Archive for May 15th, 2006

No Bears for the Bairn

May 15, 2006 @ 3:42 am | Filed under:

What with yesterday being our wedding anniversary AND Mother’s Day AND the baby’s one-month-birthday if you’re keeping track of such things, there was a bit of nostalgia on the air around here last night. Scott was ransacking the house looking for a tape on which to record the final episode of West Wing (sob! more nostalgia!) and he happened upon what seems to have been our first baby-video ever. We vaguely remember making this tape; Jane was maybe six weeks old and we borrowed a camcorder from our neighbors so as to record the Many Exciting Things she was doing. Drooling! Waving her arms! Staring blankly at the camera! Staring blankly at the orange plastic bear hanging from the baby gym thing! (Notice how carefully it is positioned, not directly above her, oh noooo, we were far too savvy for that, you have to hang it a little to one side so that it dangles above baby’s arm instead of her nose, all the best books say so. Notice too that she is not lying flat upon the floor, oh nooooooo, that would be poor technique; you must put baby in her little terrycloth bouncy chair so that she is reclining at an angle for best plastic-bear-swatting results. Now she is positioned for optimum bear attack. All you, earnest parent, must do is wait. And wait. Don’t forget to turn on the camcorder. You don’t want to miss a single whacking of the bear. Oh look! It’s about to happen, her arm is twitching! It’s moving, waving—nay, it is actually flailing about! HONEY LOOK SHE’S ALMOST HITTING IT!!! ARE YOU GETTING THIS ON TAPE? LOOK!! SHE CAME SO CLOSE THAT TIME! THE BEAR ACTUALLY SWAYED IN THE BREEZE CAUSED BY HER FLAILING ARM! FOR PITY’S SAKE DON’T STOP TAPING!!!!)

We had hours of this stuff. Hours of closeups on Jane’s infant face. Every tiny shift of expression made the new parents behind the camera gasp or giggle or coo. We listened to ourselves rhapsodize over this small miracle we seemed desperate to capture on film lest her magical feats disappear from history without a record. There must be twenty minutes of tape devoted to watching her sleep. On the bed, on the sofa, in my arms, on the floor, oh there she is on the bed again!

Watching the tape, Scott and I were convulsed with laughter at our new-parent obsessiveness, but the girls were enchanted. At first they all thought it was our new baby, their baby. It’s true that when Scott first popped the tape into the VCR, the resemblance between our firstborn and our fifthborn took my breath away. For the longest time, I could not see Jane at all: it was like I was watching a video we might have made yesterday. (Except we wouldn’t. We are too old and jaded. Alas for the new baby, there shall be no visual record of the first time she whacks at a dangling plastic bear. I don’t think we even possess any plastic bears suitable for dangling. I’m pretty sure the baby gym migrated to Good Will sometime between Beanie and Wonderboy. Oh, the tragedy, this poor deprived infant.)

Jane didn’t recognize the apartment in the video. We moved when she was four, but I thought it might look vaguely familiar. It didn’t, except for the blue tablecloth which is still on our table, and the red and white quilt which still goes on our bed in winter, and the bookshelves which are still unfinished. Even my hair looked exactly the same. Scott still plays some of those same songs on his guitar. I still get a kick out of the little o a baby’s mouth sometimes makes.

Jane and I have finally decided upon a blog name for the new baby. After weeks of discussion, during which such possibilities as Daisy, Joy, and Stellina (yes, we liked the book that much), we hit upon a name we like as much as those and which just seems to fit. Henceforth (cue trumpets) she shall be known as Rilla. Jane likes it because A) it’s pretty and B) she loves Rilla of Ingleside perhaps even a little more than her beloved Jane of Lantern Hill. I like it, of course, because it allows me to further indulge my lifelong secret desire to be Anne of Green Gables. Now that I’m all grown up I must be Anne of Ingleside and have my own little Rilla. So. It’s official. Because, you know, anything you announce on your blog becomes Official, if you say so. We are all officials now, so long as we have an ISP.

Ah, little Rilla! Your parents have learned how to edit baby videos, and no longer do we have endless hours to devote to patient anticipation of your first attempts to touch a toy. When you sleep, we cannot hover in silence with the camera, capturing each tiny sigh, each cryptic expression flitting across your face. When you sleep, we do not even tell the other children to be quiet: you must learn from the outset to sleep through the clamor. There will never not be a clamor in your home.

But there will be kisses. Already I think your kisses-received tally tops your siblings’, and that’s from Wonderboy alone. He likes to kiss the top of your head and then press his cheek against you and say “Awww”—because, you know, that’s the hug noise. We will try to catch this on tape at least once.

But don’t get your hopes up about the bear.

Mrs. Child on Motherhood

May 15, 2006 @ 2:39 am | Filed under:

“Gentleness, patience, and love, are almost everything in education; especially to those helpless little creatures, who have just entered into a world where everything is new and strange to them. Gentleness is a sort of mild atmosphere; and it enters into a child’s soul, like the sunshine into the rose-bud, slowly but surely expanding it into beauty and vigor.”

—from The Mother’s Book
by Lydia Maria Child