"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby's Day Out

Yesterday was Xander's first excursion out of the house since he's been home. We've taken him to monthly doctor appointments, but that just means a return to the hospital from whence he came, so they don't count. This escapade has Xander exploring the interior of Office Depots heretofore unknown, and searching the wild continents of Smashburger for midday sustenance.

The dark spot means you're breathing wrong.
In order to tell the story correctly, I will set the backdrop. For fear of raging infection, and due to the run-of-the-mill first-time-parent paranoia of my wife, we declared early on that, excluding doctor visits, Xander wouldn't leave the house until RSV season was over, which is sometime after his seventeenth birthday, I think. Despite this edict, last week Xander came down with a cold anyway. The doctor called it bronchiolitis, which is the infant form of "I can't breath due to the mucus-gunk building up in my airway."

A cough advanced gradually, and he sneezed more often as the days marched by. His wee sneezes are quiet and cute. I call them "sneezels," perhaps unfortunately. My sneezes, by comparison, are explosive. They cannot be contained. I don't feel like I'm much of a sneezer. No allergies, and I'm pretty healthy, not prone to flu or infections. But when I do sneeze when I happen to get a cold--because that's exactly what happened; my daughter brought it home, my wife kept it here, Xander grabbed hold for a week, then he stuck it right in front of me like a handoff in front of an open lane and I had to run with it. Anyway, that sentence got away from me. Let's bypass my sneezing and move on.

Xander had one bad night where he didn't sleep much, and by the time we got him to the doctor, he was over the worst of it and was going to be just dandy. That's when I got it, and when I sneeze--wait, sorry. Never mind. The point is to notice the irony that we had done everything we could to protect Xander from any infirmity and he still got sick.

The other development that precipitated Xander's day out was May's new job. The short explanation is that she was granted leave from teaching the rest of the year and all of next year in order to be at home with the boy. (I've been waiting fifteen years to be able to refer to my own son that way; Hank Hill and Homer Simpson are such role models.) Her last day at school was Friday even though my paternity leave doesn't end until April. The reason for this is that, in order to facilitate our lives financially, she obtained employment with a company she used to work for years ago because they would allow her to work from home. Earlier this week, this company shipped her a computer she will use in this new position, and we decided she needed a tidy workspace. The only way to make that happen was to purchase a computer desk and cram it into the corner by the piano.

So, with the necessity of new furniture looming, and the realization that in spite of our best efforts Xander still managed to catch a cold, we suited up for our journey, zipped Xander into a jacket he's worn once and which is already too small, prepared a diaper bag, changed Xander's oxygen tank to the portable one, strapped him into his car seat, wrapped a thick plastic bubble around the entire car, and were on our way to freedom. Driving carefully, we rolled along, like a hamster or an American Gladiator. Adventure awaited.

Where's my flying car?
The first stop on our grand tour of the wide world: Office Depot. We found a swell, futuristic-looking desk, like something out of the Jetsons, see. I had to build it later at home. No cursing involved, unless you count, "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid," as a curse word.

Xander does not like his car seat. Being strapped in, minus the s, cannot be comfortable. He already has little control over his limbs, and the strait jacket effect of the car seat contraption limits his movement so much that he rails against it. Nevertheless, the seat conveniently attaches to a stroller, so instead of taking him out of the thing, we just left him trapped in there and propelled him around the store. We only walked away from the stroller once to look at floor mats down an aisle and it was only a few minutes before we realized neither of us had the stroller. Don't worry. The stroller was there when we got back.
Strapped in? Anxiety face.

Unbuckled? Do a jig.
Xander seemed a little surprised at his surroundings. The bright florescence of the lighting. The exotic voices from the mysterious people. It wasn't until we had to wait for the store guy to go find the chair we wanted that Xander got too anxious. May picked him up and noticed that he had a full diaper at the same time that the store guy returned with our merchandise. That's how May was able to perform her first open air diaper surgery. While I played Tetris with the desk-in-a-box and the already-assembled swivel chair in order to get them into the back of our Mazda 5 that always seems quite spacious until I actually have to put something in it, May put Xander in the back seat and displayed his nakedness to the world. Actually, she was very discreet. Nobody saw nothin'.

May then had to fax a document to her new employer, so I dropped her off at the UPS Store and I drove across the plaza to the gas station. Xander was again uncomfortable in his car seat, but he remained quiet as I pulled into the station. I proceeded to pump the gasoline and wipe the windshield clean. Then I noticed Xander through the side window. He was silently screaming. Mouth wide, eyes tight, arms akimbo. May usually sits in the back seat with him, but here he was, belted into accommodations more constricting than coach on a Southwest flight, Mom and Dad not within smelling distance, hungry...what would you do? Xander isn't really a loud crier, so from the outside looking in it seemed much worse than it sounded when I opened the car door to reassure him I was there. Still, he was pretty upset.

If there's one surefire way to sooth a crying baby, it's driving. It never failed me with my older girls. I quickly completed my transaction and drove. I was prepared to go to Kansas if that's what it took. It was a short distance back to the UPS store where May was waiting, and gratefully he calmed down quickly. What's more, by the time we drove to another section of the commercial district, he was fast asleep.

Shameless shill. Best burgers.
We were able to partake of the gustatory genius that is Smashburger without incident. Xander slept. We ate Smashburger. Everybody wins.

Important Addendum: Please don't take our momentary lack of reason as an invitation to bring your sticky-fingered children over to visit. We're not taking Xander out again any time soon. It's a big bad world out there. Only bearable in small doses.


  1. I always yell "Hulk SMASHburger!" every time we drive past that place. It makes me happy. I don't know why. I'm sure it annoys everyone else, especially Jazzy.

    I'm glad you got a taste of freedom. I also love the jig picture.

  2. This is funny. Much funnier than the actual experience. Speaking of driving to Kansas, did I tell you that my plane landed in Kansas and then we taxied from there to the terminal. You'd think they could put the runways a little closer to the airport. See I can be funny too.

  3. Aaahhh, the first outing with a new baby. Priceless. It's like you've never breathed fresh air before, isn't it?

    I don't know why they have to make those car seats so constricting. I mean, would YOU sit in something like that if you had a choice? NO!!! No you wouldn't!!! However, despite how uncomfortable they may look, both my kids slept like little rocks in those car seats. I called them "Hibernation Chambers". A very accurate description, I think.

    Last of all, I desperately wish there was a way to keep kids from spreading disease in their wake no everywhere they go. It's upsetting. Seriously.

  4. Baby Xander: Conquering the world one Office Depot at a time! WHOOO!

    I thought that the car thing was an urban legend they use for fodder in movies. I had no idea it actually works.

    I applaud your lack of swearing when building the desk. Did you feel mighty when you finished?

  5. @ Charlie: Now I will forever think "Hulk Smash" every time I eat there. That's not a bad thing, I guess.

    @ May: DIA is in Kansas. That's funny.

    @ Candice: I have a friend who's child car seat straps are so tight, I can't get the baby in. I don't know how she does.
    I have another friend who's children actually brought bed bugs home with them from school. Not cool. Not cool at all.

    # Chanel: One night with one of my daughters, I drove around the neighborhood for hours because she would only sleep as long as the car was moving. Every time I thought she was sound asleep and went home, as soon as I stopped the car, she would wake up. Now I've got a motorized swing we put Xander in during the day. It works the same. If I didn't wake him up to feed him, sometimes I think he wouldn't ever wake up.
    And I felt mighty mighty at the end of the two hours it took to put that stupid desk together. Mighty mighty.