Smitten


I took a guy with me when I met my friend Cheryl for dinner. The next day, she announced that it’s obvious I’m smitten. She’s right. In my wildest dreams, I would not have wanted someone like Brady in my life. He’s not my type. He’s short. He’s loud. He has the attention span of a gnat. He’s uneducated, naïve, and inconsiderate. His trendy clothes are ill fitting. But he is cute, and charming enough for me to seek out his company again and again.

Okay, this is what happened:

Last year, my roommate had a baby. I’d never lived in the same house as a baby so I was nervous. When Brady came home from the hospital, he was a slug with the personality of a wet tissue and the daily routine of a shark. He was an eating and excreting machine. And he made noise that could shatter glass. Luckily, after years of working in kennels, I was immune to loud, continuous noises. I thought I was immune to babies, too.

All of my friends adore babies. They love the way babies smell. They say that babies are fun. Yeah, fun as a headache. I prefer the quiet life. I could have been named the patron saint of a baby free lifestyle, but I lost to a single man in his late 30’s . Still, there was something about him that began to grow on me. When he and his Mom moved out, I became his nanny.

It wasn’t pretty.

I was intimidated by this little person and frustrated by my lack of knowledge. My expertise was with dogs. I often quipped that I’d be better off with a puppy, no, a whole litter of puppies, than with one baby. We struggled through each day without me accidentally killing him. I used to stand my dolls on their heads to dress them. This wasn’t much different. There were incidents of leaky diapers that I hadn’t installed properly, exploding bottles of formula, shampoo in his eyes, and pureed squash in his nose. The first time we went out in public, I didn’t know to bring a diaper bag, or not to feed him chocolate cake.

Almost overnight, Brady evolved from a slug to a rock-eater, the rarely named stage between a rug-rat and a drape-climber that involves crawling around in search of tiny things to eat off the floor. Things not visible to the adult eye. Things like pieces of gravel, single strands of dog hair, and grains of salt. I spent a lot of time following him around the house and systematically removing foreign objects from between his clenched jaws.

He began wreaking havoc on my house, laughing out loud the whole time. And he did it on all fours. He drooled, raided the dog dish, played with old dog toys, chewed my shoes, and smeared my sliding glass door with nose prints. That’s when it hit me. There’s not much difference between an eight-month-old baby and a dog! Hey, maybe I can do this!

The more he acted like a dog, the more enamored I became. Luckily, he doesn’t mind being treated like a dog. He enjoys chasing balls and shredding magazines. I enjoy having an opportunity to hone my dog training skills. In no time, I convinced him that the diaper pail was not a toy box. I taught him not to climb onto the open dishwasher door to lick the dishes. And I help him practice the tricks he’s learned, like raising his arms when we say “touchdown!”, throwing kisses, clapping his hands, and waving bye-bye. I was unsuccessful at deterring his fascination with what’s “down there” but, after all, he is a boy.

Now we’ve become a team. He calls me “eh” and I give him Indian names like “Little Ray of Sunshine”, “Dances with Rattle” and “Screams at Bedtime”. He doesn’t tell anyone when I make mistakes and I let him be a boy. I carry him in a backpack so he doesn’t have to ride in those sissy grocery cart seats and I give him a straw instead of a bottle or a sippy cup when we’re in public. We do laundry together. He stands beside me at the dryer, pulling out the wet clothes as I put them in. We peruse the Toys R Us catalog together. Instead of stressing about getting him to sleep, I put him down for naps and watch as he flops around like he’s trying out for the role of a letter on Sesame Street.

I’ve also started getting into the baby culture. My guest room is a nursery. The deck is a playpen. I actually own a high chair. I have a “plug” (pacifier) hanging from my rear view mirror. I don’t mind that my silver demitasse spoons double as drumsticks. And I change his diapers quickly and efficiently, even when he interferes by playing with his, er, bits and pieces. I even embroidered a t-shirt for him with the words, “Party. My Crib. 3am. BYOB”.

So, am I smitten? I’ve stopped denying that he’s mine when people compliment him, and his smile lights up my world.


Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at JKWragg@yahoo.com





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