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Death Traps

Twin of the Day – Penny: The girls are two months old, and mom’s getting ready to go back to work — so we’re considering daycare options. Clemmy is content with daycare centers, but would prefer to stay at home with a sitter. On the other hand, Penny is totally freaking out! She’s totally opposed to daycare, and isn’t too keen on sitters either. I assured her that New York has strict regulations for “center based” child care — the staff to child ratio for infants is 2:1 — “Just like when dad’s at work, and mom’s the only adult at home.”

“It doesn’t matter daddy! I want to be cared for by people who are with me because they love me — not because they’re getting paid to watch me.”

“Honey, of course, that would be ideal. But times have changed — that’s not the society we live in. It hasn’t been that way for awhile.”

Penny romanticizes the past when extended families lived together on farms or in small towns or villages. She always refers to our friend Parag who was raised in India as an infant — in a house with mom, dad, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma, and grandpa.

“That’s the ratio I want daddy! The love ratio!!”

“Well sweetie, the good thing is — you and Clemmy will always have each other. Your sister will always look out for you, and vice versa.”

“Well you know what they say daddy — Only the strong survive!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’m just saying — I can already roll over, no problem. And my neck game is strong! Been holding my head up since week six! On the other hand — Clemmy’s a little behind the curve. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to her.”

“Honey, we want you and Clemmy to be safe, whether you’re with family or a sitter. The reality is, love doesn’t necessarily equate with safety. — Parents are responsible for 80% of infant fatalities involving abuse or neglect.”

“Oh dad… you’re such a pseudo-intellectual. Mommy taught me about regression analysis — it’s a statistical process for estimating the relationships among variables. When infant mortality studies control for socio-economic variables such as income and education, there is a significant linear effect of inequality on child maltreatment rates.”

“You’re right honey — I have no idea what you’re talking about. But, I assure you that whomever we choose, he or she will be just as qualified as mommy and daddy. To be honest, we don’t always know what we’re doing. Do you remember what happened at that restaurant last week?”

“No, daddy. My short-term memory is still developing — please, indulge me.”

“While we were ordering dinner, you and Clemmy were sleeping in your car seats. Daddy had unbuckled your seat belts because I thought you’d be more comfortable. But your mom’s friend related a tragic story about an infant who suffocated after he was left in a car seat unbuckled. Apparently, the seatbelt helps prop your head up, allowing for unobstructed breathing.”

“What’s your point daddy?”

“My point sweetie, is that although mom and dad are well-educated, there’s a lot that we don’t know. There’s always room for error. Besides, this isn’t really a debate. Mom and dad have to work to support the family.

“It’s not like you don’t have a choice daddy — We don’t have to live in New York City! We can move to Cleveland or St. Louis. It’s more affordable and we’d have an abundance of loving relatives — all desperate to snuggle with me and Clemmy!”

“That’s always a possibility sweetie, but our livelihood is in New York City. Mom has a very successful psychology practice. If we moved, she’d have to start all over. And dad’s got stuff happening too.”

“Sure dad — What are you working on these days? A podcast? Blog? Screenplay? Memoir? One-man show? You keep waiting for some miracle to breathe life into your corpse of a comedy career.

“Ouch! — Look sweetie, it’d be great if you and Clemmy were always in the loving arms of a relative. Love is a powerful motivator — but so is competition. If we hire a sitter, she’ll be motivated to care for you and Clemmy as if you were her own children. If she were to neglect you, we’d fire her, and then she wouldn’t be able to feed her own family. She could even go jail.”

“I understand dad. On a macro level, competition is good. But I don’t want to be the ‘mistake’ that reveals her ineptitude. At that point, it’d be too late for me & Clemmy.”

“Well… that’s an accountability issue. We’ll make sure to set up cameras around the house. If your sitter is texting too much or smoking the pot, we’ll catch her right away — before anything bad happens.”

“That’s just what we need daddy — an overly anxious babysitter second guessing every decision. She’ll wrap us in a swaddle and then just stare at us for eight hours… afraid to even go to the bathroom in fear that we might roll over and suffocate. Not only will she not love us — she’ll end up resenting us! ——— WAIT A SECOND! ——— Do you and mommy resent us too? — Don’t answer that. How could I be so obtuse! Forget everything I just said. Go ahead, I don’t care who you hire. ——— Love is a trap! And I’m just a shackle on your ankles.”

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