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Ronan and I took our second journey into Manhattan. The first was a visit to my old job at a private school. We visited students and teachers and he did very well.

I was a wreck.

There’s a wonderful device that’s a combination bondage device/baby restraint called a Bjorn. (Aside: the name “Bjorn” always makes me think of 1970s tennis great Bjorn Borg. Why? Because I only know one Bjorn.) Terry can use all three of our baby slings, but the Bjorn is the only one that doesn’t place Ronan directly against my Adam’s Apple and cause me to stop breathing. Ronan has a love/hate relationship with the Bjorn. He loves to fall asleep in it on the subway. He hates to be in it any other time.

So for four hours I held a squirming, over-stimulated two-month-old as hundreds of schoolchildren gawked at him. I ran out of energy long before Ronan did, but he got to sleep on the subway and I didn’t. I didn’t want to miss my stop.

The second trip was different. It began with Ronan spitting up all over me.

Every time I look at our diaper bag, I wonder if the pioneers crossed the plains with only a single nappy to use along the way. (Then I remember that the death rate for infants in the 19th century was much higher than my current socioeconomic status.) Our diaper bag has everything to keep Ronan comfortable for about a month, except food, and we could take care of that easily by adding one of the approximately 1.4 million free cans of Similac we got as samples. Just to make my Dad feel better (he lives in fear of New York) it’s been lined with Kevlar© ballistic armor. (No, not really. Sometimes it just feels that heavy, though.)

So Ronan spit up on me halfway to the subway. I opened the diaper bag for a wipe to clean up. I couldn’t find it.

Oh, it was there. It was definitely in there. You see, for whatever reason, my wife packs the diaper bag when I take Ronan on a trip. I like to think it’s her way of taking care of us, to make sure we are in comfort and Ronan’s needs are taken care of. It’s a wonderful, loving way to send us off. It could be that I’m completely devoid of common sense about these things, and her packing the bag means that Ronan has a much better than 50/50 chance that he’ll have a clean diaper than if I do. But I prefer to think that it’s her way of taking care of us.

So since she packed the diaper bag, I knew – KNEW – that a wipe was in there. But while I found many things, a wipe was not one of them.

So I turned around, went home, changed Ronan, changed my shirt, and got a packet of diaper wipes so I knew where they were.

I had a wonderful lunch with a friend. Ronan smiled all the time. That is, until he decided that the Bjorn was a bondage device and he had to get out now. Then, I ate French fries with one hand and held a squirming baby with the other. So much to see! I’ll spin completely around several times so I don’t miss it all!!

On the train home Ronan feel asleep in the Bjorn and it seemed all was well with the world. That is, until the MTA saw our bliss and had to crush it like a hard-boiled egg. The Q train first went local and then it stopped running altogether. I assume that since it was rush hour this was designed to make the passengers more comfortable about getting to know each other or something, since we were going to be together for a long time. That’s when Ronan decided to wake up and get the hell out of the @#$%!% Bjorn, Dad!! Right freakin’ now, Dad!! We had to switch trains suddenly to one that was actually going to move, and without much warning. It’s always fun to take your squirmy, unhappy baby who does not fear death and is not semi-permanently attached to you and dash across a subway platform. I was terrified that someone would bump me and I would shoot a twelve-pound baby off of the platform or something.

I was so freaked out that I put Ronan back in the Bjorn on the new train. Which, I am told, is against the Geneva Convention on babies. Ronan actually said this; “Dad, this is upsetting me greatly.” However, since he doesn’t speak English yet, this involved slapping me on the face with his fists and failing his legs. And oh, yes, the inevitable tears.

This of course, made me the Center of Attention© (Patent Pending). This was my first time as that guy. As in, “That guy” who can’t keep his baby quiet; “That guy” who is disturbing my already annoying ride; “That guy” who looks befuddled and confused and probably needs someone to help him with quieting the baby. As any New Yorker will tell you, you do not want to be “That guy” or “that gal” who is the center of attention. Being the center of attention is okay if you’re an actor, or a motivational speaker, but it really sucks to be the center of attention on a New York City subway.

So, I did what I do when I’m home: I talked to Ronan. I assured him that it wouldn’t be for long; that he would be home in just a few stops; that I hated doing this to him. Of course, he didn’t care. He has this expression of displeasure that just melts my heart. He turns into Burgess Meredith as the Penguin on the old Batman TV series.

“Meh!” Ronan says.

“We’ll be home soon,” I say.

“Meh!” Ronan says.

It’s not quite crying. He has a full-on crying mode that is not pleasant. But the single-syllable expression of displeasure is one of the funniest, cutest things. Of course, I’m his Dad, and I don’t think the other people on the subway found it quite as endearing as I did. So we made our way via local stops on the Q, back home to Brooklyn.

“Canal Street.” The conductor said.

“Meh!” Ronan said.

“Shhh." I said.

“Meh!!” Ronan said.

“We’ll be home soon.” I said.

“Meh!” Ronan said.

I know I should have been looking at Ronan the whole time. I find it effective to gaze into his eyes. He seems to be fascinated by staring at me. I can already see him trying to mimic my facial expressions.

But those subway passengers freaked me the fuck out.

I’ve never had fifty people stare at me while I tried to quiet a baby. I find I am much less effective at it when I feel like an entire trainload of strangers is staring at my child and me. I tend to stare back.

Which actually works. If you stare at people, they will look away. Because if I don’t see them staring at me, then I won’t know that they are staring at me. Or something. (I don’t know, because, again, it creeps me out. I mean, Dude, seriously, read your paper.)

So, anyway, after about ten minutes of the entire car praying for me to get Ronan quiet, one of the other passengers bit the bullet and offered up their seat. Which normally I would have taken; but the only thing worse than Ronan awake in a Bjorn is Ronan awake in a Bjorn with me sitting down. So I stood the whole time.

Ronan, who may prove to be as stubborn as his parents, refused to sleep. He wanted out of the Bjorn. He was cooing and happy when I finally released him from the damned thing when we got home. Which shows that at two months, he knows what he likes.

As for the Bjorn, the next day at the Joan Osbourne concert in Prospect Park, Ronan was back in it, and I was stumbling around in the dark. I was pacing, trying to get him to go to sleep. Which was impossible, because watching what was going on was way more interesting than falling asleep.

At least Joan was so loud and so many people were moving around no one was staring at me.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 18, 2007 4:41 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Fever.

The next post in this blog is Cranes.

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