Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's All The Fuss?

We all have bad days. Bad moods. Anything, or anyone, can cause it. A run-in with the boss. Things not clicking at home. The result: we're cranky, grumpy, surly for the entire day. Well, the same can apparently go for babies. And there's nothing worse than a baby that's tougher to hug than a porcupine.

Luckily for us, Penelope is generally a happy, quiet child. But when she has a bad day, look out. Spend the afternoon with this angry baby and you'll be wishing you'd booked a tour on the S.S. Minnow.

The funny thing is Penelope doesn't really cry when she's upset. She sort of growls. Like a dog with indigestion. Or a car whose battery is dying.

She purrs, for a while, then lets out a high-pitched wail. It crescendos, then turns back into the growl. Sort of like this: grrrrrrrrr-aaaaa-AAAHHHHHH-aaaaaa-grrrrrrrrrrrr.

What the hell is that?

It's so ridiculous, that sometimes I actually postpone comforting her just so I can hear more of it. To complete the package, you have to see the priceless look on her face when she's doing this. I will not provide a picture. That's just cruel. It's one thing for me to watch my struggling, crying child for my own amusement. It's another far more dastardly deed for me to photograph her in the process for yours.

You would think by her facial expression that she's just mildly annoyed. That a fly is disturbing her lunch al fresco. Panini, chips, pickle, lemonade. On the patio. Yum. Shoo fly! But no. Combine the face, and the growl/wail. The grail, if you will. Or is it the wowl? I like grail. Combine the grail and the face and you've got something that's more entertaining than a Penn & Teller show. C'mon. Those guys are good in person! You should go.

The highlight of her face is the arched eyebrows. She raises them like an old man surveying the early bird buffet. Curious, yet concerned. "Agnes, where the hell is the chicken cordon bleu?"

Add the wide eyes, the chubby cheeks, and the wrinkled nose, and you have someone who is at the same time cute, yet not so cuddly.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention Penelope's masterpiece. Her opus. Her piece de' resistance. A few weeks ago, one of my wife's new mom friends came up with the idea to hold a photo shoot of sorts with all of the newborn babies in Hoboken. What am I saying, that's ludicrous! It was only about 15 or 20 of them.

Since I work nights, my wife volunteered me to bring Penelope to this unofficial Pampers commercial tryout. No problem, I said. Oh. Problem. Big time.

See, the beauty of genetics is your children inherit your traits. And my daughter, like me, gets very unhappy when she is woken up prematurely. When her naps are disturbed. And that's exactly what happened on this day. I had to wake her up to get her to the photo shoot.

She was quiet on the short walk over. Like normal. But I now realize she was just plotting her revenge. Waiting in the weeds like a wolf ready for the second the shepard turns his back. That moment? When it was time to put Penelope on the couch with the other babies. The second her tiny little ass hit that sofa, she erupted. Forget about the grail. This was the Mount Vesuvius of meltdowns. And these poor other babies were Pompeii, forever frozen in time with looks of concern and sadness as their mothers clicked away with their cameras.

Penelope actually started a chain reaction of misery. First, she arched her back, smacking into the kid next her, causing that baby to fall. Then the next kid fell. Then the next. It was baby dominoes. The child on her right received a foot to the head for his participation. In a matter of seconds, everyone was screaming. Mothers and babies. "Oh, it's OK, honey." Oh, no, it's not.

She was inconsolable.
The hostess of this impossible exercise was kind enough to prepare fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookies for the group. Don't mind if I do. I took this opportunity to show off, for all who were watching, what a cool, laid back dad I am. Screaming baby in one hand. Cookie in the other. Pretty cool, right? Oh yeah, check me out ladies. She's not crying anymore... because she's eating my cookie! How did that happen?!? Can she even have cookies? Or chocolate?
And so we returned home. Red-faced, mostly from crying, and a little from embarrassment. Time for another nap for the little girl who is just like her dad. Don't wake us up. Soothe us with a cookie.

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