“Hi, I’m Phiff Preobsghan, and welcome to another week of Survivor: Baby. We’ve placed infants and new toddlers on Day Care Island and faced them with tasks both mundane and absurd. Which obstacles will they bounce off of, and which ones will they succumb to? Find out on tonight’s episode!”
(Cue mixture of infant crying and infant giggling over ominous drumbeat.)
“Oh no,” Baby Aiden says as the camera opens on five babies sitting in a loose circle on a blanket. “Where did Sophia go? She must have mmgidhf ggoihfmn…”
Aiden’s opening monologue becomes garbled as he shoves a neon green plastic sphere with hexagonal openings into his mouth.
“Did we vote her off the island last week?” asks Emma.
“Gargle margle haifdoi pakjn mmmmm,” responds Aiden.
“Give me that ball.”
The bendable hard plastic toy jingles as Emma grabs it out of Aiden’s mouth, causing all five babies to stare, entranced.
“Oh, thanks,” comes out of Aiden’s unimpeded vocal chords. “So now I can enunciate.”
“No,” Emma responds, moving the toy toward her own mouth. “I just wanted the ball.”
“But I want the Buh- BUH- BAAALLLLL!”
Aiden erupts into a screaming rage, followed shortly by Emma as the forgotten bauble rolls between them. The other three babies look over at the two who are crying, then begin crying themselves. The five part harmony causes Americans to suspect an Emergency Bulleting is about to come on the screen before Phiff, the host, walks in to calm the babies down.
“Shh, shh, “says Phiff in a soothing voice as he picks up the first cryer. “It’s okay, Aiden.”
As Aiden begins to calm down, Phiff picks Emily up in his other arm. He puts Aiden down and picks up Lily before repeating the process with Brayden and Caden. By the time the fifth child is gulping in oxygen like a smoker gasping through a tracheotomy, Aiden and Emma are raising the siren again. Five minutes pass before Phiff finally leaves the screen, leaving all five babies sitting in their original circle, breathing through cycles of three quick exhales broken up by a quadruple-inhale-in-a-single-suck.
Jayden puts his WubbaNub in his mouth and sucks three times before resting in a perfect Maggie Simpson impression. The popular pacifier brand attaches the hard blue sucker portion to a plush animal that the child can easily grasp and hold.
“Here,” Jayden says, pulling the hard blue plastic out of his mouth, “ take a hit off this binkie.”
He passes the pacifier to his left, where Maden takes hold of the plush red dragon handle. Three sucks on the plastic, a pause, then three more sucks and he feels safe, the paranoia gone.
“Ahhhh,” he says through a long exhale before passing the WubbaNub to the next child in the circle. ”Chasing the dragon,”
Lily topples over onto her side, either from boredom or lack of coordination. She does not seem to notice.
“Hey, where’s Sophia?” Aiden asks, as if for the first time.
“Did the SIDS Monster get her?” asks Laiden.
“I still think we might have voted her off last week,” responds Emma. “Then again, I can’t really remember any specific item more than a few minutes old. Hey, check out that green ball. I wonder if it will fit in my mouth!”
“I think Sophia just had a urinary tract infection,” offers Lily, lying on her side. “Something about having your girl parts ensconced in your own fecal matter on a regular basis.”
“I remember my first UTI,” says Emma in a dreamy voice. The TV screen flashes back to a previous episode, her parents frantically pacing around a tiny doctor’s office. The pediatrician is explaining that this is very common, that there is no reason to be alarmed, and that the catheter being jammed into their screaming, scorching-hot baby is actually the good news. After all, it could have been a nasty flu or cold. But this will just take a few days of some Keflex to clear up.
“Do you find it odd that we shit and piss ourselves with reckless abandon?” Dayden asks.
“Is there, grrr, any other, ungh, way?” Aiden asks from a reddened face with watering eyes.
“I mean, even cats are born with an instinct to bury their own shit,” Dayden continues. “So predators can’t find them. It’s a basic survivor thing.”
“This use of the word ‘survivor’ is brought to you by Babies Be Wee,” Phiff quickly voices over the conversation.
Dayden rolls his eyes at the interruption before continuing.
“My parents have some friends that have gone primal.”
“Like insane?” Zaden asks.
“I think so,” Dayden responds. “They only eat things that cavemen would eat. No carbs, no processed food. Just meat and plants.”
“I think that’s called paleo.”
“No, they’re primal, trust me.”
A long pause as the two boys stare at each other. Zaden falls over, then begins to roll over to mask his defeat in the war of wills.
“Anyway,” the victorious Dayden continues, “it got me thinking about the things we do in our first years and how we ever surv…” a glance up at the cameras, “uh, persevered as a species. We show up in this world leaving our excrement wherever we are. And our only way of communicating is crying at the top of our lungs. Doesn’t seem hard for the woolly mammoths to find and eat our forebears.”
“We also put everything in our mouth,” Zaden responds thoughtfully, trying to regain his sitting position but wobbling back amongst the toys on the ground. “Hey, a Weeble!”
“Exactly!” Dayden confirms. “I know starvation used to be an issue. But sticking every random thing into your mouth doesn’t seem the best way to make it to the age where you can procreate.”
“My dog eats his own vomit,” Emma offers, “and dogs are still around.”
Dayden shrugs to concede the point, unable to talk through the mouthful of Dr. Seuss book corner.
(Camera fades to Phiff standing in another room built to look like an arena. The walls feature murals of gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.)
“Welcome to this week’s Survival Challenge.
“If you remember, there were many complaints about last week’s challenge. We thought we’d filled the arena with thousands of potentially deadly objects. Sharp corners, rock-hard outcroppings, drops from precarious heights onto tile flooring. Our test subjects, all adults, were in various states of disrepair for weeks. Concussions, lacerations, broken bones. The show almost went out of business based on the Worker’s Comp claims.
“But when the babies went through the gauntlet, there was nary a scratch. These kids are made out of damned rubber.
“This week, we googled the leading causes of damage to babies. To see who can truly surv-”
(Phiff disappears and is replaced by the six babies.)
“-vive. Hey, survive! We’ve got to get the name in!” Phiff’s voice-over concludes.
The children all gasp.
“Blankets!” Emma’s eyes open wide.
“Bubble wrap!” Sophia gasps.
“Pillows!” Yaiden, Xaden, and Quayden all whisper in awe.
“It’s the lair of the SIDS Monster!” Lily screams.
“There is no SIDS Monster,” Sophia says.
“Yes, there is, it got Sophia” Lily turns. “Oh, hi, Sophia!”
“There was no SIDS Monster. I took the morning off for vaccinations.”
Sophia ignores the disapproving glance from Vaughden, who everyone knows is not vaccinated. Vaughden coughs out a giant whoop.
“The SIDS Monster is real,” Lily continues. “He swoops in and takes completely heathy babies just crawling around, minding their own business, right in front of their parents, for no reason. He’s like the counter to Santa Claus.”
“I think that’s Krampus,” says Phaidin. “I think SIDS is just suffocation.”
“If they knew the cause of SIDS,” Lily responds, “they wouldn’t name it something vague and obscure like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I mean, think of that. It’s sudden, and it’s a syndrome, meaning what? Like you can catch it or something. Like you catch this syndrome and suddenly, Poof, you’re dead. There’s no preventing it.”
“Except for sleeping on our back,” offers Ray-den. “Boy, I remember the first time I rolled over in my sleep. My parents walked in and freaked out, ‘OMG, OMG, you could’ve DIED!’ Dad ran to the magical contraption that sits on his lap to check an Inter-site-dot-com or something. And guess what it said? Even after we can roll over onto our stomachs, we can still die until the age of one year. So it actually, dig this, tells the parents to watch us as we sleep and not let us roll over. How feasible is that? Stand over me while I sleep? For the next six months? That would cause Sudden Parent Death Syndrome, I’m thinking.”
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” says Taden, lying back onto one of the blankets in the room.
He turns his newly stable neck to the side, then attempts to bring his hand from underneath the blanket to his mouth, but only succeeds in smothering his entire face with the blanket.
A CGI Monster swoops in to remove Taden from the screen as a clean edit causes him to disappear.
“Cause of removal from Survivor: Baby is a blanket,” Phiff walks in from the side doing his best Rod Serling impression. “As Dayden said at the beginning, how the hell did the human race survive? Then again, wait till next week when Dayden himself will have a deadly encounter with a non-child proofed bookshelf.”
“Until next week, keep on breathing and avoid the SIDS!”