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  • Dear Pippo,

    I hope this letter finds you well and free of rips in your seams. I am fine.

    My dear Pippo, I wanted to share with you the news that grandchild number six has finally arrived. Yes, I know I look too young to have six grandkids, and certainly The Wife is much too young to have grandchildren at all (Did I say that right, Honey?).

    It’s been an interesting journey. Of course, that’s easy to say since I didn’t have to “do no birthin’”. The daughter-in-law did all the work, the daddy did all the worrying.

    In true baby form, the little tooter (and I don’t use that term loosely), was several weeks early. Of course I was 400 miles away at a conference with two co-workers. The Wife called me at 4 a.m. to tell me our little bundle of grandjoy had taken the express bus and was soon to be born. The co-workers don’t know how lucky they were to find my car still parked in its spot the next morning. I contemplated air travel, trains, and even decided it was worth it to cheat death and consider riding a bus. But, just as they say about a gunfight, I knew it would be over before I got there.

    I did receive a call a few minutes later that the little stinker was trying to come out while assuming the jackknife position. Let’s just say “He overshot the escape hatch.” This prompted the doctor to order the “watermelon knife” in order to fetch the little egg from his nest. I was in that condition once (no, not having a breach baby—I was the daddy) during the birth of Son #2. They ran me out of the room then came running back for me as Son #2 did a half twist and came out the chute as God intended.

    Now I can’t really testify as an eyewitness. I have to admit I had my head down looking at the floor because I figured if I didn’t then I might be face up looking at the ceiling (after regaining consciousness). You see, when Son #1 was born, I assumed the “traditional Father” position outside of the delivery room. Yes, I was the last of a dying generation of pacing fathers-to-be, watching for the nurse to come outside and say, “Mr. Cox, you have a bouncing baby boy!” It was even socially acceptable to pass out cheap cigars to any and all men as a tribute to the blessed event. Few men were brave enough to congregate with the hospital staff inside the delivery room during the passing of the football. I think men began the tradition of waiting outside after the first guy heard what his wife called him (and what she inferred about his mother) during the heavy lifting labor part of the delivery.

    They say that the only way a man can understand the pain of childbirth is to pass a kidney stone. I passed one myself the other day. I’ll bet birthing a baby is worse. Babies are bigger and there is blood and other body fluids involved.

    Nevertheless, our little Cabbage Patch kid arrived four weeks early. It was a boy (If in a John Wayne cavalry movie we would have said “a little trooper”, if combat helicopter pilots we would have referred to him as a “gunship”). Even four weeks early he weighed over six pounds. No telling what he would have weighed if he had gone the distance. On the way to see him we stopped at the store and exchanged his baby rattle for a shaving kit.

    Our Son #3 (the father) made two significant errors during the course of becoming a father. He inadvertently broke Cosmic Rule Number 4 (Refer to Dear Pippo: “Your Best Tool Is A Rule”) which states, “Never watch medical personnel handle your newborn baby.” This in itself is a frustrating experience to see people stretching and bending your fragile namesake as if he were a Gumby figurine (Author’s note to younger readers: Gumby was a hip plastic bendable humanoid figure manufactured in the ‘60s who had a plastic bendable horse named Pokey. Those of you a bit younger might consider the nurses’ actions similar to what you did to your flexible toy wrestler named Stretch Armstrong. If you can’t remember these toys and can’t gather a conclusion from the context, then have a seat and wait until I finish this paragraph and I’ll get back to you. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em).

    The second rule that he broke is a simple rookie mistake that first time fathers make. This involves the changing of one or all of the first three dirty diapers. Forget that there is the inherent risk of being hosed during the changing. (However, the danger of getting hosed—and the quickness necessary to prevent it—is probably the same principle used by pit crews changing tires at a NASCAR race). The problem with the first three “dirties”, for those of you who have yet to experience them, is that the substance that emerges from the newborn’s…uh…lower diaper vicinity…is not like the poop that you or I create. It is not like anything the dog has left in your closet to punish you for forgetting to let him outside. The foul concoction smells worse than a city sewer lift station and is harder to remove than if the foundling had been dipped in a bucket of tar. It will not come off. You can’t scrape it off with a steel putty knife. It won’t rub off. It won’t wash off. If you get it on your hands it leaves a stain that can’t be bleached. If you get it on the furniture you have to burn it. Men didn’t know about this until the recent past when we became Liberated Men who volunteer for this hazardous duty. We would do well as a gender group to give up our rights and let the women handle this issue.

    With the arrival of the stork, our children set about making a nest for the little bun (formerly from the oven). Kids these days have it so easy. Since the advent of designer diapers, young parents will never know the bliss of dipping a dirty diaper in the toilet and wringing it out by hand while gagging in the trash bucket next to it. They won’t understand our stories about leaking plastic pants which left The Holder wetter than The Do-er. It’s just not fair.

    I am even more amazed at some of the items for sale in baby stores. I’ve had lots of opportunities to shop since the arrival of the little weeone (pronounced “wee one” but I didn’t want to spell it with a space. It would take up too much room). Here are a few things I saw and what I thought about them:

    Pack ‘N Play—This is a portable crib and bassinet that is easy to store. Before seeing it I thought Pack ‘N Play had to do with a quick trip to Vegas.

    Diaper Genie—Diaper disposal appliance. If only. What would a parent give for an apparatus that would make diapers REALLY disappear?

    Apptivity Case—This is a cover for an iPad for YOUR BABY! Ok, call me old fashioned, but I think a $650 iPad is a bit extravagant for a baby’s toy, but at the same time I’ve seen nights when I would give $1000 just to get the little darling to stop crying.

    Stand Up Ballcano—A play on words for a ball volcano. The box brags “Exciting Erupting Action”. What new parents don’t realize is that they will have the same “Exciting Erupting Action” the first time the baby picks up a stomach virus at the daycare center.

    Catch A Mess Mat—This is a big plastic sheet that you spread out under the high chair to keep the baby from throwing something on your floor. Right. Obviously this company is banking on the First Baby Couples or the Forgetful Great Grandmother crowd to purchase this item. Babies have been known to throw English Peas like an NFL quarterback.

    Compact Telescopic Fold Stroller—It’s self explanatory. I think the target market for this item is men who hunt, fish, or are retired army snipers. They use the same descriptive terms on items in the gun store.

    Duetsoothe—Don’t be embarrassed. It took me a while to pronounce it properly, too. I started out with DOO-IT-SOOT-HEE. Sounds like a name you would come up with in the Research and Development office after a couple of stiff drinks. This baby swing is a “multidirectional rocker” for your little Mini-Me. If Baby is prone to motion sickness you could be cleaning spit up in a large diameter circle.

    Keyfit 30 Magic—advertised as a Premium Upholstered Infant Car Seat. Perfect for your BMW. Probably comes with one of those fancy European Touring Hats.

    Turbobooster Youth Booster Seat—Comes with a free vehicle seat protector in case you have just fed your little Newbie his first bean burrito. Now that’s a real turbo-booster.

    So, my dear Pippo, that’s my take on babies and baby paraphernalia. I’m glad we had the ones we have. I’m glad they grew up and gave us sweet grandchildren. I’m glad we can send them home sometimes. But just in case my children read this, I wouldn’t trade the experience for all gold in Fort Knox.


    Kranke Whenwett and his wife, Peedon Meetu
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