So to pass the time, I have a story I’ve been meaning to tell you. It’s fitting to tell today, see if you can guess why before I finish. Way back in the fall/winter of 2007, I had been putting up with a lot of flak from Karen. I heard more variations of “when can we have a baby?” than any man should ever have to put up with. There were subtle hints, there were obvious nags, there were questions upon questions, and there were lots of pokes and prods in front of friends and strangers alike. It was relentless and bordering on annoying. We were in the middle of planning our Belizean wedding, for crying out loud. The last thing I wanted to do was think about babies!
But, as anyone who knows me knows – if you want me to pay attention to something, you either put it to a beat, put it on sale or put a Toronto Maple Leafs logo on it. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, and that’s how I found myself in Winners one day while shopping for Christmas presents, looking in the bargain bin at my first onesie set. It was a gleaming, beautiful box, housing a Toronto Maple Leafs onesie with matching hat and booties – for only $8. Total score! I knew if I brought this home, she would see that I did want kids (just not now) and would maybe back off a bit from the questions (nagging) and the prodding (nagging). I happily bought it and beamed the whole way home at my luck and brilliance.
I thought about sitting on it for awhile, maybe turning it into a cute Christmas gift that we could unwrap together, or even just hiding it away to be pulled out in the future sometime when I really messed something up (or maybe when Mercury was in retrograde next?). By the time I got home, though, my excitement and pride were bubbling up so strongly that there was no way I could sit on it. I was like a kid with a new toy, I think I even had it out of my backpack as I was coming in through the front door.
“Hey babe! Look what I got at Winners today!”
“Oh no, you bought something for yourself again? Christmas is right around the corner, why do you do this to me? There won’t be anything left that I can get you as a present! I thought we talked about this!”
“No, no, no! Not for me, for us…sort of. For someone we haven’t met yet. Check it out!”
“What the hell is that?? Why did you buy baby clothes?”
“Isn’t it cool? It’s a Leafs onesie! It was on sale!”
“No, it’s not cool. Why did you buy it now? We don’t have a baby. What are we supposed to do with that?”
“I don’t know, we can put it away until we have one. It was on sale, I couldn’t say no.”
“No, you never can, can you?”
“Seriously, babe, it’s cute. C’mon, it has little booties and a hat that matches…”
“Yeah, I see the booties and the hat. Get that away from me. I’m not in the mood to look at that right now.”
“But you said you wanted -”
“I know what I said.”
“I thought you would like it. It shows that I’m committed to the plan.”
“Let’s just get married first, OK?”
And so it was. My little Leafs Onesie set brought a bit of reality to the idea of having babies, and it would be just the thing to keep Karen’s persistence at bay for the next year or so. It was put away into her hope chest and would stay hidden for the next two and a half years. It was eight bucks very well spent, and I often thought of it sitting in there, waiting for our little boy or girl to come into the world and don the Blue and White for themselves. It was pretty exciting.
And when our little Banana became a Nyana, I didn’t hesitate at all in imagining how adorable she would look in it on gamedays watching some Leafs hockey with Dad. I pulled it out of Karen’s hope chest myself and added it to her ever-changing wardrobe. Now we just had to wait until she could fit into it. Except, as her condition progressed, I knew any gamedays would have to come streaming through the laptop, right to her room. Not a problem, I can do that. As she grew, we kept sifting through her clothes and I kept an eye on it, waiting for her to grow into it, always making sure it was being considered with every growth spurt. Almost two months ago, it finally became time. It was still a little big, but it has short sleeves – it can work. We can just get her in it and take a picture and everyone will be happy, yes? Hahaha.
No. I picked a time when she was happy and funtimes, but as soon as I slid her in it, BAM. Tears. Crying. Upsetness and awful. It was terrible, my heart sank, I started trying to figure out what it could be but she literally went from happy to horrid as soon as I did the last snap up. She was starting to desat, what the hell? So, I undid the onesie. I pulled it off, and let her breathe. Instantaneous recovery. I kid you not. It was a crushing blow. I put her in something pretty and put the Leafs Onesie away.
Two weeks go by, she’s a slight hair bigger than a bit ago, so I decide to try again. After all, I don’t want to miss the window and find that she’s all of a sudden too big! So I picked a good Saturday when I could hang out for a long time, and Karen and I worked her into a nice playful mood. We hung out for a while, and then on a diaper change, we slid her out of her old sleeper and into the Leafs Onesie for a second time. BAM. What? Shut up! Yes, BAM. Tears. Crying. Upsetness and awful, second time in a row. Again, I held out, looked for anything else that might be bothering her. Ended up taking off the onesie, and again – instantaneous recovery.
I was torn apart. How can this be? There must be something in the material that she doesn’t like? We began to think that maybe because it was blue and not pink? How can it be that a 5 month old preemie can get so upset over an outfit that she chokes on it? It can’t be the Leaf Onesie, it just can’t! I wasn’t ready to give up but I put the outfit away. After all, she was still a bit small for it.
Then one day – one Saturday that I had decided to take off so that I could get some chores and errands done – Karen went in to the hospital on her own and showed me how it’s done. All I got was an email with a gorgeous picture of my cute little Princess Cheerleader, wearing her little – wearing our little – onesie. Happy as a clam, all wrapped up in a soft pink blankie, representing Leaf Nation like a good little preemie. I had missed it! I know Karen’s intentions were good – all she wanted was to give me a nice picture of my favourite little girl, all decked out in our colours for game day. The picture was gorgeous, it brought a tear to my eye with its perfection, but there was one thing missing. I had missed the first cry-free fitting of the onesie I had literally been waiting years to see her in! I couldn’t believe it! I must have sat and stared at that picture for hours that night. It’s still one of my favourites.
A week or two went by before I went for my own “3rd time’s the charm” fitting (even though it would technically be the 4th time), and I swear to you, I actually held my breath while I was dressing her. I kept up my best goofy faces and told her an endless string of compliments praising her beauty and intellect and before you know it, there she was. G’d up from the feet up, in the glorious Blue and White – and smiling. It was a pretty fantastic cuddle that day, and I was a pretty proud Papa. Finally, the Leafs Onesie was a success. Three years in the making, I finally saw that little onesie full of a happy baby. Since then, she hasn’t worn it again but she has proudly kept a gifted pink TML bib on her crib (except for surgery day – Mum took it off, afraid that she might receive inferior treatment if the surgeon saw that she was a Leaf Nation baby and I’m still conflicted on how I feel about that) and while it was up, the Leafs enjoyed a massively successful end of the season. There are other Leaf Onesies in her closet, but this one will obviously always have a special place with me…even though the one we already have that she’ll fit for next season? That one’s pink.
For those of you still curious about why today is a good day to tell this story – last night the Leafs got knocked out of the playoff race. They cannot make up the points in their remaining games to get into 8th place in their Conference, and so – for the 6th year in a row – they will not make the playoffs. Saturday is the last game of the season so maybe I’ll dress her in it one last time to watch it together. It’s against the Habs, so it will be good game for her first. She’ll be too big for it soon, and the Leafs Onesie will join the ranks of cute sentimental outfits in Nyana’s Closet of Fame, thus closing a long chapter in her early childhood. And then it will become a fine hand-me-down for the next little Brackett Leafer…
As for the Leafs, there’s always next year.