Before I became a parent, I really wasn’t sure that I would know how to interact with a baby. I wasn’t really worried that I’d be bad at it or anything, I just couldn’t picture what you say and do with an infant beyond feeding, burping, rocking, hugging, and calling in the haz-mat team to take care of those nasty blowouts. What do you say to a baby that looks at you with his big blue eyes and expects to see something worth looking at? I honestly could not see myself saying anything at all.
But it turns out, anything is all I have to say.
I’ve enjoyed but never been particularly good at improvisation games. You really have to let yourself go and leave your mind open to anything in those situations. And self-consciousness gets in the way. At least it always did for me. I found it extremely difficult to be silly with everyone watching. That might sound strange to those of you who know me in real life. But it takes me awhile to get comfortable enough to be a complete fool. But between me and my boy, there really wasn’t a learning curve, there were never any barriers. He is my id. Or at least he brings “id” out. Ha.
Maybe it’s because I’ve known him since before he was born. It’s easy to make faces at him, to find a new noise or vowel sound that will bring out that smile. Maybe that’s why it’s easier for me to calm him than it is for James, easier to just be with him, even when he’s upset.
When I think M will like a new face or a new sound, I just let my eyes and mouth make one. I don’t think about it too much. Who knows what made me try peek-a-boo? Or lifting him high in the air over my head? Entertaining an infant is as much about trusting the gut as keeping the little guy alive and healthy is. And that good gut is part of the mommy package, I guess.
I don’t care who sees me make faces at my boy, who overhears my piccolo chirp of a voice when I’m talking to him. I’m not sure you could say that M has brought me out of my shell, exactly, it’s just that his peace and his smile is more important to me than anyone else’s opinion, real or imagined.
And another thing that I know is babies have a magical power to turn us all into total babbling idiots. Because how could anyone not just do anything to be on the receiving end of one of these: