Every night, Brooke and I switched off doing the Bean's wind down rituals. Last night was my night. And what a night it was. After I put on a little Bob Marley to set the dining mood, I served Bean a five course meal: a handful of cheese-flavored Quackeroos to start, some baked chicken, tomato sauce squash, dill pickles, and Bartlett pears for dessert, followed by a "Splish Splash I was taking a bath all upon a Friday night." I changed her (a little Balmex on her sore tush) and put her into her pink panda feety pj's reminiscent to the Winnie the Pooh feety pajamas I once sported as a Staten Island cub. After she was dressed for a successful night of snoozin’ ahead, I laid her down on our bed and rested her little head on momma and dada’s soft pillows. So far so good. I gave her a pink pacifier and she popped it into her mouth like Maggie Simpson. And then I handed over the secret ingredient to a good night sleep, for her, and for Brooke and I. I gave her THE BLANKIE. So with the pacifier popped and the Blankie tucked under her chin like a fat man wearing a bib eating lobster in Montauk, she was relaxed. Story time had begun. I read her her favorites: "Green Eggs and Ham," "One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, Blue Fish," and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” When she rubbed her eyes she started drifting so I scooped her up and carefully dropped her in the crib, and high-tailed it the hell outta there.
I joined Brooke in the living room. And the rest of the night was ours. Nothing fancy. Some baked cod with dill, broccoli, some red wine and a movie. A really bad movie. Man, don’t ever rent “Bruno.” But at least we were alone. Together. Piece and quiet. But then at Midnight, the baby struck. Wahhhhhhhh! And Brooke and I knew what that meant. We were #@#!. We didn’t totally panic yet. Brooke went inside the bedroom, did some gifted motherly stuff and the Bean went back asleep. Shhhhhh. Until five minutes later. Wahhhhhhhhh! And then we were done for.
Unfortunately, poor little Bean was sick. She had the sniffles. And she was coughing. And she was crying her head off. So we did what we didn't like doing. We called in the big guns: BRING IN THE SWING. Now, that Graco swing was God's gift to new parents. It literally saved our life back in the beginning. It was the only thing that would calm her down (when the boobs wouldn’t do). Just drop her in. Snap. Snap. Click. Put on the Soothing Vibration feature and play a little Mozart. And then there was peace on earth. Or in our living room at least. We used it for a long time, but we never wanted her to become dependant on it. So as she got older and her legs got longer and her butt got bigger, and the seat started sagging, we only busted it out on special occasions. And last night was a “special occasion”. So I plopped her in. Put on some Bach. And she swung away. I told Brooke to go to bed and I would bring the Bean to her crib when she passed out. Well, that never happened. She coughed. And then she threw up. I mean, she threw up. All over her. All over the swing. No, not the swing! But worst of all, all over the BLANKIE!!! Brooke jumped onto the scene and rescued the Bean from the vomit monster, while I started clean-up on the soothing vibration machine. As Brooke took the bean into the bedroom to change her, she handed me the jumbled up paper towels and I dumped them in the kitchen trash. I then proceeded to pick the sticky chunks of undigested little ducky Quackeroos out of the wool rug.
When the Bean was all clean, Brooke brought her out into the living room, this time glowing in her Donna Karan (just kidding) cupcake feeties. As I was on my way to drop the stinky bag of baby chunks to the incinerator, Brooke asked me if I had put her blankie in the sink? I looked at her and said, "What do you mean? I don't have her blankie." She looked at me so seriously, like our lives depended on it. "What do you mean, you don’t have it? I gave it to you. It was in the crumbled up ball of paper towels with the puke on them.” "Oh shit." Thank God, I didn't throw it out. So Brooke rolled up her sleeves and hand washed the blankie in the sink till it smelled pretty and once again reeked of infant nostalgia. But it was of no use to us that night. Just a silly drenched fabric.
So the bean was clean and she had stopped crying—but she was wild. She wouldn't sit still. We did everything to calm the Half-Jewish jumping bean. And, damn, we couldn’t use the stinky swing. It was covered in baby yak. Pickles and pears. Yuck. We tried reading to her in bed. But she was looking around for her blankie like Ozzy used to look for pig ears. She climbed off the bed and stumbled over to the crib sticking her face between the wooden bars. She looked so sad. Like her pet ran away. It was bad enough she lost her furry older brother, Ozzy, but not Blankie too. Not Blankie too.
She proceeded to waddle around the apartment like a drunken sailor. We even let her sit on the couch at 1 in the morning and watch Nick Jr., on Demand. “Go Gabba Gabba. Go Gabba Gabba,” But nothing worked. As time went by, she started getting really angry. She was crying so hard, The poor thing was sick and overtired and out of sorts. And she probably thought it was morning when I started singing out of absolute desperation, the friggin’ “la, la, lala, la, la, lala, Elmo song."
We tried shutting the lights off and just dumping her in the crib and running away. No way. Whaaaaaaaaaah! She just wasn’t having it. It was nuts. It was 2:30 in the morning. Brooke was going to drop. Then I did what had to be done. I went to the bathroom and grabbed the soaking wet blankie, our sleepy time savior, hanging on the shower rod. We wouldn't survive the night without it. So I headed out of my apartment, down the hallway to the dryer. “Bruce, where are you going?” I threw the soggy piece of satin in, and let it spin, spin, spin. I went back to the apartment and the Bean was now screaming like a maniac bird so I pried her from Brooke’s hands and brought her to the magical laundry room. I told her to Shhhh and I put her butt on the dryer. Ahhhh, the soothing vibration. Worked every time. She smiled a bit, despite she didn’t know where the hell I had taken her. What dimension we were in. She seemed a little antsy though, so I had to bust out with some old favorites: “Little bunny foo-foo, hopping through the forest. Scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head." And then she bopped me on the head. So cute, but bad idea to teach her bopping.
Okay, we were getting somewhere. After my rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider, I checked to see if the blankie was dry. Shit, it wasn’t. I needed to play a few more tunes from the dada jukebox. Humpty Dumpty, Hey Diddle Diddle, and finally it was dry. I handed it to the Bean like it was a sacred scripture. Surprisingly, she didn’t take it at first, like it was too clean. Like it had lost her mother’s scent. Her source of security. But then she smiled and mumbled like Pebbles from “The Flintstones” and tucked it under her chin.
When we arrived back at the apartment, the place was black. Brooke was passed out on the couch. And I proceeded to the bedroom. I carefully placed the sleepy babbler into her crib. She was having a deep conversation with her tan satiny friend that a grown-up could never understand. Unless they transported back to being a sixteen-month-old again. So at last, all was right in the universe. The Bean was at peace. And when she was ready, my darling little angel, her precious little soul had drifted off to sleep. And me, I sat back and said, "yeah, it's worth it."