I can’t hear too well. I read lips a lot (which is why I can’t hear people in the dark and have trouble watching Grey’s Anatomy sometimes). “What?” is a very common response from me. But more often than not, I simply try and fill in the blanks. And I’ve become quite good at it. Let’s say I hear three words of what someone says. Based on context and the words I did hear, I try and figure out the ones I did not hear. Basically, I replay sentences over and over again my head until I figure it out.
But sometimes this doesn’t take place as quickly as it should.
We have a schedule here now. I deal with Em during the day. I put him down for his daily naps and Tobyjoe usually takes the bedtime ritual. Whenever TJ puts Em down for the night, I run around frantically trying to clean up that day’s mess readying the apartment for tomorrow’s. It’s all about routine. I feel that about 75% of what goes into being a decent parent (and by “decent” I mean one who isn’t repeatedly smacking his or her head against the wall while puddles of drool form at their feet) is nailing down a schedule.
We finally tamed that beast. We finally have a schedule. And it’s finally working.
Granted, we broke a rule in order to get this to work. I hear it’s the Great Dental Rule. The funny thing is, I had no idea about this rule until after we started giving Em his nightly bottle. I had no idea it wasn’t a good idea to give a baby a bottle in his or her crib because of tooth decay. No clue whatsoever. We did it because it worked for us. We give him a bottle before bed, in his crib. He feeds it to himself and he falls asleep almost immediately.
I figure it this way, you’re given two chances with teeth, right? Hopefully the kid ends up with my genetic makeup where teeth are concerned. Here I am, 34-years-old and I haven’t ever had a cavity. (Knock on wood.) I never even had one when I had my baby teeth. Let’s hope he gets lucky. And let’s hope he doesn’t need a nighttime bottle whenever his new teeth are coming in.
Every night, Toby and Em play. After they play, Toby will get him dressed for bed, read to him, whatever, as I prepare his evening bottle. I drop it off and they do their thing. Occasionally Tobyjoe and I will text back and forth between rooms.
“Want relief? He’s fussy tonight. I will step in!”
You get the picture.
But then we had the great text-communication breakdown of 2008. (Damn ATT and iPhone over-saturation). Since that night (a story for another day) we’ve been practicing more reliable means of communicating—like picking up the phone and calling one another. (I know. Crazy concept. Even crazier? Walking from one room to the next to speak in person.)
On Thursday night while I was running around trying to clean up, the phone rang. It was Toby calling. I thought, Well, that’s weird. Why is he calling from the other room?
“Hello?” I asked.
He spoke deliberately and slowly in a creepy, hushed whisper. “AM. I. OK?”
Is he OK? I thought. Where is he? Why is he calling me to ask me if he’s OK? He has the baby! He better be OK! They both better be OK! Why is he whispering? HOLY SHIT! Who is in the house with us? Who is he avoiding?
“What?” I asked again? “What do you mean? Are you OK?” I tried to sound calm. But it was too late. The line was dead.
I started to completely freak out. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO TOBY? HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DECIDE IF HE’S OK? I DON’T KNOW IF TOBY IS OK!!
I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’RE OK, HONEY! I JUST DON’T KNOW!
And then I remembered my hearing disability. Maybe I heard him wrong. I started to try and to figure out what he really said. I hadn’t heard anything—no big sound, nothing—so he must be OK. But what had he said?
I played it back again in my head.
AM I OK?
EM I OH KAY?
EM EYE EL KAY?
EM EYE EL K?
“Oh!” I gasped. “M-I-L-K! He wants milk!”