A story for Ana with Love, from Gma Deb

Once upon a time, many, many years ago, a married couple was living during a sabbatical for 22 months, in Kansas. They lived near an Army post and in fact, the man was “in the Army”, as the terminology goes.  Ok, it wasn’t really a sabbatical.  It was a forced enlistment that was called “being drafted”.

Being drafted was much like living at home, as a kid. You had people who told you EVERYTHING. They told you when to sleep and where. They told you when to eat and where and what to eat. They told you how to dress, who you could speak to and which people were just to look at.  The Army had people of all ages that were drafted or had actually craved childhood family life and welcomed the opportunity to be in the Army. Some grew up just enough to be sort of like parents, barking and ordering other Army people to do whatever they could think of.  So being in the Army is just like never growing up and having parents who are very hard to please.

So this couple lived in Kansas. He worked at the Army base and they lived close by in a small house. This small house had one extra little bedroom to fill and the couple had heard rumors that if you wanted a baby, they had them at the Army base hospital. Now the main rule of the Army and they have several thousand rules, is that babies cannot join the Army. So if they found a baby on or near the Army base, it was best to take it to the hospital. where they put it in a nursery.  They kept them till someone came to get a baby.  If some couple thought they wanted a baby, they could go to the hospital and check to see what was available….just like shopping.

They had babies that were bundled in pink or blue, hardly a big shopping choice, huh?  They had babies that were fat, skinny, red and wrinkly. They had babies that were crying and sleeping and loud and quiet. And the babies they had were cheap, only about $7.75 each.

You just looked and picked. If you picked one and didn’t like it, you could bring it back, but it was frowned upon. It was rare that you could have two instead of one, but sometimes, if they were really crowded, they would consent.

So the couple studied for a long time on which baby to pick. It was hard to choose.   A nice, quiet baby would suddenly start screaming and kicking.  A smiling baby would scrunch up like he was pooping and they didn’t want a smelly one.  They finally picked one and when the nurse brought that baby to them, they sat for a bit and said to each other “no, not the right one”, so they gave it back and looked some more.

They just couldn’t decide, so they went home empty handed, to think about choosing.  They did some talking and arguing and even went and bought a used baby bed. Now, of course, they were ready to pick again. When they got to the hospital, there were new babies and some they had seen before. In one crib was a small scrunched up baby boy, who the girl thought looked like her own Mother [could have been a sign] and so that is the one they chose. He didn’t scream or even cry when they took him home and he seemed just fine with the name they gave him – Travis.

His first night at home impressed his new Dad. He bragged the next morning that his boy slept all night long. Truthfully, the only person in the house who slept all night long, was the Dad. Travis and so, of course, the Mom, had been up several times during that night and lots more to come.

Travis was an entertaining baby boy and his folks, having never had a baby before of their own, were probably pretty entertaining for him too. One time he did a scary trick of throwing up all his milk, clear across the room. WOW, that was a WOW trick. We asked him not to do that one again.

The thing about babies, just like puppies, kittens and chicks is that they spend most of their time eating, then pooping and sleeping and then eating and pooping and sleeping and eating and pooping and sleeping. If babies and puppies and kittens and chicks weren’t cute, cute, cute, we would never clean them up or wipe them or even hand feed them, but they are and we do.

We made a big mistake with Travis. Lots of parents make the same mistake. I’m going to tell you the mistake,  but you will probably go ahead and make it too. Adults can be pretty dense ….often.  Just like puppies, kittens, and chicks, we decided maybe Travis would be happy with a baby just like him, to play with, to eat with, to poop with and to sleep near at night.

Here is the mistake. We should have gotten him his own baby when he was brand new. That way they would have grown, and eaten and pooped and slept all together from day one. We waited too long to try another baby. We got him a new baby when he was already three and he like all kids with a new toy, only liked this baby for about 3 minutes. After that he wanted to play Army with this baby, telling it when to sleep, when to eat and what and which toys it could have and for how long [just seconds, as it turned out].

This new baby had two things going against it from the first day.

1] It was a girl baby.

2] It didn’t much like Travis and hated Travis’ idea of Army life.

Did I mention that for Travis’ first birthday, he got an Army tank [ I swear, it is true]

So if you grow up and talk about babies, think about just getting one or go for the puppy, kitten or chick example, and have a litter all at once.




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