“Alex, don’t crawl over daddy’s legs.”
“Alex, don’t crawl over daddy’s legs.”
“Alex don’t crawl … ALEX KEEP CRAWLING, YOU’RE KNEELING ON MY FAMILY JEWELS!”
And thus begins another morning of fatherhood…
My 18-month-old daughter Alex and I are lying in bed, channel surfing between Teletubbies (chubby colorful mutants from England), Barney (purple, irritating and moralistic ) and BOOBAH (giant multicolored dancing spermatozoa) as we wait for Mom to finish showering. Now, however, as Barney decides to do a two-step with the four perfect-looking children standing beside him, my toddler decides she wants to dance as well … right between my slightly skewed, covered legs.
“Alex, come sit beside Dad. I’ll buy you a pony.” She shakes her head vigorously and proceeds to wiggle her bum to the music. Finally, just before I think I’m about to have a grand mal spasm, my wife emerges from the bathroom to rescue me.
“How did it go?” she asks coyly.
“Fine,” I squeak, “except for my flattened–” BING-BONG.
“Hold that thought, Otto is here,” smiles Pam. Otto is my morning attendant, a large, gentle man who is obsessed with baseball trivia.
Thirty minutes later as I am lying in the bathtub, lathered up to be shaved by Otto, a little figure magically appears beside the tub. After watching the proceedings for a moment, she reaches over the edge of the tub, desperately trying to touch my face.
“Alexandra, don’t you have a cat that needs to be tortured?”
“‘Torture’ is actually against the Geneva Convention,” pipes up Pam as she walks into the bathroom, “and that includes cats.” She positions herself in front of the mirror and begins fiddling with her hair.
“Is there a postman, milkman or perhaps a nanny outside that we can invite in to the bathroom to join us?” I ask.
Suddenly there’s a squeal of delight as Alex’s outstretched finger comes in contact with my lathered face. Before I can respond, she sticks the lathered finger in her mouth.
“Did she put the soap in her mouth?” asks Pam, still at the mirror.
I feel slightly off guard, but respond calmly, “It’ll keep her regular.”
Alex smiles and reaches for more.
Twenty minutes later I’m lying on the bed, naked except for my glasses, watching the morning news (this morning they are reporting some unease in the Middle East–what a shock!) and listening to Otto’s lengthy discourse on Yankee catchers throughout history. As he is talking, he is also methodically trimming my toenails.
Alex wanders into the room and decides to play tickle-tickle with Dad’s feet. This is usually a safe, benign game that makes her laugh and doesn’t cause me any discomfort. However, this morning my body is still not functioning properly after having my ‘acorns’ nearly crushed, and as soon as Alex touches me, my leg flies straight up in the air and Otto utters the universally understood phrase, “Uh-Oh.”
As my leg flops back onto the bed, two things happen at once: Alex goes screaming down the hallway as if she’s seen Cher without makeup, and I notice blood.
It seems that while I was watching the re-run of Disagreement in the Desert, Otto was trimming ‘this little piggy stayed home’ and Alex was tickling the other foot. The leg (and foot and piggy) that Otto was working on was the one that actually flew into the air, causing ‘this little piggy’ to lose part of a nail.
After Otto cleans, cauterizes and bandages the wound, I finally get dressed and transfer into my wheelchair. Just as I’m wheeling down the hallway toward my much needed morning coffee, Pam comes around the corner carrying a rabid howling badger … no wait, it’s Alex and she’s more than ready for a nap.
“Going to give Dad a kiss before bed?” Pam asks the badger.
The badger shakes its head violently and growls. I take my chances anyway and plant a soft kiss on her cheek. She growls again and then is whisked away to her cave for a nap.
For the next 90 minutes Pam and I will try to get everything accomplished that we used to do over a full day. Needless to say, we’re four months behind, the exact amount of time Alex has been with us.
After nap time, three bites of lunch and the obligatory “four minutes of crying for no apparent reason,” Pam informs me that she needs to run a few errands. This means that I get to spend a couple of prime hours of daddy-daughter time with my only child. Otto left an hour before and my evening staff person isn’t expected for hours.
“No problem, I love babysitting,” I say cheerily.
“It’s called ‘parenting’ when she’s your own child,” says Pam with a glare.
“I knew that.”
As Pam quickly gathers her stuff together to head out, Alex realizes what’s going on and responds appropriately: “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Pam plants kisses on my cheek and Alex’s cheek and makes a beeline for the door, just as Alex hits a new decibel level.
Over the next two hours I will entertain and spoil my daughter to the best of my ability. Today, I decide that we are going to watch a Baby Einstein video, featuring animals from around the world. Alex knows this particular video forwards and backwards, and starts to imitate the animals before they are on the screen. As I watch her shake her head, imitating the “sock puppet monkey” on the screen, I am amazed at how much she has changed in four months.
When we first met her, on the little island of St. Vincent, she was eight months old. She must have thought we were very strange people, with Pam baptizing her with tears of joy and me staring at her in wonder and amazement. Unfortunately, we were forced to leave her on the island for another six months while paperwork was being completed. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, leaving my daughter behind. The next time we went back to St. Vincent, it was to bring her home to Canada.
It’s evening now. Alex and I are swatting a beach ball around in the living room, Pam is preparing supper in the kitchen, and the doorbell rings.
“I got it,” I yell. Alex follows me to the door and then moves directly behind my chair, clutching my wheelchair bag for dear life, as I open the door.
There stands a large furry man who informs me he is canvassing for a certain candidate running in our upcoming federal election, a candidate who does not exactly light my fire.
After rambling on for 30 seconds or so, he pops the question, “Can we count on your support?”
Without thinking (my lifelong trademark), I inform him that “I would rather have my penis slammed repeatedly in a car door than vote for your candidate.”
“KENNETH DAVIS!” explodes a voice from the kitchen, and from directly behind me, two-and-a-half feet off the ground: “Penis srammed.”
After hesitating for a moment, not sure who to address, I turn to Alex and enunciate slowly, “Pe-nis. SSS-lammed. Not ‘Srammed.’ Okay, sweetie?”
I notice out of the corner of my eye the canvasser is studying an imaginary bug on the ground. Finally, he slowly makes his way down the ramp.
That evening, Pam, Alex and I go for our usual walk around the duck pond in Assiniboine Park, stopping periodically to quack at a mother duck and her band of merry ducklings, and then head home to call it an early night.
As I lay in bed watching the Blue Jays get hammered by the Red Sox, Pam brings in Alex to lay on my chest for awhile. This is one of my favorite parts of the day, because not only do I get to cuddle with my daughter, but I now finally have someone to listen to my deep insights on sports, politics and various conspiracy theories.
“This is the way I see it. There is no such thing as the ‘curse of the Bambino.’ It is simply a matter of a Republican-led conspiracy that peddles fear and maybe a little money in the direction of the Red Sox. When Bill Buckner let the ball slip between his legs, who was in power? Ronald Reagan. Last year when it looked like a Cubs-Red Sox World Series and Pedro Martinez suddenly fell apart, who was in power? Dubya. Thus–”
“You do realize she was asleep 30 seconds after I placed her on you?”
“They say that people can actually learn in their sleep, so I’m pretty sure she’ll retain everything.”
“Right. So how was your day?”
“It was great. Alex hugged me twice, kissed me once and danced the ‘chicken dance’ with me while you were out. She said ‘penis’ with perfect clarity and laughed at all my funny faces. What else could a father ask for?”