Category Archives: Parenthood?

Oh, What are You Thinking of?

… What are you thinking of?
Oh, what are you thinking of?
What are you thinking of?

-Air Supply

What do I know about the thoughts of a baby?

Apparently I think I know a lot, because I catch my self acting as our son’s spokesperson all the time.

My dad caught me the first time about three weeks ago, as I was describing the symptoms of the little one’s illness.

“He has a stuffy nose, and a sore throat.”

“How do you know he has a sore throat?” my dad asked.

“Well, his throat sounds scratchy and irritated when he cries…”

“Hmmm.”

I guess I didn’t really know if his throat was sore, I just assumed it was because of the way it sounded. Yet, I have done this numerous times over: he’s hungry, his stomach hurts, he has gas, he enjoys company…

A few days ago, in an effort to stop our  son from crying, I cranked up some Michael Jackson music, and started dancing around the living room with him in my arms. It worked! In my moment of triumph, I declared that our son loves Michael Jackson, and being held while one dances around to the Beat It, was his new favorite pastime.

"Book 'em, Danno."

After thinking about it a bit, I realized that we could have played type of music, while dancing, and  he would have been fine. This was best exemplified by playing the theme song to The Hawaii 5-O, and moving enthusiastically to the beat as our son stared blankly at my hair. In all likelihood, I probably could have looped some flatulence noises for ten minutes while bouncing up  and down and he probably would have been satisfied.

This desire to know what my son is thinking has me yearning for cartoon technology.

I remember there was a Simpsons episode in which Homer’s estranged brother, Herb, invented a baby translator, which, of course, translated a baby’s various sounds into plain english (voiced by Herb, who was played by Danny DeVito). The first test on Maggie goes like this (quote from http://www.snpp.com/episodes/8F23.html):

Lisa: Maggie? Maggie? [covers her eyes]

Maggie: [babbles]

Translator: [monotone] Where did you go?

Lisa: Peekaboo! [uncovers eyes]

Maggie: [laughs]

Translator: [monotone] Oh, there you are. Very amusing.

Surprisingly, the cries of our child are becoming somewhat translatable; we can sort-of differentiate between the I’m hungry-cry, and the I’ve got gas-cry (So we presume).

This, of course brings me back to, wondering what is going through my child’s head during his silent moments, and his inconsolable moments. In Pixar’s Up, collars are attached to the dogs of Charles Muntz, which translate the thoughts of all dogs into a variety of languages (with one’s choice of accents, too!).

The Cone of Shame

The translations would be very literal and elaborate, as in the case of Dug, the golden retriever, who explains during his introduction, “My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!  [looks to distance for a few seconds]”

A collar like that would be awesome! However, while I may be underestimating our son, I don’t think he would be thinking anything so complex. The monkey in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, with a similar thought translating headband, probably had thoughts that were more in line with my son’s thoughts. The monkey’s translator would mainly articulate singular thoughts that were most central to its focus. Thoughts like: “Yellow!” or, “Gummi bears!” or, my personal favorite, “Muuuuuustaaaaache?”

"Muuuustaaache?"

Maybe babies think about very complex things. Maybe their thoughts are very primal and elementary.

Recently, my partner and I were watching our child staring around at the room quietly; throwing his limbs around every so often. She posed the question to me–the question that I have been ruminating upon for a while–“What do you think he is thinking?”

“Honestly,” I replied, “I think he is shifting his eyes from shape to shape, object to object, face to face, and thinking, ‘What the eff is that? Wait… what the eff is that? Hold on… what the eff is that?!'”

Again, I may be projecting, especially with the choice of language, but it certainly is fun to think about it.

Still When I’m a Mess, I Still Put On a Vest…

… With an S on my chest
Oh yes, I’m a super woman

-Alicia Keys

This past Monday marked the day that our son turned one month old. He is gradually getting bigger, but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out who he looks like. I think his face changes every few days. The good news is, he does not look like a wingless bat anymore. Sadly, as it was to be expected, he does not do to much beyond crying, sleeping, pooping, and eating (in that order… maybe with some extra crying and pooping in between).

During this past month, I have discovered learned a bit about my own limits, which mainly correlates with our son’s sleep patterns. My main realization: women are stronger than men… well, at least my partner is stronger than I am.

How did I discover this? By trying to rock our son to sleep.

Last week, I get home from work, and our son is crying. My partner had been getting tiny fragments of sleep over the previous twenty hours, so I take it upon myself to put him to sleep, thus allowing my partner to grab a bite to eat and maybe a few extra consecutive hours of shuteye.

After swaddling the little one, I whisk him away to the other room, where I assume the relative darkness and silence will quickly put him to sleep. Goodness gracious, I could not be more wrong. The blanket-wrapped infant will not go to sleep. He cries, grunts, then relaxes–staring off at the shadows on the wall, then repeats the cycle again.

I try a variety of repetitive movements to lull him to sleep. First I rock him back and fourth by hinging my arms at my shoulders–the universal movement for rocking a baby to sleep in sing-alongs. Doesn’t work. Next I try twisting back and fourth. Unsuccessful. Next I attempt walking. No dice.

As my frustration grows, I begin reflecting on the considerable lack of exercise I have been able to fit in since his birth. It was at this moment I decided to kill two birds with one stone–I will rock him to sleep while doing a series of yoga moves I have learned from our “Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss” DVD.

Gradually, I begin incorporating lunges and twists into the rocking. Making sure to “breathe deeply in through my nose, and out through my nose,” while “feeling my feet rooted to the earth,” as instructor, Suzanne Deason likes to remind me.

Ten minutes pass; he is staring at my hair like it is the most fascinating entity on the planet–isn’t that cute. Fifteen minutes pass; the little one is nodding off a bit, but can’t seem to commit to sleeping, and my joints are cracking. Twenty minutes pass; our son seems to be fighting the sleep just to spite me. Furthermore, I am attempting, without any success, to

Are you amused by my discomfort derived from the incorrect practice of your teachings, Ms. Deason?

“focus my intentions without hardening my mind,” and wondering what the f#c% Suzanne Deason means when she commands me to do such a thing. Forty minutes pass; he finally seems to be asleep, which is good since my back hurts, and I am barely able to make any discernible rocking movements at this point as I am seriously fatigued.

Upon exiting the room, I pass a mirror. Perspiration is dripping down my sideburns, my cheeks are a bit flushed, and my shirt is sticking to my back and chest due to the sweat I have just worked up. Nevertheless, I am feeling pretty good about “working out.”

Just as I am about to sit down to relax, I hear a cry from behind. Our son is awake again.

I will spare you the details of this particularly epic diaper changing and just sum it up with the following statistics: one swaddling blanket change, two outfit changes, five diapers used, in a seven minute time frame; plus forty more minutes of hushing the little one to sleep.

Once he goes to sleep, what do I do? Take a nap? No. Lay down for a bit? Nope. Zone out on the television? Uhh… negative. I sit, hunched over in a chair, doing useless things on the internet.

Now, in a previous life, this would have been semi-acceptable. I mean, I might sleep in a bit the next day, maybe wake up a bit more fatigued. But on this night, such a simple act turned out to be a major miscalculation. I stay up for the eleven o’clock feeding, do yoga-lite to put him to sleep, and finally hit the hay at midnight.

Three in the morning marks the moment of painful enlightenment for me. Our son cries out for a feeding. I jump out of bed and my lower back locks up into one giant knot. Simultaneously, I am hit with a severe spell of dizziness, and I almost crash to the floor. With my stomach clenched to stabilize my back, and the room reeling a little bit less, I scoop up the little noisemaker, and make my way to the kitchen to prepare a bottle.

Everything hurts–my back, my head, my ankles–and wait, do I need to pee too? Shifting my weight from one foot to another, doing the rhythmic pee dance I have been practicing since I was two years old, I clumsily get a glass of water in the microwave (man, I need to pee). Dropping the small container of breast milk into the warm water, I spin in search of a clean nipple (why won’t you stop crying?). In a state of near-panic I try to unscrew the breast milk container with only one hand as the other side of my body is committed to the task of getting a hungry baby to refrain from waking the entire neighborhood (please don’t spill the milk).

After what seems like an eternity, I make my way back to the couch–baby in one arm, bottle in the other. My partner passes by silently on her way to her scheduled pumping.

“It hurts,” I whine, in a state of borderline delirium. My bladder feels like it is going to explode, and I am somehow, through the fog of relative insanity, weighing the relative merits of: a) rocking back and forth to keep myself from peeing, but disturbing the feeding and evoking the wrath of the back spasms; b) engaging my back muscles to stay still enough to feed, which will certainly be painful, while putting me in risk of peeing in my pants; c) engaging my stomach muscles as I recline, which will place baby in reclined position as well, which usually leads to hiccups and gas, and does nothing to keep me from using the floor in front of me as a urinal.

From behind me in the kitchen, I can hear the rhythmic, almost techno-esque, beat of the breast pump at work. Using the bass line as a distraction from the need to relieve myself, I stabilize myself enough to feed the little one. “It hurts,” I whisper to nobody in particular; referring to no specific pain in particular.

The breast pump, masquerading as an electronic drum machine, goes silent. “I need to pee,” I say, my stomach cramping. Through the darkness I can see my partner giving me a knowing smile. Gracefully, with outstretched arms, she gathers up our child in one fluid motion.

I rush off to the bathroom to take care of one of my numerous pains. Upon my return to the dark room, in between gentle hushes, I hear, “go to sleep.”

Feeling a mixture of relief, defeat, gratitude, and shame, I make my way to bed, and fall asleep. During the few moments between the instant I laid my head upon my pillow, and the second I fell asleep, only one thought repeated in my head, she does this every day; man, is she strong.

Teach Your Children Well…

… Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.

-Crosby Stills Nash and Young

Last week my mom was honored with an award for being teacher of the year in her school district! Alas, distance and baby care made witnessing this event unfeasible, which was sad, because my mom said that the people who preside over this event wear hats that look  like upside down ice cream cartons. So not only did I miss my mom’s big day, but I missed seeing people in ridiculous hats.

While I was not physically present at the banquet, I’d like to think that I was there in spirit. On the day leading up to the event, and during the evening of, I thought about my mom and what a truly great teacher she is.

While in middle school, I tagged along with my mom to work when my vaccation days didn’t quite line up with my mom’s. Mostly, I think I just played with legos in the corner. However, I do remember the kids seemed to get their work done when it was asked of them, and they seemed to be happy and entertained in between assignments.

Not a stellar review? Well, seeing my mom teach on two random days isn’t really a fair way to evaluate her teaching. Moreover, the smiles and engagement were just subtle indicators of that which I already knew–my mom loved teaching, she approached teaching creatively in order to best figure out how to help students learn, and students reflected her passion and effort in their own love of learning.

How did I know my mom loved teaching? How did I know she approached teaching with out-of-the-box thinking? It could be that I developed this knowledge over time as I would be part of my mother’s captive dinner time audience. Every night my mom would talk about what she was doing in class–what one particular student said, the upcoming project she was looking forward to–as she literally could not keep her excitement to herself.

"Cheese, Gromit! Cheeeeeeese!"

One night she would talk about one of the boys dressing up as Coco Chanel for the class report and assignment during Women’s History Month. Another night she might talk about the puppets they were making for a show as they learned about storytelling. Some nights she would talk about how she got the entire class to imitate Wallace’s reaction to cheese from the claymation series Wallace and Gromit. Other nights she would talk about how epicly inept she was at math, yet she was finding ways to teach them nonetheless. On occasion, my mom would talk about story time–I believe she called it “Stupid Story Time”–which she would use as a reward when the entire class behaved well. Stupid Story Time consisted and continues to consist of less than five minutes of my mother improvising a story with almost no point whatsoever. There was no end to her sharing.

Still, my mother’s utilization of oral tradition during dinner time to chronicle her adventures in the classroom does not fully inform my knowledge of her excellence as a teacher. I know she is a great teacher because, along with my dad and brother, she has always been one of my best teachers.

Story time was a staple in our home before it became a regular element in her classroom. My mom would read us stories, changing her voice, and infusing emotion and excitement into the dialogue. My brother and I had nearly every Roald Dahl book read to us. I think we asked her to read The Phantom Tollbooth to us about eight times over. Had the Harry Potter series come out during our childhood, I don’t think there would have been any way that my brother and I would have not become writers, as I am sure my mother’s readings would have become mesmerizing events.

It was my mom, not my elementary school teachers, that truly taught me how to write. She always told me, “Make it easy. Write the way you talk.” And in order to assist me in in writing “the way I talk,” she would explain how a comma was “a short pause,” and a period was “a breath.” So while I may not be the most creative, competent, or grammatically excellent writer, I definitely have her to thank for being able to string words together in any sort of semi-coherent form.

It was my mother that was my primary teacher of empathy. Whenever my brother or I wronged another person (and usually it was the two of us wronging each other), it was my mother who asked us to reflect upon how we might feel if the wrong had been done unto us.

She might have actually been too good at teaching us empathy. My brother, during his toddler years, actually took to repeating my mother’s rhetorical questioning when he found himself being scolded. With his fists pinned to his waist, he would ask, “How would you like it if I yelled at you for not putting away your toys? How would you like it? Would you feel good?” I, on the other hand, now often internalize the hurt of others so deeply that I am paralyzed with guilt for causing others even the slightest bit of discomfort. Yet, I probably wouldn’t change a thing. As one of my mentors once said, “Your weaknesses are often your greatest strengths gone awry.”

Yes. It was my mom who taught me my multiplication tables in the car, as we would drive from place to place. It was my mom who taught me mnemonic devices in order to attach dates to important events in history, and to remember the correct spelling of fundamental words (“You wouldn’t want to fri the end of your friend–friend.”). It was my mom who taught me my sense of humor (for better or for worse).

So congratulations, mom. The award you have just received is long overdue. A committee of people wearing ice cream cartons as hats has finally validated that which hundreds of children and parents already knew: you are a truly extraordinary teacher.

Just remember, before the ice cream carton hat people, two decades worth of students, and their accompanying parents had any clue that you might be the most excellent teacher of all time, your children were already well aware of your greatness.

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby…

Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round

-Dead or Alive

Last Monday, my partner and I transitioned from being a couple, to being a family of three. Despite our best efforts to educate ourselves on the birthing process, and general care for tiny sleeping infant, the last week and a half have been a bit of a whirlwind filled with joy and discovery.

Personally, I do not think I am an adequate enough writer to convey the range of emotions tied to labor, birth, and the first week of taking care of an infant. I can, however, share some moments and my accompanying thoughts regarding things that may only interest me. So here they are:

  • There are some examinations and anatomy-related processes that go on leading up to birth, which can simultaneously be TMI and take the intimacy of a relationship to a whole other level. I will leave that statement as it is.
  • After a complicated and semi-traumatic birth, to me, the most beautiful and relief-triggering sound on Earth was the sound of our son crying.
  • Being thoroughly uneducated on the details of cesarian birthing, I placed myself in the position to be completely shocked by its realities. Thus, as I sat behind a curtain, which separated me from the gory surgery, the statement, “Okay, now let’s put the uterus back in,” caught me a bit off guard. [Two statements that could have been worse: 1. “Wait! Where’s my sandwich? It was sitting right by the scalpel a minute ago…” 2. “Why do we have extra pieces here? This never happened in the video game.”]

    "Jeez... picking bit of lettuce and onion out of here is going to be a pain in the ass."

  • Apparently epidurals are no joke. My partner had  one, which definitely helped with the contractions. During her C-section, they numbed her from the neck down. During recovery, she could move, but couldn’t feel anything, which lead her to punching herself in the face in an effort to move hair away from her eyes. This traumatized her so much that she refused to hold the baby for a few hours afterwards.
  • It is scary holding an infant’s neck while it is so weak and floppy. I thought its head was going  to roll off.
  • I was grateful for the chair that turns into a bed at Kaiser Redwood City, but it gave me the worst back spasms.
  • Speaking of Kaiser Redwood City, their staff–from the nurses, to the, anesthesiologist, to the doctors–were all awesome. I had my concerns with Kaiser, and still have some regarding the organization as a whole,  but their Ob Gyn and pediatric care professionals were amazing.
  • Our son came looking like a miniature version of my partner. He also came out with peach fuzz that extends over his entire forehead–eyebrows to the “hairline” as well as on his back and arms,  and a cone-head, thus making him look like a harry alien wingless bat. A friend pointed out that when I pair these two observations together, I seem to be suggesting that my partner looks like a large harry alien wingless bat. Just to set the record straight, this is not the case.
  • I try to avoid cafeteria food at all costs, so when my partner’s sister asked what she could bring for me as I was being contained within the walls of Kaiser, I would answer, “a burrito!” every single time. Over the course of forty-eight hours, I ate five burritos. I have decided that they are the perfect self-contained meal, and there is little that anyone can say to convince me otherwise right now.
  • Six pounds, three ounce–we knew our baby was small. With the exception of his freakishly long fingers and toes, everything about him was miniature… including his tiny little cry. Nothing solidified these observations in our mind more than when a second mother moved into my partner’s recovery room. Her baby seemed to be a giant next to ours, and his deep throaty cry was like a tuba in comparison to our infant’s kazoo-like yelping.
  • Being super excited about all the free stuff we were being given by the hospital, I haphazardly packed anything up that was still in its wrapping. My partner almost split her C-section stitches with laughter when she discovered, not only did I pack the hideous pink floral hospital gown that leaves one’s entire back side exposed, but I also packed three bed pads meant to absorb anything that leaks out due to one’s water breaking.
  • Our newborn’s nails were sharp little razors. I think they could have cut through class.
  • Wow! Not all bottle nipples are alike! Some can actually cause an infant to get really painful cry-inducing gas. Good to know.
  • I have found that a bottle de-sterilizer can actually act as a semi-functional crucible. I can now see all of the brown murky impurities that come from tap water despite the usage of a Brita filter.
  • On day two I was changing the baby’s diapers, and I turned away to get a fresh diaper ready. When I looked back at the little one, I found a wet splotch on the couch seat. “Wow!” I exclaimed, “You managed to spray all the way over there. Amazing!” As I continued to adjust his clothing for changing I noticed the legs of his outfit were soaked. The following stream of consciousness observation ensued: “Incredible! The legs of this outfit are soaked through… and… how did you pee on your own chest? Wait a minute… your cap is soaked… did you pee on your own head? How did you pee on your own face?” Needless to say, he required a washing that day.
  • Friends and family know me well. We were gifted four separate copies of Goodnight Moon (which I love). I was going to to take it off of our registry, but I wanted to see how many copies we might receive if we didn’t say anything. Furthermore, my brother explained to me that you can never have too many copies of a book. Children tend to slobber, chew, rip and do any number of destructive things to books.
  • The little one pretty much just sleeps, eats, poops, and cries. Trying to facilitate or clean up after such functions can be exhausting… but it is amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Ch-ch-Changes…

… Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strain)
Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you’re going to get a little older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

-David Bowie

Halloween Part 2:

Honestly, I was not giving too much thought to Halloween before my partner and I ventured out in search of maternity clothes on the afternoon of. Walking through the mall, I noticed a few kids dressed up, some toddlers waddling around as monkeys or power rangers, and a few babies in strollers made to wear pumpkin outfits, but my mind merely registered the thought, that little pirate is cute… oh, and its Halloween, before drifting off into random day-dream mode.

About ten minutes later I found myself stationed awkwardly outside of the Forever 21 dressing room waiting to see if any of these garments of the highest quality might work as maternity wear for my partner. While attempting to focus on the ceiling, stare at mannequins, or inspect the fabric of a floral patterned cardigan–anything to not seem like I was a creepy stalker of tween girls–my attention was drawn to the front of the store where a mob of parents and children were gathered.

It took me a few moments to figure out why so many individuals, so far outside of the Forever 21 demographic, might be clamoring to get anywhere near the establishment. After spotting a Darth Vader, two Princess Jasmines, a turtle, and a little devil lined up by the entryway, the reality dawned on me. They are trick-or-treating!

This reality had me reeling a bit. On one hand, this situation felt so wrong. My Halloween had always consisted of speeding through my dinner so I could put my costume on, get outside, and go to as many houses in my neighborhood as I could so as to accumulate as much candy as was possible in the time I was allowed. I did much of my trick-or-treating after dark, actually knocking on doors. There was always the chance that one household might try to scare us with some gag dummy, or surprise us by coming to the door dressed up as a witch. Yet, we decided which houses to go to, running from house to house, strategizing how we might best use our time, “That guy gave away full-sized Nerds last year! Let’s go there… We don’t need to go to that house, there are too many steps, and I heard they are giving away dried fruit.” The fact that we were outdoors and in the dark added an element of suspense and spookiness to the experience. Most of all, when I was out and about trick-or-treating with my friends, I felt free.

Alas trick-or-treating at the mall is everything that my experience was not–sterile, well-lit, void of surprise, confined, and orderly–and it is hard for me not to feel sorry for the children who are not, and may never experience a Halloween like the ones with which I grew up.

Maybe times are changing. Maybe this dissonance is a sign of me getting old. I sound just like the cliche of the out-of-touch old person: Back in my day, I had to walk twelve miles in the snow to get to school…

Yet, am I that out of touch in believing that it is a bit awkward to have little children line up by the eight-foot tall picture of one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels sprawled out, modeling the company’s latest bra and panty line, on pink satin bed sheets, as they wait for one of employees to hand them a Tootsie Roll? Isn’t it a bit impersonal to have Victor, from Game Stop, joylessly handing out Starbursts to trick-or-treaters rather than their next-door neighbor, Ms. McNabe? Maybe the mall is just being honest in perpetuating that which Halloween has always been for such establishments, an opportunity to inspire more consumerism. Maybe Jordan, the sales associate from Bebe–dressed in fish net stockings and six-inch stilettos as part of her “cat” costume–is the future of trick-or-treat candy distribution.

All that being said, I am trying hard to empathize with the mothers and fathers that brought their children to the mall on this Halloween afternoon.

As a potential future parent, one thing I continue to hear from current parents is that time and energy are constant issues in their lives; they never seems to be enough of either. The mall is convenient, and finite. There are no hills to sap a parent of their energy. One parent can go shopping while the other walks their child around so as to kill two birds with one stone. And, once said child has made his or her rounds, that’s it. A parent only needs to simply point out, “We started at Chicos, and look! We’re back at Chicos. There aren’t any more places we can visit. Sorry, Billy… Okay, time to go home.”

I also understand we are living in a culture of fear (whether it is reasonable or not is debatable, but we live in it nonetheless). With all of the news stories about  car or property-related accidents,kidnapping, and child molestation, I can see how parents might fear for their children’s safety. I would like to think that I will be able to get over such unsubstantiated fear, but I am not currently in their position, so it is hard to say what I might do.

Moreover, I know that my class privilege factored into my idyllic trick-or-treat experiences, so the comparison can be unfair. For some children, the streets they live upon truly aren’t safe to cross, let alone wander around at night as a candy solicitor. Some may live small apartment complexes or in high-rises, so the mall may actually be a more engaging trick-or-treat community. I do not know what it is to be a child or raise a child in such situations, so despite my incredulity, it is hard for me to be completely outraged.

As we headed for the mall exit, we passed a number of kids fully decked out, and I discovered one additional benefit to trick-or-treating in the mall: everyone can witness the costumes in all of their glory. We walked by a girl, who was about ten, with wavy shoulder-length black hair, a black fedora, white v-neck, an unbuttoned white dress shirt, flooding black slacks, white socks, black shoes, and a white bandage wrapped around her right arm from palm to elbow. She was a spot-on mini Michael Jackson from the “Black or White” video, circa 1991. I could not help chuckling to myself.

No doubt, thanks our visit to the mall, I think I might be starting to get back into Halloween again.

 

Time Keeps on Slippin…

… slippin, slippin
Into the future…

-Steve Miller

… especially when I find myself in Babies ‘R Us.

The other day, my partner and I went to this fine corporate establishment to check out car seats for (if all goes well) a future addition to the family. As a potential parent to be, Babies ‘R Us has been presented to me by other parents as a near-mythical oasis where all of one’s baby-related needs can be met–You will be there ALL the time! The prospect of spending any sort of extended amount of time in this bountiful baby business filled me with trepidation and perverse curiosity.

Once we found our selves within the confines of this pastel palace, I immediately had a flashback to when I was about seven years old and I begged my mom to take my brother and me to Toys ‘R Us. “No way,” she hissed without a hint of consideration. “That place gives me a headache. That place is Hell. I really think that place is like Hell.”

I discovered on that day that, while I thought Toys ‘R Us was one of the greatest places known to man, it was quite possible that the home of Jeffery the Giraffe was actually quite the aversion for some adults. This was also one of the moments that helped me understand that advertisements do not always paint an accurate picture of reality. My mother wanted no part in being a kid again like the joyous mothers and fathers in the commercials.

Spending five minutes in Babies ‘R Us helped me to empathize with my mother’s disdain for Toys ‘R Us. While I believe being properly prepared for a newborn is very important, and the folks working at this establishment were both friendly and helpful, I did not enjoy my time in Babies ‘R Us. I felt like I was in a giant hollow cavernous nursery minus the joy and humanity that comes with the babies occupying a nursery; it just felt wrong.

Once we trapped in the belly of the beast, I decided to make the best of the situation by having my partner and I register at the giant registration station located near the entrance of the store. After filling out some paperwork, the nice lady at the desk gave us a registration gun and informed us that if we registered for over  one hundred items, we would receive a free gift! Wow! I love free stuff!

Semi-reenergized, I became less dead weight to my partner as we set off on our quest to register for one hundred items. Along the way, the helpful sales associates, sagely in their baby product wisdom, explained the benefits and challenges that some with certain products. Thanks to their frank assessments of staple items, and thorough explanation of contraptions I never new existed, I can honestly say I know more about used diaper receptacles, and breast pump accessories than I ever imagined I would.

We trekked to every corner of the store, and it felt like we were registering for an eternity.  After traversing this monument to infant-focused consumerism multiple times over, even my partner’s energy shifted from isn’t this exciting, we are taking another step in baby preparation, to get me the fuck out of here, I am on the verge of a psychotic meltdown.

As my partner went to the checkout line to purchase some stretchy gray work pants, I went back to the registry with our laser gun to claim our one hundred item prize.

“Let’s see…” the woman at the counter said as her eyes reviewed the data on the computer screen, “you have registered for thirty four items.”

“Thirty four items?” I countered, “I’m sure we registered for more than that. We must be around seventy at least. Are you sure the number isn’t ONE HUNDRED and thirty four?”

“Hmmmm… are you having twins?” She asked, brow furrowed.

“Not that I know of…” I replied.

“I only ask because it looks like you registered for two of everything.” She turned the screen around so I could see all the items, and sure enough, there were two baby monitors, two cribs, two breast pumps, and double the number of each and every item we had scanned.

The implications were just beginning to dawn on me. “So  that means we actually registered for…”

“Seventeen items.” The woman inserted; sympathetic smirk and upward tilted eyebrows accompanied this statement.

The store manager, who had helped us with diaper receptacles and car seats, was sitting a few seats away. He seemed to feel my pain, and whispered, “You can give him the free gift.”

The woman handed me a custard-yellow bag, a copy of the list of seventeen items for which we registered, and wished us luck. A hallow victory, if you could even qualify it as such; I carried my trophy towards the exit.

Squinting as we left the building and transitioned back to the real world, I looked down at my watch. Over three hours had passed in the time warp known to most as Babies ‘R Us. Three hours! I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I felt like I had been in my own personal purgatory for days; you know, the converse experience to time flies when your having fun. On the other hand, I was shocked that Babies ‘R Us could suck so much of my life away at one time.

A bit shellshocked, I peeked into the bag as we drove away. Its contents: another pastel-patterned bag, this one made of fabric, just big enough to hold a VHS tape. This bag held a single diaper, coupons, and book that was basically the equivalent to the Cliffs Notes to one of those expectant parent books.

Temporarily drained of our energy, and general will to do anything of meaning, the two of us headed home to watch a few hours of Heros on Netflix.

In my mind, I was screaming into the air like Skeletor after being defeated by He-Man, “You may have won this time, Babies ‘R Us. But you have not seen the last of me!”

skeletor