NOW THAT we have a new baby in the house, I’ve been doing some of the cooking, especially dinner. Most of the dinners have come from an outfit called Hello Fresh, which delivers a big box full of all the ingredients needed for various E-Z-Gourmet Dishes. I dutifully try to follow the directions—I chop the onions and mince the garlic and blanche the asparagus—and while the meals always come out edible, they’re also a tad disappointing. The Ragu Pasta Extravaganza tasted more like spaghetti with meat sauce, the Classic Italian Meatloaf looked like the TV dinner variety, and the Luau Pork Chops….well, they didn’t exactly transport us to Maui. Nevertheless, my wife appreciates the effort, and maybe I’ll get better with time.
The 12-year-old is off to sleepaway camp, and the two of us took a long drive en route—me behind the wheel encouraging conversation and road games, he in the back seat wanting to noodle on his iPhone, but indulging the Dad every now and then. I can tell you that road signs featuring the letter Q are infrequent or absent along I-84 in Connecticut heading west, until you get just west of Hartford, when all of a sudden there’s Quaker Boulevard, Queen Street, Quinnipiac University (famous for political polls), and a Quality Inn (famous for being of suspect quality.) Later came the alphabet food game. Between the two of us we could think of only one food that begins with the letter U, and that was Utz Potato Chips.
Way to go, Utz.
Nathen is a fine baby. He is doing all the great things that babies do: nursing, eliminating, gurgling, crying, and—a little every day—growing bigger. Already we’re graduating from neonate Pampers to the next larger size. I say Pampers but I’ll buy any brand, including the generics, plus we’re using them only at night and when we’re out of the house. My wife, because she’s amazing, is using cloth diapers and the washing machine, which saves money but is more work. Did I mention that my wife is amazing?
Pampers have co-branded with Sesame Street, so the fronts of the diapers have pictures of all the familiar Muppets. Which can only be an attempt to sway the parents. For the infant, it’s an odd introduction. Hey kid, pee on Elmo.
I learned a thing or two from the first go-round, which was 12 years ago. For example, when Nathen is especially fussy in my arms, I take him into the bathroom and turn on the ceiling fan, which makes a pleasant white noise. Calms him down almost instantly, and the effect lasts for at least 5 minutes. Twelve years ago with Maxwell, we called the vacuum cleaner “the secret weapon.” With Nathen, I’m calling the ceiling fan “the good idea.” As in, “Hey, I have a good idea, let’s turn on the ceiling fan.”
My wife and I are both coming to terms with having a second kid who is 12 years behind the first one. Seeing the two of them together feels like one of those Doctor Who episodes where the older and younger versions of the hero meet up with each other, due to the fungible laws of time travel. Or, if you’d prefer another analogy, it’s like playing a board game for 12 years—moving your token a space or two forward every day, dealing out and receiving rewards and punishments, gaining and spending play money—only to be surprised with the command “Return to Go!” and having to do it all over again.
OK, for that valuable prize mentioned in the title, send me a message on Facebook for a free Hello Fresh dinner; they gave us some codes to deal out to friends. You’ll get some food in a box. We have only three codes, so the first three responders are the winners. Act now, campers.
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