Yeah, Cop, You're Really Going To Fuck With An Overtired First-Time Father With A Newborn And A Grossly Overinflated Sense Of His Own Self-Importance?

Before Animal was born, sometimes people who had children said stuff along the lines of, "Get your sleep in now!" Like it was bankable or something. We were prepared that sleep would be hard to come by.

Another cliche you hear from new parents, or old parents advising new parents, is that when you have a newborn, you really get a sense of what a lack of sleep feels like.

I have to say that I feel like I understand what not sleeping really feels like. Sometimes when I was trying to do too much I'd go a week or longer staying up late, only sleeping for three, four or five hours, and then getting up early. I mean, I know that much.

Sure, you can "get by" on little sleep — it's not too difficult, really — but eventually you start to notice small changes. I find that I forget words, for example. So you'll talk to me and I'll say something along the lines of, "After I do the dishes, I'll be happy to take out the" — a long pause — "what's the word?" And you might try to help out: "Dog?" And I'll say, "No, no, we don't own a dog — the thing that has the bag with the receptacle thingy: Trash! I'll take out the trash." Or basically like that. And then you'll start to get short with your loved ones, maybe snap for no good reason — or should I say, a good reason, which is that you haven't slept.

All of which is to say that I felt like I understood that we would be tired. What I didn't expect was how much I didn't enjoy going to bed.

It's a subtle distinction. Being "tired" is one thing, but it's a completely different matter to look at your bed and think how unappealing it is to go there. It's less dispiriting than it is simply torturous.

And let's be clear — I'm not even the one doing all the heavy lifting. It's normal for Jen to get up every two or three hours to feed Animal for a half hour or longer. I was helping out at the beginning by keeping Animal upright for ten or fifteen minutes after he ate, but Jen thought about it and realized that all that did was keep two of us up all night, so eventually I went back to just changing the diapers when necessary. That's usually once a night. Which basically means that I've been sleeping for, say, three or four hour stretches for about a month or so.

I know it could be a lot worse — believe me, I know! — all I'm saying is that what used to look so nice and comforting (sleep) now is something I don't really look forward to.

For a while Jen kept the light on because it was hard for her to see what she was doing in the dark. That just made it feel like we were trying to sleep on a subway or something. Eventually I went down into the basement and dug out the night light that the old owner left and plugged that in. Big difference.

Kawama, Astoria, Queens

Once, a long time ago, I assumed that caring for a baby in the middle of the night would be sort of like getting up to go to the bathroom — like you drank too many beers and had to pee a bunch. Caring for a baby in the middle of the night is actually not very much like getting up to take a leak. That was disappointing.

Anyway, Jen realized a couple weeks into it that I am much more useful — and much less ornery — if I get a full night of sleep, or some approximation thereof. So when she sees me awake in the middle of the night, she'll scold me to go back to sleep. It's not always that easy to "just go back to sleep" though.

Last night, for example, I had one of those marathon sessions in my own head of something I can't quite figure out the word for. It's sort of like a revenge fantasy except that it's more masochistic and stupid — mostly because you only really indulge it late at night when you're trying to sleep.

Basically, a few weeks ago I read that disturbing article that told of people getting arrested for taking up more than one seat on the subway. The sense of it is that cops are taking advantage of the goofy subway laws that were passed back in 2004.

Christopher Hitchens wrote about these laws back when they were passed: "New York City is now the domain of the mediocre bureaucrat, of the inspector with too much time on his hands, of the anal-retentive cop with his nose in a rule book, of the snitch willing to drop a dime on a harmless fellow citizen, and of a mayor who is that most pathetic and annoying figure — the micro-megalomaniac."

Except it's worse than that. Some of the laws they passed were so asinine that you couldn't imagine anyone possibly enforcing them — taking up more than one seat on the subway, for example, seemed transparently calculated to target homeless people. Which is why the article was so disturbing — apparently cops are using that law in particular to get some easy collars in order to fill quotas. And they're not just handing out tickets — they're actually arresting people and sending them to jail. Horrible. And a reminder that Bloomberg's excesses aren't relatively harmless. But that's a different issue.

What I was busy keeping myself awake for was the idea that I'd be taking the subway with Animal and a bunch of bags — say, going to the airport, which was something Jen and I were just talking about, because when you have a newborn, getting to the airport is more difficult than you ever thought possible — and some jackass quota filler giving me a ticket for having a car seat on the seat next to me on the subway.

I vowed to have my camera available, so I could videotape the encounter. And I would film the arrest, and make it clear that the cop was arresting me for holding a baby, and that was ridiculous, and this would go on YouTube, etc., etc. If necessary, I would hand the camera to a fellow passenger. Or even encourage him or her to videotape it.

And yes, maybe I would go to jail. But I would make a stink about it. And we would get justice.

And I have no idea why this disturbed me so much at 4:30 in the morning.

Like I said, it's not really a revenge fantasy because I have nothing to revenge because nothing happened to me. Maybe it's like a pre-emptive revenge fantasy.

Like I said, idiotic. And of course I'm tired again today.

Posted: February 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: The Cult Of Domesticity | Tags: , , , ,