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Fun Fact: Nothing Makes Me Laugh Harder Than a Crying Baby
byPaul UlaneSep 24, 2015
Fun fact I just learned during month 13 of fatherhood: apparently nothing makes me laugh harder than a crying baby. Obviously if you just dropped your baby on its head and it's screaming, then you should probably stop reading this and go to the hospital. But other than that, trust me, there are few things in life funnier than a weeping infant. It's not cruel. It's the truth. Babies cry all the time and 99 percent of the time, it's total bullshit. So go ahead, yuk it up at their crocodile tears. I'm giving you permission.
There are many manipulative ways an infant will start shrieking and kicking and clawing and poking to get her way. And it definitely used to work. But now that I'm a hardened father, and, more important, a father with a creaky back who doesn't sleep as much as he wants anymore, I am not going to relent and pick this thing up every time she pitches a fit. Especially since she's almost always faking it. And the faker, the funnier.
The outrageously dramatic reactions to totally mundane daily hiccups are impossible not to enjoy. There's the "Why aren't you letting me play with the plugged-in hairdryer?" cry. Or the "Give me more food" howl. That one is usually quickly followed up by the "Stop giving me so much food" yelp. There's the "Please don't change me, I'm having so much fun crawling around in my own feces" cry. Or the "You just put me down for a nap and I can't keep my eyes open I'm so exhausted but I will refuse to go to sleep anyways" shriek. The hits keep coming.
Every time she learns how to do things without me, like drink her bottle ... or using her toys properly... I'm proud and then immediately upset and worried that she's going to grow up too quickly without me.
The bottom line is, my kid is learning how to communicate. Sure, it's a form of blackmail — I cry, you give me what I want or else I will keep crying and ruin your day and your life and your adult relationships — but blackmail is still a form of communication, right? I'm going to take it as a positive sign. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. 13 months into life and we have an open dialogue. (I'm pretty sure it's more open now than it will be at 13 years, but that's something to worry about some other time.)
Unfortunately, the communication is a pretty frustrating one-way street right now. I know exactly what my daughter wants, exactly when she wants it. My daughter, on the other hand, doesn't seem to take many hints. She is not picking up what I am putting down. (Unless it's a choking hazard, in which case she will immediately pick it up and put it in her mouth.) She's still working out the concept of the word "No." And "Stop." And really anything I try to convey other than "Yes, I will pick you up and carry you wherever you want to go."
So I'm working on it. But the fact that she's learning so much so quickly has made the communication barriers far easier to breakthrough than I originally expected. And whenever I do manage to stop her from electrocuting herself (or the cat), it's just another sign that the little girl is finally starting to catch on. And the more she can figure out by herself, the less I have to do. The first time I caught her figuring out how to push her own walking cart across the apartment, I nearly shed a tear. I can't describe the feeling of pure joy I felt knowing I would never have to lean over again at that horrible, awkward angle required to help her play along on that awful thing. (I'm sure part of that emotion was tied to achieving another developmental milestone, but most of it was back pain-related.)
Each new milestone does bring with it a harsh dose of reality. Every time my daughter learns how to do something new and on her own, it's another step closer to college. It's not easy managing that contradiction: I'm supposed to teach this thing to become an independent human being. And yet every time she learns how to do things without me, like drink her bottle for breakfast in her own chair in front of the TV without being watched, or using her toys properly without swallowing something that might kill her, I'm proud and then immediately upset and worried that she's going to grow up too quickly without me.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, laugh at your helpless, sobbing kids now. It won't last forever.