A friend recently wrote about a “perfect moment” she had involving her son and a milkshake. It was cute and, yes, it was on Facebook. It also made me hungry.
We don’t have any milkshakes in the house — DADDY’S ON A DIET! — but my warm heart is telling me I just had one of those perfect moments with my baby boy.
My wife had a doctor’s appointment this morning, and our three oldest children were at school. I’m supposed to be working on an article for Sunday’s paper, and I get to do that from home. That left me, Baby Jack and our current house guest, Coco The Pug, in our casa, which is about 3.5 million decibels quieter now than usual.
(Side note: This perfect moment did not involve Coco. She might have had a Perfect Pug Moment, though, when I let her out to do what dogs do in the yard, which in this case was finding and eating some other dog’s poop. It’s possible she misheard me and thought I said, “Go pig out on potty!” instead of “Go, pug, out and potty!” As long as she doesn’t try to lick me on the face and her owners don’t read this blog, it’s all good.)
Incidentally, my perfect moment with Baby Jack also began with poop — as do so many other events in this household with four kids ranging from 10 months to 8 years old.
Heather left for her appointment and handed Baby Jack to me.
“Here,” she said while putting the cuddly guy in my arms. “I think he needs you.”
It took a while, but I finally figured out what Heather did to me there. She pulled a daddy move! Impressive. This is kind of blowing my mind, actually. I thought I’d been so sly over the years while handing our fully loaded kids over to her, pretending that A) I needed to do something really important at that precise moment (“Can you hold the baby? I’ve got to … see if the refrigerator’s still working!”) or B) The baby really wanted his/her mommy because of that precious bond they formed during the nine-month slumber party in her belly (“I think he/she needs you and the maternal nurturing, compassion and unconditional love only a caring mother can give!”)
As she scrambled to leave, I asked Heather a question I knew the answer to: “He needs a diaper change, doesn’t he?”
She smiled — a cruel, evil grin that silently shouted out, “I’VE BEEN ON TO YOU FOR ALMOST NINE YEARS! HOW DOES IT FEEL!?!” — while giving her response.
“That’s what it smelled like.”
When I opened up the diaper, I quickly realized she hadn’t just gotten a whiff of Coco’s mouth.
After the diaper change, it was time to put Baby Jack down for a nap. When Heather puts our kids to bed, she has a routine that lasts about four hours and includes singing, putting herself in snooze control, rocking, reading books, falling asleep again, more singing and eventually putting the child down for about seven minutes of shuteye.
When I try to put Baby Jack down for a nap, the routine lasts about three minutes. I’ll sing a song or two — sometimes making up words because I can’t ever remember what happens after the insanely rich daddy buys his baby a diamond ring (and if you’re one of those dads who buys their babies diamond rings, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?! It’s a good thing my wife isn’t into jewelry or I might have to hear things like, “Bob bought three-month-old Baby Billy a diamond ring and you won’t even buy me a necklace for our 12th anniversary!?!”)
Baby Jack makes the nap routine hard on me. When Mommy holds him in the rocking chair, it means snuggling and bonding and warm caresses. When Daddy holds him in the rocking chair, testosterone kicks in and he thinks my arms make a great launching pad for various airborne tricks. Maybe that’s why I often sing him one song, put him in the crib, run out with my ears closed and let him fall asleep crying. I tend to look at it as a task and try to get it done as quickly as possible so I can go do whatever it is I do (not the same routine as Cocoa, don’t worry).
Today, Baby Jack only made one half-hearted effort to leap out of my grasp. I held on tight and continued singing in the dark, “Twinkle, twinkle little star … I love you Jackson, oh yes I do … ” (Not wanting to get my blood boiling, I didn’t sing about buying him dumb things like mockingbirds or things I could buy at the Shane Company on the corner of 7200 South and …)
At one point, Baby Jack gently rested one of his adorably chubby cheeks on my shoulder. Heart melted.
He put his hand near my heart and gave me a slobbery kiss before trying to rip my chin hairs out. Heart melted again.
After a bit of wiggling, he then buried his head in my chest and arm. More melting heart.
As I continued rocking and trying to remember words, he sang along with audible sighs that were melodic and sweet.
A duet with daddy.
Our Perfect Moment.
His singing turned into peaceful sleep breathing and I continued to rock him — much longer than my usual three-minute routine. It suddenly made sense why Mommy doesn’t come out for so long during their nap ritual. It’s as much for her as it is for him.
Lesson for me: If you pay attention after the diaper change, his room can be like heaven.