Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Me & Bean are Back, with a New Guy in our Pack.

It’s been a while since I blogged about my adventures with the Bean, and with good reason: His name is Hunter. Just when we started sleeping again, and the stinking’ diaper changing was over—Hunter Joseph Goldstein was born, and the late night games have started all over again. 

 As for Rowan, she has grown into a beautiful three-year-old. She’s so pretty—my little shorty pants—is now super model toddler tall, and she’s smart as a whip. Her life would be perfect except for when we drop her off at daycare/preschool, she cries her head off. It’s the most depressing part of the week, Brooke and I take turns, but it always results in a major meltdown. Even with Pookie, her mini pink elephant in her pocket, she has a serious case of mommy separation anxiety. She screams, “Don’t leave,” as she attaches herself to my leg. Or if I pick her up to calm her down, she digs her nails into my chest, and wraps her arms around my neck. The only way I get out of there is when her teacher pries her off of me. I put my ear against the door to see if she’s still crying when I leave. She always does. Five minutes or so. Then I leave.  

 And then we have the sibling rivalry. Hunter drives her insane. At first I thought it was just Rowan being the bully, but Hunter is a piece of work. Cute as hell, but what a sneak. He goes after anything she’s playing with, and if Rowan doesn’t feel like sharing her Legos or Playdough, he yanks her hair with his Kungfu grip, and my fire hydrant of a son, doesn’t let go. I have to pry his baby fingers off of her. Don’t get me wrong, the Bean is no angel. She lures him down the hallway, and when he gets close to the bathroom door, she slams it on him. Or she puts her arms around his neck, the illusion of loving her baby brother, and then proceeds to choke him. Kids will be kids I guess. Before we had Hunter, people told me that although having a second child is tough, and challenging. They said that it’s also easier in some ways because you know the drill. Well they were right to some degree. When Hunter cries and cries and cries, I don’t worry about him dying. If he coughs while I’m feeding him a Cheerio or a Goldfish I don’t rush him to the Emergency room because I think he’s choking. And if Hunter happens to bang his head, i know he’ll be alright. unless he’s vomiting. And then that’s a concussion. Well, Hunter is almost one-year-old and he hasn’t crashed his head yet. He’s built like a tank. 30lbs, He’s wearing 18-24 clothes. He’s a very big baby. I’ve been trying to get my blog going again, but I couldn’t find the right starting—returning—point. 

We’ll, about 30 minutes ago, I found it. Rowan was being goofy and wanted me to put her into the free-standing laundry basket in the hallway of my new apartment. It looked pretty safe, so I figured why not. So I lifted her up, and lowered her in. She was laughing. She looked so cute. I thought back to when she was around one-year-old when I used to put her in the same basket. Wow, how time flies. So there we were, laughing, and having a good time, and I pulled out my iphone to take a photo of her. Bad move. The moment I moved the phone from my eye, her weight shifted forward in the basket, and she went down like a redwood tree. Timber! Her head smashed into the wall—just outside the frame of the door. Bam! Quiet. She was so quiet. And then she started crying so hard. Tears flying. A purple face. I felt horrible. I felt so guilty that I was more interested in taking a photo with my new fancy iphone than watching her. You’d think I learned something, from when I dropped her on her head the first time—three-years ago talking on the phone, carrying laundry, tripping over my dog. The experience that sparked this blog, (Read “Baby’s Really Bounce” post here) and that sparked my new book that will be published Father’s Day 2013. 

Tonight, as I type, Rowan holds a frozen bag of peas to her head, while Brooke is nursing Hunter before he goes to bed. I smile. This is my life now. Though it’s a tough, and a lot of responsibility, and we don’t go out anymore, and when Hunter gets up in the middle of the night, and wakes Rowan, and then they wake us, it’s okay. I love my family. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m back blogging for this site, so stay-at-home dad’s and moms please stop by, from time to time. Tell your friends, share on Facebook, and leave comments. I’d love to hear your experiences.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Brother Jimmys and the Bean: Where Drooling, Psychotic Toddlers and Drunk, Fat Fratboys Hang.

Before Bean was born, Brooke and I used to go out to dinner, 4 to 5 times a week. Now, we barely go out at all. Things are different. Okay, it's the Bean that's different. She’s a giant, psychotic toddler. When we first brought her home, she was so tiny that we were able to bring her with us to any restaurant in town. She'd nap and we'd chow down. Her first week on Earth she was out for sushi and Patsy's brick oven pizza. She was a regular New York foodie. But now that she's reached her terrible (22 month), twos, she's a force to be reckoned with. Sure, she's cute as hell, and says, "Da, da, da," but she's wild. She doesn't have patience to sit anywhere too long and she has to touch everything on the table. Forks, glasses, knives. But that's not the only reason we don't take her out that much. It's expensive as hell and the food on the kid's menu is garbage. But then one day we had been strolling Bean around the neighborhood looking for a place to eat and we noticed an empty sports bar. Brother's Jimmy's. Never would I have imagined that a drunken backward baseball cap-wearing establishment would be best suited for cute diaper-wearing patrons. But as soon as we strolled Bean in, she was greeted like a queen. She had her choice of balloon, they gave her a wooden pig stuffed with Crayola crayons and a cool placemat to draw and droll all over.

Brother Jimmy's was awesome. The kid's menu was amazing. She got real chicken with string beans or candied yams and a large side of pickles. Then for dessert, she got an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and a strawberry on top. And to top it off, it was free. Free. The sign should've read: Bean eats free. Not to mention, the Bean could throw food wherever she wanted. The staff didn't seem to care. They were used to it. When Bean dropped a bottle of milk and it spilled all over the place, they were there in a second with two mops and the milk was gone, like it never happened. To the Brother Jimmy's crew, a toddler was to be treated no differently than a drunk fat schlub puking on the walls at Monday Night Football. Fortunately nobody had to escort Bean outside. But when she threw an ice cup across the room, she a got a warning. The cute blonde waitress said, “I’m watching you, blue eyes.” Brooke and I have taken Bean there so many times. It's our family place. But a few weeks ago, I took my little girl there and it became ours. 

As I strolled her in, I instantly became aware that there was some March madness going on. I didn't care. I was there to have lunch with my little one and that was that. I just happened to be surrounded by guys with beer guts in suits drinking pitchers of Budlight, devouring buckets of saucy ribs, kidding themselves that they're trying to lose weight by ordering side salads. I must admit I felt a little weird, self-conscious, cutting my daughters string beans and keeping my hand under her chin to catch the burger pieces from falling on the floor. But watching Bean rub ketchup on her nose and putting napkin hats on her sticky hair head was priceless. These days going out to dinner is a whole different thing. I may not be able enjoy a meal the way I used to, but man, I savor watching the Bean be happy. When she took her first bite of a humbuga for the first time was one of my most satisfying meals. Watermelon and pizza was great firsts too. But the burping and farting is where the real daddy daughter bonding begins.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hi, my name is Bean, and I like to Dance!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, I haven't posted for a few weeks. I've been busy freelancing. But this ought to entertain you. It entertained the Bean.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The McGoldstein's Perfect Storm: The stroller that almost got away.

It might've been a gorgeous sunny day today, but let us not forget the vicious rainstorm that blew through the tri-state area last Saturday. Trees fell on houses. Floods. Car accidents. Fires. 26,000 people without electricity in Staten Island. There were thousands and thousands of dollars in damages. And we, the McGoldsteins, had lost our three-wheeled Citi Mini green stroller. 

It all started last Saturday morning. Our neighbors who have a curly-haired Bean, slightly older than our Bean, had called us up to have a playdate at our apartment. Being that all of us had been sick the past week, we said it wasn’t a good idea. But Brooke and I didn’t want to feel stranded either so she had a great idea. "Let's go to Chelsea Piers for the day." Sounded like a perfect plan. We could take the Bean for lunch, have a burger and a beer and then we could stroll her on over to the toddler gym. She loved it there.  She could climb all over the place, socialize, and jump into the rainbow-colored plastic ball pit.

Since we felt our sick-germs resided in our apartment, we told our neighbors to meet us there. Awesome! So we got ready, packed everything up and headed downstairs to hail a cab. Now, every New Yorker knows that it's nearly impossible to get a taxi on a rainy day. But as luck would have it, there was one of those minivan type yellow taxi's parked right in front of our building and the driver was walking back from his lunch from Curry in a Hurry. I asked if he was done with lunch. He nodded and the McGoldsteins boarded the yellow submarine. I placed our green three-wheeled stroller in the back of the cab, Brooke strapped herself in and held the Bean tight, and I buckled myself in behind the driver. Full speed ahead. It was really coming down. Broken umbrellas were blowing in the wind. People looked drenched. Running for cover. But we were dry. After about a 20-minute cruise across town, we arrived at the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex. And that's when the fun began.

The second we pulled in, the Bean threw up. Yuck. All over her jacket and jeans and Brooke's jacket and jeans, and all over the right side of the taxi. Good times. So Brooke grabbed the Bean and made a run for it to get her inside. I remained in the cab with the pink diaper bag to take care of paying the nice man, and to clean up the vomit. He said, "Don't worry about it." But I did the right thing and I gave him a good tip. I asked for a receipt for tax purposes and then, without an umbrella I ran to find Brooke and the Bean inside the sports complex. I was happy I found them dry just inside the doorway. But when I arrived on the scene of my wife and the Bean she said the words that would penetrate my soul: "Where's the stroller?" My face went pale, I felt sick, and I felt a jolt of adrenaline shoot through me. I tore ass and ran back into the eye of the Manhattan storm. 

As soon as I ran to where the taxi had dropped me off, I saw him in the distance. He was driving about 5 miles per hour, stopping at a few exit gates. It was a long shot, but I had to give it a shot. I darted like a goateed cheetah, screaming for him to stop—like my child was actually in the trunk. I ran and I ran and I ran, and I huffed and I puffed in my giant black combat boots with my pink diaper bag swinging in the wind. Every time I got close to him, about 30 feet or so behind him, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Taxi! Stop! Stop! You got my stroller!" And when he started picking up speed, I screamed to the people who were on the sidewalk waiting under the awning. "Stop the taxi! Hey you, stop that cab! Tell him to wait.” But they just ignored me. Probably thought I was just some ordinary, everyday city psycho in black boots running with a pink diaper bag. We were in Chelsea, after all.

I kept running. I was dying. I was wheezing and I wanted to stop so badly, but I kept on keeping on. And then for a moment I thought I was going to actually make it. He stopped at a red light. Just twenty feet from heading onto the West Side Highway. So I ran like a thoroughbred, nearly killing myself to save the day. "TAXI! TAXI, STOP!” I yelled, and then the light turned green. Green! Green! No! I felt defeated. Like something died in me. And I collapsed to the ground. Okay, I didn't collapse, but I was defeated and drenched, and I could barely catch my breath. I thought for a moment that suppose my baby was in there. It was like one of those movies from the nineties. I fall. I raise my arms over my head. And I cry, “Nooooooooo!” But it wasn’t Bean, it was just a stroller. A $250 stroller. A pain in the ass to get a new one stroller. But I was determined to get it back.

I looked back and saw how far I had ran with that pink diaper bag. It was about a quarter mile or more. I wondered what Brooke might be thinking happened to me. I had been gone over a half-an-hour. So I started heading back. Fortunately, I had my taxi receipt so I could try and track down the cabbie. I started walking and dialing 311, and waiting and waiting and getting more soaked on my underwater journey back to my family, who had their own vomit drama they had been dealing with. I eventually spoke to a human on the phone about my stroller. I gave them the medallion number and all the details and that was that. They told me they’d call me if it came back. If? I eventually met up with Brooke and the Bean. And as the rain drops drizzled down my nose and neck, the first thing Brooke said to me was, "I thought you were dead. Why didn't you come back?" She told me she envisioned me getting hit by a car. Well I was all right. 

So there we stood, the McGoldsteins, drenched, vomity and hungry. What the hell were we going to do? Being that both Bean and Brooke didn’t have clean clothes, going home made the most sense. On the other hand, putting Bean back in a cab, with no lunch, was just crazytalk. So they cleaned up as best as they could and we headed to our destination: Chelsea Brewery. It was where we were supposed to meet our friends for lunch. I made a joke to Brooke. "Maybe they had extra jeans for the Bean in the trunk of their car?" So I called them to see if they were in the parking lot yet. As luck would have it, they hadn't left their apartment, so they packed some jeans and even a clean coat for the Bean. 

Okay, the day wasn't completely ruined. When they showed up, we changed the Bean, had a round of adult beverages and walked across the pier toward the toddler gym. We were all psyched, especially Bean and their curly-haired Bean. After a 15-minute walk, we entered the big gym to get to the toddler gym. It was only 2:30 so we had a few hours left in the day. But when we approached the lady at the desk, we found out we didn't. The gym had closed 15 minutes before we had gotten there. Brooke and I felt so horrible. Not only did we screw up our day, but we sucked our neighbors into our downward, soggy spiral. Not to mention, they had to pay for parking. Like 30 bucks. Fortunately, our neighbors were nice, easy-going people and didn't care. We decided it was best to go home and have a play date at our apartment—the place we didn’t want them to come to earlier that morning because we didn’t want to get them sick.

While everybody was eating pizza I was googling how to get my stroller back, just in case the lady on the phone didn't know what she was doing. Sure enough, she didn't know what she was doing. I found her report online and she had the wrong info. So I filled out another report. I spent the next three days checking my claim online. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I called different police precincts. I checked some stroller chop shops. Just kidding. We were losing hope. Our City Mini was nowhere to be found. I finally got a phone number from the Taxi and Limousine commission of the actual garage where the cab driver who had picked us up that day worked. I gave the dispatcher the medallion number of the cab and he located the driver. I was so excited. And when I spoke to the actual driver, I was even more excited. And when he told me he found the stroller I was so psyched. So I said “where is it?” And he said, "Essex house." And I said, "What the hell is it doing at Essex house?" He thought that's where he had picked us up. But once I reminded him that my daughter threw up all over his backseat during the urban hurricane, he remembered.  It all came back to him. We laughed. And my stroller search was over. But the kicker of it all was that when Brooke went to place the Bean in her long-lost stroller, she didn't want to go in. She cried and cried and cried. She cried her head off. The moral of this story is that the next time there's a torrential downpour in New York, stay home, get a bottle of wine, smoke weed if you want, and watch Elmo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My ibaby

What can I say? The bean loves music. She especially loves playing live. Whether she's banging on her drums, or playing the keyboard, or just bustin' out some mean ass blues riffs on her orange harmonica, she's always bopping her head to a happenin' beat. But what she really loves most is to shuffle. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Little Miss Noise Maker and Her New Best Friend, Gragger!!!

People love music. But babies love noise. They really, really love it. Nothing makes Bean happier than banging on her drum, running around the hallway with her pink poppity-pop popper, or just hearing herself scream her brand new lungs out. But nothing beats the sweet sounds of this past Sunday. We took her to her first Purim party in a Soho loft.  It was a good time. A packed house. Kids in costumes, face paint.  Hamantashens and Graggers for all. Now, for my non-Jew friends out there, a Purim gragger is a metal noisemaker. Its only purpose in life is to make noise. A lot of noise. It sounds like a metallic rusted rattle. And the kids love them. Especially my kid.  She was having the time of her nineteen-month-old life gragging away on her gragger. The only problem was that kids were only supposed to shake their gragger when Haman's (triangle-shaped hat-wearing evil biblical dude) name was mentioned during the reading of the Megilla to blot out the name of evil. Well, Bean was blotting out all of the evil in the universe. She wouldn't stop. She graggered through a puppet show, and soon after that, it was time to stroll home. But the graggering was just beginning. She graggered in her stroller. She graggered in her high-chair and in the tub. She even graggered in her Pj’s during story time. Every time I tried to take the gragger away from her, she wouldn't let go. She'd start whining and that was worse than gragerring. Then, came bed time. She still wasn't letting that thing out of her hand. So I said, the hell with this. I dumped her in her crib. Pacifier in mouth, blankie, stuffed Ozzy, and her new best friend, Gragger. I figured she'd eventually fall asleep. Eventually? Eventually when? Thirty minutes later, I could still hear the gentle graggering in the bedroom. Gragger. Gragger. When she eventually passed out, about thirty graggerings later, Brooke went into the bedroom to try and take it out of her little hand. Pry it, was more like it. She was holding that sucker tight. Brooke surrendered. As long as she was sleeping, all was good. Until later that night, about 2am, I thought I heard something coming from her crib. I got up and peaked. She was fine. She looked so cute, so peaceful, curled up on her side sucking an orange pacifier, holding her new best friend, Gragger.

Say Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!

Baby's Kick Ass Boots

Monday, February 22, 2010

When your crib isn't doing it for you anymore, sniff out other options.

This past weekend, Brooke, the Bean and I, took a train out to visit our friends in Red Bank. We all had a great time. Especially the Bean. Within seconds she bonded with her new buddy, Shea. The Bean hasn't been close to a dog since Ozzy's passing. And she sure made up for it. I don't know who slobbered over who more. There was ear pulling and saliva flying and tummy rubbing and tons and tons of wet tongue kisses but the best was when Bean kept sticking her head into Shea's food bowl sampling his chicken kibble. Bean was a wilder animal then Shea. My terrible toddler was romping around the house chasing after Shea like an adorable madman with cheerios and a milk bottle. But after hours and hours of me and Brooke switching off chasing after her making sure she didn't run into the point of a table (which she did) she started getting tired. Thank God. She wobbled like a drunken sailor until she spotted a place to crash. Shea's private residence. She looked around. Nobody was home. She thought nobody was home. By the end of the weekend they were Facebook friends.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Little Cookie Monster

Every time I take the Bean to Barnes and Noble and chase her around the children section like a diaper-wearing chicken, we always go upstairs to the café for a coffee and a chocolate chip cookie the size of her head. From the moment we approach the glass display case she gets so excited. She screams. She salivates. And she tries to grab the cookie out of my hand before I even find us a table. It's a good time. Me and my daughter. Shooting the shit about life. Getting crumbs everywhere. But who cares. She’ll always remember these moments. My wife also had a close relationship with her dad, except he brought her to the bar and she sat on the bar sipping a Shirley temple with a straw while he paid off the bookie.

The only kink in my Bean bonding experience is when we go home and she isn't hungry for her tofu and string bean dinner.  Brooke always knows what went down downtown. And I have to sit back and hear it. “You gave her chocolate again, didn’t you?” But that's okay. As long as she doesn't know about the strip club we hit after. Good times. Good times.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What the Hell is it with Elmo?

Every morning when the Bean wakes up in her crib, the first thing she says isn't Mama and it isn't Dada. It's Emo. "Emo, Emo, Emo.” She repeats it over and over again until one of us gets up out of bed with our eyes have open to lift her out of her crib to change her and get the ball rolling. Then, after she has a fresh diaper, Elmo's world, here we come. The moment I let her down to the ground from my dresser (her changing table), she marches like a robot from our bedroom to the black leather couch in the living room. She climbs up, gets comfortable, and when I catch up to the animated speed demon, she hands me the remote control, points to the TV, and smiles. "Emo." So I turn on Sesame Street and the magic begins. She claps and makes faces and makes sounds to form words that she can’t quite say yet. She goes into an instant PBS coma. I could dance in front of the TV (and yes, I’ve tried many times) and she doesn’t acknowledge me. It feels as if I left the room. While she’s having her morning entertainment, I head off to the kitchen to prepare her organic milk and purple plastic cup of cheerios. It's hard to believe just a few months earlier, I would’ve never left her alone for a second. But that was before she met Elmo. The only one in the Yo Gabba Gabba galaxy who can hold her attention longer than 30 seconds. Not Bob, not Jack, not Muno and not Ming Ming.

In the beginning, Brooke and I planned to keep TV away from Bean until she got a little older, but after a while we realized that certain shows were actually educational. Sesame Street is the best. Vocabulary, numbers, and good ol’ fun. After all, we all grew up with Grover, Cookie Monster, and the Count and we turned out all right. I think we did anyway. But what makes Elmo so special? So unique. A four-fingered shaggy, fiery red moppet with an orange nose who talks like he swallowed a squeaky toy? I don’t know the answer to that. But if it keeps the Bean occupied in the morning and Brooke and I and Bean and Elmo can sit around like a family before she tears apart the apartment and there’s toys flying everywhere, then Elmo, I raise my glass. Keep on tickling on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Look! It's a Bird! No, it's a plane! No, it's SUPER BEAN!!!

This is what happens when somebody needs a nap, a diaper change, and they've seen Avatar 64 times. -- p.s. Back in the day, in the jungle of Staten Island, we had one of these too. Except ours was supported by two trees and we glided over a pond to the tunes of Led Zeppelin. We called ours the Zooka. And we had more than milk in our bottles.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

She Has Her Mother's Eyes. And Her Father's Eyebrows.

Back in the days when the Bean was the size of a Garbanzo bean, whether we were chilling out at the library or spitting up in a bookstore, people would always make goofy faces at her and then smile at me and say, "Oh my God! She looks just like you!" And I'd smile back and say, no, no, she gets her eyes from my wife. But these nosey bodies would still insist she looked like me. Honestly, aside for having the same buzz cut as the Bean, I just didn't see it.

But Brooke saw it. And she started getting jealous that everybody in Manhattan kept blurting out the uncanny daddy resemblance. Everybody. Our family and friends. The neighbors. The mailman. The dry cleaner. The Indian delivery guy from Curry in a Hurry. Brooke was like, "whose kid is this? She's obviously not mine." I tried to make her feel better. "But she has your chin, honey." That didn't make her feel any better. It got to the point that so many people were saying it, that I was starting to toy with the idea that perhaps the birth of my Jewish Female Bruce Clone was indeed immaculate conception. Yeah, all she needed was the goatee.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Freezing Your Diaper Off

There are so many fun things to do with your baby in New York City in the warm and sunny summer months. Free kid concerts with rainbow balloons and complimentary fruit roll-ups. Watching Sea Lions at the Central Park Zoo. And there are so many beautiful parks. I used to take the Bean to the playground all the time to push her on the swing, and watch her amuse herself going down the slide all by herself—headfirst. She looked so cute giggling with a few black and blues. Other times, me and the Bean used to just plop down on a blanket in Union Square and have a picnic. C'mon, what's better then chomping the heads off orange goldfish crackers, eating grass and twig sandwiches, and washing it down with breast milk? Good times. But when it's 13 degrees outside, (like it was the other day), and there's icicles dangling from your nostrils, and you're not loaded like The Jefferson’s to send your kid to a million dollars a day type of Day Care, there are very few places to go. There's the bookstore on 17th Street, where that lady with the big hair and big eyes and the death stare constantly reminds me to stop Bean from pulling all of the Elmo books off the shelves, or there's the other bookstore in Murray Hill, where they let you throw books and strange toys around the store, as well as eat them. Purple Mars Mud.Yummy. I used to switch off with the bookstores to mix it up. But I’d always take my little girl for a coffee and a big cookie after our daily journey.

Then one day I heard about this cool place to bring your kids. It was called the Scandinavia House. “Hmmm, what the hell was that?” When we went there to check it out this little lady in a walker with a raspy voice snuck up on us. She looked at Bean crawling and shook her head. “No, she’s cute, big blue eyes, but she has to be able to walk or she’ll knock down the toddlers like a charging rhino.” So a few weeks later, when the Bean finally walked, more like wobbled like a drunken sailor, I dressed her up in layers. Fuzzy sweater. The sassy Marilyn Monroe pink coat we got from our neighbor. The green hat with the dragon, the Bean was attempting to put on herself. And the red snappy mittens. After I plopped her in the stroller, I zipped her up in her snuggy and we strolled on over. We had to take our shoes off before we could enter the playrooms. But before I could finish taking off my giant black combat boots with the forty-foot laces, the Bean took off down the hall like a bat out-of-hell.

Wow! My eyes blew up wide when I stepped inside. Bean, we’re not in Manhattan anymore. We were instantly transported to some all-natural magical world in Sweden. Surrounded by a spectacular surreal storybook mural, the whole place looked like a bunch of big-foot hobbits and forest creatures resided there. There were giant fake trees and a mirror pond, and little caves and huts to play in, and there were stuffed cows and sheep and pigs everywhere. And there were a lot of little kids climbing walls, and tossing balls and learning to share. But where the hell was the Bean? I stormed into the magic land and there she was. She was sitting on a cliff reading a book upside down. And she didn’t care that it was written in Swedish. The only negative thing about Scandinavia house was that—for a place designed for children—it wasn’t childproof. Not one bit. There were sharp corners everywhere and things to trip on all over the place. The toy rocks, the bumps on the floor basically said: you better slow down junior or you’re going to fall and crack your head. And fall, Bean did. Many times. But that was okay. Even with the Bean bumping her head and banging her knee, and bumping her head again, it was still the coolest, most affordable honeycomb hideout in town.
Oh, how she loved it there. She was all over the place. I found her playing house in a little house. I looked in through a cardboard window and she was eating imaginary food with an orange fork on a green plastic plate. But every time she found something she liked, and I sat down the catch my breath, she’d take off and find something else to entertain herself with. I looked up and she was now on the other side of the room on the balcony of a pop-up city skyline holding a meeting about God-knows-what with a few other diaper city kiddies. It had to do with a zebra, I think. And when I turned my head for a second, she was totally gone. I chased my stinky-diapered pet jackrabbit down the hall into another room. She went right for the Legos. She had about six yellow, red and blue Legos in her mouth by the time I got to her. I grabbed them out of her mouth before she could choke. She wasn’t that happy about that. Whaaaah! Then she tried pulling the pieces off of the six feet Viking Lego sculpture. She didn’t get too far. The lady in the walker gave us a look and we knew we’d better stop it. Next stop on the Bean’s path of destruction was the train set. Choo-choo! She loved trains. But she felt they belonged in a toy chest. So she volunteered to relocate the locomotives to a red trunk. She relocated everything. Oh, the lady in the walker loved her. Well, time flies when you’re riding red plastic sheep and wearing clogs. At the end of a great day, after I managed to yank the Bean out of fairyland and drop her back into the magic stroller, I transported us back to the frostbitten big apple. By the time we crossed 34th street, she drifted off into her own Never Never Land. As for me, I needed another cup of coffee to stay awake so I didn’t fall asleep behind the wheel.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rock-a-bye Brucie

18 months ago, when we brought the Bean home and the little bird with chicken legs was screaming her head off the whole night long, one question kept pounding in my head: "HOW THE HELL DOES ANYBODY HAVE TWO?"As you guys know who have kids—when people say you don't sleep the first few months—you really have absolutely no idea what that's like until your wandering the hallway with a Bean wrapped in a blanket with her eyes wide-white open, screaming and squirming looking like a cartoon frog. But over time it really does get better and tonight after dinner, after the bath, after wandering around my hallway in her feety pajamas, and after a little Dr. Seuss, "Left foot, right foot, feet, feet, feet. How many feet do you meet?" I tucked her in with her blankie, her paci, her stuffed Ozzy, and she went to sleep. It's 2:14 am now, and she's sleeping. She’s really out. She’ll be down til 8ish. Hopefully. Not that there's any talk about another Bean coming into our life, but now I understand how a couple could have two. It's because you forget about all the hell you went through. I'm going to sleep now. But I'll still tip-toe all the way until I make it under the covers. Good night ya’ll. - I'm out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Me and my Mini-me

When a woman is pregnant everybody knows it. Because she's showing it. They have that luminous glow. And there's the bump. There's no hiding that one. Brooke looked so beautiful when she was carrying our daughter and she was treated so special because of it. After all, how could you not give up your seat on the subway to help a woman carrying her offspring, especially when the future of mankind resides in a woman's womb. But what about the men? The Daddies? What about me? I made the baby too. I was there that night, or was it morning or afternoon? I'd like a little credit in the public eye. But the reality is that nobody was able to tell that I was a proud new father until the day came when I would strap on the baby carrier and then strap in the Bean without jamming her little fingers or feeties. Strap. Strap Click. Click. Snap. Strap. Strap. Snap. And we were on our way around the streets of New York City.

When the Bean was about two months old I finally got to sport my "bump." It was my turn to glow. To walk around town with a cute turtle in a shell attached to my torso. Oh, she looked adorable. Her head bobbing to the left and right. Her wristless arms and chubby legs just dangling. Just dangling. But man, she was heavy. And my back was killing me. I could only imagine what women went through lugging around a fetus for nine months. But enough complaining, it was now time to show the world that I made the baby too. Starting with the ladies. These women spotted my daughter from a mile away. I thought my puppy, Ozzy, was the only one who possessed that power. Until now. Until they found out there was a new daddy in town. First, they would stare at the Bean from a distance and then they'd approach the perimeter. Next, they'd smile and then they're eyes would always look up and lock on mine. You could tell they were thinking, “What a good guy. A Daddy. He’s sensitive. Caring. A father doing his part while his wife goes off to work to bring home the bacon while he stays home and changes the diapers." And they'd say stuff like, "Good for you Dad. More men should be proud of being stay-at-home dads.” Honestly, I didn't care about the stigma attached to it. Hell, I was having a great time. The questions they'd ask me were always fun: "Oh, how old is she? She's so cute. Look at those blue eyes." Or my favorite comment: "She looks just like you." And I tell them, "She's my mini-me," and they all laugh. But I didn't always find it amusing when people asked me what my son's name was? Just because she didn't have much hair didn’t mean she was a boy. On these occasions, I'd amuse myself and just tell them his name was Marty.

Talking about men, interacting with the other stay-at-home dads on the streets was a different animal. I didn't mind talking to dad's online. Commenting on blogs, becoming Facebook friends, etc… But socializing on the streets just wasn't for me. I didn't feel comfortable talking to men with my cute snapping turtle drooling down my chest. And two guys with two rainbow-colored strollers were just way too much. 

I was more comfortable hanging out with the mommy's and the nannies. If I was at story time, I was totally cool being the only guy there, but if another man showed up with his baby in a pink bear snowsuit, I felt like he was invading my turf. "These are my Nanny friends,  Matilda and Amarillis, go find your own story-time." Brooke would always be on my case about joining a stay-a-home dads group. "Bruce, you need to socialize with men.  Go, you'll have fun. You'll support each other." So I said, okay. I went to a New York City Stay-at-home dads group and the Bean threw a fit. But the fit wasn't the problem, I found it very uncomfortable being in the room with over a dozen men with diaper bags making goo-goo gah-gah sounds. It was too much for me. So I after I fed Bean her bottle, I high-tailed it out of there. When I got home, Brooke asked if I enjoyed myself. I told her felt more comfortable going to the women's groups. Even with all the breastfeeding going on and the corny folk dancing, it just felt more natural. But maybe it’s just me. I don’t like football either. Actually, I think that’s the real reason why my wife married me.

Those first few months with the Bean strapped to my chest were the greatest moments of my life. However it wasn’t always great. In fact, it was often hell. Worse than hell. Sometimes the Bean was a demon bean. I mean picture her crying her little puffy head off in the supermarket while I'm trying to buy a piece of salmon from the fishmonger. "Sir, can I help you?" "Waaaaah! Whaaaaa! Whaaaaa!" "Yeah, I'll take a half of pound of Sockeye salmon." And the fishmonger can't hear a word I'm saying. "Waaaaah! Whaaaaa! Whaaaaa!"What, a pound of Rib eye. You're in the wrong section, buddy?" Hey, as tough it was sometimes, it was still better than working at a crappy job with a crappy boss.  But it wasn't easy. The Bean was the toughest boss I ever had. Feed me. Change me. Pay attention to me. Put me to sleep. Change me again. But she was also the most adorable, loving boss I ever had. And I made her with my Brooke. Together. The ultimate team effort. I was so proud of my Bean that I wanted to scream on the subway: "Hey New York City, look at me. I had a baby. It’s a girl! Now get the hell up and gimme your seat!"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The First TIme I Met My Daughter She was the Size of a Flea.

It's one thing for your wife to tell you she's pregnant but it's another thing entirely when you see your son or daughter's heart bleeping on a monitor listening to the distorted surround-sounding soundtrack playing live from your wife's womb: Schhh, Schhh, Schhh. "That's the heart," the technician said moments after she applied the freezing cold jelly to my wife's tummy. 

Holding Brooke's hand, I stood there in awe. It was amazing to think, wow, that's the same method of transportation I took to get here—we all took to get here. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

KNOCKED UP: "Brooke, Are You Sure You're Pregnant?"

They say when it comes to having kids there's never a perfect time. And even if you're lucky enough to stop procrastinating already and make a decision when to have kids, there's no guarantee when you're going to have them or if you'll even be able to have them. And then there are all the accidents. When it came to conceiving the Bean, she was no accident. Brooke and I (and Ozzy) were on our honeymoon in Lake George having drinks, roasting marshmallows, talking about our wonderful new life together and then the conversation came up: Kids. "Uh, yah mean like have one, now?" I said. Well, it wasn't really much of a conversation. It was more like, okay we're married. We're not getting any younger. The clock is ticking. Let's do this. Let's make a baby. "Okay," I nodded as I trembled. Why was I such a wussy? Now, although I wanted children, I still thought I had a little playtime before we had a baby and before it took up all of my time for the rest of my life. Not to mention, I didn't know the first thing about being a father. It was scary thinking about it. All the responsibility. The budget. The diapers. But the time had come. And so we began our journey to becoming parents that weekend. But there was no way to tell when my Supersonic Kosher Semen would arrive safely at its Irish Catholic destination.

Three months later, one Thursday night, I was in a really crappy mood about how my publisher did such a crappy job designing my Puppy Chow is Better than Prozac book jacket. I was so upset. (Even though it was actually an amazing cover and I was just pissed because I didn't do the final design). So as I was complaining and moaning to the faceless emails on my monitor, Brooke came home from work. And she was so damn happy. “Hi honey," she harmonized. "Leave me alone, I’m so pissed,” I grunted. “My publisher is an idiot, did you see the cover? They’re redesigning my cover. This sucks. It sucks.” So anyway, now Brooke was pissed at me for ruining her good mood. "Oh, great." The night was ruined. We sat down in front of the TV. So whadayah want to watch?” she said. “I don’t know? What do you want to watch?" Click. Click. Click. "We got any movies?" So I got up to see if there were any red envelopes from Netflix that could quite possibly save our evening. And there it was. There it was. I tore open the envelope, hoping it was something good and it was. “Knocked Up!’ We got 'Knocked Up’ Brooke!,” I screamed. I ran into the living room. “I’m psyched! I’m so psyched! We got Knocked Up! Aren't you psyched?” And Brooke was just looking at me, “I don’t want to watch it.” I didn't understand. "Why not? Are you serious? What do you mean?” She said, “It’s disgusting.” Now, I totally didn't get it. “Disgusting? You love bloody-eyed zombie movies. Pitchfork in the head cinema.” She said this movie was different. "I just don't want to watch it, okay. It's too graphic." Okay, she was officially nuts. So I slammed the DVD down on the coffee table and got on my laptop and ordered a new wife. I mean, movie.

The next night, we were trying to figure out something to do. “Do you wanna go out?” I said. Then she said, “I don’t mind staying in." But then she said, “But we can go out if you want to go out.” God, we couldn't make up our minds. Forty minutes later we found ourselves standing in front of Shaheen Sweets on 29th street. “So what do you want to do?" I asked, and she didn't tell me what she wanted to do. She told me what she had already done. What we had already done. “Uh, I’m pregnant?” she said. My heart stopped. And I muttered the words every male who had ever been here before had muttered: “Are you sure you’re pregnant?” And she looked at me and smiled, "Yes” and I looked at her and said, “Oh, well that’s great." And then I said. “Wow." And she looked at me and said, “Wow.” And then she said she really wanted to tell me the night before when she came home happy but I pissed her off so much that she swore to never tell me. She would just wait for me to ask questions when she bloated up and craved dill pickles and Chunky Monkey.

And as we stood there under a tree, around the corner from Curry in a Hurry, I wrapped my arms around my beautiful wife and gave her a kiss letting her know how happy I was to be a dad. And then I whispered in her ear, “Oh so, 'Knocked Up' wouldn't have been the best thing to watch last night, huh?” She smiled and said, "No, but we can watch it tonight if you like." And I said, "You sure, you don't want to watch 'Big Daddy?" 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bean, Please Don't Eat the Sand.

This past Saturday, like the late, great Mr. Roger's used to say, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Bright sunny skies. In the fifties. It was the perfect afternoon to take the little Bean to the playground. And not just any playground. Brooke, Nana, and myself, strolled the munchkin over to the most kick-ass kiddieland in town—The new 15,000 square foot scrape-proof, amusement park of the future located in Union Square. Aside for some traditional swings, they had this helix-shaped Pulsar thing, tubular slides, and this silver dome—a mini-mountain—that kids were climbing all over to reach the top. Lots of kids. In all shapes and sizes. When we arrived at the scene of the nursery rhymes, it was toddler pandemonium. Stroller jams. Lines to get on tubular slides. And there was a father trying to drag his daughter out of the playground. "No, I don't wanna go! I don't wanna go!" she screamed.This curly red-haired girl was wrapping her arms around a marble frog. Good luck, dad. She wasn't going anywhere.

Apparently, it was a great day for every parent to take their Bean to the park. Fortunately, our Bean wasn't in the mood for any futuristic playground technology. She preferred to kick it old school. Real old school. Bean went straight for the sand pit. "Hey everybody, that's my daughter over there, the one dumping a bucket of sand on her head. Oh wait, she's eating a car now." She was having a blast. She hadn't a care in the world. And why should she? She wasn't the one who would have to get the sand out of her diaper when we got home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Name is Bruce. And I like to Dance.

Every morning is the same routine. The Bean wakes up. Brooke and I choose who is going to get up with her. Today it was me. "C'mon Bean, up," I say stumbling over to the crib. "Ouch my toe." Ouch my shin." And who would've thought I'd ever be able to change a diaper with my eyes closed. But waking up first does have its advantage. It's called Yo Gabba Gabba Yoooooooooo! The show is amazing. Or should I say acid trip. From the moment (LSD) DJ Lance enters the stark white background and places his boom box down, the magic begins. The funky music and far-out colors take over. Muno, Plex, Foofa, Toodee and Brobee jump out and shake their rainbow stuffed-animal moneymakers. The Bean jumps up and down applauding. I spin on my back break dancing.  I don't know who's more excited. "Go Bean, go, go, go Bean! My name is Bean and I like to dance." Together we experience the bond that a mother will never know. Unless of course, Brooke gets up and does the Robot.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breast Milk: Does a Stay-At-Home Dad good.

The first time I saw a woman breastfeeding her baby was on the Staten Island Ferry. I was a teenager, so of course I was a stupid idiot who pointed it out to my friends: "Oh my God, BOOOOOOOBIES!" But now it's 26 years later, and it's my wife's boobies bopping around in public, nursing our precious little Bean on a park bench, and I can't help but to think everybody is watching. After all, I was. I just want to jump up and yell to all those wandering eyes, "They're just breasts people!" I'll never forget the Bean’s first feeding. It was just amazing watching my slimy little daughter take to Brooke's breasts so naturally, so instinctively. Bean's mouth clasping onto Brooke's nipple was some sort of mammal magnetism. The baby just knew where to go eat. She had taken a long journey to get here. And now that she was here, she was starving, and she knew the only place in town to get served right away. Ma Ma. Open 24 hours. I remember climbing into the hospital bed and lying next to my wife and brand new daughter. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. But as close as I got, the tighter I hugged my arms around my wife and child, I would never know what it felt like to have that kind of spiritual and biological connection with somebody. God, Brooke sure looked beautiful nursing the Bean. But how she looked had nothing to do with how it felt. "Ouch, ouch" she bit me!" she would occasionally scream. Okay, she wasn’t biting her yet. It was all about her sucking power. I give Brooke so much credit for breastfeeding an Electrolux. Because from where I was sitting on the sidelines, man, that must've hurt. Two times. Aside for the fact that breastfeeding was supposed to be best for a baby, I just don’t know how she did it. I don’t know if I would’ve been strong enough. Or any pair of man boobs for that manner. Between the sucking and the leaking and the nipple pads and the nipple clamps, (just kidding) and the gels, I don't know why we didn’t just switch to formula. Such torture she was putting herself through. But then one day when I caught her looking at the Bean and the Bean was looking back at her, I knew why. It wasn’t just for health. It was for love. That connection only mother and child could share. And the love of my life, my wife, wasn’t about to give that up. I give Brooke a lot of credit for sticking it out. Especially with the never-ending mouth-to-nipple gnawing, and the other titty technical difficulties. Fortunately, with the help of some lactation classes (wow, they have classes for everything.) she eventually made it past the first three months. And everything fell into place. Or should I say mouth to boob. It was a mini-milking milestone. Most women didn’t make it to that point. Hurray! No offense ladies. I know, easy for me (with my private parts in tact) to say. But she still had a way to go. One year was the goal.

My major part in Boobieland began when Brooke went back to work. When she started pumping. And that's when I’d learn the most valuable lesson in life: DON'T SPILL A DROP.  Man, it was a whole process. Just the idea of a pump. How unladylike. How natural does that sound? What is she a bicycle tire? Or a basketball? Two basketballs. Who created this thing? A futuristic cow. Believe me, Brooke wasn't psyched either. But I wasn't working and she carried the milky, magical elixir in her mammary glands so Hi- Ho, Hi-Ho, it's off to pump she goes. She packed up her black backpack with all of the cones, and the motor and the hoses and the other breast accessories. Then, after she kissed me and the Bean, she went to show the fashion industry just how fashionable one could be when lactating every two hours.  Talk about working nine to five. I could only imagine Brooke pumping at work in the middle of some big lingerie client meeting. Everybody having their bagels and coffee talking about the next wave of crotchless panties and then my wife pulls out this crazy contraption, attaches these cones to her bosom and says, "Oh don't mind me, please, please, do continue." It was so tough for Brooke to pump, she said. Physically and emotionally. And the fact that she had to feel like she was doing something wrong was very wrong. Like she was doing something illegal. She actually had to duck away into unused conference rooms. Coatrooms at showrooms. Closets. Bathroom stalls. And her office. Brooke might as well of put a big note on her door. DO NOT CROSS. PUMPING IN PROCESS. And when she went back to work, and I was left at home feeding the Bean, I might as well have put a sign up on my head that read: I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I AM DOING. MOMMY HELP ME.

God, it was nuts. The bottles and the temperatures and the other bottles and the nipples and liners. Why couldn't I just twist off a cap of chocolate Yoo-hoo and call it a day? Oh, I know why. Because the goal for a stay-at-home dad, the only goal, was to keep the baby alive until mommy comes home. Brooke used to leave me as many plastic bottles of milk in the fridge as she pumped. Some days were better than others. Most of the time there was just enough milk to fit the Bean's daily nutritional requirements. So God help me, if I spilled any. I remember the process like it was yesterday. First, I had to take the cold bottle of milk out of the square Tupperware in the fridge. Then I had to pour the exact amount of required ounces into another plastic bottle after I inserted a plastic liner. Then I had to attach a new nipple onto another yellow ring and then twist it tight around this second bottle. And then, I had to place it in a pot of hot water. Not too hot. I didn't want to burn the Bean's little mouth. And then when it was ready, breakfast was served. Or lunch. Or whenever. 

I thought the best way to feed the Bean was to get into the mommy breastfeeding mindset. I positioned the Bean on my lap on a boppy and held the bottle in my breast area to make it as natural as possible. Then I slowly tilted her head back on an angle. Well she didn't take to my bottle as nicely as she took to Brooke's breasts, but hey at least she drank some. But then she spit-up more than some. Just about every time I put her on my shoulder to burp her, she spit-up. And considering many of those times I was too lazy to use a burp cloth, all of my black t-shirts looked like I was attacked my a flock of birds who had Montezuma’s revenge. But bottle-feeding got easier over time.  Except when it was time to take my booby show on the road. Where the hell was I going to feed her? And where was I going to be able to heat up a bottle? I improvised. I used to stroll her into the corner deli and ask them to give me a plastic cup and fill it with hot water. I'd tell them half way, so I didn't burn the hell out of my fingers. Because when you put the bottle in it knocked out half of the water. Now if I thought walking a cute puppy in New York got attention. Try sitting in the highly-trafficked median across the street from the Flatiron building with a cute baby on your lap, feeding her a bottle, blocking the sun from her eyes. People come running over, making the worst type of small talk—baby talk. Goo-goo. Gah-gah. God, and why did I sit next to the guy talking to himself? Well, when I sat down, and finally got the Bean to settle down and chug down the breast milk, he wasn't talking to himself anymore. He was talking to me. "So what's his name?" he grunted. "He's a she?" I said. "Well she sure looks like a boy." Well, you smell like you need a bath. Leave us alone please. And like all things in life, having to do with breasts, they got smoother over time. I started bringing the Bean and my bottles to this awesome kiddie bookstore called “Books of Wonder,” which was attached to this kickass “Cupcake Café.” I used to order up my coffee, a cupcake and a cup of hot water. But not just any cup. A cup for soup. A wider rim for the bottle to fit in. It was perfect for heating the milk. I used to go there all the time. They knew our names and they knew our drinks and they had free Wi-Fi for me to Facebook and write my never-ending screenplay when Bean went to sleep. It was a stay-at-home dad’s paradise. But then, just when everything was going good with my baby bottling business, one day I had to go and spoil it by spilling some. Okay, more than some. A whole bottle. Four friggin’ ounces.  I thought I was going to die as it dribbled off the counter onto the floor. “Oh shit, I forgot to put a liner in there.” I felt so horrible about what had happened and not just because Brooke was going to flip out. But because I know how hard it was to pump that much out. Brooke was great about it. She didn’t kill me. She just said, “Don’t do it again. We’re running out of the reserve in the freezer." I’m telling you, it was worth more than gold.

Well, when the weather started getting nicer, I started meeting Brooke in Madison Square Park with the Bean for lunch. Brooke's lunch and the Bean's lunch. Instead of the bottle, Bean would get the real thing. Straight from the source. We would find a seat in the back of the playground. Where no rainbow chalk-drawing kids and nosy-body nannies could see what we were doing. But that wasn't always so easy with the Bean squirming like a crazed guinea pig under Brooke’s shirt. It took a while for Brooke to get the hang of it, and for me to not really care if people's eyes were wandering in our direction. And by the time Brooke really got the hang of it, the year was up. She did it! She did it! Mommy breastfed for one year. Yay Bean! It was now time for Bean to start sipping cow milk from a cup.  But most of all, I was so excited to have my wife’s boobs back all to myself. -- Or should I say, BOOOOOOOOBIES!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

See Bean Fall. See Bean Run. See Daddy Smile.

It's been a long time since I dropped my baby on her head. This morning, instead of carrying her with me down the hallway to do the laundry, she ran. She ran. She almost cracked her own head open, but man, watching her run, like a drunken sailor, words just can't describe it. That little giggly, cute-as-hell creature came from me. Wow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Baby Model who had Too Much Baby Fat for Tommy Hilfiger.

How many times have you stared at a beautiful baby and then looked up at her mother and said, "She's so pretty, she should be a model." Or perhaps you've heard somebody say this about you. The truth of the matter is that every mother dreams of their baby becoming a star. Or at least being recognized as one. Including me. But for me, being that I wasn't working, my desire for my daughter's success was strictly business. So after I changed the Bean's diaper, gave her a bottle and burped her I said, "Now, let's go put those big blue dreamy eyes of yours to work.” Go pay for that college fund. Or at least next month's rent. Or maybe just a nice lunch in Soho. But I didn't know the first thing about baby modeling, let alone any modeling (except when I posed for Playgirl back in 94, just kidding) so I started googling and googling about the child modeling industry so people would soon be going goo-goo and gah-gah over my first born. So after I took some photos and put together her Book, the search for a model agency had begun. My daughter was gorgeous, just gorgeous, so why not start at the top. We hit Wilhelmina and a couple of other players in the field. And then one day, I decided to just crash an agency. More like stroll on in. We hit Funny Face on Park Avenue. "Oh, what a cutie she is. A little darling. Gorgeous, just gorgeous," Doris, the booking agent, melted. And then her and her star-making baby maniacs started in with the baby talk. “Look like we hooked a winner, Bean.” So the next step was to get the Bean's measurements and to hand off the head and baby body shots. And then, like anything in life, we had to wait. And wait. And wait. But then one day, the phone rang and Doris, the Bean's booking agent, said a client needed a baby the next day. No audition necessary. Just show up and get paid. One hundred bucks an hour. Not too shabby for somebody who could poop wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and on whomever they wanted. Her contract also clearly stated she could cry and whine and drool. That's why there were always a few babies on a set. You never know who's gonna spit up eggs or throw a fit.

So the big day was here. After I picked out a few dashing outfits for my child star to wear, I gave her a pep talk and said, "You'll do good kid." But the Bean didn't seem to care, she was dozing. "Oh great, her big break and she was gonna go down for a nap." Hell no. At $100 bucks an hour, I didn't care if I had to shake a rattle in her ear. She had plenty of time to sleep later. So we arrived at the set. Fashionably late due to diaper duty. I'd been at plenty of photo shoots in my advertising days but this one was a bit different. They didn't serve wine, they served juicy-juice and orange fish. And there wasn't a model holding a coffee maker. There were about thirty kids, thirty wild Indians, running around, bumping into cameras and reflectors. And there were no casting couches here. Here in babyland, there were just couches used for changing diapers and breastfeeding. The place was madness. Naked babies galore. Stuffed animals and chew toys and crying. And crying. There were so many babies that they actually ran out of the changing couches so there were bare baby bottoms everywhere. On the tables. On the kitchen counter. And even on the floor. It really was amazing what these mommies were going through trying to make their child a star. Now, my daughter was pretty, beautiful even. But some of these children were so gorgeous it was on a whole other level. They just had that look. Born to be on stage. But their dimples and radiant green eyes weren't enough for some mommies. Their mothers dressed their angels up like little Little Miss Moviestars. Gold earrings, gowns, and one even had a nose stud. And then there were the kids who were just so beautiful, such outrageous features, giant ears, bulging eyes, they looked like aliens. I'm sure they were lovely, but they did look like aliens.

Okay, so after I peeled off Bean's pink bear snow suit with the ears, I got her dressed into her first outfit. They said bring colors. But they didn't say what colors, so I brought them all. I put on a blue and pink polka-dotted onsie and we took it from there. The funny thing was, after I signed us in and signed my daughter's life away, I still had no idea what she was going to be doing there. For all I knew, there was going to be a stupid friggn' clown. But there wasn't. There was a beautiful model from London. Wah. Wah. Wah. Long brown hair, tall, very attractive. Her name was Valerie, I think. But I do remember she was Miss UK. Or some British supermodel. I don't think I ever told my wife that little detail. So after the casting person introduced us, I learned that Miss UK was going to be my Bean's Mommy. It was an ad for a baby carrier and Bean was the chosen baby. It took about a month to put the friggn' carrier together before we could even put it on the model. The instructions needed instructions. I was so paranoid too about getting it to fit right. After all, this pretty Brit was going to be carrying my offspring. And if anything happened to Bean, if I dropped her again, Brooke would really kill me this time. So as I was giving the carrier a final tug around Miss UK's waist, I touched her breast. Her left one. "Oops," I said. All she said was, "Don't worry about it. After all my years of modeling, I’m used to getting pushed and pinned and poked." So I did it again. The right one. Just kidding.

So after an hour of waiting around for my daughter's debut, which would basically be just hanging out and bobbing her head around on this strange woman's chest and then just smile when they said to. "Okay, places everybody. Here we go. Action." The model looked good. The bean looked good with her face popping out in front of her, arms waving, bare feet dangling, like a cute turtle. The only thing wrong was that she wasn't laughing. And that was the whole point of the ad. That the mommy and the bean are so happy with their carrier. So I bypassed the baby wrangler and stood up behind the photographer. I jumped up and down and started singing. "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round...." and the rest was history. The Bean was cracking up. Having the time of her life. The model was smiling. I was smiling. It was a great time. I was looking forward to seeing my daughter and Mrs. UK in the upcoming Parenting Magazine. When it was all over, I thanked the photographer, signed some more papers and dressed the Bean back into her pink bear outfit. With the ears. By the time I had finished changing her, she was out. Cold. Down for the count. It had been a long day.

Since our first model shoot was such a big success, Doris got us more auditions. Go-sees. And some were really, really nuts. Triple the kids, triple the insanity. The most recent one we went on was for baby jeans. Tommy Hilfiger baby jeans. After me and my mini-me trekked all the way down to their studio, by the west side highway, frozen in the cold with the stroller, the whole try-on took about 4 minutes. “Come on in, we’re ready,” they said. The Bean stood on the table and we went to slip the stylish jeans on. Only their jeans weren't slipping on. So we tried a larger size and they weren’t going on either. Then all of the snobby snobs looked at each other and then they looked at us. "That's all, thank you.” So I took Bean from the table and laughed. I couldn’t believe they thought my daughter was fat. She was four-months-old for God sakes. It's no wonder teenage girls have self-esteem issues. Anyway, it was time to go. So I strapped the Bean in the Snap-and-Go and away we went. “Hey Bean, you wanna split a chocolate cupcake, and have a bottle? Maybe surf the web? Write a screenplay. No answer. Maybe 'cause she didn’t speak yet. She didn’t even mumble. But when she smiled, that was all her daddy needed to hear.