Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No matter how small

I don't think when we look back over Little Bug's childhood that we will recall the last week as among the best.

Moving's been hard on him, full of missed naps, fussing, and not enough time with moms. It's hard to play with the baby or hold him when you need to spend every waking hour packing and then unpacking boxes and organizing the furniture. Fortunately friends and family have been amazing--friends drove the car out from Tucson to Northampton and then stayed to help; grandparents have entertained him and unpacked us. When there was no safe place to put him in the house, folks put him in the stroller and took him on walks everywhere; he's seen more of Northampton than we have, and met half the population. As my mom said, "He has such lovely manners. He greets everybody with a big smile, and does something to make them feel special."

Even so, I confess that for the first time in his life, I've found myself annoyed by him and his endless needs, his crying, his very presence. I had no empathy, no ability to distinguish between his legitimate complaints and what might be "extra" fussiness from all the upheaval. Not that the days have been without magic, laughing, or smiles over how delightful he is, but only that there have also been lows where the best we could do was make sure he was safe and fed, not necessarily appreciated or nurtured.

But Monday night, our sixth in the house, I suddenly realized we were going to be alright. Friends from here had brought us dinner, and we took a real break to share it with them and enjoy their company. Most of the random and sharp stuff was gone from the first floor, and even though there wasn't yet a safety gate on the stairs (tricky space, requires special gate--of course), after they left we set him down and let him run around for the first time.

Bug found a box where I'd been collecting a few things to take down to the cellar and gravely carried it into the living room. Then he unpacked the things in it and took them all to the kitchen. Then he went to work in the play space, carefully taking down all the big pillows against the wall and making a pile of them in the middle of the squishy letter tiles. Then, as we watched all this with growing amusement, he slowly backed up to survey his work, in such a perfect imitation of Jennifer checking out her organizational work that we were shouting with laughter.

All that time he was stuck in his play pen he was watching us. And there he was to help, if only we were open-hearted enough to appreciate his work. Somehow, I'd forgotten that he wasn't just a baby, full of needs and a bundle of work. He's a person, no matter how small (as Horton said), generous, funny, loving, trying at times, but fully a human in his own right.

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