I need a vacation. Not Aruba, not Jamaica, nor Fiji. Nothing fancy like that. I'm so desperate I'd be cool with some militia man's basement in North Dakota for a week. Just give me an internet connection, a remote, cable, and maybe Netflix Instant Watch, and I'd be happy. Any little vacation will do.
As many of you know, I've been watching Poohbutt solo 24/7 for the past three weeks now. My wife's been off globetrotting for work. Well, not exactly. She's been in Belgium, and now she's in Ethiopia. I think it's been pretty tough on her, being away from our daughter for so long. I get it. I've been bummed the few, short instances of my being away from Poohbutt. But the depths of it, being a man, I'll never again. Aside from rage and despair, I've never really had anything growing inside me. I've never had a little organism growing within me, depending on me for its very existence. I've never spent yet another year giving a baby life through my own body. There's a connection between mother and child that we men sadly miss out on. Then again, that labor was something like 22 hours. There are just some experiences I'm cool with missing.
But, I'll tell you what, I don't see how single parents do it. I'm exhausted and wondering why I didn't want her in day care too soon. Keeping a toddler entertained all day is pretty rough stuff. Really, I'll drink PBR and talk about the UN black helicopters priming to take away our Second Amendment rights, I'll brave the North Dakota cold, I'll even watch Nascar--just give me a break.
The Adventures of Poohbutt and Pop (which only has two more days to go) started out fun enough, going down to East Bumble and electioneering, then capping it all off with the Barack-O-Rama in Baltimore. We only had one mishap: The French Fry Incident. We were just on our way, rolling through rural Virginia when someone had decided that she didn't want to be in a car. Desperately, a starving father stopped off at a Burger King to buy us both some solace. Cheerios is baby crack, but french fries are baby heroin. I decided to drug the little bugger. Unfortunately, in a hurry to silence a crying baby, I accidentally gave the little tyke some piping hot fries. She screamed, something like: "Jesus Christ, you idiot! These things fucking burn!!!" She spasmed and screamed and refused to let the taters go. I had to karate chop them out of her hand.
Still, everything was copacetic until we both got sick. I blame Obama. All that pent-up frustration and anxiety, all that anticipation, and then the victory, the elation. We all relaxed, let our defenses down, and whatever's going around hit us. There's not a single Dem I know that hasn't been sick these past few weeks. I bet you it's a Republican conspiracy, a different version of the Palin Plague we all feared.
She emerged (much quicker than me, of course) a brand new toddler. She's all over the place. When she's not puttering around on her little walker jeep, she's getting into the kitchen cabinets (are kids automatically drawn to Pine-Sol?) or trying to pry the guards off the electrical sockets or trying to dismantle the DVD player or changing the channel when Daddy's watching his Steelers or trying to play in the toilet water or trying to smash Daddy's CD collection or flinging his books off the book shelf or pulling out my facial hair or trying to procure WMD from a former Soviet republic. In other words, my baby girl's curiosity has far outgrown the limits of our humble abode. I now need to record "Poohbutt! No!" and put it on continuous loop.
I've gotten a few breaks. The Baers took her for a Saturday night. Their little Boogie Boy is six weeks older than Pooh and is walking. Pooh came back taking her first steps. It's very cute. She was taking three left steps and was scooting around in a semi-circle before she dropped to her butt and went tearing into my copy of The Young Lenin. The grandparents came by for a few days. And Pooh was entertained by the Puppeteers for a day. They kept her so entertained she cried when they left. And now Mrs. Baer is spent last night and tonight taking care of Pooh.
Unfortunately for yours truly, these breaks translate into my going to work. And having been sick for much of it, I've only been more miserable, dreaming of Bismarck snowstorms.
Don't get me wrong, it's been fun, too. I love Poohbutt. She's most definitely the best thing that's ever happened to me. I think I'm doing a pretty good job. OK, I can't seem to get rid of her diaper rash, and I can't get her to get anything green aside from broccoli (the green bean experiment's touch-and-go, but I thought she was going to slit my throat when I introduced cucumber); but I've taught her how to clap during the "Here we go Steelers" chant, been drowning her in whole milk, convinced her to drink water out of her sippy cup, persuaded her to sometimes shake her head "Yes" instead of breaking her neck saying "No!" all the time, and got her to finally grasp the Pythagorean theory (you'd think it was hard, or something). We've had tons of laughs and great conversations (you know, "Blablablablabah," "Really, babe, I didn't know that"). We've had Johnny Hartman and Immortal Technique sing-alongs. And there's no greater feeling in the world than having your kid nestling on your chest and falling asleep.
My biggest failing is endurance. Babies can just wear you out. Not having the wife (happy anniversary, babe!) coming in to spell me has just left me ragged. No, seriously. How do single parents do it?
My second biggest failing is stopping Poohbutt from headbutting everything. Seriously, my little princess has turned into a soccer hooligan. It's like she goes all Cockney on me, screws up her face, goes, "You spill me bottle?" and rears back her noggin, ready to strike.
She's headbutted my chest, chin, and belly. Most disturbingly, she's even tried to take out the walls. No matter what I do or say, I can't convince the crazy kid to stop hurting herself. Yesterday, in a fit of frustration, sleepy yet refusing to sleep (what's that all about, anyway?), Poohbutt reared back and gave the most vicious head crack to the hardwood floor. OK, that was kinda funny, but, boy, did she erupt? She flew into my arms and promptly fell asleep. "But, baby," I whispered, "if it hurts so much, why do you keep doing it?" before I quickly joined her in Slumberville. But before I did, I couldn't help wondering if this is what having a teenager's like.
(Photo courtesy of Byron Johnson, Sr.)