I killed the engine and followed my nose toward fresh salmon and lemon butter, cutting through homemade garlic mashed potatoes; the kind of thing that makes a welcome home a welcome home.
My girls sat at the dinner table awaiting my arrival. I could tell Dani was proud of the meal.
I scooted out my chair and sat to join them, eager to talk about our days and unwind.
The wine nearly shot out of my nose.
Aria hunkered down. Toes clenched like talons. Furrowed brows like splinters of ice on a season's end pond. Her eyes crossed and tongue spat as the climactic spray bellowed from the underbelly of the Bumbo and an olive pool began to climb from the depths.
We hadn't planned on chocolate lava cake for dessert, much less a brown mess before dinner, but such are the ways of young parenthood. Dani leapt from her seat to intercept the mud princess and all I could think was "get the hose!".
Some days I feel like a professional dad. Most days I just laugh at the wild ride. Speaking of wild, I think most every baby object is a straightjacket in careful disguise.
Exhibit 1: The Bumbo. Yeah, it's got a cute elephant and squishy foam, but there's also a six point harness.
Exhibit 2: Baby Bjorn. I'm not sure who Bjorn is, but he's managed to essentially duct tape children to his chest. Unlike the Bumbo, the Bjorn not only inhibits child movement, but severely limits range of motion for the parent. Straightjacket times two.
Exhibit 3: Car Seats. I feel like I'm sending Aria to space every time I fasten her car seat. I've got to circumnavigate the roll cage, adjust seats to the fully upright position, turn off any electronic objects in the vehicle and click down the entire contraption until it is ready for orbit. Not to mention, I have to move my seat so far forward that I risk dislocating my shoulders any time I turn the steering wheel that is now lodged in my lap.
Exhibit 4: Swaddles. Swaddling a child is like preparing a terrible sushi roll with fish that's still flopping. Everything is swimming and the blanket itself is covered in ridiculous things like ducks that really make the whole affair exponentially more embarrassing. Stop looking at me ducks.
Swaddles are like human burritos with blankets.
Swaddles are sleeping bags with no regard to personal space.
All that said, I'm entirely supportive of anything that keeps my precious daughter in place and time any longer. She's already three months old and it's blowing my mind. I might just swaddle the Bumbo and see if it slows her growth.
I'm not ready for boys and school and all that stuff. I'm perfectly content guiding her around the world on my terms. Last night I got to teach her about rainstorms as we watched the clouds roll in. We go to the gym with mom. We go to church. We take drives and listen to music. We cuddle a lot with Sam. I dance with her when nobody is looking. We exchange smile after smile after smile. She reminds me that a piece of me is still completely new and free.
But I know all these times can change so fast. So the longer I'm a part of the center of her world the better, because she'll always be the center of mine.
And if you start to be too cool or too grown up for me, Aria, I'll just remind people of the time you sprayed poop all over the dinner table.