A New Dad Learns the Ropes

There was so much I had to get used to as a new dad, diaper changing and long hours being chief among them. But they weren’t the only things, mind you. I also had to learn the entire baby lexicon. Suddenly my world was littered with new words and products I had yet to master and often confused.

Like the glider and the bouncy seat. They look identical to one another—a combination between a tiny basinet and a car seat—but they perform different tasks. With a flip of a switch, a glider actually moves your baby gently to and fro, while a bouncy seat provides subtle vibration.

We had three gliders and three bouncy seats and all six of those things were in the keeping room, the room of the house which quickly became Triplet Central. The gliders served as the babies’ beds at night, and the bouncy seats were used during the day.

Once I finally understood the distinction between the bouncy seat and the glider, the introduction of the Johnny Jump Up messed everything up, as I went on to confuse it with the bouncy seat. After all, the Johnny Jump Up is a combination of an infant seat and a bungee cord that hangs from the underside of a doorway and allows an infant to jump. Call me crazy, but that seems like more of a bouncy seat than the actual bouncy seat does.

Then there were all the clothes. Whenever Caroline handed me something to put on the boys, I often thought she’d accidentally given me something of Kirby’s (the sole girl triplet).

“Honey,” I said one night while holding up a gown I was given for Sam, “I think I have Kirby’s outfit.”

“No you don’t.”

“Please tell me this isn’t made for a boy,” I pleaded while pointing to what looked like a tiny Tooth Fairy costume.


“It most certainly is made for a boy. It’s Sam’s gown.”

“Honey, we can’t be dressing him in this.”

“And why not?” asked Caroline.

“Well, for starters, it’s a gown. He’s gonna get ridiculed by all the other infant boys whose parents have the sense to not  dress their sons in gowns. Where’d you get it?” I asked.

“Crenshaw’s,” she answered, referring to a high-end children’s boutique in town.

“Did it come with a complimentary ass-kicking?”

The bad situation got even worse after reading the label on the inside. I wasn’t just dressing my firstborn male in a gown; I was also dressing him in a gown manufactured by a company called “Kissy Kissy.”

More like “Un uh, Un uh,” if you ask me, but sadly, I had no voice in the matter.

It turned out that I had more problems with the clothing than just the emasculating fashion and brand name. They were also hard to put on—particularly the shirts. In those first weeks, the babies were so frighteningly small that each time I pulled their little hands through the sleeves, I was scared to death I’d hurt their frail arms or accidentally snap off one of their tiny fingers.

And once all the clothing was on, there was another obstacle I had to face—microscopically small snaps. You needed elf fingers just to line them up right so they’d actually snap the clothing secure, as designed. But at least they were easier than the buttons. Outfits with buttons doubled my dress time.

Now that Luke’s on board, things have gotten a lot easier (though I still struggle with those damn buttons). And I’m proud to say that all the baby lexicon business no longer throws me for a loop. It turns out that my second go-round on this baby business has been a lot easier than the first, and I don’t think it’s because we had triplets last time.

Nope. I think it’s because once you finally learn the lay of the land that comes with babies, it stays with you. I find myself remembering so many things that I hadn’t thought of one single time since the triplets were babies.

And I think that’s because caring for a baby is like riding a bike. Once you get it down, you’ll always remember how.

(And you’ll always still be kinda bummed about the gown business, too.)

Read more from John Cave Osborne on his personal blog which he calls (get this) or feel free to stalk him on Facebook and or Twitter.

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