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Zalaznick: Mom and dad go missing

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

When my wife and I get to spend time alone together during these Days of the Giggling Toddler Dynamo, it’s usually about 10:30 p.m., and one of us is either in the shower, exhausted, cranky and/or asleep. And/or hiding in the closet. And/or cowering under the futon.

And/or downloading relaxing music ” such as rainstorms, rolling waves, elf sounds, unicorn cooing, fairy fights ” so we don’t hear every tiny sound in the house and panic that it’s the baby’s crib collapsing through the floor into the condo below.

All those little night-time pops and squeaks are potential catastrophes. Because a crib collapsing would probably make a nice quiet noise exactly like a moth pecking the window or a housefly exploding in a reading lamp or a bear ransacking the fridge.



By 10:30 p.m., mom has been entertaining and feeding the baby all day, chasing her though mud puddles on the playground, and exposing her to carefully measured portions of physical, emotional and spiritual stimulation to ensure she’ll get into Harvard at age 12, compete in the Olympics at 17 and command the space shuttle by age 20.

All that while making sure the most wonderful thing that ever happened to us doesn’t impale herself on a turkey baster, eat the iPod charger or fall from her perch on the showerhead.

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And Dad has been editing, writing, generating story ideas, trying to remain fair and balanced, and generally making sure the Vail Daily’s reporters and editors don’t impale themselves on turkey basters.

This deep-seated sort of bone-and-brain fatigue makes for fascinating, rewarding, relationship-enriching 10:30 p.m. conversation, such as:

Mom: Unnh



Dad: Nrrrr gaaa

Mom: Pffff dzzzzz

Dad: OK, I’ll do it tomorrow.

Oh, the childless days of quality time ” going to the movies, hiking, passing out on front lawns ” are long gone. There’s no such thing as zipping out for a hike ” just going to the park is as complicated as preparing a major metropolitan area for the Olympics.

Before leaving for the park, mom and dad spend about three seconds getting dressed ” so there is ample time to gather everything the baby needs before sunset. This quick assembling of wardrobe results in some awesome outfits: I wore a tie-dye shirt with polka-dot shorts and tartan sombrero to Oktoberfest a few weekends ago.

My wife wore a pillow case, a bath mat and a bottle of Windex.

The baby, meanwhile, was supplied to survive in the wilderness and/or deep space for six months. She had three changes of clothes ” including sweaters and warmer shoes in case of a sudden snowstorm or Ice Age blew in; enough cheese sticks, raisins and fruit cups to end a famine; a vat of SPF7000 sunscreen that would protect her skin in case of an asteroid strike; full scuba gear in case of a apocalyptic flood; an English-Martian dictionary in case of alien invasion; and so on.

The excursion was supposed to be “family time,” but it was more like one-parent-takes-a-rest-while-the-other-chases-the-baby-into-the-fountain-rescues-her-from-the-escalator-and-extricates-her-from-the-oompah-band time.

Here’s one of the deeply fulfilling conversations we had that afternoon:

“There she goes again.”

“You gonna chase her?”

“Into the alpenhorn?”

“I gotta pee.”

And the elegance of our family dinners is only multiplied by a 1-year-old flinging cottage cheese and practicing her latest discovery: yodeling as loudly as possible in the key of pterodactyl. Our dinner conversations would make Dorothy Parker impale herself on a turkey baster.

Dad: “What just hit me in the face?”

Mom: “I’ll do the dishes if you get the baby ready for bed.”

Dad: “Tastes like cottage cheese, pineapple and … yep, that’s definitely Play-Doh. Blue, I think.”

Mom: “OK, I’ll get the dishes ready for bed.”

We’re expecting another little giggling dynamo at the end of the year. I guess we’ll schedule some mommy-and-daddy time for some time next decade.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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