Home Alone Hero 2: The Born Identity

“Are you ready for the biggest of all surprises, Dudicle?” I asked my ten month old son as I walked into his room after his nap.  We were on day twelve of being home alone together without my wife.  She would be arriving later that afternoon and it was sure to blow that baby brain of his.  I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face.  “It will be the best thing to happen to you since you’ve been born.  Mark my words, Jackie boy,” I continued, as I opened his drapes to unveil the second of two sunny Omaha afternoons in a row, soaking it in along with the partially pacifier obstructed smile he was giving me. 

We had done it.  My wife had left abruptly when news that Momma Rita had taken a turn for the worse came in, but neither of us had expected her trip to last so long.  It was getting to the point where we were all aching for a reunion, and now it was finally in sight.  Plus, it was sunny.  Until the prior afternoon, Omaha hadn’t seen a sunny day since she left town.  I told her this during one of our many Skype conversations. 

“Really?” she asked, thinking I was saying something sweet.

“Really.  And though it sounds romantic and shit, it’s just the facts,” I replied as I tossed her a grin.  I needed to see the sun almost as much as I needed to see my wife in the flesh.  The sun showed up first, making for a perfect St. Patty’s day afternoon spent inventing the Black and Green (1/2 Guinness and 1/2 hoppy American IPA) with the infamous Dr. Sanchez.  He would later send out blank text messages while being stuck in his own bathtub, while I pushed the limits of the warmth of the front porch watching the first brilliant sunset in weeks give way to a moon with a beard.  Now, the sun was back again, and my wife would follow in a few hours.

“Yes meat paws, there will be much rejoicing,” I said to Jackie as I changed his diaper, “maybe there will also be tacos, and maybe if Daddy is lucky, there will also be some sex.”   The last “maybe” was a big one, I thought, as I turned up the stereo and brought Jack out onto the front porch to get introduced to Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak while waiting for the biggest surprise of his little life.  Sex or no sex, she was finally coming back and we were ready for her. She was coming home to better men.

Twelve days of twenty-four hour mostly unaided child responsibility is a bit like military boot camp for parents.  It’s also a little bit like being the manager of Chuck E. Cheese except that you can’t leave and you have to sleep on top of a ski-ball lane.  Imagine being one of those ER doctors on call and at work for twelve straight days.  At the worst moments, that’s what this was like.  Luckily, the worst moments were few. After coming out the other side mostly unscathed and better for it, I would recommend it to everyone. Though, be warned, it’s not for everyone.

If I wasn’t convinced that I could do this Dad thing already, the last twelve days solidified it.  When I first became a father, I had no fucking idea what I supposed to do.  After a couple of months of daddy daycare, teamwork, trial and error, and a father-son road trip, I was starting to feel confident in my abilities. I was proud of my parenting repertoire going into the experience, but now I felt like the Jason Bourne of fatherhood, and not just because we share the same first name.  It was as if I had gone through rigorous montage training right out of a Hollywood blockbuster action movie, Kenny Loggins soundtrack and everything, and come out of it with powers I didn’t even realize I had.  I was Bridget Fonda’s character in Point of No Return, with a beer belly and a beard instead of a gun and tight black dress.  I was a full-fledged-multi-tasking parenting Jedi.

For one thing, I finally mastered how to put up and take down the cheap wooden baby gate.  However, having now also mastered the art of hopping over it, it doesn’t really matter.  We’re talking boy in one arm, full hot steaming coffee cup in one hand, cold bowl of cereal and strawberries in the other, full baby bottle in the pocket of my AC/DC pajama pants, and a CD or DVD in my mouth, over a gate and up and down stairs with grace, speed, style, and not a drop spilled or baby dropped.  I couldn’t have done that a week before. In fact, I failed miserably on a few prior attempts over the gate resulting in coffee being splattered on carpet and wall alike, me bruising my tailbone as I slid down a flight of steps while Jack squealed in delight from the other side of the gate, and a Cheerios free for all with boy and dog scurrying for the spoils while I was left covered in orange juice and crying over spilled milk.  Now, however, I’m some crazy combination of Apollo Ohno and Johnny Weir, but harrier. I’m 007 with baby toys.

I battled through a cold, a fever, teething, explosive diarrhea, and a junkie-like desire to climb stairs and handled them all on top of every single diaper, feeding, laundry load, nap time, bath time, rock-a-bye, and bottle washing.  I did all of that, stayed up way too late unwinding, and got up way too early to do it all again the next day; for ten consecutive days. Then I spent two days cleaning the house for a day and a half visit from my parents.  I was running around the house like Kevin McAllister, but this time I was home alone getting the house set up for The Captain and Tennille instead of the “wet bandits.”  On top of that, I was stuck with the little kid that pees the bed.  I filled the house with groceries after an eleventh hour shopping trip spent catching Jack as he tried to climb out of the shopping cart, I picked up all his toys, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the floors, constructed a guest bed, and vacuumed the carpets until my vacuum cleaner wouldn’t suck anymore.  Seriously.  I have the worst luck with vacuum cleaners.  I cursed at it until it cried.  I actually got pissed at a vacuum cleaner.  Boy how my life has changed!  But hey, it was the only hiccup in what would have probably been some of my best housekeeping work ever.

Upon Grandma and Grandpa’s arrival I breathed a small sigh of relief.  I opened the door and handed over my son.  He took the brunt of it.  A chorus of “I’m going to get you” exploded into his unsuspecting face.  He looked like he was about to freak out.  I laughed on the inside and let them have their fun, giving Jack a nod of assurance.  It didn’t take him long to warm up to them again, and it took even less time for me to turn over the reigns for a few minutes.  Reinforcements had come, and I was going to take advantage.  Unfortunately, they were a bit rusty, and before too long my new found ninja-dad skills were on full display to counteract the Grandparents’ nap sabotage and senior moment forgotten diaper bags.  Yes, I was now a ninja.  A ninja in need of a vacation and many many beers.

What I received, however, was even better.  First, my mom kept complimenting me on my parenting and my son.  For someone so proficient in the field, I was honored.  Then, in a random moment sitting in the basement watching TV with my Dad, he said to me in a voice and tone he doesn’t often use, “You’re doing a great job with your son.  Probably better than what I would have been able to do.  I want you to know how proud I am of you.”  I never had to use so much effort to hold back tears.  Coming from someone who uses heart to heart talks sparingly, it made every single second of sacrifice worth it.  I had started the week not sure if I or any Dad deserved the compliments I was receiving from strangers for just being an involved parent, and now, at the end of what was a sometimes trying, and sometimes lonely twelve days without my wife, I was honored with a compliment that meant more to me than anything.  It’s been quite the twelve days for this home alone hero, and I wasn’t the only one who had changed.

Jack was going through some growth and discovery of his own.  For one, he would look slightly different when my wife finally got to see him.  After a few slightly miserable days of his pain and my solitary agony, he now had two upper teeth to match the two on the bottom. These two were bigger though, straight from his mother’s side of the family, with the even bigger patented gap between them.  It was our biggest fear.  The one familial genetic abnormality that we both hoped he would escape had forced its way through his virgin gums.  I texted my wife and gave her hell as Jack bit my thigh from underneath the kitchen table.  “Back away you hideous midget!” I yelled, as a slimy stream of drool stretched from his mouth to the rug under the table.  Four teeth down and sixteen more to go, I thought, as I snatched him up from between the table legs and gave him a bear hug.   

Aside from sprouting new mouth ornaments, the final melting of all of the Omaha snow had allowed Jack to step outside of his comfort zone and survey the outside world for longer than a trip from the porch to the car and back again.  He crawled around two different front yards, sat and rolled around in the grass, swung some sticks, sucked on rocks, chased a ball down a hill, and tried to eat tree bark, all in twenty four hours.  He was now a full fledged explorer with four teeth and a confident look in his eye, but perhaps the most exciting transformation was that he had actually started listening.

I had been working for weeks on keeping him away from the dog’s food and water dish.  I did not want to live in a world where I had to put the dog dishes on top of the refrigerator, and I know my dog was in full agreement.  I gave her a knowing look and decided to kick up the discipline a bit.  It didn’t take long.  After a single afternoon of my “no’s” being met with dissatisfied pouting and crying, the next morning he actually listened to me.  He stopped, looked at me, and crawled away from the dog bowls.  He hasn’t touched them since.  My dog was relieved.  I was awestruck.  I was proud.  I was so hard core.  I even thought for a second about attempting to potty train him next.  Then I thought about something else. 

Sitting on my front porch swing as we waited for the white Hyundai to roll down Bedford Ave. and into the driveway, I thought back to the first few days of this new job of mine; this experiment.  I thought about my first few days in Omaha as a naive “Stay At Home” Dad with a three month old and my foolish early attempts at trying to take the boy and the dog on a run through the park.  Then, I thought about the past twelve days and more specifically, the prior couple of hours.  Just that morning, I had loaded up both boy and dog into the car, stroller and leash in tow, and drove to Benson Park to attempt what I had failed at months ago, before the weeks and weeks of snow and experience piled onto my existence.

After my first botched attempt at a run through the park with the dynamic duo almost 8 months ago, I wrote, “That’s right, this Daddy day care thing is going to be a piece of cake…a cake made of shit.”  It completely backfired in my face.  So much so, that I gave up the idea and did all my running alone on the treadmill until today.  Today, it was a breeze.  I Jason Bourned that run like a pro. I had actually gotten somewhere.  I had actually learned some important lessons.  I had come full circle.  I felt unflappable, unbreakable, and unstoppable. Training day is over, let the games begin, I thought as I bounced Jackie boy on my knee as we rocked back and forth on the porch swing. Yes, I’m ready for the next challenge.  When it comes I’ll roundhouse kick that son of bitch just like in the action movies, but first I need to hug my wife.

Home Alone Hero?

“I think it’s so great that you take your kid out by yourself,” the waitress said to me while warming up my coffee.  I had no choice, my wife was out of town and my dog hasn’t quite picked up on the whole babysitting thing yet.  Plus, I was out of food at my house and hadn’t made it to the grocery store yet. 

“He’s not mine, I found him outside and he looked hungry,” I replied, cringing from my own bad joke while silently basking in the glow of my apparent greatness.  She actually looked like she was thinking about my response for a couple of seconds, as if there was some possibility of truth behind it.  I laughed to assure her that there wasn’t.  She smiled, slightly perplexed, and moved on to another one of her tables.

I took a sip from my coffee and glanced at my son who was heavily engaged in trying to get Cheerios out of his hand and into his mouth.  Two pieces were hanging for dear life on the outside of his slobbery fat fist. I watched as my waitress jumped from table to table like a pinball, topping off coffee cups and handing out tabs while reflecting on the absurdity of not only her comment but of her reaction to my terrible one liner.  Is it really more believable that I found this nine-month old outside the diner and invited him along for some Cheerios, than that I would dare venture into a public place alone with my child, sans Mom?  Judging by my experiences as of late, apparently so.

A couple of weekends ago my son and I joined my friend Rahul and his two kids on a trip to the Omaha zoo.  I pushed Jack around in his stroller through the nocturnal animal section, the indoor desert, and the faux jungle while we both tried to keep track of his wandering toddlers as they tried to touch plants and climb under water falls.  Mostly, his kids watched the sleeping animals while my kid watched his kids.  I learned three things after our hour and a half at the zoo: Jack’s favorite animal is the human child, walking children are a whole new ballgame, and February is not the best time to go to the zoo if you actually want to see some animals.  My education would not end there.

After coming to the realization that our first two lunch choices were closed, we took the kids to the old reliable Dundee Dell.  We grabbed a long table and proceeded to distract our offspring with fruit puffs, not totally realizing that we had now become the animals in the zoo.  Two dads, three kids, two highchairs, a booster seat, and a Sunday beer brunch is apparently quite the attraction.  We immediately became the focus of much of the attention of the staff as well as fellow diners.  We had two waitresses at our service and people kept smiling at us. 

“They must recognize you from the ER episode that you were in,” I said snarkily to Rahul across the table.

“Nah.  It’s probably just your beard, it’s become bigger than you are,” he replied as we toasted to our Sunday zoo outing and downed the first precious gulps of our much needed beers before trying to steal a moment to scan the menu.   If the constant glares of others were hard to ignore, the comments by just about every woman who walked past us were even harder to brush off.

“You guys must be the two coolest dads in Omaha,” one waitress said as she dropped off a couple of glasses of water, taking care to keep them out of reach of the three mini amigos.  With ninja like reflexes, we moved them even farther away from our curious offspring.  Yes, indeed we probably were.

“Those kids are so lucky,” chimed a second waitress finishing the thought of the first.

“It’s so great that you guys take your kids out by yourselves,” another woman said on her way back from the bathroom.  There it was again.  Greatness.  We both looked at each other, shook our heads, and smiled knowing that there would be plenty of time to bathe in our glory after we made it through brunch and got our kids home to nap-ville.  At this point, we just needed to order and order quickly.  We were running out of puffs. Then suddenly Rahul’s daughter fell off of the booster seat causing a bit of a ruckus, while the two boys took our distraction as an opportunity for minor mischief.  Two people form neighboring tables began to rush to our aid, as others watched the scene unfold like it was their own personal reality show.  We quickly brushed them off and remedied the situation like grizzled vets.  The amazement in the room was laughable.  You would have thought we were wizards with multiple heads.  We had it completely under control with minimum effort, but it was as if we were using magic.  Hold the compliments and the major awards and bring me my huevos rancheros, I thought; the show’s over people.

It’s pretty asinine that the bar is set so low for fathers. I know there’s been a lot written about that lately, but I haven’t read any of it.  I don’t need to. I’m witnessing it first hand on an almost daily basis. It’s pretty preposterous. It’s like as long as you don’t beat or eat your kids you are a wonder of the world.  Take them out to a restaurant on your own and you are godlike.  I can almost guarantee that when my wife takes Jack out of the house, she is not treated like a minor celebrity.  Women everywhere have done what I do and more for thousands and thousands of years with nary a compliment let alone amazement.  Societal expectations are dumbfounding sometimes.  It’s amazing how easily people just conform to stereotypes, often without even realizing it, and even more so when they do realize it and voluntarily perpetuate them.  Just because things have been a certain way for a long time doesn’t make them right, true, or sensible. 

The idea of the man as the provider and the woman as the subservient supporter and nurturer goes back to the oldest books of the bible and beyond.  These were expectations created by men, written down by men, and perpetuated throughout thousands of years by those same men in charge.  It’s tough to get beyond years upon years of wrong thinking.  It’s even tougher to get past the egos of men. Yes, men are at the core of the problem, but women who support these outdated gender role expectations are not helping things, but only encouraging this backwards thinking.  I see it when I read the papers of college students in my wife’s Gender and Occupations class.  I see it in the reruns of Wife Swap that I watch while on the treadmill.  I see it every time I leave the house.  Sure, sexism, politics, religion, the media, our education system, capitalism, and fear are all to blame.  But in the end, we are really all to blame.  We have the power to think differently.  We have the power to question outdated ideas.  We have the power to expect more from our fathers, our mothers, and ourselves. 

I grew up with a father who was indeed a provider.  He worked long hours, sometimes for days at a time away from home, to supply us with everything we needed or thought we needed.  I am eternally grateful.  I lived a charmed childhood thanks to his sacrifices.  I always felt his love and still do.  He was involved in the lives of my sister, brother, and I as much as he could be while always making sure he was providing the family with the necessities and then some.  He is an amazing parent and someone who I will always look up to.  But so is my mother.  She worked out of the house and in it.   She cooked the meals.  She cleaned the house.  She changed all the diapers.  She was expected to do it all and she went out and worked a job on top of it.  I probably owe both of them way more gratitude than I have shown them.

Though he probably never changed a diaper in his life, I know that my father and his generation of dads were more involved in parenting than the fathers that came before them.  Progress is possible.  I don’t think I could have asked for more from my Dad, but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive for something even better.  It doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for further improvement.  It doesn’t mean that outdated ideas are no longer hindering us.  Now more than ever, it’s time for this generation of men to better the last, to progress beyond antiquated expectations, and to begin to make reparations for decades and centuries of overt and subtle oppression of the women in our lives.      

Though it may cut down on my compliments, it’s really time for men to step up to the plate and grow a pair.  Being a Dad is about more than just bringing home the bacon.  Sometimes you actually have to go to the store to buy it.  Sometimes you have to cook it.  Sometimes you have to feed it to your child and then change their diaper when they poop it out.  Sometimes you have to wash the dishes and the diapers after it’s all said an done.  My father was more involved than his, and I hope that I can offer my son an image of a father even more involved than myself.  It’s really the only way to change expectations.  At first it’s a few that go above and beyond, and eventually above and beyond becomes the expectation.  It’s probably the biggest missing piece of the equality puzzle.  When men and women are finally equal in the household, only then can real equality be reached outside of it.  When the accomplishments of our wives and mothers are finally acknowledged for what they are, only then can men really know what they need to live up to. It’s time to raise the bar, and I’m happy to join my fellow Renaissance Dad’s in holding it up.  Then, and only then will the compliments be warranted.

Spending the last week without my wife at home has not only shed even more light onto the fact that involved and competent fathers are treated like heroic anomalies, but it’s also opened my eyes to a brief glimpse of the life of the single parent.  It’s the single parents that are the true heroes.  Doing it all yourself can be downright exhausting.  It can be monotonous.  It can be lonely.  Lucky for me, I don’t have to get up the next day and head to one job before returning home to the more important one.  At the end of a tough day of parenting I can take solace in the fact that eventually my relief will come.  Eventually my wife will return and allow me some respite.  Even if the end stays out of sight, at least my teammate will be along to help shoulder the burden.  Most single parents don’t have that luxury.  They also don’t get the benefits of being home with their child all day.  They do it all, and no one notices.  Well, I’m noticing, and if I could give them the compliments that are showered on me, I would.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the awe that the skills I was forced to acquire as a “stay at home” Dad seem to wrongly inspire.  It’s nice to feel like Super Dad, but I know I’m not the only one that belongs in this Justice League.  In fact, I’m pretty much the newbie as far as that esteemed group is concerned.  For centuries, mom’s and single parents have carried the torches of tomorrow with little or no veneration. I’m just happy to be one of the men that are finally pitching in more than just bread and outdated ideas regarding gender roles.  I don’t need to be considered a hero, I just want to be considered a great husband, father, and man.  I know I am not alone.

After quite an exhausting day acting as a “single” parent once again, I lay in bed slightly weeping while watching the end of Where the Wild Things Are.  As I blew my nose and laughed at my own sensitivity,I thought about all of these things and more.  I thought about how different being home alone is with a kid to take care of on your own, no longer the Rumspringa of my pre-parenting days, but a time for learning about myself and reflecting on what being a good parent really entails.  I thought about my wife two states away.  Then, as if knowing it was the perfect moment to send it, I received a text message from my greatly missed partner in crime.  It read, “Thank you for letting me be here.  I never have to worry about whether I can depend on you.”  It was the greatest compliment I have ever received from someone who is a true superhero in my comic book, and the one compliment that I am more than willing to accept and live up to. I guess that’s what it’s really all about, however you go about it.

Language Barrier

“Are you playing with that fucking cup again?” I asked my nine month old son as he sat on the other side of the curtain atop the brown fuzzy rug on my bathroom floor pushing around said plastic Bears cup. I wasn’t expecting an answer. I knew the answer. I suppose I was talking to my son, but it was more like I was just asking myself. I long for the days when he can respond. I long for the days when he will understand more words than my dog. I long for the days when I won’t be talking to myself. Before I know it those days will be here so I might want to think about cutting back on my usage of one of my favorite alternative adjectives. Maybe.

As I ran my fingers through my wet beard and admired my soapy calves in the shower, I was struck with the sudden realization that I might have to stop using “the ‘F’ word” in the near future. When you talk to yourself most of the day, as I do, you start to listen to yourself differently. I’ve begun to dissect the random words and phrases that flow out of my mouth. I’m not quite there, but I can feel that I’m very slowly starting to second guess my choice of words. It’s very weird, and it’s something that I never really thought about before Jack started to become more than just an eating, breathing, shitting version of a Cabbage Patch Doll.

Like the dad in A Christmas Story, I work in profanity “the way other artists might work in oils or clay.” In my writing, I try to use it appropriately and never gratuitously, but talking around the house or with friends, there is often no rhyme or reason to my use of swear words, especially the big one. The mouths of sailors, truckers, and whores are no match for mine. I relish the use of blue language. I use it for emphasis. I use it for humor. I use it to break up monotony. I use it poetically. However, I can also use “bad” language just as mindlessly and frivolously as I can use it intelligently or artistically.

Throughout the day, I’ll make up songs consisting of nothing but repeated cuss words or I’ll substitute swear words while singing along to actual songs on the radio. I’m somewhere between a third grader looking for attention and a drunk rugby player. I find it astounding that in over a decade on the radio, I never slipped up once. Maybe that’s why? Maybe my subconscious self has built up a need to use un-FCC friendly words because of all of those hours spent on-air not using them? Or maybe I’ve just been living with my self proclaimed “potty mouth” wife for too long? She’s Dr. Frankenstein, I’m the now uncontrollable blue monster.

I’m kind of torn about the prospect of having to clean up my language around the house. I could care less if my child uses foul language as long as he uses it correctly, and not in public, until he can identify the proper context. He can swear at me all day. I would enjoy it. I would laugh at it. I would feel proud. But I get it. There are a lot of people who just can’t handle it. Words make them freak out. Words. The only thing that I ever get offended by is stupidity, so it’s just so odd to me. I guess part of the problem is that it’s a generational thing. The “F-word” barely even elicits an “R” rating these days, yet I’ve had grown men twice my age tell me that they find my language a little rough sometimes after reading something I’ve written. Some of these men have been in the military. War is heck, I suppose.

“Maybe if you cleaned up your language, you could get published in Parenting magazine,” my Mom said to me the other day as if I could just point them to my website and they’d hand me a check, “your Aunt and I both agree on that.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be in fucking Parenting magazine,” I responded, laughing at my own response, her ignorance of the trials and tribulations of the publishing world, as well as the absurdity that words can be such a big issue. But, for the sake of not having to deal with the repercussions of my son asking his Grammy Pat for “some fucking cheerios” at age 2, I may start to self-edit for a while. I can already tell that he’s starting to grasp the idea of the English language with that big head of his, but luckily I’ve still got some time. So far, it is only the idea that he’s grasping, not any actual words.

“Apparently Ainsley is starting to say actual words,” my wife told me a few months back. Our friend’s daughter is younger than Jack, and a few months back is about half a lifetime for these kids. I didn’t believe that she was talking then, and I don’t believe it now.

“No fucking way,” I answered.

“Well, that’s what Dan says. She’s saying ‘mama,’ ‘dada,’ and stuff,” she responded as she heated up some tortillas on the stove.

“I don’t doubt that she’s making noise, but there’s no way she understands what she’s saying,” I said. I still stand by that. No offense intended.

Around the time of that conversation Jack had started to make noise more purposefully too. For weeks after that we’d both listen closely and hear things that we wanted to hear. I think a lot of parents are so eager to get past the parent-baby language barrier that they will do almost anything. Some order crap off of infomercials and treat their child like Chinese Olympic prodigies, some read Sondra Boynton books day and night until both parent and child lose their mind. Most just start hearing things: you want your baby to talk so badly sometimes that any little semblance of speech when it does happen, gets blown immensely out of proportion. That was obviously what was happening in our friends’ household. It would happen in mine as well, until I caught on to the little linguistic charade.

Jack started with the “ma ma ma” and “da da da” sounding noises, and we thought he was on to something too. Hell, coincidences can mess with the mind. Everyone knows that Pink Floyd didn’t really write The Dark Side of the Moon to match up with The Wizard of Oz, but it doesn’t stop people from watching while listening to it and believing it was so. Sometimes the beginning of “Money” corresponds with Dorothy’s grand entrance in Munchkin Land, sometimes your kid says “ma ma” when your wife walks in the room.

Eventually, however, he started to say “ma ma” to me. He started to say it to his stuffed sheep. He started to say it to the dog. He was saying it as indiscriminately as he would say “ga ga” or “na na,” “la la” or “ca ca.” As excited as we were that he may be speaking to us in some rational minded way, I knew the truth. He was not saying his version of “mother.” He was still just making noise.

“I think when he says ‘ma ma ma’ he wants a bottle,” my wife said to me the other day. Exactly. Where’s that damn Rosetta Stone when you need it?

So basically, I really don’t know if we’re getting anywhere with this whole English thing. As we wait, however, he has become quite fluent in duck. He takes a bath in a baby bathtub that’s shaped like a large rubber ducky and it quacks. My wife was in the habit of mimicking the quacking while she soaped him up with Johnsons’ baby shampoo and wiped away his thigh fudge during his weekly bath. Soon, Jack started to mimic the quacking outside of the bathtub. As I was changing his diaper yesterday, Jack started to quack. He floundered around naked on the changing table quack-quack-quacking away with a huge smile on his face. It’s quite endearing. I love it. I quacked back. He quacked again in return. We were finally communicating…in duck. I may not be sure if he’s saying what he means to say when he does make a noise other than quacking, but I can be sure that when we’re both quacking we’re on the same wavelength. I’ve got a regular Dr. Fucking Doolittle on my hands. It’s something.

It’s obvious that my kid likes to make noise. Is he talking? When will he start talking? Do I even really want him to start talking? If he’s anything like my kid brother or Kevin McAllister, he may never shut up. Then where does that leave me? Hell if I know the answer to those questions. His prowess in communicating with us has yet to advance beyond caveman grunt status and quacking noises, but the things he says that almost sound like words are starting to make me believe that my little baby duck will get beyond the language barrier sooner rather than later. Until then, we’ve made a deal: I’ll try to cut down on the swearing, if he starts to use this fucking sign language we’ve been trying to teach him. It’s bad enough talking to yourself, but signing to yourself? I’d rather keep quacking.