We all want to be judged, it’s in our genes. Everything we do is being “judged” by someone else. Our bosses at work, teachers at school, it’s even in the evil eyes of the monkeys at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We are always being evaluated; it’s what helps us reach our own personal idea of perfection. For instance, my wife judges the way I dress, and I (internally only) judge my wife’s sense of style. I get a better understanding of what she thinks I should look like, and she gets to feel like she’s helping me from being ridiculed. Needless to say, I’ve never really cared a lot about what people thought of me. But that all changed at 7:24pm on Wednesday April 12th 2006. That was when Lucy was born into our world. What followed was a new kind of judging system. I would be judged as a parent! I would be evaluated and ridiculed by friends, family, and passing strangers, but more importantly I would be judged by Lucy. This little person’s opinion of me is gonna matter. Every step I took had to have a purpose; I had to be methodical.
I began to base all my new found parental decisions largely on a dream that one day while accepting an Oscar, Grammy, Gold Medal, Emmy or even a Tony, Lucy will look down at her prewritten acceptance speech and thank a very special man for all the love, support, and patience throughout the years without whom none of this would be possible. The camera would pan to an attractive older gentleman sitting in the audience with his chest plumed out with pride and a tear welling-up in his eye. He nods his head with approval; she blows him a kiss and lips the words “Thank you” to him. Not surprisingly, that the handsome older fellow is Chase Todd celebrity action hero and unconvincingly twice her age. I on the other hand am sitting in a bar watching all of this unfold like Jon Voight watching Angelina Jolie accept a Golden Globe. That’s right, somewhere during her first years of life I was judged and deemed not worthy, and because of that, some chump named Chase Todd gets my seat at the Oscars. This of course is not immediately true, and only a worst case scenario…
My journey as a stay at home dad started six weeks after Lucy was born. That’s when Cathy went back to work, and left me all alone with a small impressionable baby. A crying, pooping, eating, sleeping, sleep-pooping, sleep-crying, poop-cry-sleeping, cry-pooping, cry-poop-crying and my personal favorite the “when did she eat chili” poop?
How boring it must be to eat nothing but white liquid all day? I feel as if I’m taunting her with my steak sandwich, extra blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and a little brown bag of greasy fries. Damn this is good! I can’t wait till she can eat solid foods, foods with color and flavor: red apples, red meats, red soda, red popsicles and ohhh sweet Jesus… RED-FILLED-DOUGHNUTS! Yup, she’d have to wait a few months before she could experience the flavor of red, but for now it’s just plain ol’ white breast milk. Sorry Lu, I don’t make the rules. I just follow the simply written caveman directions from my wife: Feed Lucy. Lucy sleep. This seemed simple enough.
Lucy and I had just begun to settle down for our third nap of the day, and everything to this point had gone according to plan until I was startled by the familiar sound of the impending summer months. Although I could not see it, I was completely aware that a not so common house fly was somewhere in the living room.
As most house flies do, this one seemed to circle my head just as my eyes began to close. The buzzing was tremendous and non-stop. I blindly estimated the size of this elusive insect to be about the size of a peanut M&M, a peanut M&M, with wings! How in the world was it possible that I couldn’t visually locate this beast? The frantic buzzing continued; first as an irritating hum of anxiety, but then it became more of a white noise. Lucy seemed impervious to the buzzing, and I also became more immune to it. One last glance around the room and it was lights out. Boy-O-Boy, being a good dad was easy. Then suddenly I was jarred awake by a sound. This “sound” was a new sound, a different sound. It was not the familiar buzzing, but in fact it was the sound of silence that jolted me from my slumber.
Something was wrong and I knew it. I shot up from the couch, surveyed the floor plan and then focused my eyes to a black dot on the other side of the room. Bingo! I had located the creature. It was still, it was quiet, and it had landed… to my absolute horror… it had landed! It landed nowhere near the uneaten crust of my steak sandwich, nor did he stall on the corner of the television screen, and what I found most peculiar was it didn’t land on a small smudge of dog crap across the side of my sneakers. Nope, that now non-buzzing menace landed on Lucy’s bottom lip, and it was huge!
She was dead asleep and no more than 10 feet away. My initial thought was to throw a pillow at it, but I couldn’t take the chance of waking up the sleeping Lucy. I had to go about this much more methodically. Then, just as I stood up, the fly disappeared. But it didn’t fly away; in fact the S.O.B ducked inside of Lucy’s mouth. I froze; if I made any noise perhaps the fly might fly down her throat and choke her from the inside. Even worse yet… how long had I been sleeping? Did this stealthy Oreo with wings already settle down with his family inside the belly of poor defenseless Lucy? Was she now doomed to unleash a new buzzing menace into this world every time we burped her? Cathy would absolutely kill me if she knew Lucy’s first solid food was black, let alone a fly.
At this point it became a test of wills. Two forces fighting over a young impressionable being. We were fighting for Leia! That’s right I was Obi-Wan and the fly was Vader (on a personal level, I would have much rather been Vader; but seeing as the fly was in black and I was wearing my wife’s ridiculously comfortable white silk bathrobe, I had very little choice in the matter). His buzzing soon became the hard throaty breaths Vader was famous for. Lucy, an innocent and unknowing pawn of war was incredibly still sound asleep.
“I see you in there,” I whispered as he peeked his dirty little head from out of her mouth.
“Buzz,” he replied with a sense of sarcasm and down-right snobbery.
“Get out. Get-get-get out,” I scream-whispered through my clenched teeth. As a side note, yelling at a fly doesn’t do much good; in fact I think I just further irritated it.
What if Lucy woke up? What would she do? Would she breathe in and swallow it, or breathe out and send it cascading down her drool soaked chin? I had to make a move. I took two steps and began to close in slowly. I didn’t know what was going to happen when I got to her, but I had a feeling either Vader or I was going to die. Then without warning he appeared again. It crawled out of her mouth, over her nose, onto her eye and finally to the top of her head. Then he began to do that weird leg crossing bug dance all over her face and I was beginning to panic. I slowly raised my hand, I was going to whoosh it off her head and send it confusingly into a closed window where it would crash and fall to its demise or…. simply smash right through it sending shards of glass everywhere which would be eerily reminiscent of the infamous Death Star explosion.
She’d wake up to see me standing above her covered in glass wearing that ridiculously comfortable white silk robe, and I would be judged! She’d be disappointed at the lack of effort I used to rid her mouth of the fly. In five or so years she would verbalize this to her mother, who would tell our friends, who would tell their friends and I would get picked up by the authorities. Lucy would of course persevere in the face of this tragic event to win her Oscar. She would later disown her father, and then out of spite, marry that Scumbag Chase Todd.
…Then in an instant he zoomed off her head, straight up into the air. What he did next was a death defying-reverse-Blue Angel-throw triple sow cow-barrel roll which ended with a laser precise entrance right back into her mouth. It was like watching The Millennium Falcon dodging the errant lasers of an X-Wing fighter. It was unbelievable!
I stood there silently trying to re-visualize what had just happened, no one was going to believe me, but what I had just witnessed was the coolest buzzing thing ever! Then I felt it…she was awake. I wasn’t looking at her, but I could feel those small impressionable eyes sizing me up for future ridicule. Finally, I drew my gaze down and looked her in the eyes. She was smiling! She wasn’t judging me… well maybe she was, but in my mind she was paralyzed with admiration. She was in awe at her statuesque father. Man, I must of looked like a Greek God standing there in that most ridiculously-fantastic, fit like a dream, tickle silk, manhood murdering, so silky smooth it makes you wanna pee every time you put it on–white silk bathrobe. Nope, she couldn’t possibly be judging me. She just stared at me with acceptance, knowing I was her means of support and comfort. She knew I would never let anything happen to her and more importantly she had no idea that that she ate a fly. In her eyes, I was a good father. And then…
She squinted her eyes, opened her mouth and a left for dead drool-drenched fly appeared. She’d been baiting me! She knew damn well that a fly had zipped into her mouth. She set me up! Then Lucy gave me a look that I could only describe as “Evil Genius” she pursed her lips together, sealing off all oxygen leaving my exhausted little foe time for one last faint “buzz” and then she swallowed. It was done Lucy had eaten Vader.
I was sure that she did this on purpose. She was barely two months old but she knew exactly what she was doing. She must have been sizing me up for weeks now, waiting for an opportunity to flex her power and test my resolve. With one eye opened she peered into my soul. I knew this was a crucial moment in our relationship; she knew what she did and thus she had given me my first real task as a father. It was going to be how I handled this particular event that would inevitably shape our relationship and she knew it. So what did I do? I changed the next 12 or so diapers so Cathy wouldn’t find the remains of my little nemesis, which would have no doubt led to some serious parenting conversations. Other than that, I did nothing.
Lucy is now three years old and I’ve stopped worrying about that seat at the Oscars and that beefball Chase Todd. As a matter of fact, I just stopped worrying about a lot of stuff and I really just focused on the things that are gonna make me a good dad. I realized that everything was gonna be fine and that I was actually doing a good job raising little Lucy, and now Ruby. Yup, I was done worrying. No more lame excuses, paranoia, fear of accusatory negligence and most importantly I had absolutely no concern that anyone was ever gonna find out that Lucy’s first solid food was a fly, because on that line in her baby book, I wrote bananas.