They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, I don’t have the picture. So here we go.
It is a dream come true.
Although it is not a dream I ever had. Which means that describing it as a dream come true is entirely inaccurate. Although I have to say that if I ever did have a dream like that, and it wound up coming true, it would, I believe, feel exactly the same way.
Really, really nice.
Making it kind of a metaphorical dream come true. Okay, I’ll stop.
Rosario, who takes care of (the now two year-old) Baby Milo when his Mom Rachel and Dad Tim are at work, had left town on a two-week-long vacation. Our family immediately jumped into “It Takes A Village” mode, constructing a schedule wherein each of us would take turns with the child-care responsibilties.
My obligation was the least onerous, as, as with most duties, I am deemed to be totally incompetent – a perception I do very little to disprove, thus allowing me more time to do what I like to do most. Nothing.
In my defense, in this case, I actually lobbied for some child-care time – my perceivers on this occasion, seeing me as more useless than I actually wanted them to. As a consequence, a forty-five minute assignment on Monday mornings, and an additional hour on Wednesday afternoons.
The Monday morning stint (at our house) went rapidly. Some time earlier, I had introduced Baby Milo to my small, metal coin bank – fashioned in the shape of a double-decker London bus – and very quickly, Baby Milo developed an enthusiasm for removing the lid of the coin bank, dumping all the change inside onto a table (a few coins finding their way to the floor), replacing the lid, and then, one by one, returning each coin, through the narrow slot on the top of the coin bank, to its previous location.
That knocked off twenty minutes right there.
The rest of the time involved Baby Milo pushing the button on the be-horsed talking Toy Story “Woody” doll (it is actually my be-horsed Toy Story “Woody” doll), triggering its recorded message and musical accompaniment, thus engendering countless repetitions of:
“Giddy up, Bulls Eye, let’s ride like the wind!... Awww. You can do better than that, Little Buddy… EEEE-HAW! Now that was some fancy footwork, Bulls Eye!”
That ate up another twenty minutes.
And by then, it was pretty much “Game Over.”
My second assignment was a little trickier. On Wednesday afternoons, when our housekeeper, the magnificent Connie, went off-duty and home at three-thirty, it was my job to oversee Baby Milo (again at our house), until his mother came to retrieve him about an hour or so later.
Normally what I’d be doing at that time of the day would be relaxing in the back bedroom where our best TV is located after an energy-depleting morning of blog writing, enjoying reruns of old cowboy series on the Westerns Channel, a routine which, being congenitally unhappy with alterations to my schedule, I was, despite my childcare obligations, determined not to surrender.
“Hey, Milo, you wanna watch cowboys?”
At age two, Baby Milo’s excitement vastly exceeds his actual understanding. Though it was unlikely that he comprehended my invitation, he responded to it was an enthusiastic
I reached down and pulled him up onto the bed (ignoring the amount of bodywork it would entail to repair the damage this maneuver would inflict on my deteriorating vertebrae.) I then positioned him – sitting envy-inducingly straight-backed – in the crook of my right elbow (so he wouldn’t fall off the bed), and together, we immersed ourselves in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
That’s the picture I wish had been taken.
“Pappy” (that’s what he calls me) and “The Kid”
Watching westerns together.
The little boy was absolutely entranced, noticing the familiar Toy Story-infused signposts:
And so this magical moment unspooled.
There is no way, if you’re not old enough, for you to know this, or if you are old enough for you to necessarily remember, but Wyatt Earp was an inordinately violent series. Outlaws would unexpectedly emerge from an alley, instigating these explosive shootouts with the law at pretty much “Point Blank” range. I could barely handle this level of brutality myself. (I don’t mean when I was a kid. I mean now.)
Despite the near certainty that Baby Milo was oblivious to what he was looking at, I was pretty certain his mother would in no way find this appropriate viewing for a two year-old. Rachel, being an offspring of hippies – I don’t mean me, I am a fifties-infused Canadian Stepdad – and therefore a committed opponent of the use of “weapons” as playthings, there was little doubt in my mind that exposing her toddler son to outright mayhem at a tender age would earn me a respectful but firm babysittorial beratement.
I could switch channels, I suppose. There was an SVU episode on USA Cable. There were usually children in that. Wait! – sexually abused children. So probably not.
Anyway, every time I did flip around the channels for something more age-appropriately Square Pantsy, Milo would vociferously insist
And I would have to switch back, hopefully at a point where the bodies had been carted away, and Marshal Earp was sitting behind his desk, flipping through “Wanted” posters. Inordinately aware of the western’s story structure, I knew that the climactic shootout was yet to take place, guaranteeing this vulnerable two-year old an exposure to further bloodshed, as owlhoots by the handful bit the dust before his impressionable, albeit uncomprehending, memory bank.
Fortunately, just before that cataclysmic confrontation played out, ironically, as in the “nick-of-time” rescues in westerns, Mama Rachel arrived to collect Baby Milo, preserving him from the psychic trauma his irresponsible caretaker was about to inflict upon him. There was little doubt that the rationalization “The violence is not actually real” was unlikely to save me from a stern and unsympathetic talking-to.
Still, before it got complicated, there was that incomparable moment,
When we sat together and watched.
Can you see it?
And, at least till the Alzheimer’s kicks in,
It’ll never go away.