COLUMN: An unsettling exercise in reality

Ever had one of those moments when what you see before you is simply devoid of any immediately identifiable logic?

Ever had one of those moments when what you see before you is simply devoid of any immediately identifiable logic?

I experienced one recently.

Coming home from work, I opened the front door, and stepped into the foyer.

And there on the floor beside the bureau was a baby carrier.

That made no sense. We haven’t had one of those around for many years, as our baby is now a teenager.

I looked in the baby carrier. And in it was a baby, all bundled up like babies usually are.

Whoa! Who-what-how?

Does not compute.

Mental equivalent of a hard-drive freeze.

It took a few seconds for my brain to reboot.

There was a reasonable explanation for this situation, of course. I just didn’t know what it was.

Before I trusted myself to move, it was time to establish some basic facts.

“Anna? Are you home?”

“Yes. In the kitchen, dad.”

“Did you know there is a baby, in a carrier, out here by the front entrance?”


“Do we have a guest who brought along a baby?”


“Do you know whose baby this is?”


“Anna, whose baby is this?”


A wave of severe dizziness swept over me. Obviously, it was the effect of walking through a door, and abruptly transitioning from my real world, to a surreal parallel existence, in which I was having an absurd and utterly alarming conversation with my 15-year-old daughter.

I wondered if one could have a heart attack while trapped in a parallel dimension.

“Say what…?” I weakly queried.

“That’s my practice baby for my

family studies class. Remember? I told you a couple of weeks ago.”

I took a closer look. Sure enough, the infant wasn’t real.

A moment or two passed while I transferred back into my ‘normal’ world, and tried to coax my heart to stop imitating a panicking hamster.

The first order of business was to admonish the teen for leaving a lifelike baby out on the floor where it would be seen by a forgetful father.

“What’s it doing out in the hallway?”

“Why, where else would it be?”

Clearly, this is why this course is a good thing.

“So, how long is it with you?”

“Twenty-four hours. All night.”

Now this is getting interesting.

“What does it do?”

“Cry every few hours, and then you have to hold him, and turn this key until he coos.”

Well, they’ve got the right concept, but oh, were it really so easy, my dear girl.

“I’m not going to get a whole lot of sleep tonight.”

Yes, I think that’s the point of the exercise.

Just in case anyone has a cavalier attitude about parenthood, and how one gets in that condition, this may be helpful in setting them on a path of enlightenment. (I’m proud to say my teen is highly enlightened, but reinforcement never hurts.)

And if that means she has to get up every couple of hours, and tote around

a crying plastic baby, well, good.

It was actually a well-behaved little thing for most of the evening. So much so, I had forgotten about it, and was sleepily watching something on TV, when I was startled to hear the sound of a baby crying.

My teen was standing beside the couch, holding something out to me.

“Dad, do you mind taking the baby?”

Good thing I was lying down, because I think I passed out.