All three of my children came into the world as useless lumps with dark eyes and wrinkly hands. I was the youngest in my family, so when Mel and I had our first child I was surprised by how little a baby could do. I assumed that babies would know some basics such as how to sleep and eat, and being able to lift their own head. However, that wasn’t the case. And to make things worse, they make everything a loud guessing game of fits and screaming. When in the throes of new baby hell, I often imagine how amazing it would be if a baby could just say a few phrases that might lead to a better nights rest and fewer fits.
Phrases such as:
Sometimes babies are like little poop ninjas. They somehow craft a poop package that doesn’t have much of a scent, so it just sits there, silently chafing their bum and making them moody. And even if it’s not a ninja poop, how much nicer would it be to not have to bury my nose into my babies butt to check for poop? Or have to tug at the back of baby’s pants to visually inspect for poop. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but sniffing my babies butt two or three times a day isn’t how I imagined parenthood.
I’m hungry. I’m not hungry.
Just a few days ago my 10 month old was carrying on about something. I sniffed her butt. She was clean. She’d just had a nap, so I knew she wasn’t tired. I checked her head for a fever, she was fine. I gave her some food, and she huffed it down, and as she did, she looked at me with big wet eyes, like I was a total asshole for not knowing that this was the problem. I wanted to say, “Really? Really, baby? Why didn’t you just tell me you were hungry? Then I wouldn’t have had to sniff your butt.”
I love you.
The first year of life with a baby sucks. They don’t smile for the first few months. They don’t have much personality. They puke and poop and pee and a lot of that gets on my clothing. No one is sleeping. Half the time when I try to give a baby a hug, she pushes me away. If a baby could at least mumble, “I love you,” it might almost make things worth it. That simple phrase might make me feel like the long nights and stained clothing were for a good cause.
I don’t like you.
As babies, all three of my children haven’t really liked me. I know this because every time I held them, they cried. But I still wanted them to like me, so I held them anyways. I suppose what might help is if the baby could just give me closure. If they could just tell it to me straight. “I don’t like you.”
I can’t sleep because…
I’ve spent a lot of time in the night trying to figure out why a baby won’t sleep. I will say it, getting up in the night with a baby is probably the worst thing in the history of ever. I just wish they would tell me what the problem is: I can’t sleep because I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m constipated… It would be amazing. It would save me a lot of time and frustration, and help me to not fall asleep at my work desk.
When my son was about 7 months old, he was screaming about something and pointing. It took me a good 20 minutes to figure out that he wanted a wooden spoon, which I gave to him, and he shut up. If he could've said what he wanted, I could’ve saved 20 minutes, and a butt load of sanity.
What are some of the things you wish your baby could tell you?
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.