When a baby gets his or her first teeth, it's thought of by many as a happy milestone in the life of your child. Well, with all due respect, those people are childless fools.
In reality, it's like an enemy army invading the neighborhood; chaos ensues. Your relatively peaceful household is disrupted by a couple of brave, white, vicious scouts hell-bent on making everyone miserable. They make their presence known about as subtly as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima. Because of this, I've come to name the two ambushers looking to take residence in my son's face Fat Man and Little Boy.
Their presence causes terror, noise and sorrow, some of which is also felt by the baby. It's like a mortar attack to your soul, only in a real mortar assault you're less likely to be covered in drool. Your baby will likely gnaw on his or her own hands like he's been kidnapped and attempting to chew through ropes. It's also probably not particularly welcome news to the lady that's breastfeeding.
Husbands do well to retreat to a more advantageous and friendly location, like Siberia. Unfortunately any attempts to go AWOL will be met with strict resistance by the superior officer in charge of milk and happiness.
It's a time fraught with peril. You think you've been suffering from lack of sleep before, only this will show you that those few hours you've been getting have been a luxury. So in that regard, it gives you great perspective. If things go back to normal, those meager hours will seem like days of peaceful slumber.
Calls to various dentists asking how much laughing gas is appropriate to give a four-month-old and if you can borrow a month's supply will be met with disgust and follow-up questions about your name and address, which are entirely unnecessary.
The only option seems to be infant Tylenol, which, given the proper dosage has about the same effect as rubbing a maple leaf on your baby's face. It'd be like if you accidentally severed your ankle and the doctor prescribed you a Flintstones vitamin (Barney-shaped, which, as everyone knows, is the least effective).
Some websites suggest massaging your baby's gums with your finger, which I found takes more courage than I possess. It's like a veterinarian suggesting to soothe your pet rattlesnake's PTSD you should trap it in a small room and make a lot of sudden movements. I don't even like reaching into a bowl of pancake batter to retrieve a dropped spoon.
Drooling quickly goes from the normal "Ew" to "A human person cannot possibly produce this much liquid. I think our baby is melting." Because of this I now dress my baby in two layers of clothes made entirely out of Sham-Wows. He is the most super-absorbent child in the history of the universe.
One of the only methods that has been soothing has been when he chews on my knuckle, though "soothing" is a strange term to be using when you're being sucked/gnawed on by what feels like a room temperature, three-month-old soggy pumpkin. The three-year-old finds this activity far more fascinating than it should be.
Three-year-old: "He's chewing on your finger."
Me: "I don't mind."
Three-year-old: "What if it comes off?"
Me: "I'd okay with it. Things are quiet. I have lots of other fingers."
Three-year-old: "Gross, daddy."
Me: "This coming from someone with her finger in her nose."
Me: "Your finger is still in your nose."
After these two invaders have made themselves at home there's only approximately 30 left to come. Of course, he was born during Shark Week, so who knows how many will appear. If they're all pointy like a shark, that'd be pretty awesome. Not for my wife, though.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via megaphone. You probably won't be heard over the wail. Follow him on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he'll send you his baby's drool, which is disgusting.