SWEET Baby Kay
Okay, I'm pushing it. Because I'm a man, I have a hard time thinking of babies as sweet until they start smiling at my jokes. But to quote the eminent sociologist, Howlin' Wolf, "All the little girls understand."
Women (and better men that I am) look at a newborn and immediately melt. They coo, they cry, and they immediately know which parent it looks like. So I'm sure this will be accepted as my sweet picture for Friday.
However, I will admit that Kay and I have begun the bonding process in an accelerated manner even though my heels were dragging.
You see, Karen has to work every day. Papa Brian's new job sent him on an unexpected five day trip to New York. The other morning, Conner woke up with a swollen knee that needed attention and an X-ray -- now better. It was too late to get Noah (1 and 1/2) to Day Care and Mama Melody was. naturally, completely overwhelmed.
So I drove out to their new home to watch Kay and Noah while Melody took Conner to the doctor.
Prior to this, I had taken pictures and done a good imitation of oohing and aahing, but never actually touched Kay. Such a small preemie, I was afraid of breaking her even though Karen assured me that feeding and diapering would come back to me like riding a bicycle. But I looked at Kay and thought it would be like riding a bicycle made of Popsicle sticks.
So there I was holding her and singing the same songs I had made up and sung to David and Jean from my first marriage, Brian from my last marriage, and Conner and Noah. By now I almost remember them by heart although one of the songs requires adlib rhyming verses.
Now Kay is a healthy little preemie but because of a little apnea in the hospital she is still hooked up, 24 hours a day, to a SmartMonitor 2 which checks on her breathing and heart rate puts our smoke detector to shame if it doesn't like what it finds.
I don't have a real good picture of the monitor.
But this gives you sort of an idea of the wires that turn her into a kind of living marionette. The leads on her chest are soft she's not bothered a bit. Also, the monitor has never once gone off as she has just about outgrown the apnea.
So anyhow, I'm holding Kay and have fed her, changed her, and just about sung her to sleep but Noah has been losing patience with me. He has begun whining and pointing at the crib because he, naturally, also wants attention.
I stand up and carefully move across the room to the crib, being careful not to step on the wires because the SmartMonitor 2 is also programmed to alert the entire neighborhood if one of the leads comes loose.
Since I am now standing, Noah assumes I now belong to him again and runs over and hugs me legs and bangs his head into my crotch. My natural reaction is to double over (careful not to drop Kay) but the jerking motion wakes her up and she begins to cry. After all, crying is the only thing she knows how to do when she is not sleeping.
I push Noah away saying, "Just give me a minute." I say that sentence more than anything else. A thousand times a day when the grandchildren are competing for my attention. Or for animal crackers.
Being pushed away, Noah switches from whining to fullblown crying. He's good at it. A couple of months ago, his older brother demonstrated for him how a cry can be more affective if you pump it up into a prolonged scream. And stamp your feet.
So Noah stamps his feet.
On the wires.
Which then trip him. And me. And set off the SmartMonitor 2, the medical scientist's answer to coastal village tsunami warnings.
Suddenly we are all on the floor. I have efficiently protected Kay, the Popscicle stick bicycle that I'm suppose to have no trouble remembering how to ride. One is crying, another is screaming, the air raid warning is going off, and I'm repeating over and over, "Just give me a minute!"
Then I realize that I had meant to read the SmartMonitor 2's instruction manual but never got around to it and I have no idea which buttons to push to reset it and turn off the alarm before the police arrive or my ear drums burst.
And my cellphone rings.
What is it about a cellphone that you feel absolutely obligated to answer it! Particularly when the special ring indicates that it is your wife? My house could be burning down and if I heard the cellphone ringing inside, I'd probably go back in to answer it. "Hello? No, I don't really have time to answer a few questions about how satisfied I am with my cable service."
Protecting Kay's head with my left hand (the first thing every parent learns), squirming to protect myself from Noah who is trying to climb over Kay to cry closer to my face, I squeeze my right hand into the pocket of my dungrarees to get the phone, swearing again to lose weight. It takes four rings but I finally answer my cellphone.
Of course, eventually everything worked out. I figured out by trial and error which buttons to push to reset the SmartMonitor2. Kay, totally exhausted from one of the most exciting experiences of her young life, feel asleep. And Noah and I played with dinosaurs, knocking them over with Tonka trucks.
Later that night, Karen told me that it was one of the most amazing calls she had ever made to me. She had just about given up and disconnected her cellphone when my cellphone connected. All she could hear was crying, screaming, and alarms going off. Then my voice came on the line and, according to her, was cool as a cucumber. In a matter-of-fact tone, I said, "I'm sorry but can I call you back in a little while. I'm a little busy right now."
I figure I must have been in shock. At least I didn't yell, "Just give me a minute!"
And now I'm wondering how cucumbers got the reputation for being so calm and cool? Why not 'cool as a head of lettuce'?