Aren't babies just wonderful?


WITH A NEW baby in the family, these have certainly been . . . THUD! Whew, sorry. Must have dozed off for a minute. Banged my head on the keyboard. Looks like a nasty lump forming. No blood, though, so that's good.

Anyway, I was about to say that with a new baby in the family, these have certainly been interesting times, particularly as we explore the outer limits of sleep deprivation and its attendant symptoms: grogginess, irritability, dangerous acceleration of the central nervous system, vivid hallucinations, etc.

The other night at 3 a.m., for example, I saw Benito Mussolini standing in my kitchen eating a chocolate chip cookie.

But all you do in a situation like that is close your eyes and try to remain calm.

Then you say to yourself: C'mon, what would a deceased Fascist dictator (who, incidentally, was raised on a diet of pasta, sausage, etc.) be doing with a chocolate chip cookie? Especially at that hour?

Eventually, the vision went away and I was able to stop my hands from shaking long enough to retrieve a bottle of sugar water for the baby's hiccups.

In addition to wildly erratic sleep patterns, however, the baby has also brought a tremendous amount of joy into our lives, as well as other emotions that escape me at the moment because a thick layer of haze has settled over my brain.

Maybe if I just close my eyes for a . . . Huh? Geez . . . drifted off again. Gotta get some shut-eye. Scribbled a few notes last night, maybe we can flesh the column out:

8:20 p.m. -- The baby is crying. Why is the baby crying? Is something wrong?

8:45 -- The baby is quiet. Why is the baby so quiet? Is something wrong?

9 -- The baby is sleeping. Why is the baby sleeping so much? What's he done all day. I'm the one who needs sleep.

10 -- The baby is eating. That's all this kid does: eat, eat, eat. At this rate, we'll be telling him to mix in a salad by the time he's 3. Then it'll really get ugly: Nutri-Systems at age 4, summer camp for fat kids when he's 8, the whole vicious diet/binge cycle in his teen years.

10:30 -- The baby is crying. Maybe a song will quiet him down. OK, kid. Here's an old Van Morrison tune. Goes something like this: Ohhhh, Domino . . . roll me over, Romeo . . . I said ah-ooohhhhh, DOM-I-NO! Take it, horns! Dum, da da da . . .

10:31 -- All right, that didn't work. Baby is wailing as if someone hacked off his arm. Damning indictment of my singing voice or unfortunate choice of recording artist? Let's try a country tune.

10:32 -- God, you talk about a hostile audience! Sang a little ditty about the guy who gets drunk and rams his pickup into a tree after his wife takes up with a Ferris wheel operator. Too depressing for a one-month old? No way to tell. Volume level now approaching that of shuttle Columbia at liftoff.

10:40 -- Baby still crying. This is why some animals eat their young.

10:45 -- I think he's asleep! Shhhhh! If the phone rings now, I will kill whoever is on the other end. Do you hear me? I will personally drive over to the caller's house with a chain saw, fire that baby up and climb through a window. No door bells.

2:45 a.m. -- A piercing siren goes off in the distance. Maybe we should put on some clothes and walk quickly to the underground bunker and . . . Huh? Oh, it's the baby crying. Maybe he's hungry. "Duh, no kidding," says my wife. Boy, some people wake up grumpy.


3:20 -- The baby is wide awake. The baby is gurgling. The baby is waving his arms like he's conducting the symphony. This kid might not go back to sleep until next Tuesday. You stay up with him, I say to my wife. Vicious argument ensues over who's working on less sleep. I know she is, but this is no time to be gracious. This is a time to be whining and deceitful.

3:45 -- The baby is crying. So much for sleep. If this woman had any decency, she'd take this screaming child downstairs and let me get some sleep. Hell, I'm supposed to play racquetball tomorrow. How's it going to look when I stumble on the court bleary-eyed and get whipped 15-2?

4:15 -- OK, OK, I'll rock the baby for a while. My wife climbs back in bed. Look at her, lying there with her eyes closed! All she has to do tomorrow is watch three kids, cook, clean, run the baby to his doctor's appointment, etc. Big deal. Did I mention I'm playing racquetball? I should mention that.

4:30 -- The baby is asleep! The baby is asleep! It's morning in America.

Boy, it gets here early.

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