Monday, March 3, 2014

Puff the Magic Elephant

Pork Chop is teething. We've weathered several bottom teeth without much crying or gnashing of gums. Sure, he was a little bit fussy. Sure, he drooled. Nothing a frozen teething ring and a beach towel couldn't manage. But this time? The top teeth? Shit just got real. And I mean, very specifically, that his shit is real and as unrelenting as the tide. I'd heard tell of such teething symptoms, but I was emotionally unprepared for what lurked in my son's bowels and eventually in his diaper and invariably in his only clean pair of pants.

Frankly, we never should have gone out for breakfast on Saturday. But Pork Chop slept until 7:15 -- a record worth celebrating with a carbohydrate smorgasbord at a restaurant renowned for international cuisine.

IHOP was packed, but we snagged a booth with room for a high chair. Life was good. Pork Chop even struck up a cross-diner friendship with a toddler in a nearby booth. Both boys pointed at one another, smiling, goading each other to fling more food, to reach for the sticky syrup dispensers one more time. But our little suburban fairytale was to be short-lived.

We heard a gurgle. A low, wet rumble. My husband, Shelby, looked at me. Was something percolating in the kitchen? Then again the sound, like fast moving water bubbling over rocks. No, sadly, it was not a fresh pot of coffee brewing. It was our son, violating the Geneva Convention, the Clean Air Act of 1970, and the Golden Rule, all at a very crowded House of Pancakes.

We went home as quickly as possible, before a war crimes tribunal could convene. And for the rest of the day, my poor boy was a miserable, incontinent mess. Neither boob nor Pedialyte could comfort him. Not even a taste of the iPhone's forbidden fruit could quell his tears for long. This was a job for the elephant.

The elephant is a small, plushy toy with amazing psychological fortitude. Pork Chop loves nothing more than to violate his docile friend -- gnawing on elephant's trunk, wiping his nose with elephant's butt, sucking his thumb while nuzzling elephant's spit-soaked ears. It's been this way for half of my son's life, which is to say about 6 months, and there are no signs that Pork Chop is about to kick the elephant habit any time soon. One day, when the elephant is threadbare and bursting at the seams, I won't be surprised to find that, instead of fluffy stuffing, the elephant is actually made of Xanax. The elephant's powers are profound.

If my kid takes a tumble, elephant consoles.

If Pork Chop is subjected to a new diaper, to the car seat, or to his high chair, elephant commiserates.

And every night, every single night, elephant comforts my son to sleep.

Woe unto us if that elephant ever goes missing. We tried buying a decoy, a second nearly identical elephant. We figured, Pork Chop is a year old, and 1-year-olds aren't exactly rocket scientists. Of course I think my son is a boss toddler, but if it weren't for our exhaustive baby-proofing efforts, the kid would be tongue kissing every electrical outlet within smooching height. So we were both surprised and alarmed to find that our child's taste in elephants is rather discerning, inasmuch as he can discern which plush elephant is a fake-ass sucka. He will have nothing to do with our decoy, our sad excuse for a wannabe elephant.

As I type, my husband is upstairs giving Pork Chop a bath. I can hear Shelby trying to convince him to stay still so that the kid's rear end can be properly sanitized. But the kid is having none of it. He's throwing bath toys and trying to scale the faucet. Shelby sounds fake-cheerful, like he's trying to maintain bath time fun, but like he's also wishing he could take a bath of his own, in gin.

The elephant sits on the seat next me. I need to take him upstairs before Pork Chop goes down for the night. It's been a rough few days for all of us. I glance at the elephant again. He does look awfully soft. I pick him up. I probably shouldn't hold him to my face, but I do. This feels illicit. And germy. But I bury my nose in his nubby fur, and then I take a good, long pull.


  1. Funny & awesome, like always!

  2. Hi Jess.......remember Kim's blankie?? The last I saw of it was when it was about a 2" square, with a verrrrry large hem. I think she may have finally pushed it all the way up her nose.

  3. I have to say that your son and my son are so similar, it is scary! I feel like I am reading a well-written, comedic version of my life. My son is also in love with an elephant, although he is blue... and we caught on early enough that he now has three that are as well-worn and loved as the next one. We call him Mr Blue and my sister found a larger, stuffed animal version of Blue and we have been dying at his reaction to him... he is strangely fascinated and then tosses him aside like the imposter he is. Anyway, between this and the sad boobs around mother's day.... which also read like my current situation (down to the am and pm feed now and worried about that ending soon), I just wanted to say thanks for your blog and making us mommies laugh and their boobs shed a sad milk tear. :)

    1. Well, shucks. Thank YOU. I'm glad you found a kindred spirit out here in cyberspace. It's half the reason I blog -- to feel a little less alone in this whole parenting thing. My son, btw, is still obsessed with that elephant, which he now calls, inexplicably, "Matt." We bought him an Elmo doll; he hugged it, kissed it, then tossed it aside, calling for Matt. Oh well. As for the boobs, all I can say is, enjoy this last bit of nursing . . . and splurge on a good bra.