Don’t Worry. I Survived.

Saul’s red tricycle has been a hazard to regular foot traffic for some time.  It doesn’t fit in the toy box and always seems to be in the way.  Even moving it outside failed to help.  In fact, I partially backed over the dumb thing leaving for work one day.

The “trike” is just one of a myriad of toys and other noisemakers at Saul’s disposal.  If he knew any better – he’d be spoiled.  In fact, after a careful review of choice of clothing (continually refreshed due to persistent growth), daily itinerary (unemployed), and all the toys at his disposal (could open small daycare) Matt is forced to admit, “It’s good to be Saul James.”

 On a December day during the boy’s second year, Matt and Saul were on a walk exploring all the sights that “Wood-Vegas” (a sarcastic name for Woodbury, TN – population 6,600) has to offer.  Our winding and twisting path took us to the Headstart playground near the ball diamonds. 

Inside this gated playground, are several steel tricycles sized differently for any youngster that wants to play.  Saul test-drove several with his father.  The elder’s legs provided a free yet powerful source of horsepower.  At his age, Saul could steer but still lacks the coordination to properly pedal.

A concrete sidewalk loops around the park forming the perfect track for kids to ride.  Saul navigated well for sometime laughing while his father pushed.  The “horsepower” position made it difficult to stand straight.  In fact, Matt was completely bent with his head toward the ground.  He didn’t direct his son but allowed the young boy to steer without hindrance. 

On their last pass, Saul drifted too close to some playground equipment.  Matt raised his head to correct their path and made solid contact between his cranium and a low monkey bar. 

 Saul turned to inquire about the dearth of locomotion a complaint at the ready.  Instead, he watched his father clap both hands to this throbbing forehead but was less than moved (pun intended).

 “I felt like crying.”  Recounts Matt.  “But then I realized that was Saul’s job.”

Saul’s Balls

When Saul was new (4 or 5 months) Mrs. Teply’s only way to video her new son’s antics was a digital camera that could record live action.  The memory on this device was constrained which really forces a brief duration.  This is fine since Saul’s adorable rating was so high that even limited exposure to the boy caused grandmas, aunts, grandpas, and hardened criminals to rave about Saul’s remarkable qualities. 

The phrase, “Melt my butter” or the more common, “Aww, he’s sooo (switch to much higher octave) cuuute” was often symptomatic of exposure to baby Saul.
When bathing, Melissa generally allowed Saul to play and kick in an inch or two of water before draining it.  She encouraged him with an over eager, “Splish and splash” or “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.”  The very young man responded with strong, sudden kicks and a variety of arm movements.  Sometimes a squeal of delight or long baby talk accompanies playtime in the water.  

After a particularly enjoyable bath, Saul began loudly speaking and playing with such zeal that Melissa snatched her camera and began video recording a short segment.  She captured every bit of Saul’s excited jerking and swinging from the top of his blond hued head to his tiny, pink toes.  She was so delighted by the images of her baby boy enjoying his bath that she decided to share the moment with relatives far and wide (i.e. the Internet).

In a somewhat related note, loving mothers don’t generally facilitate in or have anything do with serious problems such as child pornography, unless, of course, you are Mrs. Teply.  Saul’s mother took the “Too Hot for the Nursery” video and a selection of his most recent pictures to the library in order to E-mail them to the family abroad and post. 

Only later, Melissa realized the possible problems with broadcasting her son in the buff.  During a conversation with Grandpa, she asked him not to E-mail the video to Aunt DJ.  At the time, DJ was maintaining a web site devoted to Saul and Mrs. Teply didn’t want the video posted. 

Grandpa Gregory admitted to already sending the video to DJ and joked about “child pornography.”  

Meanwhile on the other side of the genetic code, Aunt Teply and Great-Grandma were exchanging the video over the Internet landscape with ingenious titles like, “Saul’s Balls.”  The discourse finally crashed into my ears when Grandma called me up to inform me my son was “hung.”  (Most historians agree that this is the first time in recorded civilization that a Great-Grandmother refers to her great grandson’s ample equipment.  She was trying to be funny – I found it hard to laugh.)

Mrs. Teply learned from this mishap.  A quick but strategically placed washcloth is a cure for many ills.


I’m thankful for learning new things…

            I’m sitting in the guardroom at the pool with a few of the other male guards.  I’ve got my laptop out tapping away at the next dodo egg and they’re discussing girls.  “Girls” isn’t quite right – I meant girl. 

            One of the female lifeguards recently became engaged but her behavior hadn’t changed a bit.  She was still attending drinking parties and every Greek function she could.  She was still hanging out with “guy friends” with seemingly little different other than the diamond on her finger.  (Her fiancé is in Georgia.)

            One the guards looks at the other one and mumbles, “You can’t make a ho into a house wife.”

            Huh…never thought about it before but I guess they’re right

I’m thankful that Mrs. Teply isn’t a ho… (that’s right I’m brave enough to put the words in the same sentence!)

            Long before we started dating, Mrs. T and I shared a friendship.  One day I overheard her talking about her new boyfriend (the second boyfriend in three months – wild!).  For reasons known only to the gods of stupidity, I thought it would be funny to call her a “floozy” (I know – wild.)

            Anyway, she became angry and slapped me.  Now, slapping someone in that situation isn’t proof of anything but it is sure a strong opening statement.  Take it from me – she was NOT a ho, floozy, vixen, or anything of the sort.

I’m thankful Mrs. Teply is Mrs. Teply…

            When I was a young man, I didn’t know what I needed in a good woman.  I was more interested in things like hair color, athleticism, size of mother’s rear, and things like that.   I knew a few things to look for but what makes a woman truly valuable was beyond me.

            The truth is -even when I was dating Mrs. Teply – I really wasn’t concerned about the shape of virtuous woman’s soul just her shape. 

            Only years later, have I discovered the wonderful qualities I have in Mrs. T.  I have absolute faith in her discretion, spending, ethic, and everything besides.  I wasn’t looking for it at the time – I was ignorant.  It’s a little like finding a five-dollar bill in a pair of pants but in my case, it’s a one hundred dollar bill.

Personal Space

After nine months of pregnancy, Melissa had come to her limit.  She was sick of being spherical.  Every move she made was an exercise in physics and fashion was more a matter of size than style.  Her thoughts ranged from, “How do I effectively move the most mass using the smallest angle and still create the least tension and fully ignore the effects of gravity?”  Or the more concise, “I cannot freaking move!”

Melissa was more than thrilled when her OBGYN suggested induction.  The anxiety of a mad dash to the hospital (over an hour away in the middle of Nashville) and the dreaded prospect of going late would be removed.  Now a date could be set and the minutest preparations could be made.

Saul was due November 5th, so I knew there was an outside chance that he would be born on my birthday.  I had harbored this hope knowing that the prospects were slim.  Then after Melissa’s last check up, a note was delivered to my classroom at Central Middle.  It read, “Teply, Wife will be induced November 2nd, Your Birthday.” 
The morning of Wednesday November 2nd, 2005 was quiet and foggy.  Melissa and I were in her Ford Escape and moving toward Nashville before anything else stirred for the day.  During most of the trip we sat in a stunned silence.  I gripped Melissa’s hand and tried to comfort her as she dealt with her innumerable fears.

It was business as usual at Baptist Hospital in downtown Nashville.  No one came out to greet us after parking and no band played as we drug our way through the wide automatic doors.  The receptionist robotically gave us the forms to fill out and answered a few of our questions.  Melissa had difficulty even signing her name.  Her arms shook from the shoulders down making the pen hop from one spot on the signature blank to another.

We were shown to the spacious room where the delivery was planned.  Melissa changed into her “hospital grade lingerie” and I went back to the garage for our baggage.  When I returned, Melissa was in bed with a nurse in attendance.  The Pitocin (the drug used to conjure the act of labor) was started at 8:00 AM, an event that was largely anticlimactic.  She was then hooked up to a monitor that gauged Saul’s heartbeat and the strength and frequency of her contractions.  From this point forward, Melissa was leashed to the bed and her bedpan.  I took a seat on the couch, and we waited in vain for the miracle to begin.

Events from this point to 3:00 PM included two attempts to break Melissa’s water (one being successful), a couple of visitors, and Melissa exhausting her entertainment options.  At any point during this wait, I halfway believed that the OBGYN would stroll in and tell us to come back another day.  It really didn’t seem like anything was really happening.

After 3:00, Melissa’s contractions began to pick up as well as the discomfort and anticipation.  She was dilating at an agonizingly slow pace.  She had reached 4 cm, a long distance from the needed 10cm.  The attachments from the monitor had become uncomfortable and a long day in bed made her feel stiff.  Friends had now joined the wait but the anxiety for both of us was inescapable.

Melissa waved the white flag near 4:00 PM and the epidural was requested.  A short while later a young, uncomfortable looking man brought a medical cart into the room.  He introduced himself as an anesthesiologist trainee.  He then requested permission to perform the procedure.  To my mild surprise, Melissa agreed and I could feel my stress level again reaching headache levels.

The epidural itself was tense but routine.  Melissa sat up while the anesthesiologist probed her back for the correct location.  Melissa even had the good humor to inquire about the cost for a full massage (and a Diet Coke).  I had placed my hands on Melissa’s knees in an effort to comfort and steady her.  As the epidural continued, I gradually began transferring my building stress into the grip on her knees.  Before it was finished, Melissa was ordering me to step back.

Henceforth, life became more pleasant if not more exciting.  Melissa would make offhanded, jubilant comments every time a yellow peak on the monitor registered an intense contraction.  She laughed and conversed while her body worked and thanked Heaven for the wonder of numbness.

The good times ended just before 10:00 PM.  Dr. Wise (the OBGYN) again checked Melissa’s progress and reported that she was just 6cm.  The same dilation she achieved hours ago.  Saul’s head was apparently jammed in the birth canal and was starting to swell under the pressure from Melissa’s near constant contractions.  Saul’s shoulder blades were caught behind Melissa’s pelvis further complicating the delivery.  Dr. Wise suggested the possibility of delivering by caesarian.

By 11:00 PM it was apparent Melissa had stalled at 6cm and with Saul under increasing stress it was decided that a C-section would be necessary.  This was a setback considering Melissa’s hope for a quick recovery.  She had a similar operation to remove an ovarian cyst a few years after we married and knew the healing process would be lengthy.

Now I started pondering the remaining possibilities of Saul’s arrival on my birthday.  The clock and I had been locked in a staring contest all day.  My will was losing the battle to impede the quartz driven movement.  At 11:15 the clock seemed satisfied that victory was in hand (minute hand, that is).  The surgical staff began preparing Melissa for the operation.  I stood aside with my fingers crossed behind my back.

I was given a set of disposable scrubs and lead to the quiet hallway outside the operating room.  At 11:40, I was ushered in.  Melissa was on her back with a curtain set up from her shoulders down.  In an effort to comfort her, I took a stool next to her head and began rubbing her temples.  The epidural caused Melissa to shake but otherwise she seemed perfectly calm.  I spoke with her about the excitement of meeting Saul and the conclusion of nine months of preparation.  All the while keeping one eye on a minute hand creeping closer to twelve.

I heard the doctors cue each other to begin the incision.  Not long after, the sound of electricity and then the less than subtle smell of burning flesh.  I knew what they were doing and I hoped that Melissa was too drugged to realize what the odor was. 
“Are they cauterizing me?” she asked.

I nodded.

“You know what?  It smells like Fritos.”  I smiled and Dr. Wise voiced her agreement.

Just minutes later, Dr. Wise asked, “Daddy, do you want to see this?”

The Matt of any other juncture in time would have respectively declined.  However, the one time offer of seeing my first-born son being yanked into the world was to valuable to miss.  I sprang from my stool and peeked over the curtain.

Through an incision in Melissa’s midsection peeped a scrunched purple head with the pale yellow length of an umbilical cord wrapped around it.  Moments later, the rest of Saul’s 21 inch, purple, valen (the white mucus that protects baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid) smeared length burst into the world.           

Saul’s head was frightfully swollen off to one side and bleeding slightly.  The shortened length of his leftover umbilical protruded from his belly like a stunted appendage.  His color was more violet than anything resembling normal flesh.  Every corner was filled with his cries of discontent and the instant he was laid horizontal a healthy stream of urine sprayed anything nearby.  I couldn’t help shedding a few prideful tears.

Saul’s eviction notice was delivered and enacted at 11:52 PM November 2nd, 2005.  My long contest with the clock was over and now I have the unique joy of forever sharing my birthday with Saul James.  Wait…Is this a good thing?

Accounting for Love

Matt picks up Melissa at her mother’s house.  All day Matt’s mind has been conjuring ways to impress his new girlfriend while his heart continually sings her praises.  He showered before caking the deodorant under his arms and even a swipe down the middle of his chest.  In his pocket, he has his wallet and “protection” – twelve sticks of Big Red.

The front door is a shadow draped walk up the front driveway past the stunted grass that’s still trying to grow under that magnolia tree.  Matt knocks on the door and hides the dense cluster of roses behind his back.  It’s better to make a quick show of them instead of forcing them into her face.  After all, he wants her eyes drawn to his first before they go to the roses.

Melissa answers the door – her high cheeks and perfect smile giving Matt’s chest an unexpected thrill.  Her mother says hello and the couple steps to Matt’s car.  Neither can stop smiling…it really doesn’t matter where they’re going this evening as long as it ends in a private place.   Neither wish to be anywhere other than with each other. 

All this….and Matt is hiding a secret.  It’s a memo pad tucked secretly in his glove compartment.  The pages between the battered covers are full of numbers but not those of Matt’s previous “love interests.”  In fact, there are no phone numbers at all.  (Matt would have used a square of toilet paper for that.)  Beside the memo pad there’s a pen that marks in blood red ink.  The red ink is a keen description of Melissa’s effect on Matt’s wallet.

The pad contains dollar amounts down to the cent.  Matt wants to know the exact cost of finding a spouse so he’s recorded the cost of the roses ($22.98).  The dinner tonight will be paid out of Matt’s checking account but the cost won’t be lost to oblivion the second he stares too long in Melissa’s eyes…instead it will go into the memo pad (Two McDonald’s Happy Meals…$6.22).  He’s even prorated the increase deodorant usage to her account (consumption easily doubled!).

Eventually all fools talk.  “Hey mom,” Matt mentions one day on the phone.  “Guess what I’ve been doing?  Ha, I’ve been recording everything I’ve spent on Melissa.  You know, in case we ever get married I’ll be able to tell anyone exactly how much my wife cost.  That sounds pretty cool right?”

Silence for a moment.  “Matt, if you have any long term plans than destroy that thing NOW!  You can’t do something like that!  Don’t you have a romantic bone in your body?”

Matt’s brows knit.  “Why, is this against the rules?”

“Matt, listen to your mother.  The rules of romance are simple and complicated at the same time – I’ll keep this simple.  Show Melissa that you’re thinking of her even when she’s not around and let her know that she occupies the most prominent place in your thinking.  DON’T do anything that makes her question your mindset.  Buying her roses makes her believe that you’ve been thinking about her but recording the cost tells her you’re concerned about money.
Now do yourself a favor and throw that dumb thing away.”


Years later, after eleven years of martial ups and downs (many more ups), a wiser Matt thinks again about the memo pad he threw way.  “Man that was stupid.  A memo pad wouldn’t have been anywhere near big enough to record what this woman has cost me.”

Cupid Correction

A fat little angel soared over south Memphis looking for his targets.  His wings were to small for physics but that didn’t matter the importance of his mission is what kept him going.  He had his quiver full of crimson arrows and a tiny gold bow that curled at either end.  The ridiculously thin white ribbon he wore as a loincloth kept slipping and needed constant adjustment.  The wind caught his halo and tipped it sideways.  That wouldn’t stay straight either.

“What kind of dumb uniform is this?!  I mean the halo helps me see through bad weather but I don’t see why we can’t wear an oxford button-up and khakis!”

Frank, the angel’s dispatcher, spoke into the angel’s Bluetooth.  “Shut it Bob.  Remember F-A-R-T.   What’s it mean?”

“I means Cupid Command needs to get out more.”

“Bob?  You know this.  C’mon, just do it.”

The angel rolled his eyes.  “Focus And Reach Target” you know, I used to do this before we came up with this insulting acronym.  I’ll tell ya Frank, if guardian angels got any vacation time, I’d me there in a wing flap.”

“Boooooob, you’re not FARTing!”

“Alright!  I’m FARTing ok!?”  Bob rounded a cumulous cloud and slowed to approach speed.  The old Central Church was coming into view.
Frank continued.  “You’re coming up and your target.  It’s Crichton College’s new student registration line near the financial aid office.  As you could have guessed, the college is inside the church.  Now target one is Melissa Gregory.  She has sharp features, flaxen hair, and that streak of newfound confidence shy girls get when…well…when they quit being shy.  She’s short, cute, and curvy.  Be sure to use the slow release dose arrows.  She’s on the prowl.”
Bob found the gradual release arrow and notched it.  “And the male target?”

“He’s in line just in front of Melissa.  He has a uni-brow, large calves that look like cantaloupes, and no butt.  I can’t stress this enough.  He has no butt.  If your targeting anyone with the slightest amount of posterior…PULL UP!”

The angel’s path had taken him past the line into the church’s basement.  Bob corrected and popped into line directly behind Melissa.

“Ok, Frank I’m here.  What do I hit the male with…wait, you’re right this guy has calves, thighs, and no butt.  How does he even walk?”

“Bob, your going to use a correction dose on this guy.  He’s looking for long legs, blonde hair, and too much makeup.  Right now he’ll worry about the personality latter.  Not a good combination but we’ve see it before right?”

The angel patted is bare, round belly.  “Ha, we sure have!  Ok, I’m notching both arrows.  One delayed release and the other a correctional shot.” 

Bob pulled his bowstring back and prepared to release.  At that moment, Matt dropped his registration folder and both Matt and Melissa bent over to pick it up.  The arrows zipped by their intended targets, were caught in winds of change, and blown back toward the couple.

Matt was struck with the delayed release deadening him to the sight of his life’s love and Melissa was hit with a correctional dose of love serum.  For the moment, her preference was still the handsome, quiet boy in front of her but would gradually change to scrawny, badly charismatic boys. 

“Bob?  Status report, please.”

“Ok, I got the girl in the heart but with the wrong arrow.  The boy I wound up hitting in the pancreas.  He’ll probably wind up in his dorm room playing video games for two years instead of dating at all.  Do I get another chance?”

It took a second for Frank to respond.  When he did, his voice was deadpan.  “You don’t know the first thing about FARTing do you?”  


I drove back to the dormitory with a head full of steam.  It was an insult to offer me clocks whose casement was little better than mahogany stained cardboard with the same guts you’d find in any common kitchen clock.  AND TRY TO CHARGE ME OVER A HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR IT!  My affection for Melissa was real and I needed a real clock to symbolize it!

(In a way, it was my divorce from the mall.  I only go there now to buy books and ever-so-rarely clothes.  There’s almost nothing of real value there.  It’s as if the entire place is like a roach motel for teenage wallets.  Everything is clumsily overpriced and I feel like a sucker walking into half of the stores.)

The next day I found a clock shop on the other side of town.  I opened the door for Melissa and both of us entered, what was for me anyway, a magic wonderland.  Ticks, tocks, fine clicks, and deep chimes surrounded us.  Through the store’s floor, I could feel the pulse of time.

“Hey, welcome,” One of the storekeepers gestured to us from behind the counter.  “We had a fire recently but don’t worry only smoke make it into the showroom.  Anyway, everything is half off so just look at the yellow tags and cut the price in half.  If you need anything just let me know.”

Right away my four hundred dollars turned into eight hundred!  Fantastic!

“Look Matt, I don’t want anything too fancy.  There’s really no reason to break the bank on this sort of deal, anything will be fine.”

Good.  Lower expectations are much easier to exceed.  And exceed them I would.

Melissa found several small timekeepers all with somewhat modest prices.  I dismissed them all as too decorative, too plain, or too small.  I wasn’t ignoring clocks that she actually liked since I was sure she was just trying to save me some money.

“Nope,” I decided firmly.  “I’m not leaving with a single cent.”

(This is an attitude that half of the population wishes their spouses/love interests had and the other half wishes they didn’t.)

Finally I found one that met my requirements in order of importance: quality materials (beveled glass, sold oak casement, brass face), I liked it, expensive (price tag was 1,100 dollars), limited production, extra options (three different chimes!), and Melissa liked it too.

I ended up borrowing almost two hundred dollars from my girlfriend in order to pay for the clock.  She didn’t have a problem lending me the money.  Her difficulty was the amount I was spending.

“You can’t spend almost six hundred dollars on me Matt!  We’ve only been dating for three months.”

It didn’t matter.  I was hung up on this girl and making a silly decision.  If you think about it, imagine the pressure I was now dumping on this relationship.  I’m buying her an expensive item that had “forevermore” slathered all over it.  What else could she take from it other than, “It’s too early for me to buy you a ring, so here is a different kind of tether.  I mean we’re getting married right?”

No doubt it didn’t help that I insisted we rush home and show Melissa’s mother.

(And for my next stunt I’m getting “I Love Melissa” tattooed across my forehead.)

I suppose it didn’t matter in the end.  Melissa and I did become one and have enjoyed more good times than bad.

The clock still sits on our mantel.  When I look at it now, I still see the meaning behind the gesture I made.  Yes, the tick reminds me of our time together and my commitment to her but it also serves notice of the dangers a young man (or woman) will jump headlong into for the sake of fresh love.


Foresyth says,

“Offer a pretty girl dreams and dimes.
Show her the keys to your soul.
With wind behind you, rush to her side.
Be excited, unconstrained, a brand new fool.”

Young men caught in the heady exuberance of new love can be convinced of anything.  They accept the quest to prove themselves by ridiculous feats and silly vows forged from their overheating inner furnace.  Their head swims.  The universe is a top spinning on the head of a single head of long beautiful hair, a single set of fantastically blue eyes, and a magnificently assembled set of curves.

(And then like all strong feelings…it fades a bit.  Gravity pulls you back to the earth and the obstacles, thistles, and dust that you once flew above now clogs your path.  That’s love’s ugly ankle tattoo that eventually comes to light.)

When Melissa and I began dating, little else mattered.  We had been friends for years and discovered feelings for each other at the same moment.  There was no getting-to-know you phase just a getting-to-know-you-better phase.  We had fun and even better, our personal traits either matched or complimented each other.  I felt like nothing could dent this relationship.

(Plenty of things did put a few dents and cracks in our early relationship.  No two people ever match seamlessly.  Of course, the small things didn’t matter when you were excited about everything else.)

About two months after we reached “item” status, I decided it was time for me to put my overwhelming tide of affection into some concrete display.  I recalled the story of the grandfather on my mother’s side; how he went and purchased an expensive clock for his wife.  The power of each second together being marked by a gentle, steady tick appealed to me.

I saved for a few months and put aside nearly $400 dollars to buy my girlfriend a true clock.  Like the naïve soul I was, I drove to the mall thinking I’d find the perfect one.

The clocks at one of the “fine” department stores under whelmed me.  I picked each up with easy effort and opened the back.  The body of the clock was made from some sort of pressed wood product only a quarter inch thick!  The clockwork was hidden in a small black box with “Made in China” slapped just above the battery.  There were no springs, no chimes, and not a comforting tick to be heard.

“Excuse me ma’am.”  I pulled aside one of the salespeople.  “Yea, I’m looking for a real clock.  You know, one that I might pass down to my children and still be taken seriously.”

“Oh, you wont’ find anything like that here!”  A slight chuckle escaped.  “You’d have to go to a real clock store to get anything like that.  And those are expensive.”

I waved my arm toward the wall full of one hundred dollar travel clocks.  “And what are these supposed to be?  Who would give you a hundred dollar bill for this glossed up junk?!”

“Those are for people who just want something that looks nice.  You know people who just want to give the impression of wealth.”


Feeding Love

People are quick to complain and often slow to praise.  Why?  Because many of us feel that when something goes right…THEY (IT) WERE SUPPOSED TO DO IT THAT WAY!  There’s no point in thanking them if that’s how we expected it to be done in the first place.

It’s a shame but we’re four times as bothered by things that go wrong than we are pleased by things that go right.  Just ask a football fan.

My wife does so many of the little things right that I often take them for granted.  After all, that’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to work.  But eventually I become surprised by her traits.

Case in point…With the birth of our second child, it became my responsibly to do the grocery shopping for a while.  Shopping for groceries is normally a team effort.  I keep Saul corralled and load the cart while Melissa scrolls down the list and pushes the cart.  Now it was up to me to keep the cart rolling, the list in front of my eyes, and Saul’s perpetual motion in check.  I must have looked like a one-man band reaching for a jar of salsa, Saul, the list, and the cart all at the same time.

(Dear reader:  You can rest assured that when my wife finally reads this she’ll read the hectic description above and mumble, “amateur.” under her breath.)

Here’s where my wife’s abilities impressed me…I never had to turn around.  The list was in exact order.  I walked through the grocery store reading an item off the list then reaching out and snatching it.  I didn’t need to turn around and I was never lost looking for an item.  You could have drawn a simple dotted line going down the isle and each corresponded with the perfectly!

You other guys can just eat your heart out.

Great Moments in Parenting

I’ve just finished holding my newborn daughter. During our special Father-Daughter time, I could hear and feel her lining the inside of her diaper. Melissa was in the kitchen enjoying a snack and chatting on the phone with her sister. She would return soon and if I were still around, she’d have me changing the diaper.

Acting with the speed of trained father, I gingerly set the baby into the bassinet and began tiptoeing out of the bedroom. If I could make it to the bathroom on the second floor, there was a chance I could get by with this stunt.

She caught me in the hallway. “Hey Matt, would you do the dishes while I tend to Olivia? Thanks.”

I paused in mid-step. Melissa normally does the dishes but with a new child I’d been forced to help out a little more. “Why do we have children again? Think about it. You used to help me with dishes. Sometimes we would go out to eat and not have to worry about dishes at all. Remember that? Think about the immense amount of money, time, effort, and energy we put into these little people and when their finally able to function in society they take off with merely a wave of the hand.”

“The hospital has a strict policy on returns but I’m willing to bet the government wouldn’t mind taking them. Do you want me to let them know we spank?”

I ignored her poor attempt at humor. “All I’m asking is what do we ultimately get out of the whole thing?”

After a moment, Melissa replied, “Grandkids of course.”

Here are a couple of extras for you to throw in the toy box…

*Saul had a plastic book that was affectionately titled, “Who Loves Baby.” The inside pages had pockets for pictures. Melissa and I not only left it empty but I made sure it stayed in Saul’s travel pack of toys.

At the beginning of each long trip I’d hand the infant Saul the book and ask, “Hey junior, look at this, it’s called Who Loves Baby? Let’s look inside and see…oh, tough break kid.”

Saul didn’t know what I was saying. I guess the joke was just for me.

*The other night Saul and I were playing a bit rough and he was mildly hurt on a few occasions. (You know, the three Cs – cuts, contusions, and concussions.) The last time he put his head into a door jam and the sound was a perfect, “Thud.”

I thought about it for a second and decided that Thud would be a pretty cool nickname for my boy. Melissa was, of course, aghast but I persisted and tried it out.

“Hey Thud, do you want to go wrestle again or throw your mother’s exercise ball through the window?”

Saul reached up and clamped both hands on my lips. He brought his face in close to mine and with all the seriousness of an action hero he said, “My name’s Saul James.”

I’m glad he wasn’t carrying a gun…toy or otherwise.