Having read much of the obligatory pre-birth literature, I was prepared for many of the possible behavioral changes in my wife. Hormonal fluctuation, post-partum malaise, and sleep deprivation were all cited as contributing factors to watch for in the days and months following the delivery.
What I was not prepared for was the onset of Worst-Case Scenario Syndrome (WCSS), a debilitating condition whereby a characteristically logical person finds themselves assuming that any situation involving their child will have a horrific outcome.
Normally, WCSS takes a milder form (don’t cross your eyes or they will get stuck like that, you’ll ruin your supper, etc..) but all too often it can intensify until you find yourself discussing the plot of a Sean Penn film. The signs tend to be gradual and in my wife’s case tended to involve common household accidents. For instance we had the following conversation about an ill-placed ottoman:
Her – Why is this ottoman pushed out?
Me – Sorry, I forgot to push it back after I got up.
Her – What if one of us is holding the baby, trips on it, and crushes his tiny body as a result of the subsequent loss of balance it caused!?
I am here to tell you that there is not an appropriate response to that hypothetical. Suddenly, commonplace laziness has created an unfathomable tragedy and “it would make me sad” will likely get you struck by a desk-lamp. These conjectural scenarios can be associated with anything; bath-time, misplaced laundry, or even improperly discarded candy wrappers.
All of this culminated at two o’clock in the morning a few nights ago when my wife shook me awake to inform me that our dog had been murdered by unknown assailants who had absconded with our infant son. When I groggily inquired as to how she arrived so readily at this canine homicide/amber alert explanation she pointed to the video monitor on our nightstand and said, “See! He isn’t there!”
After retrieving my glasses, I glanced at the receiver and noticed that I did not see the form of a sleeping baby. I also noticed that I was staring at a very pixelated close-up of the crib mattress indicating that the camera has fallen from its mount. When I explained this to her in order allay her fears, I got the feeling that instead of calming her down I had simply given her a reason to believe the perpetrators were even cleverer than she had originally suspected.
Walking past our still-breathing dog and into the nursery, I found our son sound asleep and the camera face down on the mattress. Returning it to its perch, I sauntered back to the bedroom and explained that there was no need to alert law enforcement. When I asked how she surmised our pet’s unfortunate end by staring at the video monitor, she explained that since the child had been taken without our knowledge the only explanation was that they had killed our dog first in order to escape undetected. It was at this point I decided to go back to sleep before she formed a conspiracy theory surrounding the relocated diaper genie.