My Baby Has Been Calling The Psychic Hotline
I found out when I saw that our phone bill was $700. Exactly 42 calls had been made to the psychic hotline. Of course, I initially thought it was Dave and not our three-month old infant. He denied it and so I suspected he must be having an affair. I always think Dave is having an affair but finally here was some real evidence. Though whether this was evidence that he was asking the psychic about future liaisons or evidence that he was banging the psychic herself, I wasn’t quite sure.
Then one day when the baby was supposed to be asleep, I heard a voice coming from her room. I cracked open the door and peeked in to see my daughter in her crib gripping our cordless phone. Someone on speaker was saying “…and when you’re fifteen, you’ll have your first kiss.” I gasped, and the baby must have heard because she immediately shoved the phone under her blankie and pretended to be asleep. Shocked, I closed the door and pretended nothing had happened.
In the following days, I spied on my baby at every naptime and discovered that she called the psychic twice a day. Sometimes she asked what I thought were stupid questions, like “will I ever learn to read?” but sometimes she asked deeper, more philosophical questions (I mean, for a baby), like “when will I realize my destiny?” and “why do I cry for no discernible reason?” The psychic always answered in a calm, lilting voice, assuring my child that her life would be filled with happiness — and also a little sadness, but only enough so that she could truly appreciate the happy times. Upon hearing her future being foretold to her like a personalized prophetic bedtime story, my baby would coo contentedly, hang up the phone, and drift off to sleep.
I started worrying that knowing so much about her future was harmful to my daughter’s development. The baby books said nothing about psychic hotlines, but if too much screentime was unhealthy, talking to a psychic couldn’t possibly be good. And maybe this was selfish, but I wanted to be the one giving advice to my child. If she learned everything about her life from a telephone psychic, what would I have left to teach her? So I decided to confront my infant, and I showed her the phone bill. She blushed, and swore up and down that she didn’t know the calls cost any money at all. I was skeptical, since the psychic always reminded callers that conversations were $1.99 a minute, but then my baby reminded me that she was a baby and had no concept of money, or even numbers for that matter.
But you do comprehend the concept of your future and a desire to understand your place in it? I asked. Of course, replied my infant child. The longing to know what lies ahead is innate in everyone. Even in the womb I craved the knowledge of what was to come. Unfortunately in the womb there were no psychic hotlines, there was only amniotic fluid, which was delicious and life-giving but not life-foretelling. Out in the world, my future is only a phone call away! And I’ve learned so much. I now know that someday I will take walks in the rain, I will pet my first doggy, I will make friends and enemies and frenemies, and someday I will feel love. My psychic tells me all of this and it comforts and exhilarates me.
Don’t you already feel love for me? I asked, tears streaming down my face with the knowledge that I was missing the point. My baby looked up at me (she was laying on her back as she spoke, as she had not learned to sit up or even roll over). Oh Momma! She exclaimed. I just don’t have the ability to love yet. I feel a bond with you, and I know that you feed me and clothe me and rock me to sleep, and even that you love me, but I cannot love you in return, for I am only three months old. But soon, when my growing brain develops the capacity to understand love, I will love you with all of my heart. The psychic told me this to be true, and so I believe it.
Feeling comforted, I leaned over to kiss my daughter on the forehead. I worry though, about this psychic, I said. I’m afraid that by learning so much about your future, you’re losing your innocence. There should be some mystery left in your world. You have so much life left to live, let the rest of it remain a surprise! Even putting aside the $700 monthly phone bill (although we definitely can’t sustain that), you must stop these calls and start discovering things on your own. I will help you through it all.
My three-month old baby furrowed her brow and kicked her tiny feet in the air. She looked lost in thought, considering the weight of what I said. Suddenly she started to shake, and her face looked so strained that I thought I had completely devastated her. I was prepared to take it all back, to tell her to keep calling the psychic if it made her happy, when my baby broke the longest and loudest wind I’ve ever heard in my life. It lasted for eons.
Jane Kim-Szpajda lives in Seattle with her husband and the cutest baby in the world. She is a patent attorney, but has always dreamed of being a writer. This is her first published story.
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