"Babies Are People, too!" by Ben Nelken

That’s actually not true. The fingers and toes are there. And most people count on that fact to assure themselves that babies are real people. We took Margaret to a summer pool party when she was only a few weeks old. A few old Italian people commented that she had the long fingers of a piano player. As her father, I hadn’t noticed. I had been getting just barely enough sleep (about 4 hours a night) to remember to duck the low ceiling fan inside the house as my wife took Maggie inside to breastfeed out of the hot sun. Of all the baby clothes that were passed down to us, there was one Halloween monkey outfit. It fit Maggie perfectly. So for most of October which she spent as not a real person, she was a squeaky monkey. Whenever you slipped her in the outfit -- which included a cotton stuffed round belly, a short brown tail, and a little brown hood with floppy ears – she fell asleep immediately. It was like a travel-size sleeping bag for her. And a sleeping baby makes for happy parents. Until the baby can smile socially (for most babies this occurs after about 3 months -- I guess for the first 90 days, the baby is just too darn flabbergasted by how impossible it is to be human), most times she’s awake she’s fussing. Anyone who can’t fake it with a smile like the rest of us is just not a real person! My wife also sometimes wishes aloud that Maggie were a hungry hungry hippo. We’re trying to get her to eat more and gain some weight, but she’s often easily distracted during feedings. Looking around the room, checking out who is watching her. Her head’s on a swivel like a barn owl at a rat disco. It takes a lot of her attention to focus on which human in the room she doesn’t want to smile at. You know, we may have had it wrong all along trying to place her in the animal kingdom. Lately I’ve come to ascribe most her features to that of a butternut squash. Same color, same round belly, the faint smell of rotting fall leaves that might be compared to a diaper full of pee. If Maggie were a real person, she’d understand that her parents need some more sleep. I like to sleep. You like to sleep. What’s the deal with these squeaky monkeys?


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