Sunday, June 05, 2005

Et tu, Mike?

Having a baby must be like having your own little personal concierge. You just pop one out, and boom, your social calendar is full. You’re in the park, you’re going to playdates and most importantly, you have an excuse to play with toys again. I hope kids still play with Transformers. Those were the coolest. When I have a kid, I’m going straight from the hospital to the toy store. I hope I can find the Transformer that changes from a tape recorder into a big blue robot. He was awesome.

Another great thing about babies is that strollers are made with big mountain bike wheels now. Back in the day, parents with strollers had to keep to the sidewalks. Now, people have all-terrain babies. Sure, your baby girl may be cute, but is she Trail Rated?

Before last Saturday, I thought that’s what kids were all about: playdates, new toys, and off-road capability. But then I got to spend some quality time with my two cousins’ five children at a family get-together.

That day, after being exhausted from fifteen minutes of playing with the kids, I escaped to the deck to eat some grub. As I stood there, intent only on devouring a slice of pizza, a tiny blur of a person streaked out of nowhere, tripped on my (stationary!) foot, and splatted down onto the deck. I haven’t been a kid in so long, I had forgotten: children are breathtakingly uncoordinated.

When a child takes a spill, as they are prone to do, there is a Golden Second, a tiny slice of time when the child has not yet made up her mind about whether to quickly get back up, or to just lay there and shriek until…well, I don’t know until when, exactly, but I can empathize that it must be very frustrating to injure yourself when you are too young to properly command the obscenities required to make yourself feel better.

So while Emma was on the ground, deciding whether to shake it off or shriek it off, her older sister Clara pointed at me and said, “Mike tripped Emma!”

Emma slowly turned and looked up at me from the ground, with a look on her face that must have been exactly like the last look that Caesar gave Brutus.

“No, wait,” I said, “I was just standing here eating…”

The rest was drowned out by Emma screaming, “Mike tripped me!”

She got up and ran through the house, wailing, making sure everyone was aware that a child-tripper was on the loose. Watching through the sliding glass door, I saw her running up to each adult and pointing towards me, yelling, “Mike tripped me!”

How do you mount a proper defense when being slandered by a four-year-old? I’ll tell you how: you hide behind the swingset, finish your pizza, and wait for it to blow over.

Two minutes later, she came outside like nothing had happened, sat in a swing, and asked me to push her, all smiles. Just moments earlier, I was Mike the Tripper, scourge of stumbling children everywhere.

Which leads me to the big lesson I took away from that day, which is: kids are a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, but mostly they’re adorably insane.

Later that afternoon, my cousin put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Keep hanging out with us. It’s the best contraception you’ll ever find.”

Truth is, I loved every second of hanging out with my cousins’ children (with the possible exception of the seconds mentioned above). But until I can keep a bonsai tree alive for more than a few months, I think I’ll concentrate on tripping other peoples’ kids.


  1. This is how it all starts. First, you're tripping little kids you know while claiming to be innocently eating a slice. Then it's little first graders at the food court. Pleased with your success, I imagine you'll take up lounging at the mall with your legs outstretched behind the large potted fern; just waiting for your next feeble victim. SCOUNDREL!

    (Uh, great stuff as always!)

  2. This was a great story. I'm still grinning.
    btw: when you have your own kids, suddenly all those annoying things look so darn cute. It's nature's way of keeping us from kill'n our own.

  3. Take it from a woman who can kill rocks - kids are hearty lil creatures. And there's no better reason for having em than that you want to.

  4. i hate trying to redeem myself after "hurting" little kids...i was playing with my ex's son one night and went to grab him but he tripped before i could, however, it LOOKED like i pushed him, because i get off on pushing down 1 year olds, well he fell on his pasifier and started bleeding...nice huh?

  5. Sounds like someone got their wife pregnant and is thinking about the days ahead! Congrats Mikey! Now there will be TWO kids (and a ferret) living with Kara!

  6. Dude, these comments are the freakin' main event -- thanks for taking the time to leave them, all. Funny stuff.

  7. I'm not going to try and be funny here for once, for all I want to say is this is probably the best piece of yours I've read so far, and that's saying something.

  8. JL, thanks so much, man. You just gave me the push I needed to send some columns out to some other little papers. I'll let you know how it goes. Unless, of course, it goes badly.

  9. Great story! I like the pictures you post as well.

    Hi BTW, I am Jen, found you through Master of None.

  10. Hey Jen! Just found your comment hiding out down here in an old post. Much thanks. That Master of None is a crazy bastard, isn't he?

  11. Hi, Mike.

    I stumbled over here from JL's blog. You're an excellent read, and I look forward to reading more!