On the subway today I sat kitty-cornered to a young couple with a baby. Dressed in engineer-striped overalls and a fuzzy blue coat with bear ears, he was as cute as could be. Pink cheeked, fat thighs, hale and hearty. His parents bounced him and passed him between them. When mom got up to re-arrange the stroller, Dad put baby across his knees and pounded him rhythmically on his well-padded back. When the baby ooohhh’d, his Daddy put his hand over his mouth to make him say , “whoop, whoop, whoop.” At their stop they stretched on his soft shoes, stuffed him in the stroller straps and went on their merry way.
I can’t but help compare to visiting with my daughter, to see her good friend with seven-week old twins. Still so new! Still the age where new parents take every sound to be a cry. (I want to say, don’t jump! You can take a minute to respond.) And the little faces the babies make, sending new parents into uncertain wondering- what’s wrong, what do they need? (I want to say, they’re mostly just making faces, stretching their muscles.) Always asking themselves, are they warm enough? (Usually I think they are too warm, but I keep my mouth shut.) And- is the sidewalk too rough for the stroller? (I remember my friend who bought an ancient ‘pram’ from a church sale, and with its one very flat wheel, it turned out to be the very best method of getting her child to sleep. Roll, roll, roll, ka-bump…roll, roll, roll, ka-bump.)
Babies do start out so fragile and dependent, for sure. But what a glorious difference a few months makes.