The blog’s been weeks in London, but I’ve been home and also again with Lady Baby! I feel so lucky to have seen her each of the months of her new life, but when we first saw each other again, I wondered if she would remember me at all. She did look slightly puzzled, the way you look about someone you can’t quite place, not really known, but familiar. We settled quickly back into knowing each other!
Lady Baby initiates smiles now, smiles in response to smiles, and laughs at our dumbest songs or sounds or moves. It’s a huge treat to watch her parents – her mom sings little love songs when she greets her, “oh my baby, here’s my baby.” Lady Baby’s dad returns to her the sounds she makes and elicits giggles with funny faces and moves.
Lady Baby loves books. She sits in the reader’s lap with a book in front, and if you aren’t the reader, you can watch her eyes scan the page as she listens to the words. Neither image nor words can have much meaning, but something in the patterns of both transfixes her. She sits with her little arms outstretched – sometimes relaxed, other times pumping, as she vocalizes sounds of effort and concentration along with the reader. (“The Barnyard Dance” and “Bear Snoozes On” are lively indeed.)
The bathtub brings on those sounds as well. Lady Baby bathes in a clever plastic bathtub with a molded seat and headrest. With much endeavor, she agitates the water and a little baby soap to make bubbles. She begins with a gathering in that makes you think all her core muscles are tightened and a look of concentration with jaw clenched (such a little jaw), then takes in a breath and explodes in a whirlwind, windmill, of arms and legs and splashes. Then she laughs – a cackle of delight followed by a smile of complicity at what she’s done. As warm water and bubbles eddy about her, the sequence begins again.
It’s entertainment for all her staff hovering next to the tub. Sensing fatigue, Mr. Carson washes her hair and lifts her out. Mrs. Hughes places her on a warm towel and bundles her up.
During the long and sunny Anchorage spring days, Lady Baby loves outings in a front carrier or stroller. Her “Merry Muscles” jumper hangs in the kitchen – she twirls and pirouettes, sometimes hitting on two feet, bending knees and rising up in delight, other times twirling on the toe of one foot while her arms hang down or reach toward a passing cat or dog.
The Ladies Cora and Megan, in particular, plant themselves nearby when she is jumping – maybe it’s the sunshine in the kitchen, or maybe it’s the natural protective instincts of such dogs – occasionally an orange cat walks by as well.
Lady Baby is fun, her days full and peaceful. I can hardly wait to go back.
A POSTSCRIPT: After reading this, the wordsmith wrote me a note:
“I think babies — well, all children, really — aren’t so discriminating and just love being read to, whatever the book, right? Still, it’s important to entertain the reader as well.
My favorite baby book is “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” for the very bright, simple illustrations but also for the rhythm and opportunity to put some drama into a tale of tree-climbing and pending catastrophe. Plus, who doesn’t like to say “coconut?”
Everybody likes “Goodnight Moon” but I actually prefer Margaret Wise Brown’s “Big Red Barn” as a soothing, bedtime ritual.
And for a peek-a-boo flap book, “Where is Baby’s Belly Button?” is great.”
Other suggestions from you readers? I’m always looking now!