Monday, January 11, 2010
I am really not a fan of the question
is Opal a good baby??
I know it sounds harmless enough, that people most likely mean it to be a conversation starter, kind of generic fill-chat. They are curious about whether or not she is fussy, how Jesse and I are doing and how closely she adheres to the principals of non-confrontational cuteness.
The superficial things.
That's all fair enough, but I still try to answer this question as mindfully as I can, if only to myself.
It is so natural for people to try and create an entire landscape out of just one tree, to enlarge the only detail they are acquainted with into a faux-whole.
Those who have come for a visit during a particularly peaceful time, who may have held the babe for a long while without even a whimper, who may have even made her smile once or twice, may leave thinking to themselves, my what a good baby.
Those who come around during a time when she is having more difficulty may experience a baby who wants to nurse constantly, who doesn't especially want to be held and doesn't especially want to be left alone and who doesn't want the sling and who prefers high-decibel wailing to surrendering to the eye-rubbing exhaustion that drugs her--the folks who experience those times may take it a wee bit personally. They may think, wow, what a needy baby, what a fussy baby, and my, they have their hands full with that one.
In fact, these are only pieces of a much larger and richer world that she inhabits, a world that consists of mornings, mid-days, middle-of-the-nights and everything in-between. All of her behaviours are more pure and unconscious than most adults can even comprehend, and they are preceded by a cascade of events and reasons. At all times, she is communicating the best and only way she knows how.
So when she cries while mommy is getting a chiropractic adjustment and as we are leaving the receptionist says, "She's a pretty fussy baby, huh?" I am awestruck (probably more than I should be) at the presumption.
No, I say. She is not. She is actually an amazing baby who happens to cry sometimes. (Clear throat.)
The truth is, she is a stunningly good baby if you take a moment to think about her predicament. She happens to have a raw, brand new tiny body and a personality that, only recently, has been forced into a container. It is only right to grant her a decent amount of time to squiggle and squirm, to have an abstract voice without knowing exactly what she wants to say, to kick us away while at the same time wanting to be embraced into the warmth of our chests, to sleep like an angel and then wake up howling, to not quite be certain of this world from the last and from that of sleep, the closest thing she has to bridge the gap.
She is indeed so much more than a Keane painting staring passively into her world and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Now, of course there are times when I would love for Opal to align herself with a certain schedule or list of to-do's I have in mind, but even as I write this, I realize how frivolous these sort of expectations are.
Opal is not concerned with either my expectations or those of anyone else, and when she gives me a giggle or flashes me a silly grin, I am reminded of the delight that comes in knowing her people-pleasing gene has not yet been developed, that her joy is true and unfiltered and I love that.
She still shows all of herself, in its truest form, to her world.
She doesn't yet know how brave this is.
She was encased in darkness for nearly an entire calendar year, so a little bit of protection from all expectations would certainly do us both a world of good.
And yes, she is absolutely a good baby, and a courageous baby, for even attempting to figure this whole thing out.
Posted by Heather G at 5:24 PM