When it comes to the daily practical hands-on mission critical role of caring for our one year old son Adam I’m about as non-essential as an anonymous red shirt ensign serving as the fifth member of a landing party with Kirk, Spock, Sulu and McCoy; my sole purpose to die violently within minutes of being introduced. I’m expendable, disposable, and superfluous. I’m an extra on the set listed in the credits as Crewman #2, macking hard on Uhura and stuffing Cheese Danishes from the lunch table into the waistband of my pocketless Federation issue stretchpants.
I’m not suggesting that I wouldn’t be missed were I to be mistakenly beamed into the vacuum of space or were I to not rematerialize after going to the store for half & half, but my role when it comes to Adam is supportive at best. Get him to eat his dinner of apple sauce, sweet potato puffs and oatmeal? Nope. Do a distracting modified robot dance behind Kathleen while she feeds him his dinner? No problem. Administer medicine or antibiotics? Not a chance. Watch as Kathleen administers medicine or antibiotics? Consider it done. Successfully, get him to go back to sleep after he wakes up at 2:00 in the morning? Uh-uh. Chase him around the Dining Room/Living Room/Kitchen Loop until he slams into a wall or pukes up apple sauce and antibiotics? Absolutely.
However, when Kathleen was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs last week my grotesque capacity for ineptitude and parental unpreparedness was exposed more than Star Jones’ thighs in a National Enquirer beach photo. What exacerbated the situation was that we had just that week been MacGyvering an elaborate scheme involving a hot air balloon, fire ash, and rice alcohol designed to slowly wean Adam from breastfeeding, but had yet to set the plan in motion. Nursing Adam while she was on antibiotics meant risking his health so after nearly a year of relying on breastfeeding as a source of nourishment, biological, immunological and psychological development as well as an almost air-tight excuse for me to stare at Kathleen’s naturally augmented cleavage Adam was forced to quit cold-turkey.
Wracked with fits of coughing, wrought with shivers caused by a spiking fever and moments away from pumping herself full of drugs Kathleen still found the strength to breastfeed Adam one last time. After getting him to sleep and putting him in his crib she rendered herself heavily medicated then crawled into bed; Captain Kirk leaving the bridge in the incapable hands of a doomed nameless security guard. With my phaser set to stunned I headed downstairs to crash on the couch hopeful that it would be the night that Adam would finally sleep through the night for the first time.
It wouldn’t be.
What seemed like about 30 seconds later I awoke to Adam crying. Without opening my eyes I Dorothy tapped my heels together a repeated the phrase, “There’s no time like 7 a.m. There’s no time like 7 a.m. There’s no time like 7 a.m.” Tentatively I opened my eyes and looked at the display on my cell phone – 12:03. Damnit! I rolled off the couch, manned my battle stations and shuffled upstairs.
For the first hour I sat with Adam on my lap in his room, the white noise maker set to Oscar Meyer Bacon and the aquatic-themed mobile illuminating the ceiling with constellations of mackerel, he fussed, wriggled, writhed and stared at me with a disgusted look that said, “Who are you and what have you done with Mommy?” I even pulled out my patented Rainman Very Excellent Driver Rocking motion with humming lullabies and fingertip forearm grazing and this only seemed to further piss him off. When he actually started trying to dive off my lap towards the door I put him on my shoulder and walked in to our bedroom.
Kathleen was in the center of the bed buried under a mountain of blankets coughing like she had the black lung. “I can’t get Adam back to sleep.” I talk/whispered. No reply. I cleared my throat. “I can’t get Adam…” “I heard you.” she interrupted, “I’m sick. There’s nothing I can do. I’m sorry.” I wandered into the hallway and stood dejectedly in front of Jack’s room; it glowed red from the decapitated Spiderman Head night light on his dresser then sighed and walked downstairs to the living room.
Between 1:00 am and 3:00 am I tried sleeping with Adam on the couch before giving up on that brilliant idea and moving to the floor. Since Kathleen had taken all but one of the blankets upstairs with her, our makeshift bed consisted of an $89 acrylic semi-plush scotch guarded carpet, two-oversized under-filled Ultrasuede couch throw pillows and a 3×5 Bob the Builder fleece blanket. At some point during the three-hour wrestling match that ensued we both must have given up from exhaustion, as around 6:15 am I woke up in a fetal position underneath the end table using one of my Sketchers as a pillow. Adam on the other hand ended up on one of the throw pillows and looked like a soft shell taco.
Hola Padre, why don’t I just sleep here tonight? OK?
How did I become such an incapable parent? Sleeping under furniture using footwear as a pillow while Adam is reduced to Mexican food? Despite the uncertainty of Kathleen’s contagion I scooped Adam up from his tortilla, carried him upstairs and put him in bed with her. He stirred momentarily then curled into her and immediately went back to sleep. Me? I went back downstairs and curled up next to the ottoman with a flip flop and some pita bread.
Adam’s still suffering some nursing withdrawal symptoms, but the freezer was stocked with a month’s supply of milksicles and Adam’s agreed to use the Nippleret Patch so I think the worst of it is behind us.
And what of the ill-equipped private-class unexceptional member of our landing party? Is he injured? Embarrassed? Mortified? Distraught?