That Is Not What the Cry Room Is For, But They’re Definitely Crying Now

Cookie, as a baby, you rarely cried in church.  Instead, you’d do… other things.  At just under a year old, you had the comedic timing and the premeditation to wait until the entire church was silent before ripping off a monstrous fart, followed by a loud giggle.


Another loud giggle.  I tried to shush you, but I gagged on the smell.  A demon brew of rotten eggs, limburger, feet, durian, and sulfur left to marinate in a sweaty gym bag would have smelled better.  My eyes were watering, but I was kept focused on that moment by your loud voice echoing in the stunned silence.


By this time, I was halfway down the aisle with you, but your farts didn’t stop, and the more you farted, the harder you giggled.  Where most new parents carry a crying baby to the cry room, I carried a gassy, giggling baby, trailing a cloud of toxic fumes in our wake, with the entire nave echoing from your thunderous farts and louder giggles. The only good news was that instead of annoyed faces, I walked out to the suppressed grins from the other parents and the scattered laughter of the other kids.

The other babies and parents in the cry room were not quite as pleased.

Kids Are Scary

No, I’m not talking about kids being scary in the financial sense (here’s looking at the “day” cares seriously charging college tuition to teach finger painting) or about the awesome and petrifying responsibility of raising another human being that is completely dependent upon me for every little thing (no pressure!).  Kids are actually scary.

Cookie, your Mommy and I often awoke in the wee hours of the morning to a quiet, disembodied voice floating through the monitor.  “Mom-my.  Mom-my.  Mom-my.  Mom-my.  Mom-my.  Mom-my.  Mom-my.  Mom-my.”  You didn’t cry or scream.  You just repeated the words calmly, elongating the sounds and accents eerily, just like ghosts in the horror movies that I’m sure you’ll grow to like.  Somehow at a very early age, you learned that Mommy and Daddy watch you via the baby monitor in your room.  You would stand up, look at the camera, and talk to us. Turning on the view screen of the baby monitor, we would see your face up close to the camera; only, the night vision of the camera doesn’t pick up the whites of your eyes, leaving a black pit where your eyes should be –a cherub face possessed by the demons of the darkest pits of my imagination.  That first time we saw your eyes completely black caused a jump and a scream (a manly scream, I assure you).  We love you, Cookie, but we still jumped very single time afterwards.

Cookie through the monitor:  Thirsty.  Milk.  Please.



Me whispering to Mommy: D’oh!  Well, maybe she’ll fall back asleep.

Cookie through the monitor:  No sleep.  Thirsty.  Milk.

To make things worse, you have inhuman hearing.  Your bedroom is all the way down the hall and on the other side of the kitchen, yet you heard Mommy and my conversations in our bedroom with both your and my doors closed.  It always freaked us out to hear you joining our conversations via the monitor.  This, of course, was the first time, so it freaked me out all the more.

Me:  Coming Cookie, I’ll warm up the milk.

Note how well you had me wrapped around your finger, Cookie, and you weren’t even one yet.  I didn’t even speak into the monitor, I just accepted that you could hear me, and if my demon daughter with inhuman hearing needed milk, well, off I went to heat it up.  You obviously heard my response, because you sat down in your crib to wait.

So there I was, sleep deprived and already spooked, standing in the kitchen warming up a bottle of milk, when all of a sudden your toys in the dark living room started talking to each other.  I, of course, jumped three feet up in the air, splashing milk everywhere.  You couldn’t have gotten by me from your bedroom to the living room –you couldn’t climb out of your crib–, but maybe demon babies with inhuman hearing could also fly, so I went to the living room to see… no one.

Great.  Now I had a demon daughter, possessed toys, and spilled breast milk.  Where was I going to find an old priest, a young priest, and a divorce attorney at this hour?

Parenting tip: apparently many baby toys that speak or sound have a slight time delay function where it will speak or sound to regain the baby’s interest a few seconds after the baby last played with it.  On this particular night, however, all of those toys coincidentally and simultaneously had a six hour delay.  That has never happened again.

First Words

Your first word was “Dada,” for which I’m eternally proud. It was almost something much less endearing.

Mommy and I like to think of ourselves as decent cooks.  Not trusting the salt levels and other contents in mass produced infant food, we made our own, a laborious but fun task in the kitchen making purees and porridge, always, always layering in different flavor combinations (hrm… maybe your foodie tendencies are our fault) and always giving you new and sometimes exotic ingredients (Epipen at the ready) to try.  We were rewarded with your willingness to eat new things and your appetite and your smile when you found something new that you liked.  Shrimp, caramelized onions, lobster, carrots, garlic, shitake mushrooms, curry powder, beef, and beef stock were your favorites.  That isn’t to say that you didn’t act like a baby and occasionally try to repaint the walls with your dinner, but we really couldn’t complain.

You started speaking at nine months with a handful of the usual infant words, “Dada,” “Mama,” but you still relied more on sign language to communicate with us.  Your typical conversations with us at nine months consisted mainly of saying our names until you got our attention, and then using your hands to tell us what you wanted.

One night, when we sat down to dinner, you pointed at a bowl containing a new mash that Mommy wanted to try (a red bean of some sort) on you.  “Mama”, you said. “Food, please.  Hungry.” you signed, and opened your mouth wide for a big bite.  In the spoon went, and suddenly your face scrunched up as if you’d stubbed your toe.  “THIS SUCKS!”

Loud, clearly enunciated, and accurately used.  “THIS SUCKS!” you repeated, spitting out the bite.

After you were born, Mommy and I were very, very careful with our word choices around you, and we scratched our heads for the longest time that night wondering how you could have learned these words.

Poop Questions

Every father of a newborn at some point wonders who fed the baby mustard, because what comes out certainly isn’t ketchup (if it is, you may consider running to the doctor).  A few weeks later, looking at dirty diapers will cause a lot of new fathers to wonder if “grey” is French for “baby.”  I still can’t unsee it, and haven’t used Grey Poupon since.

If you’re offended, sorry, I’m not sorry.  Every new parent has described the shape, consistency, color, and feel (yeah, that happens often) of poop.  Many of us have even taken pictures for medical (hey, doc, is this normal?) purposes, documentary purposes, future blackmail purposes and for, ummm… bragging rights.

Speaking of bragging rights leads me to my current question: how does a 16-inch poop (approximately) come out of a 36-inch toddler?  I’m not sure how that is physically possible.

Potty Lies

The confluence of three things leads to this story.

As you know, Mommy is a very regimented person, and when you were a baby, she would feed you like clockwork, with the set times noted in her spreadsheet never deviating by more than a minute, day by day, month by month.  As a result, your potty times were also very punctual.  Milk in.  40 minute brew time.  Pee out.

We started teaching you sign-language when you were 6 months old.  Clueless new parents that we were, we read somewhere that infants could use sign language to communicate before their vocal chords developed enough to speak.  So, we made hand gestures over and over and over and over for a month while you sat there staring at us as if we were crazy.  A month later however, you realized that you could make a hand gesture for milk or water, and Mommy and Daddy around scramble to get you what you wanted.  You learned many signed words very quickly after that.

You’re very particular about how you feel and how you dress.  You never liked diapers, and you never liked being wet.  Because you were very regular, we were able to put you on the toilet a few minutes before you had to go.  Since you were learning sign language anyway, we kept signing potty whenever we did so.  We didn’t think anything of it until one day, you stopped playing and signed potty.  You’ve been potty trained since 8 months old.

[Side note to future Cookie and to any parents who may be reading: contrary to what this sounds like, this is NOT a good thing.  Sure, we saved a bundle on diapers, but infant bladders are tiny.  Couple the limited liquid capacity with the novelty of being able to make Mommy and Daddy drop everything for a trip to the bathroom, and you’ll be carrying the baby to the bathroom every 20 minutes.  Simply staying home is tiring, to say nothing of going outside.  You don’t understand the number of times we wanted to tell you to just pee in your diaper like a normal baby.]

That’s a long background to this: one night, when you were 9 months old, we picked you up from your field of toys in the living room, went through the night time rituals, and put you to bed.

As soon as you were in your crib, however, you signed “potty.”

As soon as your butt touched the toilet, however, you signed, “all done.”

Nothing had came out.

“All done.”  “Play.”

You couldn’t even speak yet when you told your first lie.