Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Baby In The House"

We have houseguests.

Two adults, a baby (just over a year old) and a dog (only slightly older.)  Rachel and Tim’s (my stepdaughter and her husband’s) new house is currently being fixed up, requiring them to seek temporary (though open-ended at this juncture) shelter in a place I like to call my home.

As I write this, I have to keep an eye out for telltale signs of “Encroachment Resentment.”  (Have you perhaps picked up signals of it already?)  I do not sense it in myself, but I apparently unconsciously project an inhospitable indicator.  Not long along, a San Francisco couple and their daughter stayed with us for a few days, and as they were leaving, the husband, as quietly insightful a man as I have ever run into announced,

“We now return you to your regular programming.”

Apparently, I was emitting a “relief vibe” at their departure that I was entirely unaware of.  I thought I had been a gracious and charming host.  But perhaps, this was not entirely the case.

I am determined to do better this time, with the two adults, a baby and a dog.  The dog, named Bean is small and yappy, as is the baby, though to say that a baby is small is pretty much redundant, as “small” is the only size babies come in. 

With the exception of Baby Huey, the eponymous (named after) character of a comic book I once favored, wherein, for reasons, forgotten or perhaps never explained, although he was in every other way a baby, duckling “Baby Huey” proceeded to grow bigger than the house he lived in, with humorous consequences ensuing. 

(I can imagine how this “conceit” came to the creator’s mind.  In a year, Baby Milo, has grown from less than six pounds (he was born five weeks premature) to somewhere in the mid-twenties.  That means, math fans and otherwise, that, in the course of a single year, Baby Milo is five times bigger – that’s five hundred percent bigger – than he was when he arrived, with a paralleling, though less startling, advancement in height.  Imagine if that growing trajectory continued at the same rate – you don’t have to imagine; the comic book does it for you – you’re a helpless baby, exiled ignominiously to the backyard.)      

To date, the central issue concerning the adjustment in our living arrangement concerns clutter.  It is not only a matter toys, diaper bag, stroller, crib, books, bottles, doggy bed and feeding spoons.  There is also an array of household effects that have turned into everyday playthings, the most notable being cookie cutter cutouts, suddenly evolved into objects of endless fascination.

The problem – let’s not call it a problem, i’s all good here – is not just the clutter – never an easy adjustment for a grandparent blessed with a compulsively orderly temperament – but, more specifically, where the clutter resides, which is covering every floor in the house.  (Italics not included on “every floor in the house”, because really, I’m fine with it.)

Clutter – starting with a crawling baby and a skittering puppy, plus all the rest of the stuff – throw “imperfect vision” into the mix – and I am stepping on, sliding off of, stubbing my toe, turning my ankle, and an inflicting agonizing pain to my arches, simply moving from room to room around my house. 

I remember when it was just the floor I had to deal with.  Now I can barely see the floor. 

You really need to keep your eyes open.  Though there is an amusing – okay, to be totally honest, more than a little annoying – element involved here.  It has come to my attention that, unlike the toys I had as a child, which were – unless otherwise designated – soundless, all of Milo’s toys include an accompanying musical component. 

This means that every time you accidentally kick something, it not only makes the traditional “underfoot clutter than just got interfered with” racket, it also starts to play identifiable selections of music, varying from “Old MacDonald” to Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, for early cultural enhancement. 

Though in time, the toys return to a stable position, the things continue to entertain the listener until the particular musical number in question has, mercifully, come to its conclusion.  Though sometimes, if the jostling was particularly vigorous, the selection, once finished, will start from the beginning, and play again.  And there is no way I have yet discovered to make the thing stop!

Of course, as anyone who’s ever been around an infant family member knows, the slate of inconvenience is immediately wiped clean by the miraculous sunburst of a baby’s smile.   

I like to believe that smile means, “He likes me”, but my heart melts equally at, “He knows who I am”, an immeasurable improvement from those developmental months of his just staring into space, and my head’s in the way. 

There may be further reports down the line, should interludes of interest come to pass.  Right now, however, what comes strongly to mind is a similar situation years ago , but on that occasion, the tables were reversed, and the baby was me.

Though I wasn’t a baby.  I was twenty-three years old. 

Different.  And yet, interestingly, the same.

I will try and dig that one up for you tomorrow.

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