Death becomes your companion when you pop a bun. It lurks around outlets, it seeps through the water in the tub, it creeps under the tangled blanket in the crib, it hides in the slightly too large bite of nectarine, it nestles with the germs that are alarmingly invisible. It is always one step ahead of your baby-proofing and one step behind your half-assed job of it. Last night after struggling with a very fussy bun and counting the minutes before bedtime, I sent my husband off to give the bun a bath. We've done it together a million times, and we enjoy the family wet t-shirt contest that results. But last night I left my husband to his own devices as I cleaned up the Chernobyl of dinner, and thought it would be a nice male bonding experience.
After a few minutes I went back to check the progress. My husband was just rinsing the bun's hair, who was slightly cross about the whole affair. The furrow in my husband's brow indicated a little distress. I assumed that the fussiness from dinner had bled into what is usually an enjoyable event.
"How'd it go?" I asked.
"It could have been better," he replied, looking exasperated as I swaddled the bun in a towel.
"Is it your back?"
He looked guiltily around for a minute. "Yea. It's pretty bad." He was unusually sheepish. "But I'm just not very good at giving him a bath."
"You're fine," I said. "What was the problem? Was he still fussing?"
"I'm afraid he's going to die," he admitted.
I understood completely. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't envision his death with some sort of horrible clarity. Usually not very seriously, but it seems to color everything I do. And truthfully, it's never very far off. Yesterday as I was making soup and letting the bun skooch across the floor to clean the dust kitties, he made his way around the corner from the stove. And just as I arrived to investigate, he was sticking his fingers in what would have been the electrical socket were it not protected by a swivel head specifically to deter baby fingers.
"I'm afraid he's going to die while he's in the tub, so I rush through it, and it's not very fun."
"He's not going to die while you're there," I promised. "You're not going to leave him, you're not even going to turn away for more than a towel, so he won't die. The bath is fun," I reassured.
"I know," he said, but didn't seem convinced.
We all ponder our own mortality; having a bun is about pondering someone else's. Which on the one hand is extremely stressful, but on the other is a nice testament to our ability to love unconditionally.
And it makes dinner a daring high wire act, every morsel of food a potential choke hazard, which is pretty exciting when you get right down to it.