Monday, March 31, 2014

A Man's Touch?

        Did I mention I have a husband? Oh, yeah. I've had him for about forty years now and he's holding up pretty well. He's not brand new or anything but he still works good. I view husbands the way I view cars – as long as they're still reliable and not costing you a lot of money there is no reason to trade them in. So I guess I'll keep him. I just have to be careful now that Kiley's here because men aren't really good around babies. Oh, I know, there are some men who are great with babies but generally speaking most men are not. They're clumsy around babies, unsure of themselves, out of their depth. They're afraid of diapers.

When you first bring a new baby into the house you have to watch the man the same way you have to watch the dog. You know, how is he going to react? Is he going to be jealous? Nippy? So it's best to introduce them graaaadually. Let him sniff it, men seem to like the smell of babies' heads for some reason, at least mine does, but don't let him get too close at first. Let him touch it, reminding him to be gentle in a soothing, non-judgmental voice. Always find ways to praise him and show him extra attention whenever the baby is around. Do it right and in no time at all that wonderful man of yours will warm right up to the little critter and, before you know it, he'll be as oblivious of the baby as he is of everything else. Then you can relax.

Just this past week I was having a bad day with Kiley. Crying and crying, nothing would soothe her. No nap! And it was one of those deals where you can't figure out what's wrong. Does she have a stomachache? She doesn't act like her stomach hurts, you know, pulling her knees up and all. She doesn't have diaper rash, doesn't have a fever. Teething is months away. Do babies get headaches? I suppose they do, but there's no way of telling. Anyway, this had been going on all day and by the middle of the afternoon I was worn out, frazzled. If only she would just go to sleep!

       At this point my husband decides to come in from the garage where he had been hiding and wash his hands. He looks over at us from the sink and says, "What's wrong with the baby?" Now, is this a rhetorical question? The baby has been fussing for five hours straight; doesn't he think that if I knew what was "wrong with the baby" that I would do something to fix the situation? I stifle the urge to say something sarcastic and in a calm yet icy tone I say, "I - Don't - Know". At this, he comes over to us and says, "Here, give her to me."  Mind you, this the same man that I once came home to find using a garden hose to clean our firstborn's butt because he didn't want to "get any" on him. The same man that suggested we rub a little whiskey on our daughter's gums because that's the method for dealing with teething pain his great grandmother used at the turn of the century. The guy who thought it would be a good idea to duct tape the pacifier to our baby's hand so she wouldn't lose it so much, (I wouldn't let him do it). So needless to say, when he offered to take the baby I was a tad hesitant. But I was at my wit's end, and besides, all of that other stuff happened nearly forty years ago and surely by this time………. Well, let's just say I was open to anything, so I handed her over.

        I figured fifteen minutes of fresh air and quiet out back on the deck would be just what I needed, but after five minutes I couldn't take the suspense anymore – what was he doing in there?  So I go in and I find him in the kitchen, walking Kiley back and forth and singing, yes singing! At least I think that's what it was. It was a low pitched, almost growling kind of sound that I can only describe as "menacing" but definitely a song. And what song did my life's companion choose as a lullaby? "Rock-a-bye Baby"? "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"? "The Owl and the Pussy Cat" perhaps?  Noooo.  Apparently, he thought that the best tune for lulling an infant to sleep would be "Sixteen Tons", an old song about the hopeless lives of coal miners back before the depression. Typical.

        "I was born one morning when the sun didn't shine".
Oh yeah, now there's a positive, optimistic sentiment to be crooning to a baby. Luckily, Kiley doesn't speak English. God only knows what effect it would have on her outlook toward life. Where do men come from that they think in this way? They say if women are from Venus then men are from Mars, but they're not. They're from a dark planet in some obscure galaxy beyond the observable universe. Some place so far away that the same laws of physics don't even apply. How else do you explain it?

"I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine".
He has her head on his shoulder and the side of his face pressed up against the side of her's so that he's singing - or is it barking? - right in her ear. Oh, I'm sure that will get her to "drift off".

"I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal".
He's patting her on the bottom in time with the "music", which is good, but does he have to be so rough? My mom always told me "Pat them so they know you mean it", but this is ridiculous. Getting them to stop crying by knocking the wind out of them is not a valid strategy.

"And the store-boss said, 'well bless my soul'".
"Store-boss?" Men and babies just don't go together the way that women and babies do. Women and babies go together like milk and cookies. They're a natural fit. Men and babies are like beer and cookies. Sure you can eat cookies with beer but pretzels go a lot better, and by "pretzels" I mean football.

"You load sixteen tons, whatta ya get?"
I hope that sweatshirt he's wearing is clean. He never seems to grasp the importance of cleanliness when it comes to babies. If he dropped applesauce on the floor he would probably scoop it right back up with the spoon and shove it right in the baby's mouth. Apparently the "five second rule" applies even to infants despite the fact that their immune systems aren't fully developed.

"Another day older and deeper in debt".
Where did her socks go? He has her for ten minutes and her socks are gone. And this is the guy who has to have not only socks on at all times but also these horrifying "bear paw" slippers that he insists on wearing. He walks around the house with warm feet that look like grizzly bear paws, big claws sticking out of them. But the baby?  Nahhh, let her go barefoot. This is what I mean; they just don't have the ability, natural instinct, or even common sense to know what's best when it comes to babies.

"Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go".
God love him for wanting to help, but just like you don't let a four-year-old do electrical wiring, you don't let a man take too much charge of the baby. Good intentions aside, somebody's going to get hurt. You don't want to damage his ego or hurt his feelings but sometimes being a responsible adult requires that you to do things you don't want to do.  It is our duty as mothers.

"I owe my soul to the company store."
She's asleep.
God, help me!     click (here)



  1. Another grandparent blogger, hooray! And funny too; I'm glad you decided to join us. I found your blog because you posted on Lisa's "Grand Social" at "Grandma's Briefs." I hope you will stop by my .

    1. Thanks! I like your blog! It's nice to find other grandparent's blogging!

  2. Your husband did good! There is no explaining the magic touch they sometimes have -- even if they have no common sense! Have to admit I was singing the song while reading your post! My own Dad used to love that song.

    I went and read your first post -- and how wonderful that you can me there for your niece and for Kiley -- and that you get so much fulfillment out of it, too! You are all very lucky to have one another. Much good luck!

    1. Thank you! It feels great to be needed again. I guess I'll keep the husband around since he seems to have his uses!

  3. Aww, I remember when our first grandchild was born. She and my sweet husband just had such a sweet and special relationship - God took him home when she was 2, but they sure packed a ton of sweet memories into those 2 years. My favorite story was when she quit kissing him because he was growing a beard - so he shaved it all off, just for her! :) Sounds like you are equally blessed with a special big AND little sweetie. :) Thanks for a lovely visit via Grand Social.

    1. Aw, I'm so very sorry to hear about your loss but happy to hear that many good memories were made while you could! My daughter had a similar experience with her father. He had always had a moustache and when he shaved it off she wouldn't come near him!