“I want to punch Sam-I-Am in the dick.”
This is what Jaime said to me a few nights ago as I perched over her growing bump and read from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” a childhood favorite of mine that I purchased earlier that day. I have been reading to her stomach–to our son–for the last few weeks after the baby books informed me that he could begin hearing noises from the outside world within the womb. (Normally, the books are full of bad news, harshing my pregnancy mellow with stories about episiotomies and gestational diabetes, so knowing somewhere in there the baby could hear my muffled drawl, like Charlie Brown’s teacher, makes me believe there’s a silver lining to all this pregnancy stuff, besides, you know, having a kid.)
These moments where I read to the bump just before bed have helped me feel a connection with a baby that only Jaime can tell actually exists. Words were something I came to love through doing crosswords with my grandmother when I was a child, so being able to share this love of language with my son before he’s even born helps me understand what I see my role being in his early life, chiefly a saturater, soaking the spongey confines of his ever-developing brain with knowledge and information–and a tolerance for eggs of all colors and nationalities.
Without Dr. Seuss, I only know my son through his effects on my wife, mainly vomiting, intense cravings for Doritos and ice cream, and “pregnancy rage,” which is what had her threatening Sam-I-Am’s dick, interrupting my bonding moment with the baby to right the overbearing annoyances of a character in a children’s book written more than 50 years ago.
“You know it’s just a book, right?” I asked Jaime.
“But why doesn’t Sam-I-Am just leave him alone?”
I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere, so I kept reading, making direct eye contact with Jaime’s innie-becoming-an-outie, as if just below her belly button the baby was intently listening and eagerly wondering, “Does Sam-I-Am ever get him to eat green eggs and ham?”
Pregnancy rage is a side-effect of pregnancy that I’m learning to manage. A few months ago, I took it personally when Jaime would grill me up like Deebo from “Friday” and spew the kind of threats you’d assume would be the precursor to a prison shanking. I’ve even considered taping phone books to my torso for protection from an oncoming blade, but we don’t get the Yellow Pages anymore because we’re on that “opt-out” list. I guess phone books are useless until you fear a woman that points at her stomach and yells, “You did this to me!” with a twinkle of crazy in her eye.
But recently, I’ve begun accepting that some days she’ll tell me I’m great (I’ll cherish the moment she said those words forever actually.) and others she’ll growl at me and say, “I hate your stupid ass-face.” (I try to forget these moments, but they happen all too often.)
So, I was mentally prepared for the rage last weekend when Jaime and I, along with the rest of her family, were trying to clean out her grandmother’s garage–an experience, if described as a reality TV show pitch, I’d sum up as “Hoarders” meets “Jersey Shore” and not because grandma had bronzer by the barrel but because I feared Jaime was going to get all Ronnie on her.
An hour into the clean-up, which was going quickly as Jaime directed me to carry and place all the heavy stuff in piles to keep or not keep while she took inventory of the hoard, Grandma came out to the garage and began questioning the most obvious not-keep stuff, like a folding table that looked like it barely survived a bear attack (“Someone could eat on that table…); a frayed extension cord just waiting to start a house fire (Someone could use that extension cord…”; and a pile of boxes I broke down and put in the recycling. (“Someone could put something in those boxes…”). This went on for awhile (“Grandma, the table is fucked.”; “Grandma, you shouldn’t even use this extension cord.”; “Grandma, what are you doing in the recycling bin?”), but it didn’t take long for Jaime to go from the calm-speaking Dr. Zasio of “Hoarders” to Dr. Dre back in his N.W.A. days. I could see the progression of the pregnancy rage on her face, going from warm and understanding to unfashionably frustrated to flesh-searing laser beams shooting from her eyes. She finally admitted she needed to cool off, so we left for a bit.
“What the fuck is my grandma’s problem?” Jaime asked as we drove away.
After a long talk with Grandma, we were able to clean up the garage to a point, mainly due to Jaime’s uninhibited pregnancy rage permitting her to say things no one would ever say to anyone’s Grandma–even if you were robbing one for her change purse–but we didn’t get as much done as we could have.
On the drive home, I, in my least judgmental voice, asked Jaime if she thought she was too harsh.
“I don’t give a shit. I’m right,” Jaime snapped back.
Thankfully, we only have a few months left–and I know how to defend myself.