If you’re looking for tips on anything baby-related, whatever you do, do not consult Tips On Triplets. Some very intelligent and fair-minded folks keep this blog’s comment boxes humming, but, let me assure you, the administrator of this site is a jackass who really doesn’t understand anything about anything. And I should know, I’m him.
The wife and I were at a party over the weekend. Now that we’re chugging full steam into Baby Country, fellow expectant parents and a number of already-parents are beginning to welcome us into their fold. The party was one of those beginning-of-summer barbecue deals and it’s safe to say there were almost as many kids in attendance as adults.
Babies and toddlers were crawling and wobbling everywhere. Camera phones were out, the beer was icy-delish and an under-ten whiffle ball game resolved with someone knocking a homer into the pasta salad. Everyone was feeling good and having a great time.
A couple of friends who we haven’t seen in years arrived with their little one in tow and I have to tell you, he’s a sweet little guy. I’m sure he’s a baby like any other baby, but this kid always seemed to be wearing a smile. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really not a baby-scooping kind of guy, but I couldn’t help grabbing the little fellow up once or twice because, you know, he had a sort of affable, easy way about him.
Let me pause for a second to assign a few aliases. For all I know, the parties in question read this blog and will recognize themselves immediately anyhow, but I’m living in hope:
The affable baby: “Benny Wrench”
The baby’s dad: “Gordy Wrench”
The baby’s mom: “Ruby Wrench”
A friend of mine from way back: “Slam Bridle”
The evening was winding down and a few of the attendees were beginning to disappear. Toddlers were getting cranky, the hosts were starting to clean up, it was That Time. I’d spent the last 10 or 15 talking with my old friend Slam, a funny guy with a story to tell, two young boys of his own and a baby on the way. He was giving me the low down on all things infant, which I appreciated. Advice from a truly wise and sincere friend like Slam is always welcome.
We were standing in the host’s kitchen, near a doorway to the outside and it wasn’t long before little Benny Wrench began crawling our way. Slam was doing a pretty admirable job of blocking the exit to keep Benny from escaping and tumbling out into the driveway. The kid’s parents, Gordy and Ruby, were nearby, keeping an occasional eye on things. Not obsessive, but occasional. Most of the adults there were parents, so the unspoken contract was a sort of Takes A Village-style childcare. Everyone was looking out for everyone’s kids.
All at once, Benny decided to abandon his plans of escape and he scooted himself over to a trashcan that I happened to be standing next to. He grabbed hold of it and raised himself up, eyeing a recliner a couple of feet away. And, careful as careful could be, Benny weeble-wobbled over to it.
I looked at Slam: “Did we just witness this kid’s first steps?”
He shrugged. “I think we might’ve.”
I looked over at Ruby and Gordy, who were involved in their own conversations. “Hey, Ruby,” I called out, “is Benny walking yet?”
So here’s the part where sanity and intelligence might’ve taken over. Any reasonable human being would smile and shrug and say, “oh, I don’t know. He looks pretty strong. Could be any day now, I bet!” It’s the mini-rubicon between sensitivity and douchery. Between Well Done, Jer! and What The Hell Were You Thinking? In my defense, I’m not technically a parent yet, so I… y’know, that’s no defense. I’m an ignoramus.
“I think Slam and I just saw his first steps!”
I’m not exactly sure what I was hoping for. Hugs? Applause? “What a great friend you are, to have caught what we’ve been anticipating since our son’s birth! Good eye!” The only real way I can describe Ruby’s expression was “dumbfounded.” She turned to her husband:
“Gordy! Did you see Benny take his first steps?”
“Jeremy and Slam are saying they saw it. Were you watching?”
“Wh? No! They’re lying!”
I looked at Slam, who refused to return the favor. He didn’t say a word, but his body language told the whole story: Abort, you asshat. ABORT.
Ruby glared at us. It was a Catch 22. She wanted the truth, but the truth was going to be heartbreaking. She held up a fist, the way girls do when they want to be taken seriously, but they’re out of options: “Guys, are you messing with me?”
“Y’know, it may not have been ‘walking’. It was more of a kind of… he, ok, he wobbled, is what he did. I mean, technically, were there ‘steps’ taken? I mean, sure. Maybe probably. I don’t know! Put it this way, if he was ‘walking’, he wasn’t very good at it. Ha ha…”
I looked up to take the room’s temperature. Ice cold. The moms assembled in particular were wearing expressions that seemed to signify that I’d just doused myself in kerosene and was holding a lit match. Like a fool, I continued.
“All right, the best thing to compare it to? What Benny did? It was kind of like a pivot. Like in basketball! That’s not walking, that’s pivoting. He used his pivot foot to, like, swing over to the chair. That’s no way for a walking person to get around, you ask me. I mean–”
Ruby waved off the rambling. “Okay, if Benny were playing basketball, would he be considered traveling?”
I looked at Slam, who was shaking his head. “Traveling,” I said. “That’s a good sort of measure. I like that. Yeah. Uh, I don’t know. But probably not. I want to say it was a pivot. A definite, probable pivot. I mean, for human beings, y’know, how many steps is considered walking? It’s a subjective–”
“TWO. TWO STEPS OR MORE WITHOUT FALLING! STEP-STEP!”
“DID HE STEP-STEP?”
Ruby grabbed Benny and went to confer with her husband. I searched the room for a friend. Somebody. Anybody. Even my wife wouldn’t look my way. I turned to Slam:
“Man, I don’t know what I saw! Was that kid walking or what?? I’m drowning here!”
He gave me the Take It Easy hand. I’ve been here, he seemed to say. Hush. I got this one.
Ruby returned, none too pleased. “Look, I just need to know if he walked, because if he walked I need to go home and write it down in The Book. So what happened?”
“Jeremy and I conferred on it,” said Slam, finally, thank god. “We made a ruling: he wasn’t walking.”
And that was that.
I mean, sure, I came out of it looking like a Grade A dildo who delights in screwing with unsuspecting moms and dads. But I guess that’s better than being the guy who steals major life moments from unsuspecting moms and dads. And anyway, who cares how I feel about it?
Later on, Slam’s wife told me she’d watched the whole thing go down and was trying to send me mental messages: “I thought, ‘if you really did see that kid take his first steps, dude, you’d better LIE.'”
I still don’t really know whether the kid walked or not. I’m content to go with Slam’s ruling, though. Little Benny’ll be bopping around any day now and I’ll be nowhere near him when his folks capture the whole thing on video. And that’s as it should be.
So, Tips On Triplets #1: Do as I say, not as I do.
In fact, scratch that. Just do neither.