Archive for September, 2007


Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Do you want to know why I haven’t written? Two months of Barnaby entries, the 8th month and the 9th month, both skipped. There probably isn’t even a readership anymore, but let me see if I can explain, should anyone stumble on to this blog.

I need to start by saying, if you think I just need to suck it up and that there are starving and homeless people right here in New York, I’m gonna have to extend a mild “fuck off” to you. It never fails to amaze me how many people comment on people’s blogs about the solipsism and self-centeredness, as if a blog could possible be anything but.

My kid is just about the best kid I could hope for. He’s sleeping through the night, he’s eating like a champ, he’s growing, he’s smart and developing like crazy. He seems to be really fond of me, very excited to see me every time I walk into a room, and he’s really well-adjusted and affectionate.

I’ve never been so consistently miserable in my entire fucking life. When I was going through a divorce, I at least had the rest of the world to look at me and go, “Yeah, well, y’know, he’s going through a divorce.” Now? This is supposed to be great, or at least nice, or… at the very least, there are tiny, tiny moments that might break your heart.

Two days ago, he went down for his nap at 10:45 and slept until 12. Then he went down for his nap at 3:45 and slept for about 25 minutes. I was over the moon. I was in heaven, he had actually woken up after a full night’s sleep, then napped when he was supposed to, eaten when he was supposed to, and then went to bed around 8 without much problem.

But, you see, I wasn’t actually happy about this, I didn’t actually enjoy this. At all. This was the feeling of finding out the Trig. test has been postponed for a day, giving you an extra night to prepare… when you know nothing about trigonometry. There was a horrible sickening foreboding all day, that when I didn’t have to deal with him screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming… that was a fucking SHOCK, that was just the next drop NOT falling in the Chinese Water torture.

I’m fighting with all of my friends, constantly, and my family as well. If I’m not fighting, I’m silent, but I’m pissed off and brewing. Day after day, night after night, month after month of getting four or five hours of sleep. Day after day of feeling beholden and guilty for the help we get, of feeling responsible for making other people’s days bad because he won’t stop, he just won’t stop.

He’s crawling now, diving for disgusting pennies on the ground, trying to get his finger into outlets, putting every electrical cord in the house in his mouth and biting down. He climbs to the edge of the bed as quickly as possible, without even a pause at the edge. My days now are, every eleven seconds, saying “no” or grabbing him and trying to stop him from eating lint or a dead bug.

I’m writing this at 11:56, on my clock. He’s got a 10:30 nap that I’m slowly giving up on, moving it back and back and back because he just won’t got to sleep. I rocked him in the rocking chair. I used to rock him for five minutes, then it was ten, now it’s twenty, it takes that long for him to quit kicking me in the stomach and to stop clawing my face. I rock him and sing and he does a low constant whine of misery and impatience, but this is what the books tell me to do.

I put him down tired, relaxed but awake, and he starts screaming. I starting the rocking at 11:04 today, he was yawning, could barely keep his eyes open, and the second I set him down in the crib he started screaming. I rocked him for twenty minutes, so really he’s only been screaming, screaming, endless breath-catching screaming for about 35 minutes now. His nap is from 10:30 to noon-ish. It’s now noon, he’s still standing up in his crib, screaming.

Fuck you, don’t tell me that if he’s standing and screaming he isn’t tired, I take care of him, every fucking day I’m locked in this shithole in Queens that’s falling down around me, towel racks ripping out of the wall, doors that won’t close so I can’t even put anything between me and the screaming. If he wasn’t in his crib, he’d be screaming anyway, he’s just be sitting in the middle of the floor, staring at me and screaming. He’s exhausted, he’s nine months old and he’s been awake since 6:30. It’s *NOON*. He’s so tired he’s lost his mind.

But he’s tenacious, I’ll give him that. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him no, doesn’t matter how often I take him away from the socket in the wall, doesn’t even matter if I put up a gate around it. He crawls to the gate, picks himself up, rocks back and forth and screams. Because he wants to put his mouth on the electrical socket in the wall. He has a tenacity I never had, he will hold out until the job is finished in a way I never could.

He can, and has, screamed all the way through the entirety of what should have been his nap. He’s close to doing it now. He’s still screaming, in the time that it’s taken me to write this, he’s still screaming.

So, here’s the thing. I have a show opening tomorrow. I had tech. last night and dress rehearsal tonight. This is how it is, every day. There was a time, a short time, when my mother could take Barnaby upstairs and put him down in her apartment, but that was a cheat, a stop-gap measure, and it stopped working. He literally stood up in his crib upstairs and laughed at my mom.

Every day, this is what it is. The idea that I could possible work during the day, even in five minute increments, is laughable. I can clean the kitchen, it’s downstairs, but I can’t work on the same floor where he’s sleeping, he has Jordana’s sensitivity to light and my ears, the slightest noise or shadow passing and he wakes up and starts screaming.

But when the screaming stops, two things happen. First, the nausea abates just slightly, I don’t actually sit at the edge of my bed and dry heave any more. I still have the dying sobs of an abandoned baby ringing in my head, and not just in the way that I hear them constantly in my head all day and all night, more in the it-just-stopped-for-a-second-but-could-start-again way.

But then, within five minutes, starts the countdown. This nap could be twenty minutes long, it could be an hour and forty five minutes. So… am I running lines? Not out loud, of course. Can I do any repairs on our house? Not with any power tools, of course. My house is a goddam pit, trash cans overflowing, piles of laundry and dishes… I can’t clean anything within fifty feet of his crib. The sound of a garbage bag opening is one of the sounds he hates most.

As I write this, I pass the 12:15 mark. His screaming calmed to sobs and now he’s quiet. When he wakes up, I’m gonna be aware of it by his customary post-nap screams, which will then go into “Completely Fucking Insane Playtime” where our totalled living room, covered from one end to the other with toys and random shit that Barnaby has decided are toys, will be eschewed for yet another attempt to suck on an electrical outlet or to put a golf ball that has rolled through 18 holes of duck shit in his mouth.

This will last until the next imposed screaming session eventually ends in his second nap. Or… doesn’t – there have been a fair number of days when he just screamed right through any attempt at a second nap and allowing him to sleep would make his night impossible.

And, you see, at some point in all of this, I’m supposed to take a shower. Nothing as complicated as working on a script is possible, and the high concept idea of actually CREATING a new script is one of the most absurd ideas possible. Yes, we get a ton of help from my mom, if I went to her and asked her to take Barnaby she would, in much the same way that she drops anything, always, for any of her kids. But then she wouldn’t be able to do any of the stuff that she wants to do with her day, and it’s not her fault we have a child, it’s ours.

The first few nightmare mont
hs had, before them, the promise of a corner turned, of an aware child who would interact with you and the world. The horrorshow of the five and six month old, where schedules are not just borderline impossible, they are literally beyond the mental grasp of your offspring, contained the promise of a time when your child would understand you and be able to act on impulses rather than scream out of frustration.

So, now we have him, a child who’s awake and aware and mobile. Who smiles at me and loves me, who knows his name and the names of most of his things, who laughs at the same point in the books we read him and, for the last two days, has been standing next to the coffee table and not holding on to anything.

I just don’t feel any better. I haven’t written because I didn’t dare say how much I hate this. I worried that Barnaby would read this later and think I didn’t love him, but the truth is every single person I talk to, for any reason, knows I love my kid. I don’t hold him responsible for these things, he’s nine months old, he only knows how to behave in the ways we’ve taught him.

I just know, in my heart of hearts, that I am terrible at this, and there has never been a time in my life that I was terrible at something and then kept doing it. I’ve walked away from everything I was even slightly bad at. But this… it isn’t even like doing terribly in school. It reminds me of being a kid again, where school was a place that I feared and hated, and my home was a place that I loathed and the only comfort I ever felt, ever, was when I was in transit moving from one place to another.

Only now, there’s no going home from this, and there’s no getting up and leaving it. Even when he’s asleep, I have a monitor, a speaker that broadcasts his inevitable screams into any room I’m in.

Why did I bother even writing this? I’m saying this because there are a lot of people out there who keep talking about how they want children. I’m sure you do, I really, really wanted children. And even now, even when the horrible feeling has become so pervasive that I’ve let it infiltrate my very being, so that the horrible taste in my mouth is just how my mouth tastes now… even now after saying all this I’m still so glad to have him, to know that he’s got a chance with my family and his family’s help to become a great man.

But you should know that you very well may have a child and realize one day that as glad as you are to have him, he may not be very lucky to have YOU. Unless you can give up 80% of your life right now, and do so without any sense of panic and without any concern about resentment for the useless upheaval your life has taken, then you should take a deep breath before you go making any decisions.

I don’t like doing this, I hate ending these blogs with any kind of a punchline, but, for the sake of honesty and clarity, I should report that Barnaby slept for 25 minutes, woke up and started screaming again. I just asked my mom to take him from me. It’s 12:52, I’m gonna take a minute to finish this paragraph, and then go take him back.