My nephew and his wife just had a baby boy.
He’s the first great-grandchild in our very huge extended family, so we’re thrilled. I was dying to see him, but I waited a month before I asked if we could stop by and see the little guy in Boston.
We got the go-ahead after watching our last Red Sox game of a very disappointing season at Fenway Park. The Sox looked like they had it wrapped up leading 5-1 in the top of the 8th inning, so I suggested cutting out early to see the little nugget.
“Let’s go,” I said. “I’m bored and getting cold.” I didn’t get an argument from my sister, brother-in-law and niece, so we went to a souvenir shop to pick up some swag for the baby. Truth be told, we were all much more excited about the baby than the game.
As we walked to my nephew’s apartment, we heard a roar in Fenway Park that made us think we might’ve made a mistake leaving. By the time we got to the apartment building on Boylston Street, the score was 5-4, and the San Francisco Giants were coming on strong.
“Uh oh,” I muttered. “The Curmudgeon’s going to kill me when he finds out that we left early. Do me a favor and don’t say anything.”
Our problem was quickly solved when we took an elevator to the 20th floor rooftop deck and peered over one side of the building. There in all its glory was Fenway Park. And though the infield was obscured by the stadium, you could see two outfielders, watch the scoreboard and hear the roar of the crowd.
Talk about prime real estate.
While the game progressed, we craned our necks for a better view of the Tiny Man, who was sleeping and nuzzled next to his mommy in a front pack. As we watched him snooze, I tried to remember having a newborn, but couldn’t. I had no recollection of ever feeding, changing, bathing or holding a baby so small, though I’ve done it twice.
Babies put their parents in survival mode for the first few months, perhaps explaining my memory lapse of parenting a newborn. Well, it’s not a complete lapse. When my daughter was about two weeks old, I told the Curmudgeon that I planned to walk away from the house until I could no longer hear her shrieking. I got about a half-mile away before I finally found some peace and quiet.
To this day, it’s hard for me to listen to a baby screaming, particulary in a store when I’m trying to shop. I spared fellow customers the agony by pretty much keeping my daughter home during the first few years. She screamed whenever we left the house, so it was just easier to stay home. Some would argue that wasn’t the best strategy, but it’s how I coped.
My sister doesn’t need any advice on grandparenting, but I gave her some anyway: Resist the urge to comment on your son and daughter-in-law’s parenting skills, particularly in the first few months when sleep is at a premium and nerves are jangled.
One relative refused to give me the satisfaction of complaining about my daughter’s fussiness and incessant crying. Nicknamed the “Screech Owl,” she cried non-stop for about three years. Even my mother, who had seven kids, said she was difficult.
But I could never get any sympathy from one relative, who always brushed off my complaints.
“She’s a baby,” I was told. “And babies cry.”
I wanted a kind ear and maybe a little babysitting help, but what I got felt an awful lot like criticism. Of course, I may have been overly sensitive. I had a newborn and my nearly 4-year-old son reverted to acting like an 18-month-old. Happily, he outgrew that phase after a few months.
During our visit with my grand-nephew (boy, do I feel old writing that), we took turns holding the baby, who slept peacefully as he was passed from one person to the next. The thrilling moment came when he cracked open his deep blue eyes and pursed his lips while I was holding him. It reminded me that when you have a tiny baby, everything is monumental.
Babies fascinate us. Experts say it’s because we’re drawn to really cute things and babies top that list. But scientists say it goes deeper than that, saying a part of the human brain is immediately activated when we see a baby’s face that remains unchanged when we see an adult. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226213448.htm
So in effect, none of us can help going bonkers over babies. It’s hard-wired in our DNA, and is basically part of the evolution process.
After we left, I texted my sister and told her about our visit with her grandson. It was clear that he’s stolen her heart. Babies do this. They make us instantly fall in love, reminding us that life’s full of hope, possibility and joy.
Though she’d left Boston shortly before we arrived to return home to Connecticut, my sister was already counting the days until her next visit.
“I miss him so much,” she texted.
I understand, because so do I. I’m trying to figure out if I can sneak in another visit during an upcoming college tour around Boston with my daughter. I’ve got baby fever too.