They tell you lots of things when you’re pregnant, put dozens of scary ideas in your head about how the the birth could go all wrong and you could bleed to death, and the kid could be deformed, and you’ll never have sex again and your marriage will end, and the kid will get all these injuries from playing on the Noah’s Ark at the church playground down the street, and you’ll be paying ER bills for the rest of your life, on your own because your spouse will have by this time flown to Paris with her young, perky-breasted new lover. What they DON’T tell you, which is equally important as these other things, is that your child is going to injure YOU.
It’s true. Those of you who are pregnant or thinking about it or those who will be waving and saying bon voyage to the swimmers as they head off on their miraculous weird little journey, it is very important that you begin worrying, now, about how your child is going to physically hurt you. First, for you birth moms, there’s pregnancy. You puke. Only for one trimester, if you’re lucky. Your back hurts. At 8 months you pull a groin muscle hauling a vacuum cleaner up your client’s stairs. Then when the kid is breech and you have to have an external version, where the doctor or midwives or a doctor and three midwives dig their hands into your belly and attempt to physically haul the baby into the right position, externally, you’d better be on drugs, that’s all I have to say. Then when the kid goes vertex (head down) and engages (ready to exit the building) your back REALLY hurts. Then you have the baby, and, well, you have the baby. You’ve all heard about that.
And non-birthing parents, you’d better be ready to faint from hunger and dehydration when your groaning, panting spouse won’t let you dare even think about leaving her for one instant, even for one little box of Raisinettes, because you are her ANCHOR and if you leave she will NOT be able to continue with this labor business and get the damn thing OUT. Think naked, sweaty and moaning is sexy? You will never see it the same again. Especially after the placenta emerges in an enormous glosh of red schmutz. Ew.
Whew. You’re finally healing from your two days without food and water, or those three muscle layers of stitches. It’s time to enjoy your new baby. You watch the baby grow. You fall in love. You think, what was that psycho ox talking about, all that babble about the kid hurting you? Just look at her. Ooda booty booty boo? Wu are! Wu ar! Voila. You have now suffered a brain injury.
$%&&!**!!!! Goddamn, when did she get TEETH? And then your nipples become little round war zones, frightened little creatures just shivering and waiting for the dreaded return of The Biter. Then she grows up more and she starts using your nukins as punching bags. Punching, poking, pulling, scratching, biting, basically just exploring her effect on her world. And, ladies, your boobs ARE her world.
You make it through the Breast Awareness stage. She’s standing up, she’s walking! She’s learning to say “fuck”! One day you’re in the shower with her, she’s squatting and you’re leaning over her, picking up the Irish Spring, and then she stands up very quickly and bashes you in the nose with the top of her big hard head. You stagger backward, hands on nose, and the lights go dim and you see stars – and oh, wouldn’t they be pretty, except that the pain throbbing up your nose and into your skull and eyes is a little distracting from anything beautiful at the moment. And then she slips on the soap and falls and starts to cry, more from surprise than pain, and you pick her up and hold her and say “it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok,” in time to the pulsing of the blood you can somehow see in the veins of your eyes.
And after a year the damn nose is still not healed; you know because she keeps poking it and accidentally sideswiping it with her new soccer-theme backpack/sleeping bag/flashlight combo, and every time it feels like Mt. Vesuvius about to erupt inside your facebones.
And then there are the shiners. It’s those damn hard heads, and how they like to swing them around like playful bowling balls. You play “bom bom butz”, a game you’ve always played where you tap foreheads lightly together, but this time she decides to butz you good and hard in the eye. Shiner. Then a few weeks later, the bruise finally fading to a soft buttercup yellow, you’re lying down together in your nice cozy family bed, relaxing in warm morning sunlight as the little one joyously jumps around, and then she trips and falls and her elbow comes down on your glasses, shoving them right into the spot that was healing from the killer butz. Shiner. Again. And this time there’s a very angry red mark on your cheek where the metal frames pinched the shit out of you. And your 250-dollar glasses look like they got hit by a diesel train.
Then they start expressing their anger. You start to wean her, tell her no, nukin is for after breakfast, and she gets this look – then she hauls off and slaps you – WHAP! across the face. Huh. Well THAT was interesting. You have a vague handprint on your cheek, and it still stings two hours later when you get back from the walk you took so that you wouldn’t scream bloody murder at her. Thank GOD for the two-parent system.
And it’s not just your own kid. It’s all kids, everywhere – they’re out to hurt you, really. You go out to hear your friend sing with her band at Jovitta’s. She’s a preschool teacher and all the cool parents have brought their cute little toddies to run in screaming circles around the dance floor in time to the music. Your kid and god-kid are out there, in the mini-mosh pit, screaming and laughing and falling and crying and yelling “mama! I have to poop-a-potty!” while the skinny dyke waitress tries to scoot around with lots of breakable things balanced on her arms, trying not to kick in any little teeth as she rushes by. Your god-kid runs up to you and says “Mama Blue! Dance with me!” and so you go out there with her, and she’s squatting down, and you lean over her to tie her shoe – you’d think I’d have learned from the Irish Spring Incident – and she stands up very suddenly, this little linebacker with the brick-hard head, and her head bangs into your chin, hard enough to snap your head up. Ho. Lee. Christ. The Pain. The Pain. The Pain, Boss, the Pain! It starts on your chin, where she hit. It arcs up the right side of your face. It lightning-bolts into the side-joint of your jawbone, which feels like it’s come unhinged. It spreads warmly, sickeningly through the top of your skull. You look at the kid; she’s got this look on her face, big brown eyes wide and fearful, and you realize that a moment ago she could probably only see the whites of your eyes, as they had most definitely been swept into the back of your skull. Smiling weakly, you gather her up and give her a big, stiff hug, and say it’s ok sweetie, it was an accident. We bonked, huh? We bonked, she says, and laughs and runs off. And you stagger to a chair. And now there’s a hard grape-sized thing on that jawbone hinge, and you have a lovely bruise blossoming purple on your chin and a club-music style headache banging rhythmically away at the inside of your brain.
Well THAT won’t happen to ME, you say. MY child will be an angel, a gentle little bleating lamb who will never hit or pinch or slap anyone ever, whose soft spot will be forever soft. It’s all about the parenting, after all. That Ox woman and her partner must just be doing something wrong. OK. You just go with that. After all, if prospective parents really knew, they might not do it, right? And then the human race would just die right out. But new parents – hint? Get yourself some good insurance. Make sure your nose, eyes, chins, heads, glasses, teeth and nukins are co
vered. And get a facemask. I’m just sayin’.