Everyone knows by now that we want a boy. Sarah recently gave one of her teachers a task that the teacher wasn’t interested in doing. The teacher grumbled, “I hope your baby is a girl.”
Sarah sighed. “I’ve already come to terms with it being a girl.”
“OK, then I hope it’s twins.”
When Sarah relayed this story to me, I didn’t understand the punchline. “What’s wrong with twins? And don’t we already know it’s just one baby?”
“How would we take care of two at once? We still don’t even know what to do with one.”
“It couldn’t be that much harder. People have twins all the time, don’t they?”
“No twins,” she said adamantly. “It’s twice the expenses.”
“I don’t want twins either, I’m just saying—“
Fine. No twins. But I still don’t get it.
* * *
A few years ago, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, said in interviews that she had all kinds of unexpected crying jags when she was pregnant. Didn’t bother her. Ms. Smith was of the opinion that crying was healthy and kept her in touch with her emotions. Most women agree, though others may feel that crying is a sign of stress, and that stress is inherently bad for the baby. (I say hogwash.) Either way, as the Fresh Prince surely found out, sometimes the tears come without warning and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. It helps when you’ve got your own wing of a 7,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills, but that’s beside the point.
Tonight, just after we finished dinner, Sarah announced she was in the mood for popcorn. Not microwave popcorn—she wanted to cook the stuff on a stove. The first batch she poured into the popper wouldn’t pop. Frustrated, she dumped it and started over with a new batch. Same deal. Another do-over. I was in the next room over, and when I heard some banging and swearing coming from the kitchen I decided to get out of the vicinity.
Thirty minutes later I happened to pass by the kitchen with a load of laundry, and there was Sarah, sobbing uncontrollably. As I moved in to give her a hug and ask what was wrong, I looked at the stove and realized that not a single kernel had popped.
I tried to console her. She didn’t want to be consoled.
I tried to make the popcorn myself. She didn’t want that either.
I tried to make her laugh, but she said it wasn’t funny.
All I could do was walk away and leave her alone. Fifteen minutes later, she came into the bedroom to help me fold laundry, as chipper as could be. No tears, no anger, no nothing. The popcorn was a distant memory; it was like the whole thing had never happened.
In the wild world of pregnancy, a man’s natural reaction, the reaction that historically has gotten us into the most trouble—ignoring the problem—sometimes turns out to be the only solution. And it only took me four months to figure it out. I wonder how long it took Will Smith.