Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Well, it happened again.

What's weird is this time I knew it was going to happen, and I wanted to stop it -but I didn't.

House is the best show on television.

I've been sleepy all day. My eyes were droopy at work. Up and down the ladder, up and down... The heat didn't bother me as much today for some reason, maybe I'm getting used to it, but today it was the sunlight. The light! And I had sunglasses on! At one point I held both hands up in front of my face to block the light from hitting me. I just couldn't take it. I was just so sleepy.

Which is kind of strange, because once I get going at work, I move. And move, and move. I don't want to stop moving, and I want to be done and out of there. I know this side of my personality resonates in my running marathons, as well.

But last night the little one woke up around midnight, just crying. Crying and crying like something was really wrong. I got up to manage her, feeble parent as I am -I wanted the Mrs. to sleep and I was awake at the computer- and when I went in to tend to her, I was suddenly helpless. The tears were flowing, and they seemed angry tears -she's a toddler now, and it wasn't a baby cry. At first I thought it was merely a bad dream and I stroked her back and talked to her in soothing tones, remembering the Cardinal Rule to not pick up a baby when she wakes in the night (she wants you then for sure, you know, and then she will never go back down) but I could tell it was something more than the unsavory mists of sleep. It was pretty hot, and easily a contributing factor, but there was obviously some kind of nagging pain. I guessed it was the teething again -she's got some big ones coming in right now, the last and the worst- and I fumbled around in the dark for the baby Tylenol, sugary droplets the kids love almost as much as the parents love their stopping crying. And that's when Mommy arrived, no doubt figuring I'd failed again, which I had. She said she'd dosed her some Tylenol earlier, so I should come up with something else. And there was nothing else, just the crying and crying...

Something was wrong. Your mind races. You consider everything she'd eaten in the past twelve hours. You suddenly remember the moments of the day when she was out of your sight and what could have gone wrong then? And she could have fallen. She could have hit her head. She might have a concussion. We should check her pupils. Did she get into the bathroom cabinet again? Did she suck on the bottles of hair sculpting gel again? Does it hurt her when you press on her stomach? Now you're awake.

When Mommy can't settle her down, you really start to worry. We've long since acquiesced on the not-picking-her-up rule by this time and we are rocking her and singing to her, we've even brought her to our bedroom, which ordinarily we are loathe to do at night, but it doesn't help in the slightest. The child just cries and cries, she can't get comfortable and something is wrong. That's all. Something is Wrong. So Mommy and Daddy pull out the last resort: the pacifier. I actually had to go look for it, as we just don't use it anymore. I finally found it in the dining room, at the bottom of the baby bag, sticky, with dust and hair on it. When we gave it to her, she blithely accepted it, like an old friend with whom she wondered if she'd still get along. It didn't really take. They'd grown apart.

After some more time of worrying, crying, wondering if I should call a doctor, the Little Ditchman was anxious and wouldn't stop moving. The look on her tiny face was one of helpless misery. You couldn't hold her still, which is very disturbing when you're trying to calm a child, and so we set her down on the floor. She looked at us both, stood up, still crying, and got her bearings. Mommy and Daddy needed a clue as to what to do next, so we just watched her crying there, with this old pacifier in her mouth. She looked around the room, and grabbed Mommy's hand, then she turned and yanked Mommy into the hallway. It was dark, and everyone was pretty tired, so there was a certain amount of stumbling. She pulled Mommy down the hall and into her room, where she went to her crib.

She wanted to go back to bed.

And that was it. I think it all lasted about 45 minutes. Of course, it seemed to drag us on forever, but she was back in her bed. There was a little bit more crying, and a minor sense of relief on our part, but I didn't get back to sleep for a while. We laid there in our own bed and talked some, still unsure of the episode, trying to determine what was wrong, what was even going on. But the kid felt bad. She wanted us. And then she wanted to go back to sleep. That's all.

She woke us up again at some woeful, pre-dawn hour and Mrs. Ditchman is a light enough sleeper to be able to handle it, but I ended up having one of those mornings where a whole pot of coffee just doesn't do it and nothing will. Last night's crisis was quickly replaced by an all new crisis around 7:30am when I heard a KERPLASH and saw my wife run panicking out into the yard. Seems the kid had made her way outside somehow and thrown herself headlong into yesterday's fun, the kiddie pool. More crying.

And what good was I through all this? Well, if I had dropped face first into the kiddie pool first thing this morning, I doubt it would've worked any better than the coffee.

So I was nodding off as we were all saying our goodnights tonight, and I was thinking, hoping, praying, DEAR GOD I COULD USE SOME SLEEP and I went down to sit on the couch and House came on. Immediately I knew: click it off and go to bed, or you'll get sucked in. This always happens, dude. You know it. Just reach over and grab the remote. Now... Click. It. Off.

It was another stirring episode. And even though the formula is essentially the same in every show, (and how interesting can ANOTHER primetime medical drama be?) I still think it's the best written show on television. And tonight here was yet another episode with a suffering child (actually, a baby this time) and I don't know what it is about me, but ever since the Little Ditchman was born I just can't bear the thought of suffering children. Oh sure, it always bothered me, but now I know for sure I could kill another person if they touched my family. I can't take these stories of lost, abused, neglected, and stolen children anymore -I really just can't stomach them. And here you have House and the lead character is trying to diagnose, as usual, a suffering mother and child. I nearly lost it.

It's as if, when your child is born, the room you're in is muscled wider and higher, like The Hulk transforming out of his clothes. Your highs are higher, your fears are greater, and you become altogether more fierce and more sensitive than you have ever known yourself to be. The universe has grown, and that quite literally. Life moves ever onward, carving its way through your pride, however hard you try to resist.

A week from Friday, it will be a year and half since my world changed forever. I can't remember the world without her, what it was like before, who I was back then. I have moved downstream, past a point where I will never be able to turn back. Funny thing is, I have no interest in ever returning, not if I can ever help it.