The Nightmare

I am going to try to go to sleep in a little bit. I’m having some trouble because Barnaby is screaming downstairs with my in-laws and even though they know how to take care of him, I keep thinking I should go downstairs and help.

I have to sleep because I essentially didn’t sleep last night. In a way, I guess Barnaby kept me up.

What actually happened was this… Barnaby went to sleep at 9:00 after being an enormous pain in the butt. We bathed him and tried to do his night-time ritual, but after the bath he went into a full fledged shit fit, back arching, screaming to high heaven.

I should say, for the record, that the very worst of Barno’s screaming is nothing compared to some kids. He isn’t all that loud, he never really gets to the point where your ears are crackling the way I’ve heard some kids scream. It never really distorts, and we can almost always still talk to each other over his hollering without having to holler ourselves.

But, with all relative things, his very worst cry is still as horrible as it can be for us, and especially when his cries become despondent and the little goat gasps start accompanying the whole thing.

He wouldn’t nurse after the bath, so I offered to wrap him up in a blanket and try to get him to go to sleep. He slept like shit the night before, and had barely napped all day, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when he went down. One little blip a half our later, one more five minute swinging technique, and he was out by 9.

It was kinda lovely. I made a berry and yogurt smoothie for dessert for myself and Dana (which was had because there were no cookies in the house) and we watched a little TV until about eleven. Then we went upstairs and uploaded some pictures to Barno’s Flickr Page and Jordana corrected my spelling over my shoulder.

It got to be about 12:15 and we thought maybe Barnaby should eat. Jordana got him out of the bassinet, fed him, burped him and put him back in the bassinet, and he didn’t really wake up the whole time. I turned on the TV and rubbed her feet, and “Supersize Me” was on. I watched about twenty minutes of it and then tried to go to sleep.

My good friend Dan told me about the first few months of his daughter’s life, where he would think to himself “she’s probably dead, I should go check on her in her crib” and then his next thought was “this is the last happy moment of my life…” then, he’d check on her and she was fine.

First thing, last night, I thought, “Kids want to eat this food because of television…” and then my mind started spinning. Spinning and spinning.

Asthma and weight gain.

Torturous friends at school. Horrible genetically thin people, cruel people, mocking him.

Pills, powder, everything that was available to me to keep my weight down, and I have no idea why I didn’t touch it. It isn’t just the fast food, it’s the whole of the world that we’re fighting, and there’s no way to win, there’s too much, there’s too many of them.

Check in the bassinet. He’s still alive. He’s still breathing.

School lunches provided by the lowest bidder. He’s brown-bagging it with food I made, and the other kids are mocking him, ruthlessly. He’s so distracted by the cruel kids that he doesn’t pay attention in school.

Walking past McDonald’s with his friends, running in and eating four cheeseburgers. His kidneys are failing, he’s borderline diabetic. He can’t do sports because he’s too big, he’s too big. He’s too big to run, he’s too big to get smaller, and he’s too big because that’s how we made him, we made him big.

Check in the bassinet. He’s still alive. He’s still breathing.

Hours of television, cartoons blasting in the house, drinking coke and eating potato chips. How can I tell him it’s bad, I drink soda, I eat potato chips, all I do is watch TV, watch TV, watch TV.

Taco Bell meant freedom to me. Home cooked food was the meal between the meal I could get at school or at fast food places. The home cooked food I liked the best tasted like the food I wanted from Wendy’s. We need to sell our TVs, we need to get all the sugar out of our house. We need to sell our TVs, it’s the only answer, if there’s no buyer for the TVs we’ll leave them out on the street. NPR and PBS and the Aubrey/Maturin series on tape, and Dr. Who, once in a while, but no, we won’t have the TVs, not in my house, not with Barnaby here, waiting to be poisoned.

Check in the bassinet. As I go to it, I hear him sigh, like even in his sleep, he’s getting bored of me putting my hand on his chest to feel it rise and fall. I stop, decide that the sigh might have been his last breath, and put my hand on his chest anyway. He’s still alive. He’s still breathing.

He’s perfect now. He’s never eaten a single thing that was bad for him, only breast milk his entire life. And he’s off the charts. He turns three months old today, and using his height and weight from three weeks ago, he’s still completely off the charts for a baby his age.

I check the bassinet. I remember that his height/weight ratio is at exactly 50%. He’s perfectly average for America. Then I remember that everyone in America is obese…

We have to cook every meal, and we have to get a regular exercise routine. He’s too big… my God, my whole family is fat and now Barnaby’s gonna be huffing and puffing, lugging his tubby ass all over the place. Pink cheeked and sweaty, he’s gonna be funny and fat, just like me, just like me, just like me. Aching and sweating, acne and fat covering him from head to toe, horrible greasy hair and crooked teeth and bad skin and lumbering, lumbering, lumbering.

He’s got his mom’s eyes, but my arms, my legs, my stomach. I remember being in 6th grade and staring at myself in the mirror with my shirt off, crying, the crying contorting my face, the sobbing shaking my little 12 year old boytitts, hating myself, LOATHING myself, and turning that hatred into a burning anger at the rest of the world.

I remember the abandon with which I treated people, the hostility and the *energy* I had when it came to tearing other people down. I wouldn’t respond to any good situation, but the bad situations would get my full aggression, my full *weight* as it were, leaning into every destructive impulse as if I were rolling a bolder up a hill, savoring the moment when the bolder would roll back down, praying it would roll over me.

I checked the bassinet.

He’s still perfect.

There is no damage to him, he’s still perfect. He sighs in his sleep. His mouth is a perfect “O” and his hands are open where he had been gripping the blanket.

He’s got his mother’s eyes, his mother’s face. He’s got so much of her in him, you can see it.

In the morning, he wakes up and screams and his mom tries to keep him quiet, but I get up anyway. I fell asleep, fitfully, around 5, and it’s 8:45 now. She says, “You had a bad night, huh?” and I say, “Man, I just want to put it behind me.”

And Barnaby sits on my lap as I sit up in bed. Barnaby sits there for a minute, his head barely stopping on anything before his eyes have moved to the next thing. He bobbles around and then he stops on my face.

He smiles and makes the noise in the back of his throat that sounds like fake radio static. Then he burst into a laugh so hard that he’s still laughing when he breaths in. He straightens his legs underneath him so that he’s standing up in my lap and he stares at my face, smiling like an old man, toothless and bald. He can’t stop smiling, even as he spits up on my shirt. He sits back down and stares off over my shoulder as I clean him off.

He leans forward until his head is under my chin and he stares at his mom and smiles.

Barnaby is three months old today.

He’s fine. I checked.