* Waves of deafening applause. *
Something happened last Friday while I was sitting on the couch next to Sarah. She had Tyler in her lap, facing her, and she was eating his neck fat. It’s one of the great things we’ve discovered about parenthood; nibbling on your baby’s neck. The entire neck is quite delectable, but the sweet spot is just under the chin. Whenever he tilts his head back and exposes that area, we dive in like the vampire Lestat on a family he’s been stalking for years. This is one of (air quotes) those things (air quotes) that makes the frustrating aspects of parenthood worth every lost wink.
"Hi, I’m Billy Mays, and I’m here to talk to you about an amazing new product. Baby Neck Fat! Just sprinkle a little on this grape juice stain and watch it disappear! Did your son just knock over a plant, spilling the dirt and water onto your nice floor? Just nibble a little of the Baby Neck Fat and your frustrations are forgotten! If you call and order in the next five minutes, I’ll throw in the bonus Chubby Baby Feet, but that’s not all! I’ll also throw in a Baby Smile that will melt your heart, along with the frustrations caused by any of your baby’s less-than-desirable actions. That’s a sixty dollar value for only $19.95. Call and order now!"
If you’re a parent, you already know the power of baby neck fat. If you’re expecting, you’ll experience it for yourself soon. If you’re neither, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
After a few minutes of watching my wife enjoy the fruits of baby neck fat, I said to Tyler, "Can you say ‘da-da’?"
Tyler immediately and effortlessly replied, "Da-da."
Sarah paused, just long enough for me to know she heard it, then tried to PRETEND THAT IT NEVER HAPPENED! Sarah tried to continue her little routine of drawing Tyler forward by his arms and going "nom nom nom" on his neck. The audacity!
"Don’t you dare pretend that you didn’t just hear him say that!"
I know what she was thinking. Nobody else heard Tyler say it, so she could pretend that it didn’t happen. If I start bragging to my friends and family (and my blog) about it Sarah could, theoretically, say that she heard no such thing.
"Dude, Tyler totally said ‘Da-da’ last week. It was awesome man! Sarah, you heard it, tell him."
Twirling her finger around her ear in the "he’s got a screw loose" gesture, Sarah replies, "The only thing I remember Tyler doing is farting when you said that to him. I think you need more sleep, you’re losing it."
Sarah knows that if she denied it long enough, I’d eventually start to believe the lie myself. I’d doubt my own memory and wonder if I only dreamed the entire thing. But just a few days later, I had a witness to Tyler’s "da-da." Yesterday, we went to see Dr. Nagel to get Tyler adjusted again. He hit Tyler a couple times in the back and in the neck with the Activator (or actuator… he just told me the name of the tool yesterday and I’ve already forgotten what it was), and lay Tyler down to do some manual release on his neck. Tyler did quite well during the appointment and made me quite proud at his mostly passive demeanor. He did grow frustrated after a few minutes of the manual release, because he doesn’t like laying down unless he’s sleeping. Tyler would much rather crawl around, knock things over and just stay active. At the end of all this, I picked Tyler up and held him as Lee talked about ear infections, probiotics, and follow-up. Whispering into Tyler’s ear, I said, "Can you say… da-da?"
And Lee heard it. I’m surprised there was enough space in the room we were in for Lee, Sarah, Tyler, myself, and my huge ego. Oh, and the green monster of jealousy that was trying to squeeze its way in. If we didn’t already know that Lee was married with children, it would have been made quite apparent to us from what he said next.
"Well, words like da-da and ba-ba are easier for a baby to say than ma-ma."
Picking up on his noble attempt at easing the tension in the room, I added, "Yeah, so when he does say ‘ma-ma’, you’ll know that he’s really trying."
I don’t remember exactly what Sarah said, but her eyes said "whatever." She wasn’t really upset, but we’re like every other parent in that each mommy wants their baby to say "ma-ma" first, and each daddy wants their baby to say "da-da" first. He said "da-da", which means that I win, right? In Sarah’s defense, I couldn’t tell you if Tyler knows that I’m da-da or if he’s just saying it because he can. I suspect he hasn’t associated that word with me yet, but he will soon enough.