Comedy of Errors
Last night I offered to watch Jackson, Clarice and Ian’s nine-month-old little boy. I’m a big fan of Jackson and have been eager to take a turn watching him so that the Eyre’s could have some time to be out of the house on their own. I had not however, before last night, ever watched a baby by myself.
Undaunted, I went to their house, relieving Michelle of her duties. She showed me Clarice’s to-do list and also walked me through diaper changing — when I was quick to observe that Jackson did not like being put on his back, as he rather quickly commenced screeching at the top of his lungs. Alright, I thought, we won’t have to take care of that until later, and besides Clarice’s note says that it should only be a “pee diaper,” so that couldn’t be too bad.
We played for a little while, and then it was dinner time. Jackson is developing motor skills, so he grabbed freely at a small pile of vegetables on this high chair tray, raising carrots and peas and corn and green beans up to his mouth and usually smacking his fist into his cheek instead of getting the food into his mouth. After finishing the veggies and Gerber, it was time for his bottle of formula. Clarice’s note said that the bottle was to be given “in the lap,” so I prepared it and prepared my own dinner, taking the food out to the living room to eat. I went back to the high chair to collect Jackson and when I lifted him out of the chair, I noticed a wet spot growing in his pants.
So, I took him to the changing table and gave him his little stuffed kitty to disctract him and try to calm the crying. I got his pants off and was surprised to see a gigantic clump of poo, about the consistency of Play-Doh, oozing out of his diaper and smearing onto the changing pad. Jackson’s screams increased in pitch and register. I tossed the diaper and cleaned him off, scooting him away from the clumps of excrement. However, I quickly found that I didn’t have enough adequate changing room for him, so I moved him, half-naked and wailing, onto the nearby bed.
I swiftly grabbed a diaper and moved to change him, but just as quickly witnessed a fount of urine spurt into the air, landing on the bedspread and his shirt. Wails continued and increased. I was already flummoxed but the pee really threw me of the edge. Jackson screaming bloody death did not help matters. What are the neighbors going to think? Can they hear me? Does it sound like I’m abusing this boy? All these thoughts ran through my head as I cleaned him off again and tried to get his shirt over his head. This was the worst — everytime I tried to get the shirt up around his face, the decible level of his crying spiked to a banshee’s wail. Flustered, I couldn’t loosen the bottom button with my one free hand, as the other was holding him, trying to keep him verticle, ’cause the second I suggested putting him on his back, his crying would get worse.
Now would be a good time to point out that I had never witnessed anxious, crying Jackson. Every time I’d seen him, he was relatively quiet and personable. Not this demon seed I encountered last night.
So, because every possible surface in the room besides his crib was soiled, I had to take him out to the living room, where I spread out a small baby blanket and laying him down, grabbing a clean diaper and his nighttime onesie along the way. When I laid him on the blanket again, his face grew red and his mouth cranked open in a silent, maddened scream.
With an ounce more of resolve, I managed to get the diaper on without incident and the onesie on and fastened and by the time I picked him up again, relative calm had returned to the house.
Jackson began crying everytime he’d look at me for several minutes after, but after some time in front of one of his musical toys, he was smiling and laughing again. Bedtime was a breeze, and he didn’t make a peep until his parents came home.
I know Clarice and Ian to be pretty laid-back individuals, so I didn’t have any fear that they’d be upset when I recounted the story to them, and I was right, as they laughed gails of laughs as I explained why the washing machine was running at 10:30 at night. That was a much different reaction than my own. Fortunately, the feeling didn’t stick, but for about twenty minutes I was seriously doubting my ability to take care of children, wondering if I was cut out for parenthood.
Those thoughts subsided as I witnessed their levity in the situation and this morning as I got ready to leave for church, I prayed for the ability to laugh at myself and otherwise difficult and serious situations when things got tough. God is answering my prayer by making me go through situations where I would normally get upset. This morning, for instance — directing service was an entirely different comedy of errors that resulted in some pretty good belly laughs for myself and my production team. And now my busted phone (see below).