Practice Baby

December 1987 and we are preparing to leave the hospital with my first born beautiful baby boy.  Not much more than babies ourselves we clumsily wrap the baby up in a blanket.  Wait.  Why is it such a mess?  For IMG_0326the last two days our baby had been brought to me like a tightly wrapped burrito.  Where was I during the wrap your baby like a burrito lesson?  The nurse’s aide comes in with a wheel chair to take us to the front door.

“Could you show us how to wrap the baby up in a blanket?” I ask her.

“OH MY LO’…..” she says with her eyes about to bust out of her head in amazement at our stupidity and the fact that she is going to let these two people out into the world with an infant.  “….. IS this yo’ practice baby?”

She takes Zach from me and wraps him like an egg roll with a head sticking out, hands him back and pushes me down the hallway.  She shakes her head and mutters incomprehensible sentences for the whole wheel chair ride  with no hope in our parenting successes.  Zach is known from this day forward as “our practice baby”.

April 1988 and I’m fairly certain that my 4 month old baby is about to die. He’s coughing like a 60 year old man that’s been smoking most of his life.  I am convinced that he is going to cough up a lung into his baby bed. He sounds like a goose who just ate a dog and the dog is stuck in his throat.  It’s 4 am.  I have no idea what to do.  I should call the doctor.  I love his doctor but it’s 4 am, I would wake him up.   I called him.

“Croup,  he just has croup.  Take him outside in the cool night air and he’ll be better.”

Croup?  Why has no one told me about croup?  I called the doctors office  later, much later that day and left a message for the doctor.  Please tell the doctor I’m sorry for calling him at 4 am.  It’s not  Zach’s fault.  He’s my practice baby

December 2002 and we are waiting patiently for our turn at the driver’s license office. This is a monumental day for a 15 year old boy.  We practiced parallel parking on the way up and had an in depth conversation about the interesting personalities of the people that work for the driver’s license office.  We discussed that it’s better not to let them see you cry because it does appear that that is their mission and you would make their day complete with tears.

Finally it is our turn when they call out “next” and we step up to the desk and hand the woman our completely and properly filled out paperwork and Zach’s birth certificate.  She doesn’t smile or greet us.

“What’s this?” she ask holding the birth certificate.

“That’s his birth certificate” I say a bit confused because it’s clearly a birth certificate.

“It MUST  be a sealed certified copy” she says like I’m a complete fool.  She’s trying to intimidate me with her advanced degree in rudeness.

“Well.” I said.  “This is what they gave me the day he was born.  It even states “mother’s copy” on it. How can you get more certified than the mother’s copy?”

She gets in my face, looks me in the eyes and with her mouth that looks like it just ate a lemon with a curdled milk chaser and yells, “NEXT!”

Remembering my advice to Zach, I hold back my tears and pull out the my imaginary super hero cape as 410806_349737211746860_789984466_othis situation calls for Super Mom to take action.  Mom’s know what I’m talking about.  There is a time for politeness and there is a time for the primitive, protective, don’t mess (sic) with me; Super Mom!

I reach up and cover Zach’s ears as I look into the disturbed depths of this driver’s license office employee and articulate each word speaking slowly so that there is no misunderstanding.


And we walk out without a driver’s license for my 15 year old son.

I’m only telling you this story because as followers and readers of my blog; you are my practice readers.  You get to read my typos, my misuse of its and it’s, my verb tense changes in the middle of a sentence, my run on sentences, lack of commas, too many commas.

I’m learning.  I’m practicing.  I will get better.

I took an Ed2Go writing class.  After turning in my final assignment, the instructor noted that she used to have bad dreams about people like me; talent in a thick mist of fog deep in a forest filled with whirling dervishes,  trying to find it’s way out.  Totally rough around the edges with a hint of maybe; someday.  She suggested I take her grammar refresher class; which I will do next.

I would like to conclude with one more Zach story.

When Zach was in junior high one of my jobs at the school was to scan the students lunch cards when they arrived in the cafeteria.  Just before the kindergarteners were about to show up, a teacher’s aide came in early to grab a lunch.  She told me that Zach had been a hilarious contestant in the spelling bee.  I laughed and said that she is clearly mistaken that my Zach can’t spell worth a rat’s ass.  She was convinced that it was my Zach and that he had made it into the fourth round.  Yep, you are confused.  There is no way any one would think to put my Zach in a spelling bee and he certainly wouldn’t make it to the fourth round.

Turns out Zach was in the spelling bee, he was entertaining and he misspelled “peak-a-boo” in the fourth round.

On the morning of the spelling bee the actual spelling bee participants decided that they did not have the….um….they were scared to go on stage in front of their peers and screw up.  The teacher told the alternates that they would be in the spelling bee.  They too quickly decided there was no way they were going to risk their reputation in a spur of the moment decision that they had not prepared or dressed for.  They had also not spend the obligatory evening before stressing about it either.  The teacher quickly realized that he was not going to get a speller on stage and that he must do the next best thing and get a student that could act like a spelling bee contestant.  There was one junior high student who fit that description…. Zach Honey.

To the delight of his teacher and all of his fellow students, including himself, he made it into the fourth round.  Spelling three words correctly, but more importantly,  entertaining the crowd at each turn.    He was given a standing ovation when he left the stage after being knocked out when misspelling a word.

The lesson I learned from my 13 year old practice baby that day was that you can do anything you want to.  You have to act like you are what you want to be and you have to believe it and don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it.  Zach did all of those things that day; he was a super star and a spelling bee contestant.

I’m reading a great book right now that my good friend, hero and pottery teacher just loaned me.  “Steal Like an Artist”.  It’s a quick read but full of delicious insight for people in pursuit of a creative dream.  3d-Steal-Like-an-Artist-NYT

Thank you all for being my practice readers.  It’s nice to have an audience and I’m having fun writing this blog.

Next week’s post will be the Wild About Books March book selection.

Wild About Books

2 thoughts on “Practice Baby

  1. I got confused at “verb tense changes”…

    I had a practice baby also (didn’t we all?). Some girls I knew were better at taking care of their first baby because they had practiced on their neighbors kids doing that thing called ‘babysitting’. I never did that… well, one time I did; a set of new-born twins. The parents were obviously mentally ill and desperate for a night out. Why else would they allow me to watch their babies for five or six hours? Fortunately the babies never once woke up while they were in my care (and I use the word “care” very loosely). I was 13 years old and didn’t know how to warm a bottle, feed a baby, or change a diaper. By the time my own practice baby arrived, I still didn’t know how to do those things. Life…. you look back and wonder how any of us reach adult-hood.


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