I prefer to call him Henry, but the “thatta boy, Hank!” faction seems to be winning.
Flying about the house, I just about managed to fit Henry’s entire babyscape into one overstressed tote bag.
Caregivers – you bring an expandable playpen, one rolling nursery rhyme cart toy-thingy bullsh*t, an entire box of diapers, three sippy cups, a stroller, two full-sized bath towels, as much food as you would shove into a family-oriented SUV if in the distance the city skyline suddenly burst crimson and began raining death upon the financial district and you just knew it was going to move southward towards you, about five small toys that created rattling noises to distract babies, a roll of paper towels, two blankets, my f**king keys which was a panic moment before I realized I had tossed them in the bag, these super attractive Huggies travel wipes with a jaunty pattern of stripes and a wristlet cord (“you’re fashionable, you’re on the go, you need to wipe an ass!”), did I mention my f**king keys?, a book to read to him, way too much baby cutlery, a PB&J sandwich in a Ziploc bag that would survive the trip but as a sphere, and a glass jar of chicken and something baby food that Henry would never eat in this lifetime with you on a playdate, right? Right?
Henry turned 1 this month, and he is 28 lbs. He has cankles, pouting breasts, sausage-casing arms, and upper body strength that would have won him the title in Over The Top (1987, Warner Brothers Pictures). He eats whole sandwiches. He drinks heartily (not booze). And he does things to his diapers that could close down your mid-size waste treatment facility.
First, a moment for my thoughts on feces. NO. Just…no. I don’t do poop jokes, I don’t want to talk about your flatulence, I can barely face the fact that I myself have a digestive system. It’s just not my thing. Some people don’t like the word “nipple,” some people hate mustard, and I don’t want to talk about #2. So, whatever universal consciousness runs these things thought it would be funny to hook me up with Henry the Sh*t Machine.
The first ridiculously disgusting diaper I had to change, I was accompanied by the other Mr. Harvey. He had done this before. I hadn’t. Thankfully my husband was there to get me through it. I moaned, made retching noises and tried to shame Henry for being disgusting. He just giggled and played with his face. I might have fainted. There’s memory loss. What that child does is offensive.
His older brother goes to pre-school, so it’s just Henry and I during the day. My first playdate with Henry was a momentous occasion. I am learning as I go, so I have a strict schedule for my nephew. It involves feeding his bottomless maw throughout the day, two naps, reading, a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (if I see the “Road Rally” episode one more time, I’m going to firebomb Disneyworld), and donning my Hazmat suit to handle his Huggies. Today we were going off script. I would be utilizing a car seat, a stroller, and Henry would be missing his first nap. It was a big deal. WHAT IF HE FELL OUT OF THE CAR? OR THE STROLLER? What if a weirdo tried to snatch him? What if a parent or nanny told me I was doing it wrong?
After packing everything I noted above, we were ready to leave. Henry was acting a little cranky, though. I just chalked it up to missing Nap #1. I ran out of chalk when I picked him up. There was something on his back. It was soft. I looked at my hand. It was human issue. I had it on my hand. I hurled the child through a window, and ran screaming for the nearest Silkwood shower. No, I went “AW HENRY, NO!” and quickly got his stank self to the changing table. Fast forward two minutes and it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s on him, it’s on me, it’s on the table. Even the wipes seem to be telling me to just spray him down with the hose out back. It looked like a German scat porn up in there. One Henry, two diapersful.
To top it off, he had a little diaper rash. When Henry doesn’t want to be touched, he will let you know by kicking at you with his giant bowlegs. Seeing as he could probably midget-wrestle at this point, he’s a challenge. Especially when you’re trying to wash him off like you’re at the outdoor fish market. Screaming ensued. Letting him play with one of the lotion bottles wasn’t working this time. I was already late for his playdate and now there was the distinct possibility that he might smell. People are going to think my care-giving skills are wanting due to the potential for odor. I used so many wipes on him…I think I used all the wipes. I considered having Peapod bring some more. I sorta kinda…I’m saying KINDA…understood the lady who drove the kids into the lake. I should probably go back and delete that last line, but honesty is the best policy on a blog. Usually.
There wasn’t time for a bath. I HAD TO GET TO THE PLAYDATE ON TIME. There was the same urgency regarding punctuality as my own wedding for me. Was it because I was a new…mom(what?)…and didn’t want to appear flakey or neglectful? Henry finally relented in his squirming and trying to headbutt me. He was cleansed. I cleansed myself. We really should have just burned my brother’s house down and began again after that incident.
You know when you see people carrying babies in one arm and cooking/mowing the lawn/paying bills/punching someone with the other? That’s not easy. It’s a skill. Getting all of the items necessary (and completely unnecessary) into the car while also not dropping the child on his oversized head (I can say that because he’s obviously taking after me) is difficult.
You know what else is difficult personally for me (it’s always about me) in regards to transporting a baby? The car seat facing away from you. I know it’s necessary and helps prevent vehicular babycide, but I can’t see what he’s doing! I can’t see what he’s doing and I’m driving. What if he’s doing drugs back there? Or making obscene gestures towards the other motorists? What if he’s fallen unconscious? What if he somehow got that that big toy I left him with lodged in his craw?
So, as you can read, I’m a stable, composed caregiver entirely confident in his abilities. Send your kids to me. They’ll be fine.
The playdate was fine. It was an interesting look at some people’s daily lives. There were a lot of grandparents taking care of kids. Childcare is astronomically priced so your sainted parents are called in. This is why old people should flee to Florida as quickly as possible. Hell, if your son or daughter announces they’re with child? You book the red-eye! You worked hard all your life, you should be at a bar or brunch.
The two friends I was joining are competent, composed, cool moms. They make it look effortless. Sunglasses, gentle rebukes to their kids if necessary, kissing boo-boos. I foolishly passed Henry this squeeze fruit pack thingy that you’re really supposed to spoon feed to him. Instead, I handed him a loaded gun. Feeling the pouch and realizing it could be SQUEEZED to FIRE GELATINOUS FRUIT EVERYWHERE was a joyful moment for Henry. Hey, at least it wasn’t sh*t.
The only other event of note…well…remember in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss‘ character describes his run-in with a thresher shark? How he hooked it into his small craft and it proceeded to tear it apart from within?
Henry had gotten whiny after strafing the playground with fruitfire, so I knew naptime was long overdue. I figured I would lay the stroller back and let him doze as we all packed up and prepped to leave. Henry didn’t want to doze. He wanted out of his carriage, to crawl free and probably eat everything. He began to systematically destroy his stroller from the inside. He ripped the overhead canopy from its moorings. He thrust his body downward and back, revealing that the back portion of the stroller’s bottom could OPEN, and a smiling Henry slid down like luggage arriving on an airport carousel. Why does the bottom open like that? Who extracts their child from the bottom of a carriage? Who built this thing so that my wide-bodied thresher shark nephew could tunnel out from under? I’d like a word with them. Luckily the edges of the carriage floor prevented him from sliding happily all the way out and landing on his head. The grin he gave me! “Yes, I can burrow like a mole. Your puny barriers are vapor. I am unstoppable.” Maybe he is a “Hank” after all.