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On The Ball

The weekend started with a literal bang here in the Baldwin household, as the nation of Taiwan attempted to kill me and my child. It was a little after ten on Friday evening, and I was trying to get The Squirrelly to sleep by holding him while bouncing up and down on an exercise ball in a darkened room. Then, just as he closed his eyes and started to breath deeply, the ball beneath us decided to embark on a new career as a big piece of ruptured plastic. One moment we're merrily boinging up and down, the next we're laying there with dazed looks on our faces, I sprawled cockeyed against the wall, The Squirrelly several feet away on his back, looking like two guys waking up on the morning after a particularly enjoyable bachelor party.

While I lay there wondering what the hell had happened, The Squirrelly leapt into action, quickly inhaling all of the oxygen in the room and expelling it in the form of a banshee-deafening wail. This was, of course, followed mamaseconds later by The Queen charging into the room (though she had doubtlessly already been mobilized by the sound of a small explosion emanating from our room). She saw The Squirrelly on the ground, bellowed "DID YOU DROP THE BABY?!!," and then stabbed me in the heart with a screwdriver. Or, at least, she would have, if she had been in possession of a screwdriver, and if I hadn't hastily gestured towards the limp and damp remains of the ball to justify my apparent decision to lounge nonchalantly in the corner of the room while the kid lay on the floor screaming.

The casualties of the calamity were as follows: one red mark on The Squirrelly's noggin, one aching tailbone on papa's hindquarters, and a lot of anxiety for The Queen, who spent the remainder of the evening looking up "brain injuries" in The Baby Book (while I repeatedly pointed out that (a) the baby had not been "dropped on its head," as some spouses in the household were alleging -- he had merely tumbled out of my arms after I hit the floor -- and (b) I don't see anyone looking up "Ass, broken" in The Husband Book, so what say we spread the sympathy around a little bit, hey?).

Later, reading the fine print on the body ball box, we discovered the true culprit: the Taiwanese, who apparently sanction the manufacture of shoddy goods within their borders. Or maybe they encourage it, and intend to seize control of our nation after wiping out an entire generation of American babies (and daddies!) through the export of defective "Gaiam Balance Balls." America, remain vigilant!

Actually, there is another possibility. In the childcare classes we took prior to the birth, the teacher spoke about the absolutely necessity of a "body ball" to sooth cranky infants. When someone asked if the balls ever pop, the midwife said, oh no, that could never happen, because a typical ball has a burst weight of 800 pounds, at which point I loudly guffawed (because, c'mon: "burst weight" is funny) and the teacher looked a little irked. So I may have been on the receiving end of some midwifey fertility goddess hex. Wouldn't be the first time.

Anyway, you'll be glad to know that there was no long-term damage to either the top end of baby or the bottom end of daddy. And the very next day I bought a ball with burst weight of 1000 lbs., taking pains to select a model that had been made in China. TAKE THAT TAIWAN!!!

Appropo of nothing, here's Louie Cat traipsing through a Squirrelly photoshoot:

Posted on June 28, 2004 to Favorite Posts, The Squirrelly



By the way, saw this bread at the market and thought of you. Well the Squirrelly actually.

Posted by: Duane on June 28, 2004 4:43 PM

A toilet wouldn't burst like that, even with the seat down. But let's not get into the whole toilet seat thing.

Posted by: Dave on June 28, 2004 5:40 PM

I am not nearly 800lbs (although there are days it feels that way).
I had the same thing happen to me but while I was doing a sort of push up thing. I promptly threw the thing out the back door and nursed a sore chin.

It happens

Posted by: Terri on June 28, 2004 6:05 PM

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Posted by: Elsa on June 28, 2004 6:25 PM

Early in the story, I was thinking, hmmm, the big ball as an aid to get the kid to sleep? Sounded good - in theory. If I can find a 'merican-made one, I just might give it a try.

Posted by: Dave on June 28, 2004 7:04 PM

That baby is so cute I thing he deserves a rocking chair.

Posted by: ellen on June 28, 2004 9:31 PM

I can SOOOOO feel your pain!

I recently took my 6.5 month old son into town for an errand and had to take a bus home again. Our bus system does not allow for strollers to be brought on the bus – rather they must be stored in an underneath compartment for the duration of the ride.

The newer buses have pnuematic doors which lift easily and VERTICALLY! The older buses have difficult to manage doors which (much to my horror!) swing out horizontally – which if you are not expecting this can LITERALLY knock you off your feet!

At least your landing on your backside happened in the privacy of your own home! When the door swung open and sent both the baby and I flying I had the wonderful (note the dripping sarcasm here) experience of being in a VERY public place, with a large group of total strangers who shared the Queen's initial conviction that I had dropped my baby on his head (and on purpose, no less)!

If you can imagine the Queen's rage directed at you by about 10 total strangers, and in a foreign language to boot, you are starting to share in my parallel universe....

Fortunately, once the stunned spectators regained their composure they helped me up.

Happily neither one of us was seriously injured (unless of course, you count the considerable injury to my pride!). :-)

Posted by: Zahava on June 29, 2004 4:40 AM

Squirelly is gorgeous! I give you massive credit (coming from a mother of two boys, ages four and two) for putting your little dude to bed.

Accidents happen. Oh, and a good LaZboy has always done the trick in my house :)

Posted by: Trish on June 29, 2004 5:57 AM

The midwife suggested a big, bouncy ball to sit/bounce on to ease the baby to sleep? Oh, c'mon, it just sounds like a set-up for something like this to happen! :-) Go for a rocking chair--preferably the gliding sort.

"mamasecond"!! Excellent.

Posted by: misty on June 29, 2004 6:39 AM

My God you're funny. And your baby is edible he's so gorgeous. Thanks for making me laugh.

Posted by: Tracy on June 29, 2004 7:08 AM

Great story and I'm glad to see everyone made it out ok. However, I think you left something out of it...
"hastily gestured towards the limp and damp remains of the ball"

Why was the ball damp?

Posted by: Crash on June 29, 2004 9:35 AM

Stuff that explodes is *always* damp afterwards. It's a physical law!

(No, really: Try it out with a balloon sometime.)

Good tracking on Squirrelly's part for the photo shoot.

Posted by: Carny Asada on June 29, 2004 9:49 AM

My mom's dog tried something similar to get to me and my son (3-months old). The dog dug a hole next to the sidewalk in the back yard, leaving a huge pile of dirt on the sidewalk. It then rained on that dirt, according to the dog's well-crafted plan. I then tried to walk across that sidewalk holding my infant son in my arms. I slipped and fell. I kept the baby from hitting the concrete, but the contortions that I had to go through made me sore for week.

Damn dog.

Since my son's birth (prior to this tumble), I have had three seperate dreams/nighmares of dropping him. Do you all have these?

Posted by: Jason on June 29, 2004 11:13 AM

This happened when my son was 6 months. We were without vehicle, so were walking to the store. I had my son strapped to my chest (an older version of DJBlurb's Baby Bjorn, only reversed so baby faces dad). The store was expanding and had dug a trench completely around the front of the store for new footings. 6 feet deep, 2 feet wide. The ramp crossing this new moat was inconveniently placed, so I thought I would just step over it - after all, it was only 2 feet wide. As I extended my right foot over the chasm, my left foot slid off of the edge, and down I go into the trench. somehow, I managed to twist so that I landed on my back, so my son was unhurt - just confused. My wife was a few steps behind us. After she checked that the baby was okay, she sat down and laughed her ass off. She said it looked just like a cartoon. One moment I was there, the next I was gone and there was a cloud of dust. I handed the baby up, and a few guys pulled me out. I had a bit of a limp, but we completed the shopping and went home. The next day, my ankle was swollen and it turned out I had cracked an ankle bone. I had to wear a shin-toe splint and hop around on crutches for 6 weeks. This still makes my wife laugh - 18 years later.

Posted by: Bob on June 29, 2004 11:21 AM

I was carrying my grand-son and stepped on a pile of magazines on the floor. They were the slick, glossy type that you can't pile too high cause they like to slide around, and slide they did. So here I am sliding around the room with my wife, Grandma, watching in horror as I juggle said child. I land in a split, crash my arm through a glass table top, and the baby rolls out of my arms and falls maybe 6 inches and hits carpet sitting on his bum. Of course with all of the commotion and the little jolt the little tyke lets his displeasure be known.

So here I, bleeding profusely, with torn groin ligaments, after having slipped on magazines (my wife's by the way) and feeling rather heroic since the baby didn't suffer any harm and what's the first thing out of my wife's mouth?


...a break, somewhere, can I get a break please?

Posted by: Marcus on June 29, 2004 11:40 AM

I was babysitting my baby nephew (Nuri) when he was about 6 mo. old. I was sitting on the railing of the porch bouncing him and pointing out the kitty in the yard to get him to stop crying. (I bet you can see where this is going) Well, i lose my grip and tumble down to the ground, holding Nuri. (This was a FIRST story porch, thank god) He was jolted and screamed and cried like he had been dropped from an airplane. But a bottle of milk later he was okay. And my sister never found out. Phew.

Posted by: Allison on June 29, 2004 12:53 PM

I actually went to a site that specializes in stuff to help people recover from brain injuries and bought a burst-proof ball. It's supposed to gently ooze out the air, I guess. now I'm glad! I find enough ways to injure myself around the house.

Posted by: patita on June 29, 2004 1:01 PM

I read this at work and it made me guffaw. I guffawed at work! People are staring, but I don't care. My coworkerlikes to sit on one of those balls at his desk. They do look terribly comfy, but you've made me very weary!

Posted by: sam on June 29, 2004 5:31 PM

I also have co-workers who like to sit on their balls at work.

Umm, okay. Anyway, I enjoyed the story.



Posted by: jr on June 29, 2004 9:25 PM

Hey, you tried to put him to sleep and maybe the little tyke weighed a bit more than you thought.

OK, I tried to be lighthearted about it but I have to face facts that reading these comments about baby mishaps freaks me out. C'mon people for us mothers a near miss is something we replay in our heads until the kid finishes law school, gets divorced and moves back in with us.

Actually, being the paranoid type the first thing I would have probably thought upon seeing my husband try that move was: What could go wrong?

Squirrely is SO cute and I hope your tush is feeling better.

Posted by: Miel on June 30, 2004 12:54 AM

Matthew -

Great post! I have it queued up for thisisbroken.com for July 8th.

-Mark Hurst

Posted by: Mark Hurst on June 30, 2004 7:44 AM

I was reading in a pregnancy book recently about the importance of (a) getting a big ball to sit on, and (b) making sure that the ball was "burst proof". My sister just bought me a kit that contains a ball, and I was wondering if said ball was, indeed burst-proof... and I thought, "well, how bad could it be if it broke?" NOW I KNOW. Horrifying! But still, I laughed so hard as I read your post that I cried. At work.

Posted by: Lori on June 30, 2004 11:34 AM

God, whatever you do don't let this get back to the White House. I can't take another war over exercise equipment of mass destruction!

Posted by: Sheryl on June 30, 2004 1:53 PM

I think the most amazing thing is how you can actually track the movement of the cat by following the gaze of the young fellow.

I was truly amazed by this infants ability to follow moving objects with his eyes.

Go kid!

Posted by: J. M. on July 1, 2004 8:27 AM

the Taiwanese, who apparently sanction the manufacture of shoddy goods within their *boarders*

Dude, I am never staying at a Taiwanese bed & breakfast.

Posted by: Vinny on July 1, 2004 6:40 PM

If, um, the Lord had wanted us to have big balls... this one is hard to get through. Okay, I'll just plough through the first line: If the Lord had wanted us to exercise our babies with big balls (still sounds wrong), He would have given us a gigantic third buttock, with a near-infinite burst weight.

Posted by: palinode on July 3, 2004 3:08 AM

I owe you one.


Posted by: Rob Cockerham on July 3, 2004 4:09 PM

Today our twins were resting in their Graco car seat "buckets" as we call them. My wife and I were having a typically tense afternoon of not napping (us)while the babies were not feeding but not napping either. Mostly they were fussing.

M'dear asked me to bring one of the babies closer to her, and I grabbed the bucket handle not noticing that it was not at its upmost, central position, but rather was back a notch or two, unbalancing the bucket. Well, I grabbed the handle and neatly rolled the baby right out the front of the car seat, head over tail. It was beautifully done, really, like we had practiced it.

There were pillows on the floor (new breastfeeding method--don't ask. And if you don't have twins, don't try to imagine, either.), the height fallen was only from the car seat as it was leaving the floor, and the baby fell softly and didn't even really cry.

The mom, however, saw all this full on, baby tumbling, nightmare coming true, husband revealed to be axe-murderer, and so on, and her heart stopped. Then, when she realized she had some lessons to impart she re-started her heart with a bang to tell me, among other advice, to "stop throwing the babies around." You will have no difficulty imagining the tone of voice or her volume.

On balance, throwing babies around is an unsound practice, and I agreed I should cut it way back.

Meanwhile, over the next few hours we had the first conversation ever in which the word "divorce" came up. And the first exchange in which I yelled as loud as my babies have done.

In the event, a poor evening's parenting.

This baby stuff is hard. I wish I felt as lighthearted about it all as most of the posters here do. I know someday it will all seem amusing but for now it just hurts.

Posted by: brendan on July 3, 2004 8:57 PM

Oh, so ridiculous that I did not mention how cute and dear Squirrely is, and how remarkable that string of pictures as he tracks the cat.
Cool stuff. Thanks.

Posted by: brendan on July 3, 2004 9:04 PM

Just reread your tale of bruised tails and came upon the word "mamaseconds", which upon first reading my mind translated to nanoseconds.


Just wanted to make sure no one else missed thatI

BTW, I blame you, Matt, for the milk splayed across my monitor and keyboard!

Posted by: mr. grooism on July 6, 2004 10:49 AM

I hate to “burst” your bubble, folks, but rocking chairs aren’t all they’re “cracked up” to be, either. Nor products made in the U.S.A. I was rocking my little squirrel in an old rocking chair pulled out of grandma’s garage when all of a sudden, the caning on the seat failed and I looked like a cartoon character jammed butt-first into a barrel, squirrel howling but safely being held above the wreckage of the chair. It took the Queen and the Queen Mum together to help me out of that circular wooden torture device. I had a sizable scrape all the way up my back, but, thankfully, no splinters.

I hardly need mention that all the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men couldn’t put rocking chair together again.

Posted by: Nils Jonsson on July 9, 2004 5:48 AM

I am laughing out loud as I read this and my two kids (who are in theory old enough to go to bed on their own) are looking at me from across the hall like their mom's gone nuts.

My friend's mom had not had a lot of experience with babies when she had hers. So she decided one day that a fun game the baby might like would be to get rolled up in a blanket and then have the blanket pulled, so the baby would be spun around. I suppose this might have been fun had it not been tried on a hardwood florr, where said spinning involved multiple knocks on the head. If it makes you feel better, the baby is now 24 years old and has no discernible brain damage.

What a beautiful baby you have!

Posted by: jen on July 10, 2004 5:29 PM

_@_v - didn't you know that taiwan is part of the vast babysmashing industrial complex?


Posted by: she-snailie on July 11, 2004 9:38 AM

The following quote by Nils Jonsson reminded me of the song "All the king's horses" by the rock band Petra:

"I hardly need mention that all the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men couldn’t put rocking chair together again.

Posted by: Nils Jonsson on July 9, 2004 05:48 AM"

Has Nils Jonsson's listening to Petra tunes lately?

Learn about Petra @ http://www.guidetopetra.com
Here's an idea: How to make a balence ball burst a little more tolerable: Mix up enuff Jell-O to fill the entire b-ball, fill the b-ball up with it while it's still liquid, then after it has set and cooled, it's ready. Note: A b-ball filled w/ Jell-O will be very heavy.
Now, if it bursts, you and your squirrel can have a Jell-O splat party! (You might wanna try this outdoorz)

Posted by: Petrafried on July 14, 2004 6:35 PM


Posted by: Anonymous on July 16, 2004 5:39 AM

Happy Ball gets his revenge for being sat on

Posted by: Mystyc on August 13, 2004 9:43 AM

I am a fitness specialist who utilizes ball exercises quite often (with no blow-outs thus far). I feel as though every one of my clients need to read this story not only for safety concerns but also for quality entertainment purposes. I haven't laughed this hard in years. Thanks!!!

Posted by: Dana on August 22, 2004 11:47 AM

Loved the story and absolutely LOVE that sweet baby face.....what a cutey!!!!

Your writing made me LOL....very funny...and that little babe is a doll!!!!!

Posted by: Tina on August 28, 2004 3:07 PM

A very interesting (and kinda funny) story and a very cute baby, but I don't see how Taiwan is in fault. It's not like things from China (or other countries, for that matter) never break... in fact, in my experience, products of China break more easily than products of any other major manufacturing country.

Posted by: Sirius on August 29, 2004 4:28 AM

This story is hilarious! I enjoy all the conversations, the stories involving The Queen, and anything relating to you and the Squirrelly. Thanks for making me laugh!

Posted by: Krista on September 14, 2004 5:10 PM