There was a time when I arrived in Lexington and promptly received an empty fortune cookie. Today was different: by the time we rolled up at a local shopping mall's Chinese restaurant, all three of us venturing women were ready to eat, and by the time the fortune cookies arrived, my beloved Lexingtonian and I were ready to share. We decided that either of these could suit either of us right now, and so I pulled out the camera (with which I'd been documenting her daughter all afternoon) and deployed some unnecessarily shallow focus to capture what we'd been told. (For the record, I'm the one taking the big journey; she's having the happy adventure.)
Now that the day is nearly over, I can reflect on yet another way to understand having been told that big journeys begin with single steps. At about 8:45 p.m., the baby to whom I was reading Fuzzy Bee and Friends yet again began to melt down, and while general fatigue was the general culprit, my attempts to engage with her overenergetically were a local catalyst, leaving me to reflect on how difficult it can be for me to be patient. I keep thinking that I'm seeing things through the baby's eyes, but in so doing, I keep forgetting that the baby's brain, like all brains, needs time to process vast tracts of new information. And for her, nearly all information is new information. And so it is that the baby and I spent much of the day in overstimulation mode, especially once we discovered a new game: Kiss the Squeaky Duck. This game is particulary sweet given that she does not yet know how to kiss things and thus makes a face like a tiny bird opening its beak when she wants to give a kiss as well as receiving one. The Squeaky Duck (and the Squeaky Cardinal) are both happy to oblige when she makes the face. As am I.
In the morning, to be sure, we spent some time just chilling on the floor, feet in the air and arms waving--all four feet and all four arms--and then kicking back in the Boppy, which the baby's father has dubbed the Baby Barcalounger. This kid reclines in style. So, it's not that I'm incapable of letting her rest. I just get excited enough at the sight of her curiosity and her giggly delight that I forget to let her rest often enough. And once her meltdown started this evening, my anxiety that I was doing a wrong thing with the baby started to creep upward, even though I was able to hop to it, changing her diaper and getting her into her SwaddleMe (and what an invention that thing is).
What calmed us all, though, was the beginning of the baby's night-feeding and its accompaniment, her nightly story time. This routine is one I have long admired in my beloved Brooklynite's family: the last step in their son's bedtime rituals is that all three of them (and me, too, when I'm in town) sit down and read two books--whatever he's obsessed with at the time (for awhile, Goodnight Moon; on my most recent visit, The Wheels on the Bus) and then another one that his parents want him to know. Almost anything that exposes anyone to books puts me in a place of deep comfort, which is why the baby's new cloth books have me so excited for her: she's getting to handle her own books even sooner than I'd hoped. But the idea of babies' associating bedtime with reading aloud and family togetherness just makes feel me deeply and restfully happy, as though at least something is going right somewhere.
When my beloved Lexingtonian's excellent husband sat down on the nursery's glider's ottoman and began to read Goodnight Moon, I started settling just as much as the nursing, quieting baby. When he switched to The Very Hungry Caterpillar--a book that he read to her while she was in utero, from week 20 onward, and that he reads many nights now--I was enchanted: it's a book I read once or twice, probably in my long-ago babysitting days, but haven't revisited in anything like the way I've returned to Pat the Bunny. It's a beautifully rendered book, from what I could see over my friend's husband's shoulder: the colors are lovely, and the book design is clever. Tonight, the baby wasn't in any position to see the images or the pages' arrangement. But I love the idea that these words she's been hearing for some 31 weeks now were an integral part of her settling sleepward tonight.