Robocopping - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Becoming a father in the last year, my world has obviously changed. I got thinking about that over the weekend as I listened to my wife chat with my nine-month-old daughter as she changed her diaper.
Tallulah (daughter) had been really fussy the past three or four days and Jess (wife) and I knew that something must be wrong. Tallulah is always so happy and calm, so we figured it must have been the teething process rearing its ugly head yet again.
Jess laid Tallulah down to change her diaper and Tallulah started crying. Jess immediately began to console our daughter, apologizing to her and conceding that she knew Tallulah still wished she was “Robocopping” around the house and not having her diaper changed.
So by now it should be obvious that I’ve written this story out of sequence.
For the previous half-hour or so, as Jess prepared food for Tallulah, using everything in the kitchen from pots and pans to blenders and coffee grinders, Tallulah was fussy and wasn’t comfortable in any position. Nothing was doing the trick, so I turned Tallulah around and was walking with her facing outwards, so it felt like she was floating on her own. Something about it reminded me of the 1987 film, Robocop (likely Peter Weller’s little face peeking out of a big machine body when he had his face shield up with Tallulah being the little peeking face and me as the big machine body). You know what happened next.
As I walked around with Tallulah with her facing outwards on my chest, I started making the distinctive (for anyone who has seen the movie) Robocop walking noise and she took to really enjoying the “whurrr/thump” of each heavily exaggerated step, despite the toll it was taking on my throat.
So, yes, it’s hard to think up a better way to describe what Tallulah and I were doing than Robocopping from one end of the house to the other. And she loved it. If I stopped to take a break, Tallulah would get excited and smile, figuring I was just taking a dramatic pause before getting back to the business of Robocopping with her.
It was hearing Jess talk about Robocopping that made think of all we’ve done and the lengths we’ve gone to in order to make Tallulah feel happy, comfortable and loved since she was born - not just through times when she has felt like she’s at war with sleep, her teeth and every other thing that must seem like a major inconvenience when you’re that age, but just to get her through the day.
My mom has often commented that having a young one in your life can make you feel like you’re being ridiculous the vast majority of the time. Since most of her interactions with Tallulah have been through FaceTime, she says that the goofy stuff she has done to make Tallulah smile or laugh must seem... a bit odd to say the least to someone on her side of the call. But, like she says, these are the kinds of things you do for your children. They may make you question your own sanity from time to time, but you do it to get through the day.
In the early days, when Jess was working to get Tallulah to sleep each night, she would recount her strategy to me the next morning. The sounds, holds and motions she would have to employ to do the trick were always changing, depending on the night and the mood of our daughter.
So, whether it’s Robocopping or any of the other silly tricks we’ve brought to the table in the last nine months, it seems like these kinds of ideas, spread out over a lifetime, equate to parenting, figured out one day at a time.