My father’s become a giant baby. That’s not a metaphor.
Right now we’re gathering old bed sheets as swaddling. Turning jungle gyms into cribs. Swimming pool inner tubes to pacifiers. Should hold him till his next growth spurt, but you never know. My brother’s been taking off work just to change his diapers. Each load’s a couple shovels full.
He’s been teething on bald tires, babbling insensate and thrashing branches off trees. I’ve been trying to get him to say his new first word, but I’ve had no such luck.
On Saturday nights I load him into the back of a rented pickup and revisit old haunts. Last week was fishing at Busse Lake. Made a game of jiggling babyfat with mudstomps that sent up ripples. He swallowed a walleye whole, along with my pole. We don’t fish much anymore.
Doctor has terms. Physical abreaction. Recursive physiognomy. Maladaptive hyperthyroidic temporal stasis and/or reversal. Says he might go back to normal, or it might be terminal. Only time will tell.
Responds to nostalgic stimuli. Give him a keg and he’ll crack it open canwise, plop down right where his treetrunk babylegs stand and guzzle freely. Start screaming at you too, but it’s only babbling for now. Who knows what the future will bring.
Keeps me up most nights with his crying. I live down the street. Rattles jungle gym crib bars till I coo and shush and burp, which requires boxing gloves and some well-placed spinal jabs. Cross. Uppercut. One two. Haymaker. Barely shakes him. Used to shake me.
Show him VHS home movies and disposables sometimes. Have conversations like we used to, with baby silence to swap out the adult kind. I tell him he’s a fuck and he needs to stop growing. He laughs when I say fuck. Latent memory.
We’ve looked at homes. Most facilities are wanting, so they say. Not that they wouldn’t love to have him, but they’re just… wanting.
I’ve weighed the options. Adoption wouldn’t be too bad. There’s got to be someone out there who wants a sixty-seven-year-old giant baby. I’ll troll forums.
* * *
Something in him knew. Gave me a look as I fit him into his parachute onesie. Wasn’t a hint of baby in that look. A man’s look. Even opened his mouth to say something. Thought better of it, or else didn’t think at all.
* * *
Gave him a party before the adoption. Gallons of Gerber. Fridge-sized cake. Party hat that could double as a traffic cone. Couldn’t call him Dad. He was Baby. Baby he was when I signed him over, and Baby he is now. Just Baby.
Lot of space now. Plenty space.
Quiet, too. Plenty quiet.