Monday, September 22, 2008

When hadrons and puppies collide

Last week, for the first time, I saw my buddy Josh burping. Of course, all through college, I’d seen him belch plenty, but this Sunday, as we sat in his living room, I watched in amazement as he gently patted the back of his month-old son, Isaac.

Whenever I see a buddy of mine with a newborn baby, it gives me the feeling of standing in the back of the plane with the wind whipping, watching all the other paratroopers disappearing into the night air, knowing that my turn can’t be far behind.

But last weekend, my wife Kara and I were excited just to have the chance to visit; since Isaac was born, scheduling a tee time with the Pope would have been easier than catching up with Josh and Jaime. New parents are rich in many things, but time is not one of them.

Of course, upon our arrival, the scene lost whatever serenity it may have previously had. As soon as Jaime opened the door to greet us, our rocket-propelled puppy, Memphis, bolted inside towards their pug, Lou. The two dogs met with a force unseen outside of the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator that was plugged in for the first time last week and which, as you may or may not have noticed, did not create a black hole and suck the earth into oblivion last week as some had predicted, much to the dismay of all the kids who didn’t do their homework the night before. You can never trust the forecasters to deliver a black hole day when you need one.

With the two dogs racing around the floor, tackling each other into various home electronics devices and sloshing drool across the room as if it was being tossed from buckets, I watched as Josh calmly cradled Isaac against his shoulder.

“Hey, buddy. Are you about to spit up on m…Yeah, saw that one coming,” he said, deftly toweling off his shoulder.

“Is it bad, dealing with all of the spit-up and the diapers?” I asked, grabbing for Memphis and catching a handful of air as she streaked by.

“It’s really not a big deal,” he replied. “You get used to it pretty fast.”

Last year, I read about a scientific study in which various mothers smelled a row of dirty diapers, one of which belonged to their own child, and ranked them from most (relatively) pleasant to most foul. Invariably, though they had no way to know which diaper was from their own baby, they ranked their child’s as the best-smelling. Which leads to the question: how did they get anyone to sign up for that study? Still, the notion that nature has some tricks to help you deal with the more unsavory aspects of child-rearing is comforting, especially for those of us who would rather dig ditches than change diapers.

After gently wiping off Isaac’s face, Josh pointed him towards me and said, “Look! It’s Tall Uncle Mike!”

Historically, height has really run through Josh’s family. So fast, in fact, that nobody has been able to catch it.

Isaac stared at me, or at least in my general direction, and gurgled. I held up a finger up to his hand, and there was just something surreal about the way his little fingers wrapped around mine. It was so cute that, for a moment, I stopped feeling guilty that you could have put three of him and a St. Bernard in the moose-print pajamas we’d just given him.

Luckily, Josh didn’t ruin the moment by trying to pass Isaac off on me. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to baby holding, and it seems unfair to practice on a baby that has no say in the matter. I’m sure I’ll figure it out someday, but for now, if we’re hanging out and you need to set a baby down, I hope you won’t mind if disappear into a black hole.

You can swaddle Mike Todd at

1 comment:

  1. Note to self: Take it easy on the friends' babies columns. OK, non-commenting people: it's going to be all puppy, all the time from here on out. Yeah, that's what you get.