bearded like the pard


Dear as-yet-born baby,

You are really freaking me out. I mean this in an incredibly loving way, but here in the waning days before your arrival, I am suddenly seeing you at six years old, screaming your brains out at me because I didn’t put the right lunchpail in your school satchel, and it’s all quite chilling.

We watched The Happiest Baby On the Block DVD today, and I prayed that one of the “5 S’s” would be able to quell your shrieks. Or will you not shriek at all? You won’t be a boy, so there will be no urine on the ceiling, but I have heard tales, O, such tales!, of babies with colic who scream for three solid months unabated.

I hold your mom’s belly, massaging it, hoping that it will relax those ideas out of you, but it’s really just superstition. They say that in order to have the brains of a homo sapiens, we had to come out of the womb early, so the first three months will actually be a “fourth trimester,” with you as naught but a fetus on dry land. I have lowered my expectations; like all humans who watch movies, I had been convinced that babies come out looking like – well, what five-month-olds actually look like.

I should be ready for this. I changed diapers three times a day for my sister, I assuaged the screams of about 20 of my newborn cousins, and I raised our next-door neighbor from about ten weeks to two years. I have seen it all. I have seen my sister’s pinkie dangling from her hand when Sean shut the door on it; I saw Sean’s bloodied face when he rolled his walker down the basement stairs. I have been on a road trip to New Mexico in a Winnebago with five toddlers screaming in blood-curdling tandem. And still I’m afraid.

A few years ago, I would not have brought you into this world. I thought this place was so awful, a rotten country with moronic leaders and terrorists willing to blow us to bits. I told your mother that there was no way we were bringing you into that atmosphere. The world hasn’t really changed, so I guess I have.

I had to realize that my existence wasn’t going to last forever, my petty theories were worthless, and that the best moments came in glances rather than declarations. When I got my act together just enough, someone as fantastic as your mother agreed to hang out with me for life. Since then, I had to find the fine line between my Mormon survivalism and my laissez-faire nihilism, and when I did, finally, I knew it was okay to hang out with you for life too.

This is going to stop being about me, I swear. You have to understand that when you fight for emotional survival the way your mom and I did, the way I had to negotiate myself out of the school playground without getting traumatized, the way your mom had to outlast the cruel vicissitudes of her father, it has taken all of our wiles to get here. Further, we decided to be “artists,” for lack of a better word, which hinges our financial future on things that are, well, “all about us.”

I know you’ll cure us of that solipsism right quick. But understand that your parents are going to need a while to get used to the new arrangement. I can’t wait to meet you. Come out soon, and come out as painlessly as possible, as your mother will not be taking any drugs.

Oh, and shoot for April 6 or 7. You know, if you can.

with love,

your future dad

0 thoughts on “bearded like the pard

  1. mom

    Dear future granddaughter,
    Could you maybe make it day or two sooner than your futuredad has earmarked? I need to fly to California on the 9th, and I’d like to be able to hold you for more than a day or two before I take off.
    And yes, take it easy on your futuremom. She has done everything right for you, prepared as much as anyone possibly could for the big event. She has taken very good care of you both since the minute your first cell divided. She deserves your consideration.
    And you don’t need to be a screamer. Your futuredad has taken care of all that long before you were even conceived. He’s also made some very cool and loving preparations for your arrival, so come on home, Peanut. We’re all eager to meet you.
    Oh, and if I only get to see you a day or so before I go to California, well, I’ll be back. I wouldn’t miss you for anything.
    Love, Futuregramma

  2. Killian

    Dear-future-adopted niece-
    Since I fulfill the “Auntie Mame” role for a number of children, [sons and daughters of my sisters AND of dearest friends], let me offer my services/advices to you. First, come out whenever you damn well please–your artistic parents (most probably your dad, on this account) will find a way to interpret your arrival in the best possible way vis-a-vis the beloved Tarheels, so just show up, and the party will be magnificent! And the love of a futuregramma can never be thwarted–she will be back!
    Second, I ditto the request to be as painless as possible to your beloved mom–although she has tremendous strength and the capacity to bear pain with amazing grace, just please give her a break. If not for her, for yourself: you do NOT want to be that 30-something grrrl on the couch whose mom reminded her every DAY how much GRIEF you gave her coming into the world! {NOT that Tessa would be that mom . . }
    And third, THANK YOU for coming into said world. I am one of those “I thought this place was so awful, a rotten country with moronic leaders and terrorists willing to blow us to bits…there was no way we were bringing you into that atmosphere.” But unlike your dad, I never changed enough (on THAT score, at least). . . So I shamelessly derive my life’s satisfaction from working with OTHER people’s children, and if you ever want dance lessons withOUT all the screwy body-image stuff, I am your gal.
    Come on, baby riot grrrrl. The world is waiting!
    aunt kiki

  3. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Those last few days before my daughter was born always seemed the longest. I stopped working 2 weeks before my due date, thinking that the baby would come “any day.” Wrong. So, I spent those 2 weeks watching “A Baby Story” and answering all the calls from friends and family asking “is the baby here yet? When is the baby coming?”
    You are so ready and prepared for this baby! Sounds like you had a lot more preparation and hands-on experience than I ever did, and Helen survived. You will be fine!
    By the way, I am still predicting an April 1 birthday.

  4. CL

    Dear baby girl,
    Your parents are brilliant, and your father is a wonderful writer whose musings we luckily get to enjoy. I know that when you arrive, these blog entries may get shorter and shorter, but someday you will bring your perspective to the world as well, however you choose to do it.

  5. JodyK

    I think you should review Genesis. Pain during childbirth is one of the punishments bestowed upon Eve for her shenanigans… a concept I don’t think you would embrace given the current societal climate. Or, to quote my old man, “the four most important words during any delivery are ‘I want my epidural!'” Then, even if April 4th is the date, you and Tessa will be able to relax and watch the Final; the contraction monitor will tell you when to push. Andrea left the best Ob/Gyn in town and let 1st year resident Vic Randolph deliver the Binkster because he said “You’re the boss”. Just what she needed to hear at the time.
    Oh, by the way, better go ahead and get all the ‘solipsism’ and ‘Laissez-faire nihilism’ out of your system this week ’cause you’re not going to be using terms like that in casual household conversation for awhile. Best of luck!

  6. Sean

    You keep mentioning the screaming. I can’t help but wonder if some of that isn’t your (and my) memories of how much Dad hated any and all noise we ever made. Keep in mind, in your heart of hearts, you’re a screamer. You and Tessa both. She can be heard in the back row when she’s hosting an event, and you can be heard in the next county when your hoisting a terrible lay-up.
    Let her scream. Dad won’t be there. You’ll be Dad, you get to decide if the screaming’s okay, and I bet you decide it is. You’re gonna be great at this.

  7. Alan

    You’ll be fine except if you screw up and even then everyone does to one degree or another giving the next generation the necessary basis for both art and much of psychiatry. You also get to be a star from time to time, sometimes at the same time.
    Welcome to the big leagues of adulthood.

  8. michelle

    Dear Peanut,
    It’s your futureaunt writing, the one who lives out in California. I’m really excited that you are coming, for any number of reasons, but largely because you will be the first girl born to this family since I was born in 1972. I was the fifth-born, with four big brothers who have watched my back for 32 years. You will be first-born, the oldest of all the little chickens to come- Sean’s and Jordi’s and (ye gods willing) mine. There comes a fair amount of responsibility, I imagine, being the oldest. But know that all of us, all of us futureaunts and futureuncles and futuregrammas and futureadoptedaunts and uncles will have your back. We already do.
    When you are my age, I will be 62 years old.
    So hurry up and get here, and yes, be nice to futuremama on your way out.

  9. Bozoette Mary

    Ah, Ian! My now-cop son had colic; screamed for three months, just as you fear. But we survived; more to the point, he did too, even though yours truly toyed with the idea of dropping him out of the second-floor window once in the dead of night.

  10. Greg

    Our son (now almost 3 yrs old) was colicky. It ain’t nothing but a thang. Sure it was annoying and we had many sleepless nights, but they don’t last forever and it’s mainly the sleeplessness that gets you. Hopefully you won’t have to face that issue, but in the meanwhile, don’t let the anticipation stress you out.

  11. Emily

    Tessa…don’t take the drugs unless you want to!
    Congratulations to you all, by the way.
    We have a very small Carolina-related something that we would love to send you guys for the baby if that’s ok. The Alumni Directory has two different addresses for Asset Pictures – are they both still valid?
    This is Emily Ball (’92) and Marty Desjardins (’91) from the Lab!

  12. lyle

    i concur with all the good wishes above, even the conflicting epidural advice (in other words, either approach is fine if it’s what tessa wants; as that first-year resident said, she’s “the boss!”).
    but no one’s mentioned breastfeeding! good luck with starting that off, as well. it can be challenging to get the hang of it. if tessa tries nursing, i encourage you both to seek support and info from family, friends, your (i presume) progressive pediatrician, and la leche league or similar (despite its stigma as a group of militants nursing their kids into college, i found my local meetings to be attended by interesting women with lots of helpful tips [some of these people became my first fellow-mommy-friends]). LLL’s unofficial motto is “take what you want and leave the rest.” so if you want to nurse three months, for instance, absorb the advice on establishing a good milk supply but ignore the tips on weaning a toddler.
    you might be surprised how quickly many people who care about you and your daughter will try to talk you OUT of nursing — especially during the early, particularly sleep-deprived weeks. just remember that you guys’ll be getting up anyway to feed the baby, by bottle or boob, and it’s a lot easier for a half-asleep mom to stick a boob in the baby’s mouth than it is to mix up a warm bottle at 1am (and 3am, and 5am, etc…).
    unfortunately it’s a hot-button topic, very sensitive for some people who feel uncomfortable with the idea. good luck having a go at nursing. and if it doesn’t work out — well, that’s ok , too, cuz your baby will have your love either way, the MOST important thing. (i never got a single drop of breastmilk and it certainly didn’t stunt my growth or IQ; i’m 5’8″ and knew not to vote for bush. hee hee!)

  13. Tanya

    Man, I bet you can hear a clock ticking in your brain without even thinking about it right about now, eh?
    Best of luck to the whole family. As you can see, the advice just keeps coming and coming and coming. ;) Trust me, it never stops.
    Add me to the very long list of peeps who hope/pray that Baby Williams comes into this world (and stays) healthy and happy! Enjoy the wild ride!

  14. lyle

    tanya’s tactful comment helped me realize that i was doing to ian earlier what countless people do to me, which annoys the hell out of me, and that is, give unsolicited (dare i say, preachy?) parenting advice. i’m sorry!
    seconds to the hope for a “healthy and happy” baby, cuz that’s all that counts. good luck!


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