There's an Octopus in My Medicine Cabinet
Mornings are the hardest for me. Skylar, my six-month old and living
alarm clock, did not make the daylight savings shift that the rest of the
country seems to have made. Where everyone else congratulated
themselves on gaining an hour, I in fact lost an hour, and feel like Im
losing another one every day.
Skylar did not come with a snooze button. I wake up exhausted, just
able to hear him jabbing away to himself. I groan inwardly. As
tempting as it may be to see how long I can continue to lay in bed, I know
that at some instant the cute baby talk will erupt into fiery lungfuls of
pained crying (the pained part comes from Rebecca jabbing me in the side
with her elbow).
Skylar reaches DEFCON 2 levels of babble as I stumble into the bathroom.
Really, Im too tired to think this early in the morning, which means
that I forget important things like where the light switch is hiding or
how cold the floor tile is. The last thing I want to see is my own
face, so I open the medicine cabinet door quickly to get my contacts out.
I cant tell whether the happy music is real or not, but theres a
whole shelf of smiling creatures with huge eyes waiting to greet me.
Monsieur Octopus, waving his spongy tentacles, sings out in a French
accent, Good Morning Daddy! Is your belly button clean?
Fish Scrub smiles and offers to clean my hair. The half-dinosaur,
half-bird whatever-it-is thing shows me her cloth teeth.
I slam the medicine cabinet door closed. They are way too happy for
me right now. I dont want to be happy; I just want to be tired.
The realization strikes me that I have just had a brief encounter with the
world Skylar faces every day. He wakes and there are smiling animals
to greet him. Sometimes they talk in voices amazingly close to
Daddys. Getting tired and grumpy? Look! Its
Dragonfly! Either my son is surrounded by an incredible Rogues
Gallery of special friends who dont mind how hard he bites or hes in
an insane asylum.
Skylar hears me in the bathroom, and his crying escalates to DEFCON 3.
I reach inside the cabinet without opening it all the way, groping for my
contacts case. I can still hear the calliope music but I dont
have to watch the animals talk. As I put my contacts in, I wonder
when my sponge stopped talking to me. I mean, I gave up a friend who
scrubbed away all the dirt on my body, made me laugh, and took away the
fear of water and bathing. Now I use a color-coordinated washcloth
with no backbone and no sense of humor.
I wonder what else Ive given up as I stumble to the kitchen to prepare
a bottle. My clothes used to be fun like Skylars. Now the idea is
to dress for success, to be professional. Professional is dull.
I want a suit covered with yellow ducks. And dont forget the
squeaky cuff-links. My car has also changed. Now I think of
things like comfort and safety. Way back when the most important
characteristics of a car were the color of plastic and how fast I could go
before I wiped out and flipped over.
Weve reached DEFCON 4. One more level and Skylarll wake the
neighborhood. I wonder why my microwave has a popcorn button and a
cook bacon setting but not a Instant Bottle Warmer button.
Id pay serious money for something like that. The bottle is ready
in that thought, and Im off to Skylars room at a light jog.
As I open the door, the entire room breaks out into song and dance.
The animals painted on the wall Grandfather Frog, Reddy Fox, and Peter
Rabbit shout Good Morning! with their bright colors. The
fish mobile scintillates in the dawns first rays. The basket of
stuffed animals is already laughing and having a good time. I feel
the grin break across my own lips, and as I step in, Skylar is able to see
me, the biggest smile in the room on his face. We reach out for each
other, but then he sees the bottle in my hand and his smile drops away as
he suddenly remembers how hungry he is. I get the bottle in his
mouth just in time to prevent meltdown.
As I sit with my son in the rocking chair, I realize that I havent
forgotten any of my childhood friends. Perhaps some of the names and
faces have changed, but theyre all here. Good morning, I
say to them.
Suddenly Im as anxious for Skylar to finish as they are because
thatll mean its time to play.