My goal this year is to post something every single day. 365 posts, by December 31st. This will not be easy, the sheer number of topics and stories is a bit frightening to me. Thankfully, there’s Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook; bastions of inspiration. So on this second day of 2014, a Thursday, I thought I’d share a tale from my past. Think of it as a Too Little, Too Late Throwback.
In early 2008 I started seriously dating Annie. I got butterflies every time we spoke, I breathed in her scent on my pillow like a man possessed. Soon it would be time to meet her son, who had just turned 1.
Those of you who know me, and have the dubious pleasure of remembering our first meeting know that I don’t do first impressions. When I first met Scott LaMountain during the sophomore year of high school, the first thing I said to him was, “Are you gay?” When he told me he wasn’t, I asked him, “Are you sure?” He assured me he wasn’t, and an uncomfortable year in study-hall ensued. When I first met Scott’s girlfriend/future bride (that’s right, he kept talking to me, what a fella) I told her I wanted to exterminate the disease diabetes by exterminating those with the disease. She promptly informed me that her uncle had died because of diabetes. Are you seeing the pattern?
So, the child hated me at first. Not an adult hate where you give someone the silent treatment, or slip sugar into their gas tank; this was baby-hate. I could not be in the same room with the little one without him exploding into a fury of tears, screams, and cranky balled-up fists. It was a mystery to me, because as bad as I was with first impressions, babies have always loved me. I can’t be in a room with a baby without it watching me, mouth agape, eyes wide, seeming to ponder. I’ve come to realize that they’re just curious. I, like most babies, have a round head with very little hair on top. I also tend to stumble through life, not quite comprehending what’s going on around me. So, the babies wonder: how come that baby is walking around on his own? How come that baby is talking? How come that baby is holding down a low-paying, part-time job?
I hoped that eventually, he’d come around to me. In my mind, it was crucial: would his mother keep dating someone who makes her child scream and cry for no reason? We didn’t give up, I met him a few more times, always with the same results. I was beginning to think that maybe I was a bad person. Annie and I were determined to try one more time, I mean, we were really beginning to fall in love, who was this jerk to ruin that?
I sat with Annie and Jude, only this time we distracted him with a bowl of cut-up bananas. Of course the eating of bananas only stopped the crying and screaming, the baby-hate was still palpable. His eyes glared at me from under his golden curls as he shoved piece after piece of banana into his hateful maw. My skin crawled. Then, inspiration struck! I covered my face with both hands, then revealed myself while singing, “Peekaboo!” His eyes widened and I felt for a moment like he was going to start crying, bananas or not. But then his scowl changed to a smile. Annie and I watched in wonder as he reached into his bowl, lifted a slice of banana and held it out to me. A peace-offering, of sorts. I nearly cried right then (nearly, because I’ve been told I am something of a robot, and robots don’t cry), but I held it together.
It was the sticky, yet sweet, beginning of a beautiful friendship. As Jude developed his speech, and learned names, I went through a few precious monikers I will never, ever forget. First, I was Matt-Mom. As in, he’s in the Mommy side of my life, and he’s sometimes known as Matt. Then, as he watched the interactions between Annie and I, my name changed to “Babe”. Literally, he thought my name was Babe.
“Babe can I have that.
“Babe what is this?
“Babe, I have to go pottie.”
It was a short, but sweet, period of time I will cherish forever. He’s 7 now, and I’m just plain ol’ Matthew. I still get the distinction of being his best friend in the whole world, and that’s pretty damn great, if you ask me.
So there you have a short tale from my past, of the time I made a baby cry, and I was known only as: Babe.