You turned seven months old well over a week ago. So you’ve had a few weeks of practice now to become a pretty solid expert…
YOU’RE SITTING UP!
My gosh I waiting for that moment, my son. You must have been waiting as anxiously because you have never, ever, ever liked the bouncy seat. Which struck me as sacrilegious coming from a baby as not liking milk, but I got over it. Okay, no bouncy seat. So we did lots of holding and lots of propping you on your tummy. So much tummy propping in fact, that in my normal neglectful mothering habit of leaving kids in other rooms for long periods of time so I can do important household chores or finish reading a back issue of US Weekly, it was not uncommon for me to ultimately find you a little distressed, chin deep in a well-worn short nap carpet pile of cheap wall-to-wall carpeting. But the thing is, you are such an agreeable and happy baby – so go-with-the-flow – that your forgiveness of me was always instantaneous. Your memory is short and your love for this family abundant. It comes through in that big gummy smile, and the way you wildly rock, shake and shimmy your body when you’re happy to see us.
So anyway, no more carpet pile for you. Now, you sit up. So majestically. So nobly. So striving for excellent posture. You can sit there for a long, long time gumming every single thing within your reach: age-appropriate and safe and non-toxic toys, baskets with small pieces of wood chipping off, completely unsafe microscopic toys that even a 3 year-old shouldn’t be handling, cardboard boxes, plastic objects likely bursting with BPA, something I never identified but which left blue dye in your mouth and once, only once, a few sheets of small notepad paper. It looked to be a satisfying meal.
Simon, our family is one of weekend warriors. And sometimes we are even weekday warriors. You have been on buses and tubes and bounced up and down long flights of stairs and we have perfected the quick-fire balancing act of illegally bringing your buggy on escalators. You have almost worn out your snowsuit and you never, ever want to be done with the swings at the playground. You get in that seat, a little slouched since I am guessing the minimum age for it is well above yours, and you just beam. You beam and you giggle and beam and giggle and beam some more. And you intersperse the festivities with quick little snack breaks to gnaw on the dirty rope chain tethering the swing to its metal frame. Sometimes the mum next to me looks at me halfway sideways. I shrug. You are a second child. To live on the edge is your birthright.
The star of our adventures is often your big brother, Jonah. Simon, it would be a crime against eloquence for me to say only that he adores you. He wants to play where you are, be near you, make sure you’re okay, bring you things, feed you and tell you stories and explain things and break out into a huge grin when he’s able to make you laugh by devising a funny noise. Being your brother makes him proud. And you absolutely light up when he comes into your view. You stare at him. You are observing and taking it in. I can see it. I think he is a first-rate teacher and I am so pleased to be in the audience. He still gleefully sits on you and sometimes accidentally borderline suffocates you under his crushing weight. But, as I mentioned, I always eventually come back into the room. So far so good.
The way you are an observer, a younger brother and sweet baby son so agreeably along for the ride with this zany and outgoing family, sometimes I catch myself remembering to stop for a moment and observe you observing. Ages ago, when you had just crept over the line of turning six months, Daddy and I tried to take you and Jonah to the zoo one day. In our typical fashion, we had gotten out of the house late and in the crazed, argumentative way that parents with small kids sometimes have to function. Confusion over who had packed what in which bag and whether all gloves and hats were accounted for and whether or not we should even go to the zoo at all and whether we should walk and in which direction. We got there and realized it was going to close soon, and they wouldn’t let us in- a crushing moment for a young family all bundled up for inclement weather and with the prospect of nothing but cabin fever awaiting us back home. After we managed to talk the 2 1/2 year old off a ledge and steal a view of the giraffes from the street, we decided to turn the afternoon into the kind of lemonade that’s possible if you’re in one of the Royal Parks in London. We walked slowly past playgrounds and sports matches and boating lakes and cafes and people and busyness. And, as per the state of things, used 99% of our energy to ensure Jonah was having the best time. I held you there by the children’s’ boating pond, watching and smiling as Daddy played with Jonah. They were running around and looking for ducks and talking about what they saw and my brain was doing its usual thing of processing the euphoria I was witnessing and experiencing and also thinking ahead to whether I should run and buy Jonah a muffin in the cafe. The one thing my brain was not doing at that moment was thinking of you. That happens, Simon, with babies. Sometimes you just blend right into a scene.
Then I felt a jerking motion. And then again. And it registered only as a semi-conscious awareness that shit, my baby is getting restless. One more jerk. Ugh, I need Bryan to hold him. You were arching your body back so forcefully, I finally looked at you. And then up. You were staring straight up into the sky.
It was a huge flock of birds traveling over our heads, in that gorgeous, ridiculous, other-worldly way in which flocks of birds travel. Drama in numbers. Drama in formation. On a singular mission. Sweeping and momentarily cinematic. And you had arched yourself back Simon, in my arms, without making a peep but with the broadest, happiest grin on your face from ear to ear. You had discovered the sight all on your own, while everyone else in your family was watching something else. You were, in a word: m e s m e r i z e d. You were quiet, but my attention finally went to you. And we watched those birds together, in awe, and I was so grateful I got to share your special moment. You were so happy, Simon.
And this is all I ever want for you.
I love you,