Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Ice Age

One of C’s hobbies is to put various objects in a tub of water and place that tub in the freezer to see the object inside a block of ice. Currently in our freezer, among the fishsticks, Tanqueray and ice cream, is a little doomed man on a plastic motorcycle. I'm not sure what he wishes to learn from this, if anything. I suppose I'm hoping he's learning something from it - the various properties of water and ice or the time it takes to turn one into the other - and not simply taking up room that could best be used for yet another pint of ice cream. I'm also hoping he sticks with small toys and that I don't open the door one day to find the face of a neighborhood cat staring back at me. In the past I've found frozen dinosaurs, Scooby-Doo, rocks, a superball and a Lego. It's not always in the freezer, however, where I first come upon these things. Often times they're half thawed on the counter, condensation pooling around the tub and dripping to the floor where I step in the puddle with sock feet. And more than once I've come across him sucking on the block of ice, freed from its mold, which seems gross to me but I guess it's the only way to get to the chewy action figure center.

Ice chewing is an event around our house lately as Kristy is pregnant with number four and, for some reason, craves ice. She may as well crave dragging her nails down a chalkboard or sliding a fork across a dinner plate as far as I’m concerned. The chewing, it never ceases. And then one or all of the three kids gets in on the act and it makes me feel like my head will explode. But my wife is carrying our child and soon that child will come out, and it’s that “coming out” that keeps us, as fathers, as by-standers, from complaining too loudly about what pains us. There are men out there, single men, men with no responsibilities save a pet and a cable bill, who still think that women are the weaker sex. These men have never witnessed childbirth. I have witnessed childbirth. I witnessed it three times from a stool situated at the head of the bed because that was as far away from the pain as I was allowed to be. I offered her ice chips then and it frightens me now to think of her response. I’m not even sure those were real curse words.

Ice. It keeps our perishables from perishing. We play on it at the same time we fear it. It keeps 8-year-old boys entertained and they say it eases the pain, and if chewing on ice helps Kristy get through this pregnancy then so be it. And if the din of chewing isn’t enough to drive me insane, then there is always the vision of the tiny plastic man, on his useless little motorcycle, whose pleas go unheard beneath all the crunching in the house.