All three of my children were imperfect babies.
I know this because my wife, Marianne, had friends whose babies were perfect and they never missed a chance to remind us of it.
“My Wendy drifts off around eight every night and sleeps to eight the next morning,” one of them was fond of telling us.
Our babies, being imperfect, drifted off whenever the hell they felt like it and dedicated their existence to making sure we never got a whole night’s sleep. While Wendy was apparently snoring softly in her crib our little ones were carrying out sleep deprivation experiments on their parents.
“Day seventeen of no sleep,” they would write in their little journals. “Daddy is beginning to walk into walls and mommy goes around mumbling things like, ‘And to think, we wanted children…'”
Marianne brought home armloads of baby books with entire chapters dedicated to how to get your baby to sleep through the night. None of their suggestions worked. That’s when we discovered a fundamental flaw with baby books: Babies can’t read.
“See,” I told her. “That’s how they get you.”
Of course, we wouldn’t have been fooled that easily if we weren’t so miserably sleepy.
All babies smell bad at times, but imperfect babies have a talent for choosing the worst possible moments to smell bad. Take the incident involving my daughter, Kate. We were attending a dance recital for my eldest daughter, Sarah. The crowd was shoulder to shoulder. My mom was holding, Kate who was a few months past one, when Kate executed the diaper blowout of all diaper blowouts. The odor was not only atrocious, but it actually changed the density of the atmosphere around you. Problem was, Kate was absolutely infatuated with the dancing on the stage and she wasn’t about to be hauled out of there for something as trivial as covering most of her lower quadrant and a good part of her grandmother with poop.
My mom is not wilting violet and not the easily embarrassed type. She and Kate stood fast and watched the recital. As much as I secretly hated recitals, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Nothing beats watching a crowd of people pretend not to smell the most godawful, atrocious odor on the planet. I’ve got to give it to them, not a sole waved a hand or covered their nose. They even shushed their kids when they said something. The only adult who made a comment was the guy standing next to my mom who said, “I guess some of us get a little more excited about dance recitals than others.”
I am sure my wife’s friends with the perfect babies never experienced anything of the sort. Perfect babies find such behavior gosh. Imperfect babies think it’s the greatest thing since bottles were invented.
Imperfect babies like to share their bodily output with the ones they love. My son was a master at projectile vomiting. His two sisters were no slouches at it, either, but the boy was the king of getting maximum coverage down the back of whoever was holding him and inflicting collateral damage on innocent bystanders. He was also much better than his sisters at drenching things, parents included, with urine. Of course, he had an unfair advantage over the girls if you know what I mean.
My daughter, Sarah, led the league in spraying the contents of her nasal passages all over the face of the person holding her. There is no precursor to a baby sneeze. It just happens. Instantly. Your face will be inches away from the baby’s face. You are grinning. The baby is grinning. Just like that, you are half blinded by baby snot. When you can see again, you are staring into the toothless smile of the culprit. The culprit is not entirely sure what just happened, but whatever just happened was absolutely wonderful. The culprit might even laugh at the funny faces Daddy is making.
All things considered I prefer imperfect babies over the perfect variety. Sure, they deprive you of a lot of sleep and they are a bit on the messy side, but they aren’t boring and I managed to have a great time raising mine, imperfect as they were.
For the record, my imperfect babies grew up to be imperfect children then imperfect teenagers (the projectile vomiting was mostly beer this age) then imperfect adult just like their mother. One day, they will hopefully manufacture a few imperfect people of their own. I look forward to it mainly because I am not the one who will be losing sleep.