I had a little baby therapy today. I watched my friend’s P’s baby, J, for a few hours. I haven’t seen him for weeks due to the major issue that I’ve been writing about, and I was concerned he wouldn’t recognize me.
I was right.
He woke from his nap with those brightly blurry baby eyes, and stared at me, unwilling to even consider the tiniest of smiles, and this from the smiliest of babies. “Where is my Mommy?” I could see his nine-and-a-half-month-old-brain forming, closely followed by “have we met?”
Only since right after you were born, kid.
So he allowed me to pick him up out of his playpen, or baby jail, whichever you prefer, but with only a quarter raise of his arms. We came downstairs and I plopped him on his mat. He looked up at me, pacifier blocking the bottom half of his face, with a look that said, “now what?”
We tried lunch, but he wasn’t sure about it, and I even tried our normal meal-time game, but he still acted as though he never knew me.
We played a bit, went back for lunch round two.
And then it hit. Maybe it was the tone of my voice when I said “yum” repeatedly, like a slightly demented baby-food commercial. Maybe it was the nonsense song I made up and sang in a ridiculous voice that leaves me absolutely hoping that my friend does not have any secret nanny cams, as it would have immense blackmail potential. Whatever it was, in an instant, the glow started around his eyes and then glided down his face until his mouth was wide-open in a one-toothed grin. “Oh YOU,” his irresistibly rounded face said, “I was wondering where you went.”
And then he wanted to show me what he’d learned since we last saw one another. He’d barely taken a half-hand-one-knee-face-plant crawl last time, and now he flies across the floor, but that’s not good enough for him. He’s pulling himself up on anything he can find, and that’s not good enough either, he’ll clutch on to his support and bounce, laughing. He tried to get fancy, too, letting go with one hand, twisting his way to stability sometimes, to his well-cushioned bottom others.
There were a few yelps of frustration when he couldn’t quite get himself vertical, but only one moment of contemplated tears (aside from the fatigue-fueled ones that washed over him later, a brief afternoon storm on an otherwise sunny day), when the world spun away from him and he landed on his rubber mat firmly, not exactly sure how he got there. He looked at the mat, he looked at me, gauging whether I thought he should cry. Then he looked at the edge of the couch that had betrayed him by not holding his weight the way he thought it would. He turned himself around, clutched the blanket that’s on the couch with each chubby, dimpled hand, and yanked himself back up to his feet, swaying a bit, but obviously unconcerned.
Then he looked back over his shoulder at me and grinned with the full wattage of his one little tooth.