Adventures in Parenting #15: Ghost Baby

One of the things that comes along with new parenthood is a collection of new technologies that you didn't previously possess. Now, I'm a huge fan of technology, especially as it pertains to my consumption of television, movies, and sports programming, but Baby Technology seems like its main goal is to confuse and confound parents, usually when they are at their highest level of sleep deprivation. There's the vibrating bassinet with the batteries that die every two days. There's the sound machine that sometimes switches from "White Noise" to some setting that sounds similar to "Traffic Stop in a Bad Neighborhood" all by itself. And of course there's the Pack 'N Play, a piece of equipment that is, by it's very name, designed to be easily packed and played with but in reality can only be easily packed by a team of Army engineers. (When we are definitely done having kids, I will take this piece of equipment out into a field and beat it to death like the crappy printer in Office Space.) DSCN0504

But by far, my "favorite" (read: "least favorite thing in the entire world that does not involve Dallas-Fort Worth traffic") piece of Baby Technology is the accursed baby monitor. Like the aforementioned Pack 'N Play, the baby monitor sounds like a great idea on the surface. You set up a camera in the baby's room and you are free to walk away from the baby holding a small receiver with a tiny TV screen and a speaker on it, enabling you to....well, to monitor the baby. Huzzah! Now you can finally sleep, right? Not so much.

For one thing, it's nigh impossible for new parents (read: "suckers") to close their eyes and actually drift off to sleep without worrying that every tiny grunt or grumble is actually a sign that their baby is being abducted and/or eaten by the beagle who is finally exacting her revenge. Whoever came up with the term "sleeping with one eye open" was either a complete moron or a new parent whose brain had been eaten away by a lack of REM sleep, resulting in total insanity. (I saw this in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation recently because, yeah, I've been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation at 3 in the morning when I used to sleep. Like a boss.) Even if you turn the viewing screen off (which I do) and turn the volume all the way down (which I do), there's still this bar that lights up at the top of the screen, going from green to red, indicating your baby's extreme cries. That's all well and good but when your baby is the self-proclaimed King of the Grumbles as Cooper is, that little bar might light up 30, 40 times a night, not because he's screaming his lungs out or being eaten by the beagle but because it's tough work being a baby and doing all that sleeping and sometimes you just have to grumble. You would think that by 2013 someone would have invented a baby monitor that only lights up when the baby is ACTUALLY crying and/or experiencing an alien abduction. This frustration grows even larger when, for no apparent reason, the receiver randomly starts picking up some serious feedback and makes a noise akin to an AM radio station that only plays the sounds of someone ripping a needle across a record. It's just the best.

But if all of that weren't enough, I have one more little issue with the baby monitor, though I'll admit this one is at least half the fault of my own son. Sometimes, you DO manage to fall asleep. Sometimes you are able to sleep right through the grumbles and the grunts and the farts (AUDIBLE FARTS through what basically amounts to an intercom system) and sink back into that sort of blessed sleep that was so common pre-baby. And then at 3, 4 in the morning, you are awakened out of the blue by an unknown force. It was probably just a little grumble, you think hazily, and so you click the "Video On" button on the receiver and for a second you forget that the receiver's screen is black and white and that the camera is set, like, 6 inches away from your kid's face. And in that moment of hazy, sleepy, foolishness, you click the monitor on to find:

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A GHOST BABY STARING DIRECTLY BACK AT YOU THROUGH THE SCREEN IN SUCH A MANNER THAT SUGGESTS HE KNEW YOU WOULD BE LOOKING AT HIM! And then you yell (scaring the other person in the house who is on the verge of homicide due to the aforementioned lack of sleep) and have a heart attack and almost die, assuming that the ghost baby will be the one that escorts you to the afterlife, before the smoke in your brain clears and you come back to the harsh reality of having to care for a helpless little being who may or may not be a ghost baby. So thanks for the panic attack, inventor of the baby monitor. When I die, I promise to come back as a ghost and haunt any of your remaining family members until I have satisfied the debt I now feel you owe me.

What sort of tribute is the King of the Grumbles due from his subjects? Brian