A scream pierced the quiet of our Saturday afternoon, a startled “AAAAAH!” from the kitchen, followed by the sound of splatter. A moment later, my wife Kara called out, “Babe, I need some help in here!”
Foreshadowing the scene I was about to encounter, the dog came trotting through the living room with great stripes of mashed green beans laced across her back.
As I entered the kitchen, I saw Kara sitting next to our son Evan, who was perched in his high chair, conducting an orchestra with his rubber spoon. From the looks of their surroundings, the Jolly Green Giant had just spontaneously combusted in the kitchen. The floor, the baby and the wife were all spattered with thick green goop.
“He got a hold of the beans,” Kara said.
Evan looked at me and gave a Bronx cheer from behind his bean mask. He doesn’t know any words yet, but he often delivers lengthy monologues using nothing but blown raspberries.
“Try to use words,” Kara will say to him as I blow raspberries back. She’s only worried that we’re not doing enough to encourage his verbal development because she doesn’t understand that up until the age of twelve, little boys carry on their most meaningful conversations in fart noises anyway.
When Evan was smaller, and the thought of being able to eat mashed green beans was just a legume in his eye, Kara asked her cousin Roscoe, a parent of two, “Does it ever get any easier?”
“No, it doesn’t,” Roscoe replied after a moment. “But it doesn’t really get any harder, either. As soon as you stop having to worry about one thing they outgrow, you start having to worry about something new they get into. You just keep trading one thing for another.”
We found that to be an interesting notion, that parenthood is just a constant flow of new challenges of roughly uniform difficulty. I’d be inclined to conjecture that nothing is as hard as the first few months of parenthood, when we’d fall asleep at the base of the crib because we were too exhausted to crawl back to bed, but then I’ve never experienced potty training, which I gather can turn parts of your house into a sort of demented Jackson Pollock painting.
Our newest challenge is dealing with a mobile Evan, who has just discovered the wonders of crawling, and whose middle name should now either be “Danger” or “Faceplant.” His favorite activity, when he’s not trying to topple a bookshelf onto himself, is to motor around the floor, picking up dog hair and eating dust bunnies. Essentially, our child has turned into a Roomba. (If you’re unfamiliar with Roomba, the little vacuuming robot, you can simulate ownership of one by dropping a metal trash can lid on your carpet and telling your friends, “I don’t know why it’s not working.”)
Anyway, whether there’s anything to Roscoe’s theory or not, Kara and I have noticed the challenges of parenting evolving lately. For instance, as Evan slowly shifts from bottles to solid food, we’ve had to evolve to using simple tools, like putty knives, to clean the kitchen.
The wealth of pureed food flying about the house has been enthusiastically greeted by the dog, who has proven to be a valuable ally in the fight to de-Gerberize the house. While Evan might not be the most effective vacuum, Memphis makes a very passable Swiffer. She helps keep the baby sparkling, too. Since Evan has started spending his days coated in various elements of the food pyramid, the dog treats him like a living Popsicle, or a crawling Snausage.
That day, Memphis also made quick, if unceremonious, work of the Jolly Green Giant’s remains.
You can show your Roomba off to Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.