Which meant last weekend was probably when other sixth-grader families collected their requisite five pound bags, wrapped them with decorative duct tape to help prevent leaks, dressed them in doll clothes (or in carefully saved baby clothes from their own early years), drew faces with Sharpies, and gathered all the accouterments necessary to make-believe taped-up bags of sweet, short-chained, soluble carbohydrates were real babies.
Of course, the weekend in my house had more to do with a whole bunch of stuff that was not school-related, and then a Sunday 10:30 pm hollering down the stairs:
“Oh my GOD, mom, tomorrow’s sugar baby day.”
By that time I well enough into my cups – as it were – to be tempted to remind Colin that anything school-related after 10 pm on a Sunday is not my circus, therefore not my monkeys.
If this past week is any indication of his future as a father, we can probably not expect a framed ultrasound photo or any cutely videotaped announcement of our pending grandparenthood. We’re more likely to get the casual announcement over dinner – say, one night while he’s home doing laundry – that a paternity test is pending, and a polite inquiry as to whether we could be counted on to babysit once in a while when it’s his weekend with the kid.
Colin’s brother came to our rescue with his own “sugar baby” from his own sixth grade year: a purple duct taped lump he’d christened “Kathryn” or Kate for short when it was his turn to play daddy for a week.
The fact that Jack would have stowed Kathryn and all her accessories (a baby blanket, a teensy stuffed toy that was probably a Happy Meal prize, and a little slip of paper he’d used to vet baby names) with his stuffed dog and other cherished possessions from yesteryear, is our proof that Colin’s lackadaisical approach to parenthood is not necessarily a factor of his being from a household of boys.
Jack has, in fact, been engaged in some sort of informal family planning since he was old enough to talk. He’s constantly thinking up baby names and telling me how many babies of what kind he plans to have. He hopes at least one of his kids shares his affinity for cars, and that he can raise a brood that collectively loves animals and travel as much as he.
Colin, on the other hand, asked what we’d have named him had he been a girl, which is how Kathryn became Piper, and has chalked up the whole experience of parenthood to one extra thing to lug to school and back, along with his viola and backpack.
Other kids are, of course, getting way more into this. I’ve seen mini strollers and doll carriers and Baby Bjorns on the route to school. In fact, I still have one of those Bjorn-things we’d used when the kids were small. I offered it up to Colin for the week, thinking we could just cinch it up a bit, so Piper didn’t fall out one of the leg holes.
Of course, Colin looked at me like I’d just sprouted a unicorn horn and asked if we could instead just dump the magazines out of the decorative basket in the living room and use that.
So Colin was supposed to haul Piper around with him all the time, even when he was home, enlisting us for babysitting services as needed. Instead, he came home from school every day, set the basket on the floor and didn’t look at it again until morning – this after a brief effort to enlist the dog as babysitter, which entailed a formal introduction, followed by a little scolding and admonition to not eat the baby …
…and a resulting, and totally understandable case of baby-anxiety on the part of the dog.
Overall, I’m afraid poor Kathryn/Piper is getting a healthy dose of neglect this week, and I have to wonder what the takeaway from this assignment is for anyone, except maybe ammunition for when Colin starts dating. It is most definitely going to be a while before he embraces parenthood. Which is fine with us, really, because I’m just getting used to not having a real baby around the house, and I plan to revel in it for a long while.
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Baby doll photo by: Robert Burns