Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things that go shriek in the night

A few evenings ago, I bumped into my neighbor Jimmy while out for a jog. I mean, he was out for a jog. I haven’t jogged anything but my memory since I can’t even remember.

Also, do people still refer to recreational running as jogging? When I was a kid, people went jogging all the time. This was back when dudes’ running shorts covered the same amount of skin as their headbands. But you never hear anyone talk about jogging anymore, especially not in Nike commercials, perhaps because it doesn’t sound as hard-core as running. I feel like runners probably look at people who call themselves “joggers” the same way Hell’s Angels might look at those guys who ride those three-wheeled motorcycles that look like giant tricycles.

Anyway, Jimmy took off his headphones and said, “How’s it going with the new baby?”

If you don’t want to hear endless tales about sleepless nights and mountains of diapers, you should never ask a new father that kind of open-ended question. And you especially shouldn’t read his newspaper columns.

“Well, Evan slept for a five-hour stretch last night,” I said.

Jimmy shook his head and said, “Man, I’m sorry to hear that.”

Not yet having any kids of his own, Jimmy didn’t realize that getting five hours of sleep with a baby in the house is a huge milestone, an event to be celebrated, if not with parade floats, then at least with exhausted high-fives. For my wife Kara and me, getting five hours of sleep in a row meant that after two months of searching, we had finally reached the Land of Breast Milk and Honey.

“Does he usually wake you up through one of those baby monitors?” Jimmy asked.

I laughed. Before having a baby, I always thought that baby monitors were a necessary ingredient to child-rearing, like footed jumpsuits and patience. After bringing Evan home from the hospital, Kara dutifully set up the base of the monitor next to his crib in the nursery across the hall from our bedroom. As we settled into our first night with the walkie-talkie unit on the bedside table, Kara asked, “Do you think it’ll be loud enough to wake us up?”

A few minutes later, Evan began the shrieking that has since become our regular nocturnal soundtrack. The baby monitor lit up and began echoing the shrieks. While a crying baby is generally loud enough to wake your nearest congressperson, we found that without a baby monitor, you really miss out on the full Dolby 5.1 surround sound experience. Still, by the second night, we felt comfortable leaving the baby monitor off, confident in our ability to detect Evan’s crying, so long as he remained in the same zip code.

Since that first night, we’ve turned into reasonable imitations of actual parents. It used to take twenty minutes to dress Evan, mostly because trying to thread his arm into his shirt sleeve felt like we were trying to push a feather duster head-first through a garden hose. But now we can dress him in under a minute, occasionally without getting peed on.

Some things, though, remain a mystery. Even though he’s let us have a couple of five-hour stretches, most nights begin with Evan doing his best imitation of an air raid siren for about four hours.

“Babe, do something,” Kara will say. “I’ve already been in there three times. He’s fed. He’s dry. I don’t know what else to do.”

“Okay, I know exactly how to fix it,” I will mumble. I walk to our bedroom door and shut it, dramatically increasing the tranquility in our bedroom, until Kara realizes how I’ve addressed the problem.

After I told all of this to Jimmy, he wished us luck and jogged off, probably to double-check his contraceptive stash.

You can kick Mike Todd out of bed at


  1. First one to comment. Hahhhaaaaa suckersssss

  2. Second one to comment. Yeahhhhhhhhhh

  3. Hmmm......guess that third to comment means slow to the show.

    P.S. No comfort to Mommy & Daddy, but this was hilarious! LOL

  4. This was definitely a laugh-out-loud column and I thought it was one of your best. I laughed all the way through (even though it was definitely at your expense!) and the last line just did me in. I still get a chuckle about Jimmy running home to check his contraceptive supply!! That's just damn funny!

  5. HAHA hello! Thanks for the comment :) Your sister/sister-in-law (I forgot) sent out a work email pimping out your blog and I love reading it! Hope you get to sleep 6 hours next time!

  6. Sixth! (And thanks for all the kind words, homepeople.)

  7. And so Just Humor Me jumps the shark with the "first" comment.

  8. A very boring article indeed...who the hell can read such articles?

  9. D-Rok -- I think I actually jumped the shark sometime in March of 2005.

    IndiaSpeaks -- Nice of you to stop by! Wait, no it wasn't.

  10. IndiaSpeaks, I just read your blogs and guess what buddy?... I've seen more excitement on C-SPAN. You have no room to talk.