Many years ago when my youngest child was barely two, I left the baby to be watched by his favorite people: His father, Joe, and his uncle, Jack, and went off to my work day teaching the youth of America.
Now Joe and Jack, are both punk rock legends and therefore considered symbols of “wild, reckless abandon” and RARELY tagged as “responsible, mature adults.”
Because let’s face it: in the punk rock world, sex, drugs, violence and three chord repetitive anthems sell. The only thing the title of “responsible, mature adult” might sell in that world, would be Activia yogurt and Depends adult briefs and I don’t know any hardcore punks looking for those products right at the moment.
Now, one of these men, in my opinion, looks like the devil and… the other one… I believe… IS the devil. But… I well never tell you which one is which… feel free to debate the topic among your companions and friends.
And you may be thinking right now, What type of woman leaves a baby with Lucifer and El Diablo? Why would she do that?
And my response would be: despite public belief and my personal quarrels with each… they both loved and very competently protected and cared for the baby until one day… things went terribly awry.
Dylan, aka, “the baby” was toddling around the house, as usual, in a diaper, pudgy little feet and hands naked and free, big over-sized baby belly protruding over his diaper, long silky locks of lovely curls bouncing upon his shoulders: cherubic little man.
He was known for getting into trouble but doing it in complete silence. Yes… the baby rarely talked.
He loved to terrify us by striping stark naked, hiding in the neighbor’s bush next door, and watching quietly from the shadows, as we would run up and down the street screaming for him, horrified that we may have actually lost him.
This daily routine left each of us distraught and shaken but, every time we thought he was truly gone, he would somehow magically appear out of nowhere and stand in the middle of the grass staring at us until we noticed him.
It actually took us over six months to find his hiding place: Bad baby.
On this day though, Dylan wasn’t trying to terrorize his parents or his uncle for that matter. He was just running about, playing with his toys when he approached Joe, his father, and said, “Ow.”
According to Joe, his expression was deadpan. He wasn’t crying. His face in no way conveyed pain.
He just kept taking his tiny little dough ball of a finger, touching it gently to the side of his nose, and repeating the word, “Ow.”
At this point in time, Dylan’s uncle, Jack, came into the room to see what was wrong.
For awhile, both Joe and Jack stared at the baby, unsure of what to do until one of them, or both of them, got the bright idea to look up the baby’s nose and that is when all hell broke loose.
The baby had a large yellow, glossy wet, massive orb stuck up inside of his nasal canal.
They didn’t stop to ask questions.
They freaked out and called me.
I was in the middle of my teaching day when the office rang through to my room and said, “D.D. your husband needs to talk with you. He says it’s an emergency.”
I waited for Joe to break through the line and before he had a chance to speak said, “Is everyone alive?”
“Yes,” he answered and was immediately overpowered by the booming voice of my brother in the background shouting, “I’m sure it’s his brain!”
I tried to remain calm as Joe explained the situation.
The pointing finger.
The repeated use of the word “Ow.”
And the protruding, glossy-wet mass of whatever was stuck up my baby’s nose.
“I think Jack’s right,” Joe whispered, as if the baby could understand him and he didn’t want to cause him concern. “I think it’s his brain.”
“BRAIN!” Jack shouted from the background, our family legendary in our ability to intensify any given situation by a magnitude of a hundred.
“It’s not his brain,” I said. “Jesus. You two.”
Joe yelled to Jack, “She doesn’t think it’s his brain.”
And for a moment… there was a peaceful silence on the line.
“Put the baby on the phone,” I demanded.
“She wants to talk to the baby,” Joe whispered to Jack.
“She wants to talk to the baby?” Jack repeated.
“Put the fucking baby on the phone,” I said, annoyed at the Heckle and Jeckle shenanigans I was trying to deal with.
I heard Jack pick up the baby, bring him to the phone, where Dylan’s soft gurgly baby breathing, his tiny little coo sounds, let me know that he was present and listening.
“Dylan,” I said. “Tell mommy what’s wrong.”
“Ow,” the baby whispered. “Ow.”
And I could picture his little finger pointing to his tiny baby nose.
Jack carried Dylan away and I waited for Joe to come back on the line.
“It’s not his brain,” I said. “He’s obviously stuck something up his nose and you two are going to have to pull it out.”
“Pull it out?” Joe sounded as if I asked him to diaper an old man’s ass. “How do you want us to pull it out?”
“Get some tweezers,” I said. “Have Jack hold the baby down, while you pull whatever it is out of his nose.”
Joe laid down the phone and I heard a ruckus in the background as he spoke to Jack.
“She wants us to do what?”
“Pull it out,” Joe said.
“Are you sure it’s not his brain?”
“I don’t think so.” Joe said, trying to remain calm.
A few moments later I heard the baby being held down: whiny, squirmy protests… a few baby sobs… then…
“Oh my God! Look at it!” Jack said followed by…
“Dude it’s a grape. Look it’s a fucking grape.” from Joe before I heard the baby cry with annoyance struggling to be let go.
There was another brief silence before I heard Dylan’s fat little baby feet toddling quickly away from the scene.
Joe returned to the phone out of breath, “It was a grape.”
“I heard,” I said as I hung up the phone, apologized to my students for interrupting their class time and my inappropriate use of the “F” word, and then finished out my work day.
When I arrived home that evening the boys were very excited to show me the grape which, I realized immediately, was not a grape, but one of the yellow, golden raisins I had given Dylan two days ago which he had obviously stuck up his nose.
“That’s disgusting,” Jack said. “So that thing was up there for like two days just juicing up.”
Joe looked at me as if I had been the one to cause all of this trouble.
“What?” I said, before grabbing the baby up, kicking open the front door, and sitting down on the swing.
I listened as Jack and Joe squabbled over the size of the object they had pulled from the baby’s nose, while I gently pushed the swing back and forth with one foot… Dylan cuddled close to me… his little head nuzzled upon my shoulder.
I wondered if he would grow up to be like his Father or his Uncle Jack?
“Bad baby.” I whispered, “Very bad baby.” before I kissed him on his forehead and waited for him to fall off to sleep.