Babies cry and scream with varying intensity. Some cries are soft and drawn out. Others are sharp, bouncy and chirp-like. I can describe baby noises for days, but unfortunately, I have difficulty conveying the intensity of the baby’s feelings. I know how to tell my wife that the baby is pissed, but I have trouble explaining just how intense he is.
Because of this, I have decided to measure the intensity of fits by creating a hierarchy of intense Hollywood action stars, and associating baby noises with specific actors. Here they are, in order, from least intense to most intense.
The Sylvester Stallone
Every time your baby cries like this, you try your best to respect how serious she is. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand what she’s trying to say, and you cannot help but laugh in her puffy little face.
The Steven Seagal
Your baby makes faces that make him appear racially ambiguous, and all you can discern is that this baby is serious. Is he Asian? I don’t know, but he is very serious.
The Jackie Chan
This cry involves a great deal of theatrics, and can be quite entertaining to watch. After a few minutes, you want your baby to start doing something new.
The Mark Wahlberg
In response to this cry, people think, “Wow, that baby has such a pretty face. Why do I get the impression he wants to murder me? Ah, who cares. What a pretty face!”
The Jason Statham
Dad: Is it me, or does that baby have an accent?
Mom: You’re right. What country is that from?
Dad: Not sure. Somewhere really intense.
The Bruce Willis
You know this scream. You are tired of this scream. But you respect this scream.
The Liam Neeson
This scream becomes more intense as time passes. It starts off slow, steady, and distinguished. Then, in an instant, you are thinking “holy sh#* did he just punch a wolf in the face?!” Yes, he probably did. He is that intense.
The Nicolas Cage
While you were reading this post, Nicolas Cage made three movies. He dies in four of them. Boom. When your baby starts Nicolas Caging all over your face, just stick the baby monitor on the dresser and keep your distance.
When I was a child, my father set out to build a backyard fort. To this day, the structure is his greatest architectural achievement. Though his three rambunctious boys are now three semi-mature adults, that clubhouse still stands amidst orange trees and a vegetable garden. It remains glorious. When I initially embarked on this parenting adventure, I figured that I would have to wait several years before creating something of significance. I was wrong. Sort of.
With the help of my sister-in-law and a multilingual instruction manual, I built a crib that has not yet fallen apart. Some of my friendly readers might point out that I technically assembled a crib from parts manufactured somewhere in the United States. They are correct. Still, I assembled that thing masterfully, and I deserve some credit for not assembling it upside down or accidentally nailing it to a door.
This was the latest of several steps we had taken in creating a fun living space for our little guy. Now that Oliver has been here for three months, I can confirm that he thrives in his new habitat. His nursery is baby friendly, personal, and nerdy. He has some fun clothes, a few bath toys, and a wall covered with pictures of historic sports figures. We framed the covers of several sports-themed children’s books, and displayed them throughout the room. Prominent sports icons can be found above shelves, next to windows, and hiding beneath smoke alarms. I initially thought of juxtaposing my face on a few of the athletes, just to boost my self-esteem and subtly convince my child that I’m athletic. I eventually gave up my dream, and allowed for the icons to retain their place of prominence. His walls tells stories of Pele, Wilma Rudolph, and small Canadian children that play ice hockey.
In all seriousness, this process was much more complicated than expected. I knew that choosing baby room décor was an important part of the nesting process, because someone said it in Juno. However, I never expected this process to become important to me. It never seemed very significant. In fact, when we first started talking about the room, I optimistically figured that my wife would lead the charge. She happens to be more organized, more intelligent, more artistic, and far more proactive than I am. As facets of the room were discussed, however, I found that I had opinions. Strong ones. I suddenly overthought every aspect of the room, and began to question the messages being sent by whatever and whoever was being displayed on the walls. I questioned the iconic figures, the sports represented, and even the color themes. Questions abounded. Am I accidentally conveying some bias about gender or ethnicity by choosing some pictures over others? Am I forcing my child to like sports? Why are there no pictures of my bearded face in this room?
I spoke with a dear friend who happens to share most of my views on life, and I informed him of my concerns. I was both surprised and comforted to hear him suggest that my worries were absurd. The walls do not matter. My kid receives so much love at every moment of every day, and no faulty room display will detract from that message. My child will learn to love and value all others because he will see that behavior modeled by his parents. I can fret about somehow creating the racist third grader who makes awkward comments at recess, but it simply will not happen.
I probably will not build a glorious, surprisingly sturdy backyard fort for my children. This kid will be lucky if I construct a go-cart without losing fingers. Still, I have plenty of confidence that I can create a decent human being. I'll let you all know how he turns out.
There is a strange creature in my house. He occasionally ventures out of the nursery, screams in my face, and drops dirty diapers in my trash can. But dang, he sure is charming.
Hey There, Little Dude.
You are still swimming laps in the womb. This makes sense to most people, since your mother has only been pregnant for 34 weeks. According to the kind folks at the hospital, you still got about six weeks of cooking left. I have higher standards, baby.
Because you read this blog regularly, you know that I was born 10 weeks early. After 30 solid weeks of pregnancy, I knew that my body could withstand the rigors of everyday life. Yes, I may have needed multiple blood transfusions, a fancy incubator, and a machine that alerted the neighborhood when my lungs stopped working. Still, I am a survivor. As of now, you are living in my shadow. Enjoy being fully developed. It's overrated.
Dear Little Baby,
Your mother and I have close friends that are expecting a baby three days after your due date. You will know them, and you will like their babies.
One day, while the two moms were discussing ultrasounds, baby showers, and assorted pregnancy experiences, my friend Jimmy privately shared a thought provoking idea. We were discussing the possible perks of having children born on the same day, and Jimmy joked about having joint delivery rooms.
Light bulbs went on. Windows shattered. The world changed. Of course, I had pictured a nightmare. I imagined a couple of self-obsessed dudes high-fiving each other and eating snacks as their wives did all the work. That was when I realized that I know some guys who would love to transform the birth of their baby into a raucous “Guys Night” of epic proportions.
So listen up, all you strangers out there that like to read my baby's letters. This blog post is not just for the baby. Marketers should pay close attention. This could get big. Next time you all pick up an edition of the book Stuff White People Like and peruse the fads of young bored Caucasian hipsters, don’t be surprised if you find Joint Delivery Rooms on page 76. The spread could feature pictures of bearded men pounding fists, clinking beverages, and playing Settlers of Catan as their wives pump out babies. Of course, each party would allow for creativity and individual expression. Guys might assemble a game system and play Rock Band, or go with classic Karaoke. Mothers would be asked to sing their verses between contractions, and everyone would feel included. An uplifting clown would be provided for the children, since those kids will get awfully depressed when they discover that the baby is coming to devour all of their attention and candy.
Baby, I know what you are thinking, and I agree. I fully admit that this would be ludicrous, impractical, terribly uncomfortable and selfish, but it was nonetheless fun to imagine a couple of naïve bros planning a terrible baby delivery double-header. If anyone ever decides to indulge the lively machinations of this expectant father and revolutionize childbirth, they should feel free to take all the credit.
As for reality, I have no idea what your birth day will hold for us, apart from wonderful memories and exhaustion. I am certain, however, that I could never plan the events of that day. I look forward to being surprised and blown away by the mystery. No preparation or sideshow could detract from the miracle, and I am inclined to ride the wave and watch as your mother does something incredible. And of course, you will perform admirably as well.
See you soon, baby. Get ready for a party.
Greetings, Young Jedi.
A talented fellow dad-blogger recently posited the question: At what age should children be exposed to Star Wars?
I had given this little thought until recently. Indeed, I do think about your future, and of your endless possibilities. I think of what I hope and want for you. I had not yet thought of Star Wars. Now that I have, however, those hopes may have changed. You need to love Star Wars.
One day in the distant future, I will be called into your school for a parent conference. A secretary will inform me via phone that my little angel has been sent to the principal’s office for inappropriate behavior. When I arrive, a short necked, stubby armed principal will ask me to sit down next to you, and she will politely ask you to explain yourself.
You will take a deep breath, smile broadly, and speak. “Dad, I passed a note in class. When my teacher asked me for the note, I waved my hand across her face and said ‘These are not the notes you’re looking for.’ Then she sent me here to the Emperor’s office. It’s nice to see you. How’s mom?”
I do not want you to merely watch Star Wars. I want you to watch Star Wars and then play Jedi for the next seven years. I hope that you refer to the doctor’s office as the Death Star, and eventually ask your teacher how old she was when she turned to the dark side. You will undoubtedly make light saber sounds with your toothbrush, and spout compliments like “the Force is strong with that librarian.”
You may be six when you get called into that principal’s office. You could be seven. Either way, I will discreetly be proud of your accomplishments. I will feign surprise and disappointment as the principal voices her concerns. We may even get away with it. If my John Williams ringtone goes off in the middle of the conference, however, we will definitely get caught. It will be difficult to explain why we danced together on her desk like a couple of jubilant Ewoks.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday, Little One.
Today I am reminded of the only Super Bowl I ever attended. I would love to say that I live an extravagant life, and that I was able to afford tickets. This is not true. I was able to get into this Super Bowl by using my body. I worked as a security guard.
Captain America has my shoulders
I am not a large guy. Some may describe my body type as "scrawny." They would be both cruel and correct. In order to fully convey my scrawniness, I must refer to a recent film. In the movie Captain America, the young Captain is initially unable to join the military on account of his small stature. They make fun of his body type for a third of the movie, before he gets transformed by a miraculous science experiment. That body is my body; a hairless, caved-in masterpiece. I still believe that I deserve royalties, since they seemed to have taken my torso and placed that man's beautiful face on it. I just sat in that theater and listened as the crowd laughed at my frame. It was like a high school locker room without the smell. Except this time, I was able to participate in the laughing and act like a cool jock. "Ha ha, that guy's body looks so abnormal, and completely unlike mine! Ha ha ha!"
My body size lends me no favors in regard to perceived toughness. Still, I have known several small guys that appear formidable. I am not them. I could never be intimidating, unless I'm holding a tool that I don't know how to use. Only then can I appear dangerous. And even then, I am merely a danger to myself and the small tree house I am attempting to construct. I had very few tools and gadgets when I was tasked with guarding the sacred Bowl. The powers that be would have never entrusted me with a taser, or handcuffs, or a pencil. Pencils are way too sharp.
Because of my graduate degrees, wealth of experience, and unparallelled work ethic, I was given the task of wanding rich people at the metal-detector laden entrances. I also had to examine bags and wallets to make sure that people were not carrying weapons into the stadium. Former player Marcus Allen came through my metal detector, and I got to check his wallet. He was clean.
Once inside the stadium, I was tasked with standing at the top of an aisle and scanning the stands in search of potential danger. I felt like Batman. I searched the crowds for misdeeds and treachery, but all was calm. Some might say that I got lucky, since other sections were reportedly quite rowdy. I like to think that the football fans were aware they were being watched. They sensed my pursuit of justice. They respected my authority.
I shall expect the same from you, little baby. You will know that I keep a keen eye on your baby monitor at all times, ready to intervene and teach you the ways of truth. I will be the Security Guard of your childhood. I may not be intimidating, but I have proven to be effective.
It seems that I have an impressive superpower-slash-medical-condition that allows me to produce several kidney stones and then pass them over a period of three years. Yes, I am awesome. The fourth of said stones is brewing in my kidney.
I occasionally hear about insecure men comparing their kidney stone experience to labor pain, and thus implicitly suggesting that men have their own version of birth-giving. We do not. I will not be harboring this rock for nine months, nor pushing it out as a doctor offers encouraging words. My recovery process will be brief, and the rock and I will not need much bonding time. I will, however, want to show the jagged stone to all of my friends. After all, the first three were well received and I would hate for this little pebble to be jealous. You will soon learn about this treatment, little baby. We will be showing you off every chance we get.
All of my kidney stones will wish they were babies.