Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

My only grandchild, a beautiful girl, is one year old today. I have been lucky enough to hold her when she was but an hour old. I’ve cared for her as a newborn, an infant, and a child about to toddle off without aid. At all times, in all moods, in all states of health, she delights me.

Her thoughtful consideration of the yapping nervous dog that held her place before her birth suggests that she’s busy discerning the differences between humans and four-legged critters. Still when she crawled for the first time, she slapped her hands upon the wood floor and panted. She’d seen babies her age crawl, and she’d seen her little dog prance. She preferred to prance.

As a babe on laps, I noticed her study the furniture in the room. She watched people make use of each piece, keenly attentive when folks opened and closed drawers. Guess where she went when she’d mastered crawling: straight for the lower drawers to work out how to open them for herself. Her curiosity must have been bursting until she could maneuver and satisfy it. Now those accessible drawers hold her toys instead of electronic cables, chargers, and such. She needed her own drawers, it seems.

My granddaughter holds up her end in conversations. Like most babies, she found vowel sounds first and practiced the feel of them as they bounced off surfaces and faces. When I joined in, adding the alphabet of consonants to her early vowels, I had her attention. She watched my mouth. She studied my face. During one meal, she made sounds loud and soft, sounds that I matched as closely as possible. This enchanted her. I predict when she works out all those sounds and matches them to words, she’ll have a lot to say.

In her earliest weeks, I praised her for how well she exercised her legs and arms while on the changing table. She seemed to delight in the feel of air upon her skin and muscles unbound by arms or swaddling blankets and diapers. Now when I visit and stand over her on the changing table, she kicks and waves, looking at me for the anticipated celebration. She remembers.

Similarly, I showed her a hand opening and closing into a fist. This worked well to distract her when storm clouds built upon her brow because fingers opening into “jazz hands” never failed to surprise her. Now when I feed her, I see one hand opening and closing, a sly look upon her face. I confirm that I remember, and she smiles broadly. We have a history together. I like that.

The novel that gave birth to this blog celebrates children. In fact, To Kill a Mockingbird is delightful if read only to enjoy stories about playmates, siblings, and family. Each of us should treasure such stories, and grandchildren open floodgates to memory.  Thanks, Baby Girl. I’m grateful for your grace upon me.