As a new parent and stay-at-home dad who finds my son’s crusty boogers in my own hair on a nearly daily basis, I am not so narcissistic to think that I’m anything special. His treatment of me as a human napkin eliminates any possibility of having an inflated ego. Still, I’d like to think that, as the adult, I could maintain some dignity as the “mature one.” But, with each new booger found, I lose a little more self-confidence. Am I really any better at life than my 9-month-old son? I decided to take a closer look, and here’s what I found:
1. He doesn’t judge me when I smell.
I toot, he smiles. I kiss him with my morning dragon breath, he smiles. I hug him in my two-day-old, unshowered squalor…he smiles. He loves me at my absolute worst — not an ounce of judgement.
Yet, every single time he needs a diaper change, I treat him like I’m handling radioactive plutonium ore. I curse his stench under my dragon breath. I sneer at him for having the audacity to poop in his own pants. Basically, I judge my baby for things that are completely unavoidable, all while subjecting him to my own, completely avoidable nastiness and taking his perpetual tolerance for granted.
2. He savors his food.
Since my son has come along, “savor” has essentially left my vocabulary. I’ve started eating so fast that it’d be more productive and enjoyable to take my food intravenously while I sleep, like a coma patient. I want to take a vacation day, just so I can eat at a reasonable pace. (Put the world on notice: The bar has been set for world’s saddest reason to take a vacation day.)
But, as much as I love food, my son’s love of eating is an act of pure, unbridled joy on a guttural level. He gently picks up his food and admires it like a jeweler examining a pristine ruby. He tests the subtle textures of his meal. He swishes his food around in his mouth like he’s at a fancy wine tasting. He’s a master sommelier of pureed apples. The other day he ate a crunchy banana cream waffle wheel for upwards of 30 minutes. He essentially licked and gummed a piece of semi-solid food and liquified it before finally swallowing it triumphantly. But, alas, as he sat raptured with edible elation, I unceremoniously inhaled my lunch like I was in a chicken tenders eating contest where first prize was indigestion. (Spoiler alert: I won.)
3. He can climb steps faster than me.
Look, I joined a gym. I’m working on it.
4. His favorite things are free.
For years, my dog’s favorite treat was a simple ice cube. It was an awesomely welcome relief to the bank account of a college student. But now my dog is dead (I don’t even know why you’d bring this up, you thoughtless wretch), and I instead have a child who’s putting a heavy dent in my ability to gamble on important things like fantasy baseball by forcing me to buy ridiculous baby “necessities” like “food” and “clothes.” It’s totally obnoxious.
But, thankfully, we have discovered that many of his favorite things in life are free. Silly faces, wind, random kitchen utensils, the carpet, a tape measure — all instant infant classics. If I want to splurge on something to entertain myself, I’m going to empty my bank account on some electronic gadget that will be in our garage sale pile by next Monday. If my kid needs a new toy, it’s to the junk drawer I go.
5. He gets everything he wants without even having to ask for it.
I wanted a puppy for Christmas (like I said, my dog died, I cannot figure out why you keep bringing this up), but instead I got kitchen appliances so I can cook for my wife more. My son asked for nothing, he wanted nothing, yet he received no less than 40 toys which currently occupy 87.3% of our house.
For Christmas, I was given $100 toward a new bike. Did I buy a new bike? Nope. I bought a new storage ottoman to house all of my son’s new toys. So, at least I’m living in a world that is totally fair and even, I’m in no way bitter about it, and I don’t sit up at night thinking about it.
6. He has all the women in his life wrapped around his little finger.
In case I wasn’t sure why No. 5 is happening, I only have to look to No. 6. My son is his grandparents’ only grandchild. He is our only child. He has crafty aunts who live to make him things. The women at church huddle around him to squeeze cheeks like a pack of rabid cantaloupe shoppers. The boy hasn’t spent more than a few waking hours without being ogled over by some woman or another. He’s my Burberry baby: loved by women worldwide, costs a pretty penny, and my wife would divorce me if I dropped it down the stairs.
7. He isn’t burdened with pesky inhibitions.
He poops where and when he wants. The Queen of Denmark could be holding him, and if he has to poop, it is going to happen. You have to respect that. The other day he was meeting one of the most elder and respected members of our church, and he sneezed actual boogers directly onto her face. He then promptly went about his business like he hadn’t just projected snot rockets onto an adult woman’s chin. It was amazing. The last time I sneezed on an elderly woman’s face, I quickly ran out of the nursing home in shame. Someone tell grandma I miss her.
8. He has perfected the ability to hold a perfect pitch while pooping.
Speaking of lacking inhibitions, the boy holds concerts while he defecates. It starts with a low hum. As he pushes harder, it becomes a sustained grunt. By the time he explodes, he is holding a high C, well on his way to being The Fourth Tenor. (I guess that makes my son the fecal Pavarotti?) I invite you to attend his next Bowel Movement in E Minor.
9. He loves unconditionally.
He smiles the moment he sees his mommy in the morning. He gets excited every time I pick him up. He completely loses his cool every time he sees our cats. To be honest, it’s in a sort of scary and psychotic way — he charges at the cats as fast as his hands and knees will carry him, screaming banshee cries in his misguided attempt to force affection upon them. I’ve tried this with women, and it does not work, so my son is going to have to hone his skills. Still, the effort to love unconditionally is there.
Of all the reasons to be jealous of my son’s zest for life (and perfection of it), this has to be the one I most wish I could emulate. He is fully filled with glee on a daily basis. He holds no reservations in his love and appreciation. Sure, this has led to a bout of separation anxiety that has negatively impacted his sleep and his exposure to the occasional day care situation, but I can’t be mad when his middle-of-the-night tears are because he just misses us so much. It’s a love that I can aspire to have, though I know I never will. I’m a judgmental, unappreciative, greedy, and totally normal adult. Sometimes I wish the world was more like my son — but maybe without all the poop.