June 30, 2013 by The Friday Facts
Part 1: Awesome
like most men, I never traditionally cared much for babies. Though my issues with these tiny little bundles of joy were a complex web of proto and enduring behavioural and structural developments, they all revolve around one central concept: babies kind of suck. You can’t play EA Sports NHL 96 with them, they can’t fetch drinks for you and they can barely distinguish the Clash’s lazily-hit-laden sophomore effort, Give ’em Enough Rope from their criminally underrated masterpiece triple album Sandinista. In fact, they do little more than just sit there being gross and cry-ey. This all changed, of course, when I purchased one for myself. Why didn’t anyone tell me about the awesome things that babies do when they’re yours? And would it have killed you all to let me in on how fucken funny they are?
Anyway, here’s my take on some of the unforeseen wonders of babies. Don’t get too comfortable, though, the next post is about all the things about babies that really do suck.
5 AWESOME THINGS ABOUT BABIES
They learn stuff
I’m no psychologist, but I’m sure if I was I’d say there was something inherently male about this. ‘Women love babies for who they are, while men love babies for what they do’? I dunno, just sounds like the kind of thing you’d hear from a psychologist. It’s true though. When you become a dad, suddenly every little bit of progress babies make, no matter how insignificant, seems like so much more than it did coming from the mouth of some boring-ass new dad you never liked at some barbeque you never wanted to go to in the first place.
From their first smile to their discovery of their hands, right down to the time when they learn that those weird little noises they keep hearing come from within themselves, rather than some sidereal portal in the sky. It’s all part of the rich tapestry that is the development of babies. It may mean jack to the casual observer but to the new dad these moments elicit a complex range of emotions that haven’t been visited since the first time he silently vowed never to admit to anyone that he was reduced to tears the first time he heard Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet.
That little forefinger thing they do
Everybody knows that the forefinger is the franchise player of all your fingers. He’s your captain, your brains, your engine room. But who knew we all worked this out at such a young age?
I’m not sure when Sonny first learned to separate his forefinger from the rest of the squad, but it has since become his weapon of choice, and watching that evolution has been intriguing. One minute he would just be sitting there watching his hands open and close with all the fascination and intrigue of Indiana Jones gazing on the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol. Then at some point I guess he decided that four of his five fingers could take a hike, because it was all about this one guy.
The kid is 10 months old and already those forefingers have been up to more adventures than some adults I know. Their destinations include:
- Up my nose
- Up his nose
- Up my wife’s nose
- In the mouths of all of the above
- In the ears of all of the above and, most recently
- In the eyeballs of all of the above
In fact it was these same forefingers that provided him with what I have little doubt was the proudest moment of his short life.
I was lying in bed one morning when I felt a strange scratching sensation in my nose. I opened my eyes to find Sonny, just inches from me, staring wide eyed back; his face a picture of concentration. He was lying between me and my wife and the forefinger on his left hand was buried deep in my nostril. At the same time, in a picture of perfect symmetry, the forefinger on his right hand was shoved up my still-sleeping wife’s nostril.
I took in the scene as best I could for someone who had just woken. Sonny was slowly rotating his head between the two of us, like one of those open mouthed clowns you see at carnivals, admiring his handy work. I held as still as possible, like a naturalist who’d just spotted a band of Eastern Lowland Gorillas in their natural environment. But try as I might, I could no longer hold my laughter. With it came a snort that sent his finger flying like a bullet out of my nostril, thus ruining what was undoubtedly his White Album of hand-eye coordination. Sonny started bawling and I had to take him away and feed him. My wife opened her eyes, having no idea what had just transpired as she slumbered.
To be honest, I can’t remember when Sonny first started to notice me. I’d always just assumed that I meant the same to him as anyone else he saw, including relatives, strangers and that triangular pattern on the living room rug that he always seems to fix his gaze on for some strange reason. But while it was a given that he always knew who his mum was, it was only over time that I learned to understand that he kind of always knew who I was, too. Which probably explains why the ecstatic expression on his face when I come home from work.
These days it’s become a bona fide ritual. I open the front door and slink into the living room or wherever he happens to be. I try to be quiet, but I’ll always find him waiting, shit-eating grin stretching from one side of his fat little face to the other as his three existing teeth poke out from the abyss. He looks like a happily drunken thug, propping up the bar at some inner city dockyard piss-hole. And then he does the only thing a sedentary little person can do when they’re deliriously excited: he dry-humps. He dry-humps like he’s being graded on it. And he never breaks gaze with me the whole time. This relentless, spastic pelvic thrusting is accompanied by a face smeared with such unadulterated delight that it’s almost impossible to remember the last time anyone gave that much of a shit about me. If ever. But that’s the beauty of babies; they do.
With such a violently delirious reaction to something as simple as me coming home from work, there’s bound to be some collateral damage. His mother racks up black eyes, fat lips, bloodied noses and various other injuries more commonly associated with country league Ice Hockey matches. Not to mention the emotional damage that comes with the fact that she’s the one that’s been looking after the little bastard for the past 8 hours and she gets none of this. I guess if there’s a lesson to be learned it’s that the key to babies’ affection is to be absent. That’s kind of unfortunate.
As a general rule, we don’t sleep with Sonny. He sleeps in a cot in his own room. There are occasions, however, when he wakes up at buttfuck o’clock in the morning, and we drag him into our bed, mainly because it’s the path of least resistance.
In the early days, the dangers that we’d been warned about with that seemed abundantly clear. I’d eaten bananas that were bigger than this kid, and the possibility that, during a particularly kick-ass sleep, either of us could roll over and squish the little bugger seemed all too real.
Over time, however, Sonny grew. And inversely proportionate to his ever increasing bulk was the likelihood of something horrible happening. He’s still very little, and there are a few hairy moments where I open my eyes, stretch my arms, turn over and go “Argh!! What the hell is that??” But we’re more or less in the safety zone now. For starters, he never shuts the fuck up, which lessens the chance of either of us forgetting he’s there, but also he slots in between us pretty comfortably these days, so it’s all good.
It puts mornings – particularly Saturday mornings – up there with life’s beautifully simple rituals. Whether I’m telling him stories he doesn’t understand, singing Nick Cave songs with him or grabbing him by the ankle and swinging him round and round, it’s bliss. He’ll play with my face, until it really starts to hurt me and I crack the shits. And then I’ll start tickling him until it really starts to hurt him and he cracks the shits. It’s kind of a shame that he’ll never remember these little moments when he’s older. But I will.
They get away with shit
You enter the job interview room and the woman interviewing you shakes your hand and gestures for you to sit down. She asks if you had any trouble finding the place. “Gak” you reply. She eyes you curiously and shuffles some papers. Then she asks you what attracted you to this job. “Ung ung ung ung ung ung” you say.
Shifting awkwardly in her seat, the interviewer begins telling you about the history of the company. This bores you, yet you find the monotonal rhythm of her voice strangely hypnotic. You crawl across the table and begin gently fondling her face and she speaks, before poking her firmly in the eye. “Excuse me!” She says sharply, batting your hand away. You don’t quite understand this so you begin to sob. Then you notice the stapler on her desk. You stick it straight into your mouth and chew on it for a bit. Deciding that you don’t like the taste, however, you feel the better course of action would be to bash it repeatedly on the desk. You do this for a minute or so as the interviewer looks on in stunned silence. Then you shit yourself and go to sleep.
Suffice to say, you didn’t get the job. In fact, the interviewer is suing you for assault. You’re also not a baby and you can’t help but think that, if you were, this kind of behaviour would have been far more acceptable. Some may have even deemed it adorable.
There are a million things babies get away with that make me insanely jealous, including, but not limited to:
- having a morning nap two hours after you wake up
- going to the toilet wherever you sit; and
- being allowed to wear onesies day and night, for any occasion, including weddings and funerals.
Sonny stares at people on public transport. And the kind of people you get on public transport in my area are the kind of people who have just done eight years hard time for unlawful assault. Then he laughs hysterically at them. If I did that, I would end up with my teeth embedded in the back of my skull.
But it doesn’t stop there. Imagine a high-end restaurant where all the patrons chatted happily with each other with half their meals smeared across their faces. Imagine something as simple as a splash of water containing all the comic genius and searingly pointed social commentary as an early Woody Allen stand up routine. Imagine…. actually, this is making me angry-jealous. I’m going to stop now.