Caring about day care

Published at the Fullerton News Tribune, 9/27/90

I always thought Moms had it easy. You know, the women who stayed home with their children and didn’t have to work; the women who lived a life of relative leisure while their peers held down full-time jobs and still managed to be home in time to make dinner.

After all, God created day care centers so we could all work, right?
Hah! Now I know God created day care centers for women driven insane by their very own little monsters. I learned this the hard way; then again, I learned many things the hard way on one hot, hellish day in August. I knew this was not the ideal day to babysit a six month old for the first time. I knew what I was getting into. But Mom and Dad ne’er had any trouble with him. David was, after all, the perfect child. Besides, it would only be for five hours…I could deal with a baby for five hours, right?

Wrong.
It was strange, really, how it all started, as if Junior changed from God’s Favorite Child to Satan’s Messenger the moment he and I were alone.
His voice seemed tied to the thermostat in some sort of twisted connection: As the temperature went up, so did his decibel level. It was an astonishing display of vocal power, a classic example of futility and despair. Too bad Mom didn’t consult with Junior beforehand.

The Milk Slime Monster
Here I learned another valuable lesson: After feeding the baby, do not, under any circumstances play airplane, or otherwise shake, jiggle or toss.
The slime came out of his mouth as if propelled by an evil alien creature living inside his stomach. Milk slime has a very unusual aroma and texture to it; I am convinced that it is not from this earth. After cleaning Junior, me and the floor, the realization that this may be slightly more complicated than I thought began to dawn on me. So I reviewed Mom’s instructions. Junior didn’t seem too interested in the Red Sox game on TV, so I tried a few of the plethora of baby-toys strewn about the house. Fifteen minutes later, I had tried every toy, gadget and gimmick I could find. . .twice.
Mankind can do many wonderful, awe- inspiring things, but we will never be able to get baby in walker when baby doesn’t care to get into walker.

After exhausting every possible form of entertainment, I did the logical thing. I changed him. After the third changing, the dog’s looks of amusement had turned to disgust, as if to say, “Look, idiot, if you can’t make him shut up for God’s sake get someone who can.”

Changing Table Blues
Here, I was confronted with a dilemma; In one hand, I held an angry, squirming, naked baby. In the other, a bottle of baby powder. So how, I pondered, do I get powder on baby? Once again using logic, I deftly opened the bottle with one hand … and promptly shook half the contents onto Junior’s bum. This did not please Junior, or the dog, who stalked out of the room in a huff. So what do you do with a baby who has too much powder on his butt? Shake him? Fan the excess away? The white haze in the changing room took three days to go away.

Dad Saves The Day
He must have heard his son screaming. They say noise carries far on hot days, and even though he was in Arizona, it is entirely possible he heard the wails. Despite my efforts to assure him everything was fine, he knew.He must have caught the hint of desperation, the strain in my voice.

Dad: “Is everything OK?”
Me: “Oh yeah, right, sure…how ’bout those Red Sox?”
Dad: “Is he cranky?”
Mc: “Who, Wade Boggs?”
Dad: “David.”
Me: “Who? Oh, Him. Just a little, but everything’s OK, yeah, just fine.
Dad: ”What’s he doing?”
Me: ”Screaming, Screaming.”
Dad: ”It’s bed-time.”
Me: “Yeah, I’m bushed.”
Dad: “For the baby, idiot. Put him down, and if he isn’t asleep in 15 minutes, call Grandma and leave him alone. Even the dog knows more about babies than you do.”

So I put the little horror in his crib. Five minutes later, he was snoring like an old man…and I felt like one.

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