Through the Eyes of a Manny
He sighed, wiping his brow.
It was hard work, waiting was. Marissa had been in labor for over thirty-six hours, her longest labor yet, and he didn't know if he could make it much longer. Coffee and its wonderful, addictive side effects had long since expired, the kids were no longer interested in playing games with him to keep him energized, and the other adults that had been there waiting with him had fled to another room the day before. Yes, life wasn't easy for Seth Cohen, and, knowing that his brood of charges was about to be expanded by one more, it was simply a fact that he had to accept that life and his job were only going to get harder.
That's what happened when your adopted brother was a nymphomaniac... or so it seemed... and his wife had the uterus of a Partridge family matriarch. Four little girls in one household was insanity, and he was their manny. Now, granted, he loved his nieces. They were good kids, smart, and they enjoyed his company, but he was thankful that the Atwoods had agreed that baby number four would be their last no matter what the sex was. Too bad they thought they were getting a boy that... well, whenever the screaming red monkey decided to pop out, but he knew better.
Among other skills he had managed to pick up over the years, Seth had become adept at guessing, even predicting, a child's sex. There were no need for ultrasound machines, in his opinion, if he was around. Walking down the street, if he passed a woman who was expecting, he could just tell if she would be needing quick reflexes or not when it came to changing diapers. Despite his assertion that the bundle of joy his brother and sister-in-law were expecting was, indeed, another daughter, they had ignored him, gone out and purchased blue and green baby clothes, and they had even picked out names only for a boy.
Luckily, though, they had left decorating the nursery up to him. That was another skill he had tried turning his hand to and ended up being an expert at. If he ever decided to retire from the manny business, he would go into interior decorating, and, if he said so himself, Bobby Trendy would most definitely have some competition in the LA area. But, anyway, back to his impending niece. Ryan and Marissa had requested a masculine themed room, as if they feared his son would forget his sex if he was in something slightly feminine, but, knowing better than they did, he had chosen a palate of colors appropriate for a child born on Valentine's Day.
The entire nursery was an array of reds, pinks, and whites. There were hearts scattered around the large space, and he had even taken the time out of his busy life to make the baby a Seth Cohen custom piece of graphic art. True, compared to others it was quite tame. There were no scantily clad women or even NC-17 references, but it also wasn't entirely all lollipops and teddy bears. Instead, it was a broken heart. If nothing else, his youngest niece would never be able to say that her favorite uncle had not prepared her for her teenage years, but that's just what a manny did... among many, many other things.
Interrupting his thoughts, one of the twins stood in front of him and pulled at his pants leg. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust, including several blinks and even using his hands to hold his drooping eyelids open, but, eventually, he managed to tackle the difficult task of focusing his exhausted gaze, and, when he did, he discovered that it was McKenna.
"Yes, My Little Parenthetical Documentation?" That was his special nickname for her, one that she didn't quite understand yet, but, someday, when she realized that her initials were MLA, she'd realize what he had been talking about for all those years. "What can I do for you? Please don't tell me you have to go the bathroom again? I thought I cut you and your freaky mirror image off from the water fountain hours ago. Your blatters aren't fully developed yet, granted, but, surely, you don't have to pee again. Or is it a number two?" At the thought, he cringed. "If so, maybe we could fake an illness, get you admitted, and have the nurses take care of you. What do you say?"
His niece glared at him, but, instead of answering his rather confusing array of questions, she simply demanded to know, "how do they get the baby out of Mommy?"
"She has to sneeze," Seth responded immediately. Tricky McKenna thought she'd catch him off guard with her sex-ed questions he wasn't supposed to have to face for another dozen years or so, but he had been prepared for this since the day Marissa had dropped the dreaded b-bomb on him. "That's why it's taking so long. You know you just don't sneeze when you want to. It can take days between sneezes, months even."
"We're going to be here that long?"
"No, if she doesn't sneeze soon, the doctors will take matters into their own hands."
"And how will they do that, Uncle Seth," Ava piped in, wanting her share of the questions, too.
"Oh, that's easy," the manny replied. "They'll make her sniff pepper."
Finally Hadley joined their conversation. "Like you had us sniff pixie sticks that one time when we were bad?"
"You mean the time when you snuck into my apartment and stole my stash of emergency sugar. Yes," he glowered at his oldest niece. "It's the same idea."
"Technically," the precocious child corrected him, "it's my parents' apartment, so that means it's kind of our apartment, too," she explained, gesturing towards her identical sisters, "so, as your landlords, we had a right to go into your apartment."
"But you didn't have the right to steal my candy," Seth protested, annoyed with the fact that Hadley was waytoo smart for his own good. Not even in middle school yet and barely out of pullups, she could already talk circles around him, and that was saying quite a bit. In fact, before Hadley, he had ruled the roost in confusing cognitive patterns and beguiling verbal banter. Realizing he needed to nip her intelligence in the bud before it truly had a chance to blossom, he vowed to hide all her books so she couldn't read anymore.
"And how did the baby get in Mommy's tummy," McKenna brought the discussion at hand back to the birds and the bees, a very oddly designated euphemism if he did say so himself.
"Well, you see, she ate some baby seeds," the curly haired adult explained, looking pointedly at his nieces to drive home the mock sincerity of his words, "and then you're Daddy watered her, and, from those seeds, just like a weed in the backyard, a baby grew until the point that it was big enough to be sneezed out of your Mommy's bellybutton."
Ava's big blue eyes got extremely wide with fright. "Her bellybutton is going to be bursted?"
"It's burst not bursted, Miss Emergency Car Towing Service, and, no, not exactly. You see," Seth clarified her misconception of labor, snickering to himself at the very shocking idea that she would actually be confused on the subject, "the doctors make a tiny cut right in her bellybutton so there won't be a scar, because you know how bellybuttons have all those spiderweb like lines that grow out from their centers, and then they use these giant forceps, forks," he corrected himself, choosing another word when he noticed the three baffled expressions before him, "to stretch your Mommy's belly for the baby to fit through when she finally sneezes. It's all very complicated, so that's why we wait out here."
Unified, the three, already born, Atwood daughters commented, "oh," as if realization had suddenly taken root in their minds. Immediately, Seth, as their manny felt a burst of pride, both in them for their ability to follow his complicated thought processes and in himself for being such a good caretaker towards them.
"Are you the Atwoods," a female voice from behind the four of them asked.
Turning around, the only brunette in the room grinned at the newcomer, partly in welcome and partly because she was hot... even with her oddly dyed purple streaks of hair. "Sort of," he finally answered her question. "You see those very blonde, very blue eyed gentiles," he pointed towards the three little girls standing around him. "They would be Atwoods - their Atwoody looks fitting the nomenclature of their gentile name, but I am not an Atwood. I'm a Cohen, a very brown haired, brown eyed, half Jewish Cohen, but I'm with the Atwood party. What could we do for you?"
"I just wanted to stop in and inform you that Marissa has given birth to a healthy baby girl who weighed in at seven pounds, seven ounces and is exactly twenty inches long."
"Aw, she must be taking after her mother then," Seth quipped, quirking his lips in a friendly grin. "If she took after my brother, Ryan, the kid would have been only about a foot long. Height isn't exactly his forte."
The nurse nodded her head in acceptance to his statement. "As I see silence isn't yours."
"You're very astute."
"Well, I should get going," she pointed towards the exit of the waiting room. "I have another room of family members to greet with the good news, and then I have to get back to the happy parents so I can get their daughter's name. She can't remain Baby Girl Atwood forever."
"Although, compared to her sisters' names, she might wish she would have. However," he continued talking, stopping her from leaving, "there's no need for you to bother them. Let Marissa and Ryan rest. If they've worked half as hard as I have these past 36 hours, then they need some fortifying z's. I know what they're naming the little, pink Pillsbury Doughgirl - Venus Aphrodite."
"After the tennis player?"
Screwing his face up in confusion, Seth pondered out loud, "and which sporting event would that be? What color of balls do they use?"
The nurse was clearly past the point of no return. He had reeled her in like an expert bass fisherman... or, at least , how he imagined an expert bass fisherman would reel something or someone in. He hadn't ever really seen a bass before, and he'd never actually touched a fishing pole, but that wasn't relative to his current situation.
"Was that a joke?"
"No, not at all," he reassured her. "I know who Venus Williams is; she's always at the fashion shows, and her sister's the one who has all those cool commercials with the thingys that look like snow shoes but with handles."
"Right," the partly purple haired woman drawled out, agreeing with him, slightly.
"Actually, the kid's named after the Roman goddess of love and the Greek goddess of love. You know, when born on Valentine's Day, be festive."
"I actually came up with the name myself. Plus, I designed her nursery, too. There's this piece of graphic art that I made hanging up over her crib, and I painted her name on it... just in case she forgot what it was one night while she was waiting for someone to come and feed her."
For several quiet moments, the nurse stared at him before realization dawned and she grinned widely. "Oh, I get it! You're gay!"
"Happy, yes, to be meeting you; into men, gladly, no." Tilting his head in self-congratulations, the uncle of four stated, "I'm the manny."
"... as in male nanny?"
"So, she's not only sexy as hell and good looking, but she's also smart, too. This hospital found a goldmine when they hired you." Out of the corner of his, he could see his three oldest nieces bobbing their heads back and forth as they volleyed between him and the nurse, attempting, in vain, to follow their conversation. Pressing her, he held out his hand. "I'm Seth, and you are?"
"Alex," his purple haired future princess responded... well, she would be after he finished charming her scrubs off during the next few days that his sister-in-law would be in the hospital. Oh, how he suddenly loved the over achieving medical benefits an architect received nowadays. "Well, it was nice meeting you, Seth, but I really need to get back to work."
"No, you should stay, take a load off, meet the three gremlins beside me, or, on second thought, why don't you give me an hour. I'll call in some backup, leave them with the grand 'rents, and, then, I'll take you out for a wonderfully balanced hospital cafeteria dinner, my treat."
"As tempting as that sounds," the nurse attempted to decline, "I'm afraid it's against hospital policy for me to fraternize with the family members of the patients."
"She'll only be a patient for a few days," he reminded her, quickly learning to re-hate the over achieving medical benefits an architect received nowadays. "Then what's your excuse going to be? Just think about it. Clean out some more bed pans, attempt a conversation with an old man with dementia, and, by the time you come back here with an update on the kidlet, I'll suddenly appear more attractive to you. We'll share a bowl of pudding for dessert, and I can tell you all about how I came up with the idea to put a mini-fridge in the nursery so that after my sister-in-law pumps her chesticals for milk, she has a place to store it at night without having to go downstairs to the kitchen where she might see me in nothing but my underwear peering into her well-stocked freezer."
"Yeah," Seth shrugged, unembarrassed, "that tends to be my one and only bad habit."
"Your one and only, huh? I wouldn't have guessed."
"Well," he nodded his head in agreement, "it's nothing overly noticeable. I seem to have it under control now, but you should have met me as a teenager."
"Aw, the wonder of small miracles."
Plowing on, he ignored her snark while still managing to admire it. "Anyway, let me know about dinner. I'll be here... waiting."
Without a response, Alex walked out of the room.
Yes, it was difficult to be a manny. Not only did he have to watch and guide his now four young nieces, but he also was his brother and sister-in-law's personal live in interior decorator, a one discovery away from being famous graphic artist, a man a few curly brown hairs away from being as inventive as Einstein, and, to top it all off, he could even name children that weren't his. So what if Marissa and Ryan hadn't agreed to the name he had chosen for their fourth offspring? They had named three, and, the way he saw it, it was damn time for him to get a chance. So, Venus Aphrodite the baby would be, and she was just going to have to like it.
Seth Cohen had spoken, and he was not only her uncle, but he was also her manny, thank you very much. In his world, it was never a dull day, but he wouldn't trade it for anything... not even his future purple haired princess.