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What the Devil won't tell you

Where have I been? Let me tell you the Huggies I've seen

Where have I been?

I’ll tell you where I’ve been. I’ve been in custody.

It all started when my daughter went back to work after having a baby, of whom I waxed philosophical when she was a newborn and peaceful. Sure, Alex, I can watch her. Of course, I can. I took care of you didn't I?

Hah.

Hah.

Hah.

What's that they say about the fame of final words? Four hours a day morphed into 12 and with it a crash refresher course in child-rearing that reminded me how it's ruled by Newtownian physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every bit we put into turning the infant into a kid is matched by the degrees to which they turn an adult into a parent.

Fine, she's a granddaughter and not a daughter. The Formula Rule persists. He or she who holds the bottle of total comfort formula, pretty much rules.

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So no, non-parents, we can’t just chuck Alannah in a crib and make her go to sleep. At nine months old, what Alannah wants, Alannah gets.

So I’m in the custody of 15 pounds of a nine-month-old mini-human and about 75 ounces of that are blue eyes. That sweet little baby I waxed poetically and philosophically about, is now all action and curiosity. She’s not sure what the hell that thing over there is, other than the certainty that it belongs in her mouth.

Alannah exists in the penumbra between belly-first slithering and butt-up crawling. Her arms yank her toward destiny and her feet serve as effective pistons propelling her at ever-increasing velocity toward new and improved mischief.

The Hours

So, as a watcher of baby, this is what an hour looks like:

1:00 p.m. I sit down and she needs a bottle. Gotta get up. The big tall one and not the short one. Spring water. Not tap. Enfomil by the scoop and shake, shake, shake. There, you have the bottle. Good news. She can now hold it with two hands.

1:10 p.m. I sit down and she needs to be changed. Gotta get up. There, Huggies, wipes and the occasional hazmat suit means she’s ready for action again.

1:23 p.m. I sit down and she’s vaguely bored, which for reasons known only to her, can be salved with a Classsico spaghetti sauce cap. Gotta get up. It’s too big to swallow but small enough for her to triumphantly wave around.

1:34 p.m. So I sit down again, and “wait, Allannah those are 220 sockets … what are you … stop that!” Gotta get up and make sure nothing shorts out and Child Protective Services doesn’t have to file an incident report.

1: 43 p.m. Sit down and now she’s tuckered out, propped on her palms and done with the whole crawling thing. Gotta get up and immediately return her to what I call “position prime,” meaning the origin spot for her constant adventures. I put her snug between an oversized stuffed horse and an overstuffed life-size cocker spaniel.

1:49 p.m. I sit down again and now she wants to hear Freddie Mercury. Gotta get up. What can I tell you? The girl likes Queen.

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1:58 p.m. I sit down again and – boom – she’s spotted something that’s rightside up and by God, she’s already woman enough to fix that.

It’s 2:00 p.m.. Rinse. Repeat.

That’s a low-maintenance hour that doesn’t involve a walk through the parking lot so she can count the Nissan Altimas (seriously, Tucson. What’s the fascination?). It doesn’t count the solid food feeding with the little plastic spoon, which I will find if I have to strip the walls down to their studs. It doesn’t include cuddle time and she’s thankfully grown out of face-slapping fits, though she's fine with spitting up.

Simply the best

And as far as teeny-tiny humans go, Alannah is about as chill as it gets.

If you think your baby is or was better: Sorry. You are just going to have to admit you are wrong. You just are. It’s quantitative and qualitative. I can scribble the equattions and show you the math. Argue climate change is a Chinese hoax and you’ll have a better chance of being proven right.

The girl is a cuddler. She's fascinated by everything. Her default emotion is happy. She’s pretty much always thrilled to be here because this life thing is cool. It’s impossible to over-stimulate her. She wants to know more, see more and do more. The day is too short. She just got here. She's gotta catch up and have fun trying.

She doesn’t really cry. She’s typically got five: The Fussy-Hungry Bottle Getter; the Stuff-to-do Sleep Fighter; the Sick-of-the-Floor adult retriever; the Through-the-Gum Tooth Shooter and the What-Just-Happened Parent Freaker, where she manages to fall over crawling and the thud requires immediate attention.

What she mostly does is smile because there are no challenges, only adventures.

Set on stun, she’s deadly with a twinkly grin. It’s a quick strike flash that packs a punch. Her slambang grin sparkles is enough to send an ISIS fighter into a “ohhhhh. Look how pretty she is.”

Then there’s the Alannah Super Ultra Plus. It’s the Hendrix guitar solo. It’s the Jordan slam above the crowded lane. It’s the Sistine Chapel ceiling to the scent of incense.

It begins an inch above her ankles and it radiates up her latissimus dorsi muscles and yanks at her face. Her lips fly back. Her gums shoot out. Her eyes crash shut with explosive glee. The energy released can only be measured in megatonnage as it irradiates onlookers with a life dose of holy-shit-that's cute state of awe.

So yeah, maybe I’m balancing on my last wit, short-circuiting as she refuses to sleep after 11 o’clock at night. Then she flashes that masterpiece and I’m a happy guy.

Something fishy

We can forget how much work it is even when it's not much motion.

To understand, it helps to understand the anatomy of fish. Bass, perch, pike all have this lateral line. The thin stripe works sonar to give them a sense of situational awareness in the murky deep.

So, once again, I have kid-dar. Concentrating on much else, like columns or mass shootings, is a struggle because a good third of my brain is wondering exactly which electrical outlet she's heading for next. Is she or isn't she about to reach up to the coffee table and prove herself able to yank the plate down on top of her face. Can she fit under there? Where? Does it matter?

This mindfulness is required for the species to survive. Otherwise we would have long ago gone extinct with our last thought being some grandfather sighing with a facepalm: "Oh, that's right. Tigers ... forgot about the tigers."

Multi-tasking around a little critter is doable but it takes some time. I'm just about there but it's a fight with my lizard brain still focused on tending to an infants wants and needs.

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I'll say this much. Whomever first said "it's as easy as taking candy from a baby," probably never tried it.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is a former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you things the Devil won’t.


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