I had children in the eighties, a simpler time. Cell phones were the size of lunchboxes. Ronald Reagan hadn’t been deified yet. Georgia had but two area codes.
In the 1980s, I would put my crabby babies into their cribs, roll them on their stomachs, turn on the baby monitor and fetch myself an adult beverage in another room. Turns out, they’re lucky to have survived infancy. Put a baby on his stomach now for any length of time, and you could see the Department of Family and Children’s Services at your door.
In the 1980s, hospitals housed my newborn babies in plastic bassinets tagged with hand-written labels. As poultry-sized pinkish bits of squirming flesh, they were somewhat interchangeable in a crowded nursery. And apparently babies got mixed up periodically — we’d read (and delivered) the shocking reports — as moms and dads unwittingly exited hospitals with somebody else’s offspring. Oopsie.
Not now. As soon as Clint was born on Election Day 2010, he was tagged with an infant-sized ankle bracelet, house-arrest style. A similar one was affixed to the wife. When the two were in close proximity, the nurses station recorded it electronically.
On a couple of occasions, the bracelet slipped off the tiny ankle of Clint. Somehow the nurses knew, and would come running into our hospital room to clamp it back into place. “The hospital goes on lockdown when it comes off,” one of them explained, straight-faced. “The doors literally lock. Nobody can leave.” I don’t entirely believe that, but I suspect there’s a measure of truth in the assertion.
I also wore a plastic wristband. On the couple of occasion where I took possession of Clint from the hospital nursery, the number on my wristband got checked first. It had to match the number on a plastic wristband worn by Clint.
At one point, I casually exited the threshold of Jez’s hospital room holding Clint. A nurse immediately appeared in the hallway. “Don’t you ever carry the baby out of the room in your arms. Until your wife checks out, it’s not allowed.” She was heart-attack serious.
They were much more casual about it in the eighties. Were it not for convincing family traits, my 20-something kids could plausibly be imposters.
Meantime, I’m liking this Lojack thing on an offspring. I suspect there are uses that would extend for another eighteen years.