My Giant Baby Head

My mom and my head.

One of my earliest babyhood memories is realizing that my head was so huge I couldn’t move it. From the shoulders up I felt like a small section of garden hose jammed into a bowling ball.

And I really yearned to move my head, too. I wanted to participate in the life I could hear happening just outside the room I was in: my mom in the kitchen passive-aggressively banging pots and pans, my dad virulently bitching about his job, my sister threaten­ingly murmuring about how much she missed being an only child. I desperately wanted to be part of it all.

But, alas, I was at the mercy of my medicine ball head.

As I grew older, the size of my head did not to any significant degree alter its abnormal proportion to the rest of me. Consequently, as a Little Leagueer I had to purchase my hat the coach’s catalog. Not exactly unembarrassing.

Here’s about how it actually went one afternoon during my Little League team’s baseball practice:

COACH CRETIN: Shut-up now! It’s time to order uniforms. Shore, what size hat do you wear? Extra-extra large?

ME: I dunno, Coach. Sounds about right, I guess.

CC: Well, let’s make damn sure it is right. Parker there’s got an extra-large head, doncha’ Parker? Shore, try on Parker’s cap there. Jesus H. Christ. Look a’ that thing! You can barely get it to balance on yer head. What are we gonna do for a cap for you, Shore? Pin it on? Ya’ can’t wear that in the field. It’ll cut off the circulation in yer head. Give Parker back his hat before you stretch it all to hell. So whatta we supposed do for a hat for you, Shore?”

ME: I dunno, Coach.

CC: Well, crap. I guess we’ll just have to order ya’ a cap from the managers’ catalog, then. It’s gonna cost ya’ extra, though. Make sure you tell that to your mom, Shore. Make sure you tell your mom that your new cap’s gonna cost you more, on accounta ya’ got a head like a hot-air balloon. Don’t forget to tell her that, Shore. Tell her it’s gonna’ cost more money.

ME: Sure thing, Coach. I’ll tell her. Say, why you’re at it, you Nazi troglodyte, why don’t you also order my jock and cup through the managers catalog? My head’s not the only thing that’s adult-size, you miserable sack of wasted plasma.

Okay, I didn’t say that last part. Almost, though.

The unbelievable thing is that there was a kid in my neighbor­hood with a head even larger than mine. What a planetary noggin this sadsack had. His head was like some­thing you’d see in the Macy’s Thanksgiv­ing Day Parade, taking out helicopters, terrifying children, slowly pin-balling between skyscrapers. Not at all helping this poor kid’s condition was that: 1. He had tiny facial features, so that his face seemed to have bloomed this outrageous roundness all around it; 2. His head was as perfectly spherical as the globe it could have been if Facelandia was a real place; and 3. His mom cut his thick blonde hair in a buzz-cut all around his head, so that his head appeared to be glowing with the power of its hugeness.

That poor guy. He was excellent to hang out with. Especially during the summer, when shade was always a great thing to have around.

Anyway, that’s one of my first memories: lying face up in my crib, staring at the ceiling, listening to my family beyond the half-open door, being helplessly oppressed by my bowling ball of a head.

And then all of a sudden, as I recall, my mother’s head was looming at me over the walls of my crib. Now that, I thought, was a head. And what enviable control she wielded over it. She moved her head around as easily as I spastically flapped my arms—and I excelled at spastic arm flapping.

And her hair! My mom had one of those 50′s bouffant helmets. Her hair looked to me unimaginably heavy. I remember being afraid that it was going to drop right off her head and smash me.

It’s a terrible thing to say, but as a baby I was always pretty afraid that my mom was going to kill me. She was a profoundly angry woman. At the moment that I’m recalling she was leaning over my crib looking at me; as she did, I realized that the best thing I could do to ensure her not killing me was to become as cute and lovable as possible.

“Goo-goo,” I said.

She smiled.

“Goo-goo!” I said, hoping.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.whitenoisemetal.com Brian Shields

    I grew up with abnormally large teeth in a small mouth (no one since has EVER said I had a small mouth.. but still) so I kinda grok your point here, John. I've also spent a fair amount of time staring up at my ceiling recently imagining the cities and civilizations in the dry wall spakle. Oh well, I don't associate with normal people, that's why I love you, John.

    So while we're all glowing in the warmth of this great story, can I be the troublemaker to ask, Why can't this story be read as a tribute to the natural process, the way we've (uh oh, he's gonna say it, hide your kids eyes) EVOLVED to look to our mothers for nurture and protection. That child at that moment DIDN'T NEED GOD. He had his mother. She created him (Okay the dad's seed had something to do with it) It wasn't until later, when he has words that there's the need to teach him there's a Daddy above who has all the answers.

    This is a great story that humanists could identify with just as much as Christians. Sorry John, even when you try to avoid it, the Christian-Non-Christian argument is just around the bend.

    Your friend and persistent Model Agnostic

    Brian

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, but, actually, see, if we read the story, what we see is that the boy is actually AFRAID of his mother. See, he DIDN'T actually look to his mother for nurture and protection.

    You TV people. You never READ.

  • Leif Sr

    I'm going to send you a doctor bill for the stomach cramp I've developed from laughing too hard. I've cried so much if I had contacts on they'd be fused to my eyeballs. I'm afraid the neighbors might call the cops because of the strange howling coming from my place. If I land in jail will you bail me out?

  • Adrian

    Hi John,

    Was that intentional blasphemy? – what the coach said after you tried on Parker's hat.

  • http://journeyto.wordpress.com/ Carina

    This may be one of the singularly most hilarious things I’ve ever read!

    Thanks for the exceptional mix of light-hearted humor and serious, Christ-centered discussion I’ve found on your blog. I just found it today, and you can count on me being a regular reader. =)

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog tam

    Too funny! Thanks for that…

  • http://transplantingme.wordpress.com transplantingme

    now my oldest has a big head… big enough that it caused a close friend to ask me if it bothered me that his head was so big. big enough that when he crawled he had to either push it or drag it, but he couldn’t lift it. it’s an absolutely beautiful big head, though!

  • Kelly

    Brother. You are my new favorite supplement connection. Serious RDA for optimal health is frequent belly-laughs. One John Shore daily.

    Much love in Jesus!

    Kelle Belle

  • sheryl

    You crack me up John. Especially the part about the coach making a big deal about the cost of your hat, and your head being as big as a blimp.. I figured you would turn it into a message about ‘having a big head’, but you didn’t. You kept it lighthearted. Thanks for the laugh. After the day I had I needed it.

    Sheryl

    P. S. I hope you got permission from Tommy to use his last name

  • Sergmummy

    Hi John you take me back to a time when my boy cousins thought that my head/face was so big and round – they nicknamed me ‘busstop’. Our busstop signs are round and red. I really loved my cousins, since I was the only girl at the time, and I always felt protected from the other guys when I was with them – but they tortured me with the busstop head. And they would shout it from a far ways off.

    I am their fav cousin now. ;)

  • windyblue

    Those were the days John, and all we did was eat, sleep, have our diaper changed, and we did not have a care in the world.

    Heck, A big head I know people who do. And I know people who have big feet too. God made us all different, what a blast.

    If we were all made the same way, well I guess all the fashion designers and shoe stores would be out of business.

    Now look at us, we have grown up and worry about most everything.

  • Samhain

    "It was like some­thing you’d see float­ing down the street in the Macy’s Thanksgiv­ing Day Parade, threatening helicopters, terrifying children."

    Too funny. Hysterical

  • http://setapart.wordpress.com Moe

    Hysterical. I loved it. :-)

    ~Kelsey

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Leif: Yes, I will bail you out of jail. They’ll take a check, right?

    Adrian: Are you asking me if the coach purposefully blasphemed? I don’t know. I wasn’t inside what there was of his mind.

    Serge: BUS STOP!! Too cruel! And so funny, of course. Kids. They’re such … little Don Ricklesi.

    Kelly: That was sweet. Thank you.

    Sheryl: Thank you for the kind words. And yes, I got permission from Tommy to use his last name. I hope. I had my lawyer contact his family. Today Tommy is a Hollywood publicist. His business card reads, “Let’s Give YOU a Giant Head, Too!” We’re waiting for him to get back to us.

  • http://kayoungblog.wordpress.com K. A. Young

    Chuckle–a good thing with morning toffee coffee. TY, JS

    –kathleen

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    When I first saw your photo on this blog and marveled at the outline of the dome emerging from your swept back hairline, I thought, “Wow, I wonder how many Watch Your Head signs have been damaged by that.” Of course, I was just a toddler back then.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com Daniel

    Too hilarious! My bunny bones thank you.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Your BUNNY bones? Hmmm. So either you’ve got to go see a doctor, or you’ve got a bunch of flat, flaccid rabbits lying around your house. I hope it’s … um … neither.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, Hjordes. Oh, yeah, I DEFINITELY remember thinking my mom could kill me. No question. How could I NOT be aware of that? She's huge, 1,000 times stronger than me, and clearly operates on free will. And as far as I can tell, my main thing in life is to … periodically smell horrible, and literally suck the life out of her. Not exactly "Next, on Regis!"

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I'm told that when I was an infant, my pediatrician insisted on checking me every month because my head was so alarmingly big. Somehow I grew into it though because, while I do wear big hats & such, I don't recall having to have any custom-sized headgear.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Look. The whole top of my head doesn't even fit in my little side-picture here. I can't stand it…)

  • Hjordes

    That was a great read! I laughed loudly until I got to the end, and abruptly shut up. I was JUST thinking about Gavin de Becker’s statement that, “At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them. At core, women are afraid men will kill them.”

    Which led me to the thought that at core, children may be afraid adults will kill them. When they test our boundaries maybe what they are really testing, small step by small step, is our love for them. How will these giants treat me if I do…. this. Or this. I remember being afraid of my mother, and being a very Good child.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    You think you had it bad? When I joined the freshman football team they had to order a special helmet for the huge melon on my shoulders.

  • http://www.barethoughts.com/blog Tam

    Sabina – I am with you: OUCH! Luckily my son has a normal head.

    Skerrib: monthly checks on your head size by the DR?! Must have been huge!

  • Penlee

    John I just love your messages keep them coming, coming….

  • Sabina

    Just imagine birthing a big head. I love my kids/but ouch!

  • http://www.whitenoisemetal.com Brian Shields

    I think I did read the previous piece correctly… that the "fear and trembling" of the child's mother corresponds with the later third-circuit fear and trembling of God… and that the child's conditioning to be "cute and cuddly" was to curry favor with the Mother… in the same way that the religious constantly flatter and ego stroke "god."

    e.g. "Belief in the traditional sense, or certitude, or dogma, amounts to the grandiose delusion, "My current model" — or grid, or map, or reality-tunnel — "contains the whole universe and will never need to be revised." In terms of the history of science and knowledge in general, this appears absurd and arrogant to me, and I am perpetually astonished that so many people still manage to live with such a medieval attitude." (Robert Anton Wilson)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Brian: You atheist, leftist hippy! A scourge upon your … normally unscourgeable things!

    But to your point: I never said anything whatsoever about the "fear and trembling" of the child's mother. The mother was never fearing or trembling, you obvious stoner.

    About that quote: See, now, you have quotations within quotations within quotations here, so it's actually hard to be sure what's being said by whom. But it seems to hinge on the "never needs to be revised" description. But my understanding of God — my "current model" of God — is, in fact, constantly being revised. It's growing ever more complex, ever more subtle, ever more interesting, ever more direct, ever more sublime. I KNOW I don't comprehend God; I know I never will. In the sense of having the knowledge that I have fully grasped and understood God, I have no "certitude" whatsoever. And I certainly have no dogma. In probably the most important way people CAN agree, Christians, I would venture, agree with Atheists, agree with Agnostics, agree with anyone sane: One of the worst things you can do in this world is believe that you already know all there is to know about the truth.

  • http://www.whitenoisemetal.com Brian Shields

    I must have been stoned when I wrote that since I clearly intended to say the fear and trembling of the child towards the mother (or other authority figure.)

    I assumed you were calling me a stoner because I quoted Robert Anton Wilson (who wrote books with Dr. Timothy Leary, the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century, in my opinion)

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    Tam–I'm told it was spectacular! Eventually I guess the dr's were satisfied that I was fine, because I never even knew about it until after I had my first kiddo…who has quite a melon of his own. Takes after his mama. :D

    John–thanks, now all I can think of is Beavis & Butthead! Or Mr Mackey, mmm-kay…

  • atomic_hairdo

    John,

    Wow.. that was great! This is my first time here and I love it already! Funny thing is my 2nd son has the same issue… giant head. AND had the same problem in little league. When the batting helmet wouldn't fit on his head he told the coach it was because his brain was so big! LOVE IT!

  • http://paroodija.wordpress.com paroodija

    haha, this is funny!
    :)