I should have known. I understand, conceptually, that butter is made from milk. I even know it practically: When I was doing all the science labs at an elementary school, I had the kids all bring in empty glass jars, which we filled with cream. We shook them, making 30 individual flavors of butter, from ‘faintly like pickles’ flavor to ‘faintly like concord grape jelly’ butter, even ‘faintly and most nauseatingly like Prego spaghetti sauce’ butter.
I don’t know how I forgot. OK, I know exactly how I forgot, because when confronted with a fresh baby that you have little or no idea how to tend, you forget EVERYTHING else, including anything you did with your life previously, basic math, and any reason why you wouldn’t walk to the store in your underpants if it was warm enough.
It was only week two of solo babydaddying. I should not have been so cocksure as to actually drive somewhere with the baby, but whatever. I did it. We had a date with grandma.
Oh, we did have fun, romping up and down the hills of Sausalito, commenting on the poor taste of the owners of multi-million dollar homes, Critics of the Rich and Famous, all the while pushing a rickety slap-dash pram, composed of the frame of an old stroller with the car seat belted to it ( not to say it wasn’t a fantastic gizmo- thanks Zan!- but probably not seen that often in a neighborhood where even the nannies drive the parents’ beemers.)
The baby was cheerful, the weather was sunny and all was good. It was a little hot, though, and I began suspecting that the milk I had brought with me was going off. I didn’t get it- I was constantly shaking it to make sure the fat globules mixed in well with the rest of the milk, using the same vigor I would to warm up a can of spray paint. Still, though, there were these little congealed bits coating the sides, looking suspiciously oily. What was up? I shook and shook and shook, but there just seemed to be more of them.
I decided to not worry. The milk didn’t smell off, and besides I had other things to worry about. The baby needed a diaper change right now, and I hadn’t tried out the ‘porta-change’ table. I would need all my concentration for that. I managed, feeling fairly proud of myself, and just needed to clean up.
“Could you hold her for a sec?” I asked Grandma.
I won’t go into the details of how baby and grandma fell down concrete stairs, except to say it involved a dog, another dog and a small crown of onlookers who, along with Dad, all chimed in with a collective hiss of indrawn breath as we watched the two tumble. To assuage your fears, the baby was fine.
Fine physically, I should say. Grandma, to her credit, managed a mid-air pirohoutte and landed without squishing the baby, but oh, the BABY DID HOWL.
There is no other greater way to realize you are an actual parent then to have these two thoughts in quick succession: ‘Oh, God, someone should DO something!’ and ‘Oh GOD that SOMEONE is ME!’
I ran over, picked up the baby, quick checked in with Grandma to make sure she wasn’t dead and checked out the Bean. Yes, HOWLING, but no marks, and after a beat, I realized howling was a good thing, as it meant she was scared, but not knocked silly. Her pupils weren’t dilated, and she didn’t seem woozy. I figured I needed to check her faculties. As the only thing she could really do at that point was eat, shit and sleep, I decided we had to try one of them.
“I want to see if she’ll eat,” I told Grandma.
“Do you trust me to hold her?”
I may have balked for a second, but really it was the dog’s fault, and she was tied up now.
“Ok, yes”, I said pulling out the bottle….
WHICH WAS ALL WRONG. Globs of oily everywhere! Stuff that would make her PUKE!! It was SPOILED SPOILED SPOILED, I was sure of it, and I HAD to see if she would EAT!
“OK, I’ve got to warm up the other bottle!”
I ran to the bathroom, dumped the first milk down the sink, hurriedly ran the spare under the faucet to take off the chill and ran out to feed her. She took the milk, I breathed a sigh of relief and shuttled her off the doctor’s office, just to be sure. We got home just before Mom got home from work, and I had already decided to get the Bean into her hands so she could see she was safe and sound before I told her anything. She came in the door and I handed her the baby, probably smiling a little too much, and watched them settle into their favorite chair.
“So, uh, how was work today?”, I said, preparing to drop the bomb.
“Oh my God, my BABY, I miss her so MUCH!” She said, bursting into hysterical tears.
“Oh. Dear. Um.” I said.
After her separation anxiety subsided, I finally managed to spit out the events of the day. I was apologizing profusely when her mother called in the middle of my confession, apologizing profusely. She was remarkably calm throughout.
“She’s fine. You are fine. It was an accident, and you handled it well.”
“I’m so glad you aren’t mad.”
I think I may have even felt a little proud, so I went into more detail about how careful I was, especially with switching up the bad milk.
“You did WHAT?!?” she said.
“Oh. Dear.Um.” I replied.
To be continued……