They call him Kim Jong Alex, sometimes the Tiny Overlord.
He takes their money and he takes their sleep. He screams at all hours and for no reason. He burbles up spit on their clothes and has made 8 p.m. a late night.
And they could not love him more.
“He is shitting himself right now,” Jake said as he bounced his son on his knee in their backyard.
My friends Jake and Bekah and I finally got that beer. For months we had been talking about it, but there were schedules and misfires. Relatives, both mine and theirs, came into town and left. I got a weeks-long cold that I didn’t want to transmit to the little fella.
But the stars aligned and there we were, sitting in a backyard in Ravenswood with beers, Bloody Marys, a mussy-haired baby and a curly-haired dog that kept returning a chew toy to the baby’s head every time we threw it.
“Could you please not put this wet, disgusting thing on the baby?” Bekah asked the dog.
The conversation was almost ruthlessly grown up, delving into politics, dating, civil rights, family dynamics and alcohol. We talked about North Korean travel restrictions and dissected the recent mayoral race. Any Alex stories were at my prompting. They were just glad to have an adult around.
There have been times where we talked all night, the three of us. We would pound booze and have fascinating discussions and I would end up on the couch, with the promise of breakfast in the morning.
Now there were four — five counting the dog — and night came at 7 p.m.
I know this won’t last. Right now Kim Jong Alex just sort of sits there, looking around. He doesn’t need constant interaction, stimulation and answers to eternal “Why? Why? Why?” He doesn’t make up jokes that don’t end, sulk surly in his room or tell pompous stories about something life-changing his Philosophy 101 professor said about Ayn Rand.
He’s at the cute part of life, the one where you can still have a conversation with him around, as long as you’re not distracted by his grumpy widdle face. (He is adorable, I should have mentioned.)
I’m not a parent, so anything I would say here would be as welcome as telling women I understand sexual harassment because I once got patted on the ass by a gay guy in Boystown. But I’ll go ahead anyway (and yes, I know the guy was just messing with me, but it was still an ego boost).
No, I don’t think every child is magic, or that every stupid thing they say is worthy of a Facebook post, email, in-person anecdote and public service announcement blasted on all broadcast frequencies.
There are stupid children. And mean ones. And ones where you can’t quite place it, but you know there’s something wrong going on in there.
That’s why it’s such a joy to see parents who feel the same way, who keep perspective and, even if they fail at it among midnight feedings, sleep deprivation and no damn cash, still try to keep as much vestige of personal identity as possible.
I was raised by parents like that. I hope to be one of them someday, but in the meantime I will sure grab a beer and a Bloody with them on a warm spring day.