This week, the calendar pages come fluttering off the wall, and Baby B-Dub reaches nine months of age.
Which means he’s been out as long as he was in.
And it’s becoming increasingly clear that we’re screwed.
* * *
He never stops moving.
The boy was always a squirmy one. But he is rarely content to be held. Or to remain in one place for more than, ohhh, 34 seconds. This kid wants to go go go. He wants to crawl. He wants to stand. Give him half a chance, he’ll fling himself over the edge of the bed, the high-chair, the crib wall. He learned how to use the crib bumpers as ladders and climb up over the edge of the Baby Containment Unit. Just this morning I turned my head away from the high chair for two seconds to fetch a spoon and when I turned my head back, half his body was already out, his gooey food-slick face staring at the floor.
Gone are the days of the little lump baby.
Here are the days of Little Baby Daredevil.
* * *
We hear this saying a lot:
“Oh. He’s one of those babies.”
And then we get sympathetic head nods and shoulder pats.
* * *
Sweet Jesus, this kid can eat.
He’s like a wood-chipper.
It’s as if his stomach is a molten core, and any food poured into that fiery space is burned away to meager char and ash the moment it touches the walls of his gastrointestinal furnace. You know how some adult human beings can subsist on, say, a small yogurt and a banana for breakfast? Our nine-month son can eat more than that. Just yesterday we had to feed him four meals. You get through one container of pureed food and Baby Jabba over there is suddenly all BOSHUUDA NAY WANNA WONGA BLUEBERRY YOGURT which means it’s time to go seeking a new food source before he starts eating his high-chair.
And you think I’m kidding. He gnaws on his high-chair like a starving badger.
Sometimes I’m forced to wonder, did our son accidentally eat another baby? Is he somehow feasting for two? Ye gods, man, where the hell is all this food going?
OH THAT’S RIGHT.
It goes into the diapers. We went from one diaper every few days to one diaper every seventeen minutes. His diapers get so heavy, I just leave them outside in the wintry cold and let them freeze over. Then, should any of my neighbors grow uppity, I shall launch these frozen turd-bombs at their house with some jury-rigged trebuchet. If only they had the icy-chunk diaper-made cannonballs in the Middle Ages. Siege warfare would’ve been a whole different animal.
* * *
Diaper changes are different, now. He is not content to just lay there dreamily. He twists and turns and writhes and squirms. Trying to escape our clutches at the worst possible time — when we’re trying to wrestle a wet-nap from the box, when we’re trying to pop the stubborn tabs on the goddamn diaper, when we’ve got poop on our hands. Now diaper-changing time is a full-contact-sport.
And it frequently requires two people.
* * *
It’s like in all the war movies, eventually one side is forced to recognize: “We are overrun.”
* * *
Sometimes he stands up.
On his own. This just started happening — he gets his legs under him, reaches out as if he’s going to grab hold of something but then forgets that step and just — voooop — stands up.
He can make it for about three seconds.
Then he falls down. Whump, on his rump.
He’s learned how to fall so that he can learn how to stand.
There’s a lesson in there for all of us, I guess.
* * *
I pretend it’s a very early, very sluggish game of proto-catch between father and son. There B-Dub sits in his high-chair or in his crib and any toys he can find end up over the edge and onto the floor. Then I go and I pick up the toys and I put them back in and, within 30 seconds, they’re all back on the floor.
But I know the truth. It’s not a game of catch.
It’s a game of fetch.
And I am most assuredly the dog.
But I don’t admit that often. The illusion of reciprocity is key.
* * *
I know now, when you have a baby, it’s a game of buying your life back in five minute increments. Small things. “Oh, I’d like to go to the bathroom now. If I strap him in his high chair and give him a copy of the latest Field & Stream magazine, will that occupy him long enough for me to go and relieve myself? Will it? Will it?”
No, it won’t.
But you have to try.
* * *
He shouldn’t be faster than us.
That shouldn’t be possible. He’s tiny.
Oh, but he is. Plop him on the floor and play with him for a while, suddenly he’ll get it in his head to dart off to the farthest-flung and most dangerous corner of the room. Oh, and he’ll always go for the worst possible thing in the room, a thing that no matter how hard you baby-proofed still exists — “How did this Chinese throwing star end up under the couch?” Next thing you know you’re struggling to reach him before he wings the Chinese throwing star at the dog and you’re left dizzy with the notion that somehow this baby, this nine-month-old human who still poops his pants almost out-ran you.
And he can’t even walk yet.
* * *
He shouldn’t be stronger than us.
But if he gets hold of the spoon while feeding, I have to wrestle with him to get it back. And it’s hard. How is that possible? I’m a fully-grown man. I’ve got bulk. I’m not a weight-lifter or anything, but this kid has the muscle-tone of a bag of marshmallows. How is he beating me? How is this even a competition?
One day science will prove that babies somehow possess secret chimpanzee strength.
* * *
He’s very loud.
I’m sorry — maybe you couldn’t hear me —
HE’S VERY LOUD.
It’s not that he’s upset. He’s… talking. Except very, very loudly.
BAH BAH BAH BAH MAH MAH MAH DAD DAD DAD UGGY UGGY OOOOOOOO
* * *
Here’s one way he’s like his father:
Hates pants. Hates socks.
Gets rid of both at every opportunity.
Eat shit, pants. Go to hell, socks.
* * *
He sleeps with us in our bed. And sometimes, in the middle of the night, you feel it. A presence. Staring you down. And, sure enough, there’s our little shadow-baby, sitting between us and just… watching.
Like a hawk watching a little bunny cross the road.
* * *
He’s trying to destroy us, physically. No matter how often you cut his nails he’s got talons like an owl. He’ll grab your lower lip and pull downward as if he’s trying to close a garage door. He’ll knock my glasses to the floor and then go for the soft melon-balls that are my eyes. He’ll headbutt. He’ll yank hair. He’ll bite — well, gum — your nose. He’s trying to wear us down. He’s trying to get control.
* * *
Who the hell am I kidding? He’s already got control.
He’s got it and he’s going to keep it not because he’s the tiny pink-cheeked dictator that rules this house but in spite of that — he is, instead, the pink-cheeked dictator that rules our hearts.
(Cue the audio: “Awwwww.”)
He’s learning how to give kisses. Kisses that don’t always come replete with a headbutt.
He’s learning how to high-five us.
He’s learning when to say Mama, or Daddy, or Doggy.
He’ll try to feed us.
He’s learning how to snuggle up and — almost — give hugs.
He smiles whenever we enter the room.
He laughs like they’re about to make laughing illegal so he better get it all in right now.
His feet are ticklish. He likes to rub noses with you. He’s still got the biggest bluest eyes and now, growing in upon his Charlie Brown head is a snowy white-blonde coat of wispy hair.
Sure, yeah, we’re overrun.
But that’s okay. We like it.
Happy nine months, kiddo.