Baby on the Bell Tower

Even with the drinks flowing, the truth-or-dares growing more audacious, it’s hard to get to a place where you can call someone else’s baby ugly. Maybe in the privacy of your own home bantering with your trusted partner, you dance around it with euphemisms like “unique” or “pronounced features” and come to an unspoken understanding. It’s uncomfortable to say outright.

Yet to regard every baby as beautiful is to disregard statistical distribution. I feel with my own baby, I have a precious opportunity to be honest.

Here’s my situation. The five-week-old is going through what we presume, or hope, to be a transition phase. I’ve called him ugly to his face only a few times, instinctive blurts when unflattering lighting caught him just right.

He’s not ugly in the traditional sense, more like… grotesque. The pieces don’t fit together well right now. His two-part cone head resembles either an alien’s or Stephon Marbury’s, which basketball fans know as exactly one and the same.

Frankly the head might be too big for an alien’s. More like the alien’s spaceship. There is so much surface area that seemingly extends to the horizon in every line of sight. I took some side profile shots, and they look like portraits of Soldier Field.

The head shape and size wouldn’t be so striking if he hadn’t started balding already. Generally by the time the hair thins so dramatically, virginity is long gone and the 401(k) humming, so there’s less pressure.

Baby acne also came on pretty aggressively. The poor creature has the hairline of a 55-year-old and the complexion of a 15-year-old. His savage breastfeeding habits have put him on rails to obesity, with hefty cheeks that squeeze his squinty Asian eyes (sometimes cute) and a tiny chin drowning in a second huge chin (never cute).

I’m sorry I failed to pass on my defined jawline to my son, but the least he could do is focus on things in his control. For example, he loves to open one eye only or much wider than the other.

It really is like tiptoeing around a monster in the lair when we want him to sleep, holding our breath in fear of the Cyclops eye shuttering open. And he does this weird ET-go-home motion with all his fingers at once, like trying sign language while drunk and arthritic.

Overall my progeny might be described physically as an unfortunate miniature mash-up of Jackie Chan, Danny DeVito and Jay-Z, with nowhere near their abilities to connect to audiences. I feel compelled to join the celebrity donations to rebuild Notre-Dame, so my son can fulfill his destiny to be the bell-ringer.

I don’t want to show you pictures and make him out to be some kind of circus freak. He’s not old enough to defend himself against trolls with the level of vocabulary readers of this blog have. I took some doozies too, pics that do not make the Christmas card of even the most biased mother. My wife would be pissed if I put them in public domain.

I did a make short video though:

Apologies if the high-pitched giggling was shrill to your ears. Longtime friends recognize this as when I am laughing my hardest, usually with my legs kicking frantically, and even find it contagious.

You can hear lackluster reprimands in the video from my wife and mother-in-law. They are usually fiercely protective of Oriental Quasimodo against my comments, as if he understood a word. In this case though, I think they were holding back their own laughter.

My baby has generated many delightful moments so far along with the black hole eradicating time as I know it. I have this weird dichotomy, often resenting all the hours he sucks up that could be used productively. But then when I’m at work, the place I go specifically to be productive, I pull up pictures of him 3-10 times a day and can’t wait to get home.

Sometimes I think he’s so cute I want to bite his fat face and chew on those pillowy cheeks. I feel an almost overwhelming affection but can’t figure out how to express it while he’s so fragile. He patented this who-defecated-in-my-oatmeal look that just kills me:

That video was taken at the hospital three days after birth, so hopefully you didn’t think it was from the Quasimodo phase. If so, I can Snapchat you more recent pictures (if you promise not to screenshot) and bring Halloween early to your family this year.

Five weeks in, life with a baby has been different. I try to remember it goes fast and appreciate the uneven distribution of good, bad and ugly.

Writer’s note: If you spend any amount of your finite time reading the absurdities in this blog, we are either friends or highly compatible strangers. Thus I feel close enough to ask for your email address below. The only email you will ever get from me is one blog post per month for the rest of my life, until you click Unsubscribe. Thank you.