Sleepless in Osaka
Being a new father has taught me a lot about myself, and the world. And most importantly, babies. Most of us already know that babies are new, precious, fragile lifeforms. They have to be clothed and fed and bathed and all that. They also taste delicious with a nice guacamole-based salsa.
But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about babies is that they’re fundamentally stupid.
Okay, maybe that’s not the best way to put it. Forgive me for my sins. But it’s true! Why did I come to this staggering conclusion? I’d say more than why, the when is more important. The other day, around 3AM, as I’m trying to put my daughter to sleep.
Usually, putting baby to bed is not my job. I have to catch the train at 7AM to go to work Mon through Fri, so I get the free pass. And if she cries during the night, I have no idea. I’ve always been a heavy sleeper. I slept through the ’94 LA earthquake. I’ve slept through dorm fire alarms. If you’ve ever lived in the dorms, you know that these are loud enough to wake up dinosaurs. If the zombie apocalypse happened overnight, I’m pretty sure I would sleep through it. Even if I had an army of zombies gently chewing on my legs.
But this particular day was a Friday, so I couldn’t use the work excuse to retreat to bed early. Also, I was trying to be more helpful in a vain attempt to
get laid more and end the dry spell be a good husband and father. I noticed my wife 3/4ths asleep as she tried to rock the baby to sleep. “Here, I’ll take over” I valiantly offer, and my wife hands me the football, says thanks, and passes out in bed. Like, I think she fell asleep during the half-second she was in the air before she hit the sheets. So, I was going to be on my own here. But really, how hard could it be right?
Heh. That’s all the parents with experience who are reading this, laughing at me now. You have no idea, amateur.
She already looked sleepy. She was yawning and her eyes were half-closed. My wife had suggested to rock her to sleep, but I was feeling tired so I decided to sit down. Apparently, this was completely unacceptable, as baby opened her eyes and stared at me for 4 seconds before starting to cry. …What? Daddy is not allowed to sit down? Okay, sure. Stand and rock. Let’s roll, baby. My wife brings up my history of ballroom dancing – surely that would be a good way to put baby to sleep right? So I do a mini-waltz in the confined space of our apartment, and sure enough baby gets sleepy again. She actually goes to sleep! Nice! Now just put her down and enjoy a nice relaxing evening with my wife…
Oh, but wait! Just kinda glossed over that “put her down” part there didn’t I? You see, babies sleep fairly lightly. You know how, in the Princess and the Pea, the princess can’t get a good night of sleep because there’s a pea stuffed under like 10 mattresses or something like that? If the princess had been a baby, I’m convinced she would have felt the pea on the other side of the continent. Or maybe just a particularly biting solar wind that just happened to pass through our galaxy. Or hey, maybe God sneezed. Either way, baby’s waking up.
So I try to put her in her crib. But because my hands aren’t made of feathers, and I’m not resting her on a bed made of Scarlett Johansson’s soft fluffy tits, she wakes up. Her eyes open slowly as she looks around, and while she can’t talk yet the facial expressions are easy enough to understand. “Hold on, what’s this…is this…is this the crib? No! No motherfucker, no! Oh, if you thought I could cry before…wait’ll you get a load of me now!”
Basically, baby is crying because she is sleepy. She was asleep, but because she woke up due to a random shift in the Earth’s gravitational pull, she is now crying herself awake. Brilliant. Once a parent fails the put-down stage, he has to go all the way back to “coerce baby to sleep” stage. Like getting to the final castle in World 8, dying, and then having Bowser drop you off right back at World 1-1. This is why I call babies stupid – sleeping is the most basic of human functions, right? We sleep even when we don’t want to! And babies can’t even get that right!
It definitely gives me an appreciation for just how dependent babies are on adults for their everyday needs. It’s amazing that these small, helpless little creatures eventually grow up to become fully-functioning human beings. …For the most part.
After two more passes at trying to get baby to sleep in the bed, my wife takes pity on me (she was able to sleep for 2 hours while I struggled with the Baby Sleep final level), puts her to sleep and manages to get her in the crib as well. I think she did this within 30 minutes, but by this point it was 3:30AM and neither of us knew our own names at this point.
All I know is, if I ever get assigned to sleep duty again, I’m gonna turn on Japanese TV and sit baby in front of the tube. If that doesn’t put her to sleep then I don’t know what will.