Feb 03 2006
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick …
Waiting for the baby time bomb to go off.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick …
That seems to be the story for the first couple of months of a baby’s life. That’s what I’m understanding, especially when you go out. My wife and I just recently got up the nerve to start venturing out of our cave with our new 5-week-old girl, Amelie. You get a bright shiny new sports car with leather seats and no teeth, and you want to show it off — the happy face, the good moods, the pretty girl, the adorable outfits. That’s natural. But it’s the Tyrannosaurus Rex that she sometimes becomes that gets me worried.
Ever let a baby go on too long without a feeding? That’s the one we fear. It’s like watching the Incredible Hulk go through his metamorphosis. She starts out her sweet shade of pale peach, and then the brow crinkles just a bit as she turns a bright pink. Oh no. “Amelie, don’t go to crazy town,” I beg her. But it’s too late. The nipple is not en route, and there’s trouble. By now she is the color of grape juice and I’m strapping on the flak jacket.
This all makes it sound like she’s awful. She’s not. She’s one of the calmest, quietest babies I’ve ever met, and resorts to crying only after she’s exhausted all legal avenues.
But she’s a baby, and like most, when they want to clear the pipes or let you have it, BLAMMO! The baby time bomb goes off with little warning. It’ll just about take the top of your head off. There should be a Baby Richter scale. “Man, that was a category 7 tumbler! Look how the road buckled.”
And for two people who worry about making a scene just by wearing a shirt that’s too loud, it’s terrifying to first enter civilized society with your infant megaphone. I’ve never liked screaming kids — the kind who can bend metal with their shrieking cries — and I certainly don’t want to be the parent who people stare at and say things to like, “Hey, can you turn your pterodactyl down?” or “Listen, mister, I can’t hear my screaming kid over yours.”
So we’ve been doing it gingerly, testing the waters with little baby steps. About a week or so ago, we took her to lunch at a restaurant with outside seating, a lot of kids and more noise than an airport runway.
Still, we ate in a state of intense panic and fear, cursing that the food wasn’t coming fast enough. “Don’t you people realize we have Chernobyl here?”
But she passed the first test, sleeping through it all, and only developing one of those hunger-induced, oxygen-gulping cries on the way to the car.
Sometimes we’ve found it’s not the child you have to worry about, but the people you encounter. Take for instance when we went to Ann O’Malley’s for lunch one day. Fifty yards from the door and one of the owners, Ron, jumps out like a wild, deranged gorilla screaming, “The baby’s here! The baby!”
Oh sweet Jesus!
This happened to be the exact moment that an unsuspecting tourist pushing her own child down the sidewalk went by. I do not doubt that this was the most terrifying experience of her life, and would probably explain why she dropped down into a Kung Fu stance and then took off running.
I don’t think she will be coming back to St. Augustine anytime soon, but our little one slept through the whole incident. And lunch.
So our confidence grows. The baby is getting on more of a schedule and her belly is getting larger meaning we’re venturing out further each time. But in the back of my mind I can always hear the ticking, and have one eye on her with my legs ready to spring into action. “Look out people, baby time bomb coming through,” I will yell, and hopefully no pub owners I know will jump me as I go by.