Parenting: What no one told me
So I became a father for the first time. At 49. I had pretty much given up the hope of having children, but then it happened. No, don’t congratulate me. It was easy. What wasn’t easy was sifting through the reams of advice you’re given from doctors, family, magazines, blogs, friends and complete strangers—yes the same strangers who feel compelled to feel up your wife’s belly like she was a prize Berkshire hog at a county fair.
Most of the advice a new parent gets seems to come from well-meaning, but childless adults who are disappointingly often dead right. Other parents? Off their bloody rockers.
There are many things I found out on my own that no one warned me about. You bastards. Thanks for hiding this from me.
It’s true. Babies are able to poop upwards against gravity. I was under the impression that only the esophagus could do this through peristalsis. Boy, was I wrong. The sphincter of an infant is quite capable of rocketing poop straight up their shoulder blades. While fully clothed.
Now you know why they smile at us after they’ve pulled off a power squeeze.
The Gatling Gun
Babies like to kick when you change them and one’s natural tendency is to grab their tiny feet and pump their little legs back and forth. Resist, dear reader. You will release a stream of .50 calibre poo-nition. After mentioning this frightening fact to my father-in-law, he matter-of-factly replied, “Oh sure. All babies do that. It’s like a pump-action rifle.” Thanks for the heads-up.
Oh, is that new?
Babies can sense that you have on nice clothing the way bees can smell fear. If you’ve just put on something nice—especially something expensive and dark—your baby will promptly spit up roughly a quart of milk all over it. This will seem all the more unusual when you realIze she only drank six ounces of milk and you’ve just changed her diaper. No matter. Small babies produce spit up the way Pekingese dogs produce poop 11 times on a short walk around the block.
Babies are rather like Mako sharks in that if you cut one open, you will find all manner of objects partially digested in their stomachs. Toys, cotton balls, tuna can lids, wood chips, hamsters—nothing is too perilous, scabrous or unsanitary for a baby to digest. It’s like babies have a death wish and choose to put the die in diet.
Around nine months of age, babies find their voice. And by that I mean their screams are able to shatter champagne glasses, split eardrums, deafen bats and dry up cows. And it’s not a cry of pain. That remains a “reasonable” 90 decibels. No, this is an inexplicable cry that happens with no warning, and for no reason.
My daughter generally employs her boisterous battle cry a few seconds after a good meal and prior to having her bib removed. I have no idea why she does this and I wish I could remember to brace my ears for this nightly assault on my senses. But I’m stupid, so I expect to be fully deaf by March 9, 2015.
“Do the chickens have large talons?”
The three most efficient cutting tools in the world are as follows:
- Diamond blades
- Baby fingernails
Being scratched by an infant’s fingernails requires an immediate call to an EMT. I’m not kidding.
First off, their nails are sharper than anything you can imagine. Secondly, the clippers made to trim baby nails are not worth a damn. Thirdly, they have a Shaolin-like ability for striking sensitive, high-damage zones such as major arteries, eyes, genitals or nasal passages.
The latter is my daughter’s specialty. A simple nose-honk becomes a death-grip on my nasal cartilage, her nails digging ever deeper until she draws blood. Then she adds insult to injury by giggling.
And spitting up.