Sunday, April 26, 2009

Getting your lawn mowed for free? Priceless.

“How old is your baby?” our tour guide asked as she showed us around the daycare facility.

“About negative three months,” I said, pointing to my wife Kara’s belly.

Getting your baby into daycare before it is born might seem a bit premature, but getting wait-listed for daycare when both parents are working isn’t really a practical option, especially when your wife is not confident about her ability to hold it in for an extra few months until a spot opens up. While Kara will be able to take some time off after the birth, we need to make sure we’ve appropriately planned for her post-labor labor.

“We nurture starting at the youngest ages to help children reach whatever educational goals you have in mind for them,” the guide said.

I suddenly felt irresponsible for not spending more time mapping out educational goals for our eventual child, beyond getting him behind the lawnmower as soon as possible.

As someone who has always exercised his soon-to-be-revoked right to flee the room whenever a diaper was being changed, I just assumed that the first couple of years were a race to get the baby potty-trained. In fact, for the months that a baby just kind of hangs out wherever you put it down, I don’t see why nobody’s invented a potty that you can just strap directly to the baby. That seems like a great idea, with the benefit of continuing the proud tradition, at least among the males in my family, of spending all day on the john.

“And if you’ll be breastfeeding, here’s the fridge where you can store the bottles that you pump,” the guide said.

Kara tensed up a little. I could tell she was thinking about the time, during our honeymoon in New Zealand, when we went on a tour of a farm that performed daily sheep-shearing shows, an event that we couldn’t pass up if only for the sheer alliteration of it. And on that farm there was a goat, a baby goat that wandered freely amongst the tourists. The farmer passed around a baby bottle filled with milk, gesturing toward the goat.

“Hang on tight,” the farmer advised as Kara took hold of the bottle and gently pointed the nipple towards the tiny little goat, which then latched on and yanked as if it thought Kara was a snowblower that needed starting. Kara shrieked, almost coming out of her shoes as the goat guzzled and yanked. When it was my turn, the goat almost wrenched the bottle out of my hands. King Arthur didn’t pull as hard on the Sword in the Stone.

To date, everything we know first-hand about breastfeeding, we’ve learned from that goat. I think Kara has nightmares about it. Sometimes, she’ll shoot awake in the middle of the night, sweating and bleating.

As the tour of the daycare facility ended, our guide smiled and handed us a festive-looking pricing sheet, printed on bright yellow paper that was meant to fool parental brains into thinking that they were looking at something happy.

“Oh, I’m sorry for the mix-up,” I said, scanning down the prices. “We’re here to talk about daycare, not condominiums.”

Of course, you can’t put a price on the peace of mind of knowing that your child is well looked-after, unless that price is printed on bright yellow paper. After visiting several more daycares, Kara and I did find a place, recommended by friends, that we’ll probably end up using.

In the meantime, I’ve learned from this experience that I can’t sit idly by, expecting someone else to plan our child’s educational goals. At night, I’ve started reading to Kara’s belly, hoping that our baby is paying close attention as I carefully dramatize our lawnmower’s owner’s manual.

You can get Mike Todd’s goat at


  1. I don't remember Arthur pulling that hard at the sword - it came out quite easily for him. Kay, on the other hand...

  2. Dude, did you seriously know the guy's name was Kay without looking it up? Also, what kind of name is Kay for a knight? They might as well have named him Francine.

    Check this out:

    Arthur pulls it out of the stone at 4:20. Think they did that on purpose?

  3. One of your best in months :)

    ... and did you really say "and on that farm there was a goat"? I'm going to have that stupid song stuck in my head for days!

  4. You're right.4:20 on the dime (or maybe quarter?) Ha.

  5. Sergey -- Ha, thanks man. It didn't have much competition.

    Buster -- Nicely done. And I'm impressed you actually went to the link. Good man. And thorough.

  6. I did actually remember that Kay was his name. You spent hours playing video games as a kid. I spent hours watching dumb Disney movies. It's a toss-up on who is the bigger loser.

  7. JBMMLOLFRETTNACFT (Joe Brown Made Me Laugh Out Loud For Real Even Though There's Not a Catchy Acronym For That)