Don’t answer. It’s possible she’ll go away if you don’t answer.
Don’t, don’t look up, don’t look away from your book at all. Don’t give her any indication you have anything to do with her, you don’t even know her, all right? This is not something you want to be a part of. Trust me.
“Dada. Where Fwog?”
A tiny hand is tugging at my pant leg. Looking down (I told you not to do that!) her giant, anime baby eyes lock with mine.
“Drabby. Where Fwog?”
The nickname. Because she knows. It’s in her Baby manual. The Nickname will always work.
She’s twenty-two months old and she made up a nickname for me, and lately she’s decided that her Mother can’t put her to bed. It’s me. It has to be me every night. It’s my job. And that’s all right. It’s kind of sweet, actually. But see, I don’t get to work alone. I have a partner. Baby Tad.
She got Baby Tad for Christmas. He’s a Baby Frog the size of a terrier and he sings. See, I was naughty all year and instead of coal in my stocking, Santa brought my daughter Baby Tad. And I’m a bad father for even thinking that, because she loves that frog, that frog is what the French call a “sine qua non”.
“Drabby. Drabby!… Where Fwog?”
Here’s how it works. My daughter and baby Tad and I retire to my darkened bedroom and lie down together, Baby Tad sings a six-minute cycle of lullabies, then she says “More song, Fwog.” And we repeat this process until she falls asleep. It’s kind of a slow hour to an hour and a half in six-minute lullaby singin’ Frog segments.
“Drabby! Drabby! Where Fwog, Drabby?!”
A note of panic has crept into her voice. There’s no point in delaying this and after all, how hard could it be? Baby Frog is right where we left him last night, at the foot of her bed.
But you and I both know he’s not there, don’t we? We didn’t even really have to look to know he wasn’t there. Looking was a mere formality. But let’s not panic, after all, Baby Tad isn’t frog sized, he’s bigger than my Daughter for God’s sake. The house has a finite number of rooms . How hard could it possibly be to find something the size of a fireplug that looks like a Day-Glo green malformed Dwarf in a yellow jumper? Well, let me put it to you this way. The Lindbergh baby? Still missing.
“Where FWOG, Drabby?!”
And the hell of it, see, she knows, she KNOWS where Fwog is, because you know who doesn’t know? You know who has not one stinkin’ clue where fwog is? Drabby. Because, and I’m only being honest here, I don’t play with Baby Tad all that much. She’s shoved him into some little Baby hideyhole, some toddler size cranny that exists next to, but not in, this dimension. The little singin’ creep is keeping company with a wide selection of sippy cups full of month old milk solids, socks, bibs, soiled diapers and over seventeen thousand pacifiers. I am down on my side sucking lungfulls of dust waiting for my eyes to adjust so I can see under the couch and while there are enough baby toys under there for an orphanage, Tad is not among them. I knew that because Baby Tad could not fit under there unless you coated his horrible Frog body with Vaseline and asked a Russian Weight Lifter to take a moment out of his steam bath and SHOVE THE LITTLE FREAK UNDER THERE. But see, now, I’ve already looked under everything baby Tad would fit under. Twice. What was it Sherlock Holmes said? “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable is WHERE YOU’LL FIND THAT F-ING SINGIN’ FROG!”
“Where Fwog, Drabby, where, where, where, Fwog, oh where baby Fwog?!”
And I whirled on her and I screamed “I don’t know where Fwog is, I am LOOKING for Fwog but the truth is Drabby doesn’t give a little tin POOP where Fwog is! Drabby hates Fwog, oh, yes, he does, hates him right now with a dangerous passion and if Drabby happens to find the hammer before he finds Fwog? Well! Fwog is going to be in a mighty tight corner! Do you HEAR me little missy?! A MIGHTY TIGHT CORNER, I SAY!!”
And then I did an interpretive dance involving violent, spastic hammer blows and Baby Tad’s piteous attempts to shield himself. I played myself and Baby Tad and did all the sound effects, too. The choreography was improvised but it came out pretty good.
Of course, I didn’t really do any of those things. I looked for Baby Tad until I found him. He was at the foot of my bed. My Pajamas were on top of him. See, the wife says I should put away my Pajamas when I get dressed in the morning, but she’s insane. I solved the problem my way and it won’t happen again. Threw ‘em out. The hell with ‘em anyway. Sleep in my underwear from now on. It’s more comfortable, and they are too small to cover up a Fwog.
My Daughter was quite giddy with relief, and honestly, seeing how happy she was I’d found Baby Tad, I wasn’t angry anymore. I felt foolish and ashamed for having been so mad in the first place. She’s a baby and she wanted her Drabby and her Fwog and she won’t be a baby forever or even that much longer if the truth be told. I lay down with her and I felt happy to be her Father. Until about the third time through Tad’s six-minute lullaby set when his batteries started to run down.
Because if we have any fresh batteries? I’m pretty sure they’re with the Lindbergh Baby.