BABIES NEED TO
GET A LIFE
"It's time to go," said my wife, excitedly, as she
dragged me towards the door. "This is a big moment in our lives."
Maybe in hers. We were headed to my daughter's house, only 15
minutes from ours, to spend a few hours babysitting our first grandchild,
who was born exactly a month ago.
I wasn't quite as excited. I'd seen our new granddaughter quite
a few times during the first month of her life, and I don't think I made
much of an impression. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know I exist. This was
the first time we'd have her all to ourselves, though, and that's why my
wife was excited. And that's why I wasn't. Reality had set in.
I had forgotten everything I once knew about babies. It's been
27 years since I had the last of four babies in my life, and that's a long
time. But that didn't stop me from offering advice to my new son-in-law in
the weeks before he became a first-time father and planned his paternity
"You'll be so bored you'll be begging to come back to
work," I told him. "Babies sleep 22 hours a day. You'll have
nothing to do."
It's hard to believe anyone could be so wrong. Somehow, I had
erased all the horrifying details from my memory. Babies are intense. Babies
are very needy. Babies sleep, but not for long. Babies are a ridiculous
amount of work.
Yes, they're cute, but they all look alike to me. Fortunately,
my new granddaughter is right in the mix. Lots of hair, perfectly formed,
nice color to her. All in all, a fine specimen. The only problem is she
doesn't do anything except eat, sleep and cry. And now we'd have sole
responsibility for her for a grueling three hours.
When we arrived at their house, my wife made a beeline for the
baby and looked down at her in the crib and started oohing and aahing. It
would have been a lovely scene if the baby hadn't been sound asleep.
"What are the chances she'll sleep for three hours?"
I hopefully asked.
"About the same as the Giants making the playoffs,"
responded my son-in-law. "Get ready for some action."
Sure enough, after five wonderful minutes, things started
happening. Rest time was over.
"Oh, look," my wife squealed. "She's opening her
My daughter and her husband beamed with pride. Apparently,
opening eyes is a big deal in baby world. That's because they don't do much
of anything else except eat and cry.
"When does she smile or laugh?" I asked as I watched
my wife pick up the now-crying baby and make stupid faces at her.
"At six weeks," replied my daughter. "But it
might be just gas. You can pretty much count on it at three months."
Now that will be fun. A little recognition, a little
appreciation of entertainment provided, a little reward for the three
grueling hours I was about to spend. Until then, only the other half of the
equation, crying, would be heard.
And she could sure cry. How a little 9 pound bundle of flesh
could produce such an ear-splitting sound remains a mystery. But apparently
she could do it through most of her waking hours, according to her
If she can cry, why can't she laugh? Made no sense. Evolution
screwed that one up.
My daughter handed my wife a bottle of pumped breast milk (how
weird is that?) and bolted out the door with her husband, leaving us all
alone with our new granddaughter. My wife wiggled the nipple of the bottle
into her mouth, and all was good.
For ten minutes.
"Maybe she has gas," said my wife as she paced the
floor with the non-smiling, screaming baby.
"Only 2 hours and 50 minutes to go," I announced,
looking at my watch and wondering how I could have forgotten how difficult
little babies were. "Make her burp or something."
My wife was impressed with my child-rearing knowledge. Or maybe
not. She looked to me for help and didn't appreciate it when I grabbed my
left breast, squeezed, and said, "Nothing coming out. You're on your
45 minutes later, our granddaughter fell asleep, exhausted from
tormenting us. A smile or laugh would have been nice, but our reward for the
night was watching her open her eyes, and then close them.
I guess that will have to do for now. Can't argue with