by Nick Hoppe
My niece gave birth to a beautiful baby girl the other day, and my wife and I couldn’t wait to go see the little bundle of joy.
“Have you had your shots yet?” my niece asked.
“Your whooping cough vaccine and your flu vaccine,” she replied matter-of-factly. “You can’t hold the baby until you get your shots.”
“You’re kidding, right?” I said. “I have to get inoculated before I can see your baby?”
“You can see her, you just can’t hold her,” she answered. “Whooping cough is very dangerous for infants, and it’s going around.”
Fortunately, I hate holding little babies. But my wife made me get the shots anyway, just in case I got an urge. So, whooping cough- and flu-free, we went off to see the newest addition to our family.
As babies go, this one was pretty cute. Lots of hair, perfectly formed, nice color to her. All in all, a fine specimen. The only problem was she didn’t do anything except eat, sleep and cry.
My wife made a beeline for her, though, and after displaying the Band-Aid on her upper arm which proved she’d been shot, grabbed the baby from my niece and started oohing and aahing.
“When does she smile or laugh?” I asked as I watched my wife make stupid faces at the baby, who was sound asleep.
My niece’s husband, who is an attorney and has read every baby book known to mankind, was quick with an answer. “Six weeks, but it might be just gas. You can pretty much count on it at three months.”
I got up to go. “Cute baby. Call me when she does something.”
My wife wasn’t going anywhere. “Oh, look,” she squealed. “She’s opening her eyes!!!!”
My niece and her husband beamed with pride. There were a couple of other people visiting, and they all gathered around to watch the baby open her eyes.
“She can’t really see anything,” announced my niece’s husband. “She can’t even see colors yet. And she certainly can’t see you.”
“Time to go,” I announced. “I got a needle poked in my arm for pretty much nothing.” My wife tried to hand the baby to me, but I resisted. Having her open her eyes was more than enough excitement for one evening. I had seen enough.
That’s when she started crying. I knew it wasn’t my fault, because I didn’t even exist in her little world. But she sure wasn’t happy, although I’d never know because she can’t smile yet.
She could sure cry, though. How a little 7-pound bundle of flesh could produce such an ear-splitting sound remains a mystery, but apparently she could do it through most of her waking hours, according to her sleep-deprived parents.
“I’ve got a confession to make,” said my niece’s husband as he rushed to the kitchen to get a bottle of pumped breast milk. “I called her a little asshole last night.”
“It was a moment of weakness!!!” he explained as the mothers in the room gasped and I nodded in understanding. “We had been up all night and she wouldn’t stop crying.”
I was loving it. No father could love their baby more than this young man, but a little honesty is refreshing. Babies can be self-obsessed little assholes at times. In some cases, most of the time.
I had four of them, and as much as I fight the passage of time and the effects of aging, I have no strong desire to go through the baby years again. Been there, done that.
My niece’s little baby finished her bottle and immediately started crying again. She couldn’t be hungry. Maybe she had gas, without the fake smile.
All I knew was that it was time to go, and this time my wife didn’t resist. We had loved the new little addition to our extended family, and now we could leave it.
Someday, maybe soon, we’ll have grandchildren of our own. And I’m sure I’ll be a great grandfather, as soon as the kid does something interesting.
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