Get this…the baby is awake and I’m typing on the computer. How can this be? Well, it turns out having the ability to sit up and transfer object between hands is a _lot_ more entertaining to a baby than lying flat on his back motionless! I had heard this development was coming but I can scarcely believe it. Of course, Grip is about 2 seconds away from actual crawling (he just scoots backwards now) so this honeymoon from constant monitoring is going to be pretty brief, but it sure is sweet while it’s here.
Part of the joy (and relief) of his ability to self-entertain is that he had a really rough last few weeks. He cut two teeth within days of one another and then after a brief, fun vacation came back and got a terrible cold. So, our normally sunny, mellow little guy had been a little less sunny than usual. The way it feels to have him back to his old self is a lot like the way it feels on those precious January days in Seattle when the sun breaks through after months of overcast and rain. You don’t realize how much you’d missed it until you realize how happy you feel at it’s reappearance.
Grip has developed a kissing technique we hope he doesn’t take into his dating years. He will, if your hair is long enough, grab it in two vice-like fistfuls and lunge straight at your face, mouth wide open, to suck on whatever protuberance he happens to contact — cheek, nose, chin — with the ferocity of a lovesick leech. Those with shorter hair may escape the grip of Grip, but will be sucked on just the same. At the end of one of these displays of affection, a recipient is coated in a thick, glistening layer of drool, sometimes well up into the nostrils. As you can imagine, we find this totally … adorable.
Griffin has his first imaginary friend. You hear all about how babies like black and white patterns and faces, right? Well, instead of going out and spending a bunch of money on some mobile he’ll be bored with in a couple of months, I decided to create a home-made version. I broke out a black Sharpie and a piece of recycled paper and voila: Stan was born. With a bit of kitchen string and some masking tape, I affixed the crude smiley face to a prime viewing location over Grip’s swing and plopped him in, eager to see how he liked his mom’s handiwork. I figured he’d find it vaguely interesting, but I never expected that he would develop a relationship with it. He actually has conversations (albeit one-sided) with Stan and will occasionally burst out in a fit of giggles. I’m not sure why it freaks me out, if it’s that he’s interacting with a paper smiley-face, or that he already has private jokes I’m not in on. But for the time being, at least: welcome to the family, Stan.
Dad has a picture on his desk of Griffin and I sleeping together in the hospital bed. He looks so new and scrunched and his hat is too big and it makes me strangely nostalgic to look at it. Now, generally speaking, premature nostalgia really irritates me, and these days there’s plenty of premature nostalgia going around — TV movies that film before ink has dried on real-life news stories, packaged retrospectives on tragedies we’ve barely had a chance to grieve — but I digress. The thing is, I look at this photo and I can’t even remember what it was like to be there in that room with him. And he’s not even three months old! When I start thinking about all the things I love about him and realize I’m going to forget them too, I get all weepy (can I still blame post-partum hormones for this?). I just wish I could somehow tuck away these small details until some day two or 13 or 45 years from now when he’s just had a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store or is in the throes of teen angst or has asked to borrow money (again) or for no reason at all. I know there will be wonderful parts all along the way and new things to take the place of what slips away. Still, I already feel a sense of loss knowing I won’t always recall exactly how he smells after a bath, or how soft and warm his tiny feet are when I slip them out of his pajamas in the morning to get him dressed, or the expression that lights up his face when he’s hungry and sees me pull up my shirt. I guess the passage of time, mortality, only hits you when you see it made flesh and saying “ah goo” to you.
Grip has his two-month check-up on Wednesday. I’ve been dreading it ever since his 5-day-old appointment when they informed us that he’d be getting four shots — two in each precious, tender thigh. Originally I wasn’t even going to go. I was going to let Dad to bear the burden of watching our son’s face crumple as people do something to intentionally hurt him, but I realized something. Grip’s life is going to be full of people inflicting all kinds of hurts (intentional and not), and as his parents, we both need to get used to helping him get through it. I think in this case, a little Mom’s milk ought to do the trick. If only all the future hurts were going to be that easy.
…at least it does to me. We’re having long conversations with Grip these days — actually they aren’t so much conversations as his parents making a gaggle of goofy syllables in an effort to get him to let loose one or two of his own. Occasionally, he’ll reward us with a whole string and — if he’s really feeling generous — a bonefide smile. But, smiling must be hard for him, he usually has to take it one side of the face at a time. First, the left cheek will contract, revealing the oh-so-charming dimple located there, then the right side will follow, resulting in a full-on, gum-baring, heart-melting, and much too fleeting grin. We may have even spotted a proto-giggle. Stay posted!