be forever.  They fight it like they’re Foxhole-Norman storming Jerry’s trenches at night with nothing but a rusty knife and a failing flashlight.  They run from it like they’re holding the Babe Ruth ball and the Beast is hot on their heels.  I so desperately wish they would embrace the nap time with as much fervor as they suck at the bottle, but alas, they hate sleep and I am confused.  On the opposite side of the scale, I have realized what a jerk I have been to the Sandman.  I’ve avoided it and pushed it away.  I’ve used chemicals to keep it distant and I’ve ignored it for far too long. Having a kid has opened my eyes to the beauty and precious gift sleep can be.  I long for it.  I crave it.  I hold to it tight and often watch as it slides through my fingers like dry sand as my child’s high-pitched cries punch me in the face until I’m wide awake and somehow standing at the kitchen sink, filling a bottle and holding a clean diaper.

My son is 6 months old.  He has never been a horrible sleeper, but definitely is not at the top of the sleep-game for kids.  He typically goes down to sleep at about 8pm after a lengthy bed-time ritual that reminds me of an expensive and all-inclusive spa day.  Once he’s succumbed to the black, my wife and I take the next hour or so to do like…regular adult things. We talk and pay bills and basically try to squeeze 24 hours of adult life into that magic time between 8pm and 9:30pm.  We are in bed shortly thereafter and sleep for a few hours until baby-shrills wake us up at 3am-4am at which point my wife and I lay him on the bed to feed, change, and comfort him like a well-oiled NASCAR pit crew.

He will usually go right back to sleep for another 2-3 hours, waking promptly at 6am (on a good day) to gurgle and coo us awake a full hour and half before we actually need to be up.  If we’re lucky and everything goes exactly according to that plan, we get a solid 7 hours of sleep.  The problem is that this often doesn’t happen.  On bad nights, he wakes up 2-3 times, needing someone to get out of bed and basically just walk into his room to let him know that we aren’t asleep.  We’re wide awake and here to attend his every need.  He’ll turn back over and knock right back out.  He’ll then wake up at about 5am, having peed through his diaper and all over his bed which means we have to change him and let him lie in our bed.  The rest of the morning is spent with him screaming in our ears, slapping our faces, and making it his mission to poke us in the eyes as many times as possible.  Those nights happen maybe once a week.  So goes the story of our lives.

Strangely enough, the adage “sleep begets sleep” has proven incredibly true for us.  I try to keep my kid on a strict schedule that includes two, 2-hour naps during the day.  If I can actually make that happen, night-time usually ends up being a blissful 7-hour sleep session that leaves me waking up with a single tear of joy rolling across the sleep-lines on my cheek.  If the kid doesn’t sleep enough in the day, putting him down at night is a serious chore.  When Shia was a month or two old, he had trouble learning how to settle himself down.  He was obviously tired, but refused to sleep.  I found that the only way to get him down was to cocoon him in a tight swaddle.  He would fight, hard for several minutes before succumbing to the beauty, letting out a tiny sigh, and falling asleep.  It was exhausting.  He’s a strong kid and holding him while he bucked like a rodeo pony was hard work.  He quickly learned, however, that the swaddle and being held in a certain position meant sleep.  He fought less and less and eventually would give me a big smile when I he was tired and I would put him in his personalized sleeper-hold.

I call those the golden months.  It was a pleasure.  He was happy to nap and I was happy to have 4 hours a day to get stuff done without him demanding things of me.  The Shogunate had been consolidated and the island that is my life was at peace.  Recently, though, my attempts at “sleep position” have failed.  He has suddenly decided that this position is the worst thing he has ever experienced.  Not only will he no longer fall sleep like this, but he rails against it like William Wallace in a battle-frenzy.  The rebellion has begun and has toppled peace in favor of a solid hatred for nap time.  He wails with the sadness of a million orphans and bucks like I’ve got his behind held over an open flame.

It’s a drastic change and I’ve had to quickly adapt to the new and yet old paradigm of sleep as something I have to sneak my kid into, rather than enjoy with him.  What are some of your strategies?  How do you get your crazed child to sleep when they have made it their mission to stay awake…forever.

Public speaking: Like a grown up

Today my wife and I went to see a movie, sans-kid.  We dropped the boy off at my mother’s and we drove away to do like…adult things.  We spoke in normal tones, able to hear each other clearly without screaming drowning out every other word.  The smells of the world were not laced with old formula and overflowing diapers.  We had intelligent conversation that did not include trying to remember when the last nap or feeding was.  We got out of the car and walked places without the normal 40lbs of baby and gear that we typically lug around as though we’re constantly hiking the Himalayas.  No one stopped us to comment on how the baby must be cold or about how much he drools.  Most importantly: We did not use “baby voice” even one time the whole evening.

“Baby voice” is a strange thing.  Its this weird mode of speaking where you pitch your voice up several octaves higher than normal and make unsuccessful attempts at imitating your child’s non-existent speech patters.  Its weird.  When I was kid-less, I thought this was the most insanely annoying thing.  Full grown, intelligent, and often respectable people see a baby and suddenly revert to 3-year-old infant language that has both the baby and everyone around them giving them the “iz-you-crazy?” eye.  As a younger man, I vowed not to do this.  I would talk to my kid in normal tones and show him that not all adults talk like they just lost their minds.  And yet…I do it.  As dumb as it is and as stupid as it makes me sound, I use baby voice on him like its some kind of hard-wired nature-programming in me that forces me into it.  I see my kid and normal speech goes out the window.  Its amazing.  Sometimes, I’ll stop mid-“my wittle boo-boo” and resist the urge to kick my own face, hard.  I don’t know why I do it.  When he isn’t around, I tell myself that I’ll never do it again.  I reason that it isn’t necessary and that my kid will respond to my regular voice just as well.  Then he gets carried into the room, I lose my freaking mind yet again and begin talking like a lunatic man-baby.  Often, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.  Its become so normal to be a plum-raving-madman, that I no longer even register it until I’ve come back to my senses.

Here’s the thing…at home, this isn’t a big deal.  My wife and I have already come to terms with the fact that we are both brain damaged in this area and there’s nothing we can do about it.  We’ve proven that we are unable to resist the urge to spew nonsensical babble at our kid and we actually love each other a little more for having the same terrible disease.  Other people, though…that’s a different story.  I have no problem speaking to a crowd.  I have no issue with giving speeches because I can be fairly confident that I will sound at least generally intelligible and articulate.  That was before I realized I was brain damaged.  Thus far, my baby-talk has only manifested at home with my kid, but I’m nervous.  What if I walk up to the movie ticket booth and start asking for a “whittow movee ticket puhweeeeez”.  Sweet sassy-molassy, it has quickly become a minor phobia.  I fear that out in public and without my kid I might possibly let slip a string of baby-talk that would have people asking me if I’m ok.

So here I am, at the movies, ordering popcorn and trying hard to properly enunciate each word with such diligence that it likely makes me look mentally damaged anyway.  I have dreams where I am charged with teaching a class at work only to find that nothing will come out of my mouth accept for baby-speak.  Its a legit phobia.  So what about you?  Have you ever slipped and let baby-talk spew like warm-formula-vomit at another grown adult?  Maybe I should just never leave the house without my kid so that I can always make out like I was talking to him if I ever mess up…  Its a real problem and I’m willing to bet that if ramblin’ blues-hobos ever actually stayed home to take care of kids, they would have written songs about how depressing it was to have lost their minds to a baby.

Laundry

I live in an apartment complex.  It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst.  The apartment itself is a very presentable two bedroom place with hardwood floors and lots of room for us.  It’s on the third floor of a building that sits atop 15 foot hill, effectively making it a 4-story climb.  This means that climbing the stairs even without cargo is a huge pain.  Add in a 30lb baby, groceries, diaper bag, and anything else that you might need to haul up there and it becomes an Everest you stare up at, trying to convince yourself that it’s not that bad.  It really isn’t that bad. The safety of living on the top floor, the minimal heat costs, and not having anyone in an apartment above you makes up for the fact that you need to hook up carabiners for safety on your way up.  The biggest hassle, by far, is laundry.  We have no machine in our apartment.  There is a small paid machine in the basement that would require several trips and dollars a day to get it done.  So I do laundry once a week at the local laundromat.

So Monday comes along and my wife and I are both on our last sets of clean underwear. I can’t find a matching pair of socks in my drawer, my kid is wearing a onesie that’s a size too small, and I’m wearing the same shirt I had on yesterday.  All of these are signs that its time to clean clothes.  Now, understand that I live in a relatively ghetto part of my city.  It isn’t Detroit, by any stretch, but it’s definitely not a peaceful countryside.  We have our share of crime and more than our share of shady looking characters.  I don’t mind this.  I grew up in worse places and to be honest, I kind of enjoy it.  As a people watcher, I’ve always preferred having weird people to watch, rather than those who might just sit in a chair and watch their laundry go round-and-round.  The problem is, I now have a kid.  I have a kid that I have to haul with me to this place and all those funny-looking, shady characters are now possible points of danger I have to shield him from.  This kid also needs constant attention, as does the laundry.  Thus, my laundry day has gone from slightly tiring day of watching interesting, ghetto people to an exhausting 3-hour ordeal where I am working fast and hard while maintaining the security perimeter that surrounds the laundry cart I’ve laid my boy in.

The trick to going is really to get there early.  Alot of people need to clean their clothes.  If you get there after 11am, the place is packed.  It will smell like 200 families worth of dirty underwear and sweaty t-shirts.  You’ll have trouble finding empty machines and when you do, you’ll spend the first few seconds staring in at it, wondering what the last person who used it was like.  You’re about to put your clothes into the same receptacle they just did, so you better hope they used bleach or were clean kinda folks.  If you get there early, you’ll find the place only half full with Mexican women and their kids.  The machines will be freshly washed after the night’s cleaning-cycle and you’ll have your pick of bench/machines.  So I pull up about 9am.  The loaded laundry bag weighs about 100lbs so that stays in the car while I get my kid, his diaper bag, the detergent, and anything else out of the car and loaded on a bench in the way-back section of the place.  The little Mexican kids waiting for their moms to finish cleaning clothes almost never run through there and anyone looking to sell me tamales, illegal dvds, fruit-in-a-cup, or weed would have to be a motivated business person to make it all the way to the back of the place.  Luckily, the rolling laundry carts are pretty big.  Big enough to line with blankets and double as a small steel prison cell pack-and-play.

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With my kid secure and nothing but senoritas all around, I head back out to the car and lug in the ridiculous bag of laundry, all the while dreaming of a more simple life where we all have only three outfits…for always.  One of the two quarter dispensers is ALWAYS broken and if you’re not savvy to the fact and there isn’t a warning note on the thing, you can end up with your dollar sucked away by the little gremlins that make the machine work.  Check the service light and ask the closest lady which machine works.  I get my quarters and dump my entire load of 150lbs of laundry into the biggest washer.  Its more than big enough to handle the job, which makes me think that whoever designed it did so with the lazy dad-who-washes-once-a-week in mind.  Its a wonderful and powerful washer that requires a handful of quarters and about 10 scoops of detergent.  By this time, my kid is fussing. He’s gotten over the novelty of staring up at ceiling stains from his steel cage and wants out.  With the clothes going, I’m free to make him a bottle using my patent-pending infant-feed kit.

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He sits there, happily slurping away while I fend off the DVD-guy trying to sell me bootleg copies of the Lego movie and shaking my head “no” at the tamale-lady who was sure my Hispanic self was gonna totally want a pack to take home to the rest of my kids.  My boy finishes eating just as the washer finishes its last cycle.  I lay the kid back in his cell on his belly so that #1, he’ll burp, and #2 he can look around at the free world and imagine what its like to ambulate.  At this point, I may be tempted to throw a toy in there with him, but that would be a big mistake.  I get all the clothes into a separate cart and since the place is mostly empty and the dryers are free, I can throw in 4-5 pieces of clothing per dryer, thus cutting the drying time by a factor of like…30.  Filling 20 dryers takes a while, by which point my kid is complaining again.  Now is when the toys come in.  I bring 2-3 small toys with me and dole them out slowly, one at a time.  Each toy gives me approximately 5-10 minutes of baby-is-entertained time.  3 toys means that on a good day, they last a whole entire half hour.  After about 10 minutes, the first machine has dried the 5 shirts I thew in there and I can begin the sort/fold process.  There are many ways to effectively and efficiently fold clothes.  When you are on a baby’s toy timetable, you better research that ish or pay the consequences of kid-boredom kicking in when you’re only half-done with folding.

By the time my kid starts wailing the “get me outta here” cry of insanity, I’m about 80% done.  I break out the pacifier and stretch my entertained time by another 3 minutes.  I finally get done and pack all that stuff in the bag, which is a feat since folded clothes don’t fit in there as well as stuffed clothes and I was already pushing the limits of its volume capacity when I walked in.  I grab my kid, hold him till he calms down a little and strap him into the car seat.  I go back and do one more quick check of all the machines to be sure I haven’t missed a pair of black socks or underwear that like to camouflage and hide in the corners of the dryer. The boy gets loaded into the car along with all the junk I brought before I lug out the bag and watch it drop the suspension of my car as I load it in.  I get in the drivers seat, looking through the window of the laundromat and thank sweet Baby Jesus that its all over.  I get home, stare up at the Everest of stairs I have to carry over 200lbs of stuff up with two trips.  I get it done and I take a nap with my kid on the couch….whether he wants to or not cause sometimes…Papi needs it.  IMG_20150108_105349[1]

Despite the trouble, I do it.  Its hard and the learning curve has been steep, but I know where, when, and how to best get a hard job done with kid in tow.  Its second nature now.  I’m a stay at home dad and I’ve gotten good at it.  I got this…sort of.

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Frazzled round’ the edges…

To own a gun, I had to pass a background check.  The gun dealer checked all my relevant ID.  Then he called another guy who works for the FBI.  That guy ran my name, birth date, and address through local, federal, and international databases to make sure I didn’t have any crimes on record.  I then paid my money and had to wait seven whole days before I could walk out of the store with a tiny, five-shot, small-caliber revolver.  To drive a car, I had to take a six week class.  Then I had to spend thirty hours driving around with a middle aged white dude who had a secondary brake peddle on his side of the car just in case.  Then I went to the DMV where they gave me a written test.  I also had to take a hands-on driving exam to prove that I could handle an actual vehicle.  I once left the country.  On my way back in, I had to walk through metal detectors, had my bags searched twice, and was interviewed by two different customs agents.  I had to fill out about ten forms detailing what I had done and where I had gone.  Then, we have a baby.  The single biggest life-changing responsibility you can ever conceive of and no one cared.  I didn’t have to take classes.  I didn’t have to pass any tests.  No one questioned whether or not I knew how to keep a baby alive or anything.  My wife goes into labor, she screams bloody murder, and a baby pops out.  I spend a single night in the hospital and then they send me home.  They send me home shell shocked and with a baby and a semi-crippled woman to take care of.  I have no baby license.  I have no mandated classes that showed me how to change a diaper.  I took no tests that proved to anyone that I knew what end of the bottle goes into the kids mouth.  As I pulled out of the hospital parking lot, I realized that I had a baby and no idea what to do with it.  Seems like an oversight.

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To adopt a kid, there is SO much paperwork and classes and rigmarole you have to go through.  If you walked into an adoption agency and said “Hey I had sex with someone like nine months ago.  Please give me a baby.” No one would do it.  They would say “We’re not just gonna HAND you a baby!  Are you stupid?  We don’t know who you are or if you’ll take care of a baby or if you even understand what it means to have one!!!”. Then you’d have to attend classes and have your background checked and then MAYBE they’d consider finding a kid that’s just right for you.  Any reasonable person would say that they’re totally right.  We cant just let anyone walk away with a baby…unless they made it themselves.  Then it’s totally fine.

I sometimes look at my kid and am amazed that he’s in as good a shape as he is.  I’m a fairly smart guy but even so, no one’s looking to let me borrow a Ferrari or take some diamond earrings home for the night.  A stranger wouldn’t trust me with the keys to their house or their MasterCard, so how is it that they allow me to walk away with a human being?  Not just any kind of human being, mind you, but a suicidal, insanely selfish, intensely stupid human being that is literally completely reliant on me to keep it living. They just hand me a baby, wish me luck and send me home with no qualifications except the ability to actually make the kid.

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I’m not advocating any strange political agenda to require parental licensing or anything, but good freakin’ gravy.  I made a human and got to take him home and people care less about my preparedness to care for him than they do about my ability to frame up the supporting wall of a duplex in the ghetto.  I’m doin a good job. (With the baby, not the framing) My kid is alive and thriving.  My wife and I are a little frazzled around the edges but I think our sanity will hold out.  I’m hearing things that aren’t there and having strange dreams, but my baby is fed and clean, and he smiles alot.  That means in doin good right?  Right?…..right?