I took his words to heart. He had a picture of a lawnmower and some flowers painted on the side of his van, so he must know what he was talking about.
I quickly got into a routine of watering the lawn several times a day to keep it alive and prevent our invested dollars from withering in the neon Los Angeles sunlight. However, Tall was a 4-month-old baby at the time, and a clingy one at that. If he wasn’t napping, then he wanted to be with me, and he would howl if I tried to escape for five minutes to water the grass. Inevitably, sometimes I would just have to bring him outside with me.
I tried holding him in the Baby Bjorn snuggli-like contraption, but it was difficult to bend and lift the hose and basically do what I needed to do. I got smart and brought him out in his bouncy seat/ infant carrier instead. I placed him carefully on the front porch right within my view.
As he inhaled the fresh air, he seemed to truly enjoy the outside world, and he was fascinated with stray butterflies and also his own toes.
I would water-water-water about 10 feet away from him, constantly talking and checking in with him so he knew I was there. He would smile and laugh, then notice his toes again. This went on quite nicely for the first five days or so.
One day, in the middle of watering, Tall was cooing and being so cute and sweet, I was dying for some interaction with him. I wanted to be one of those spontaneous moms who comes up with clever and original activities to play with her child. I wanted to be that mom at the park that the other moms say, “Wow, she sure has a great relationship with her child! Look how she adores him, and look at his reaction to her, too!” I had the super-fun idea to spray an itsy-bitsy mist of water on him to say, “Hey, look over here! Mommy loves you! Hi, Cutie-Pie!”
Tall was a baby that really enjoyed the water. He loved rain, he loved taking a bath, he loved looking at the ocean; this benign little splash game I invented was sure to be a hit.
Even though this child had lived in our household for the past 120 days and I thought I knew his temperament, I had made a gross miscalculation. Tall did not consider this to be the “fun” game that Mommy had intended: no.
Even though the drips of water were—in reality—akin to a fine mist, like a mere sneeze, to him, it seemed like a torrential downpour.
I have no idea what his baby mind was thinking in that moment, but judging by his screaming, it could not have been good.
Of course, I immediately dropped the hose and went rushing over to my screaming child. The only water on him was the water he was producing from his own tear ducts. But he was still hysterical.
I scooped him up and held him. He cried and cried and cried some more. I felt horrible. It is one thing for your baby to cry because he is hungry or tired; it is another thing entirely for him to cry because of some stupid “fun” game you just invented.
I was worried the neighbors would come by and accuse me of getting water on my child, or that the police might come and lock me up for lack of mommy skills. Neither happened.
That evening when The Husband came home from work, I desperately wanted to tell him about my misguided attempt at fun with baby, but I couldn’t. I was too embarrassed. Instead, I said,
“Sweetie, do you think you could take over watering the lawn from now on? It’s hard for me with Tall.”
“Just put him in his bouncy seat on the front porch.”
“Yeah, uh, I know—I did that. I just think it would go smoother if you took care of it.” I tried to adopt a look on my face that was both convincing and non-guilty.
“What’s the problem? He loves being outside.”
“Well, honestly, what it is … I think he’s too hot.”
“Well, okay, MOV, in that case, I can water the yard. Oh, but I have a better idea! Why don’t you just spray a little bit of water on Tall to cool him off? He loves water.”