Mon 12 Apr 2010
I know my son. Sure, it’s been only five months since he arrived but I know that he’s a bit expressive, emotional, sensitive, and prone to over-stimulation in public places. He is an empathy crier; one who senses the sounds of other babies and mimics their cries. His eyes get big when placed inside one of those gigantic excer-saucers, all bells and whistles, and toys dangling off them like some kind of Herculean beast. He makes several grabs at a few hanging toys before settling on chewing the crap out of the plastic bar that keeps him fastened in.
So, it shouldn’t have surprised me that when required to take off all his clothes except for a dress-code required white onsie and placed on a couch with ten other babies that my boy would have a panic attack. Stuck in the middle, my son makes it very clear how he feels about being pressed into a social situation he hadn’t bargained for:
He is the one with the outstretched lip, propping up the precariously placed kid next to him, mouth set in a permanent frown. While the mothers belted out a round of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” my son rewarded them with howling cries. Cameras flashed, a few babies actually smiled, the girl next to my son put her finger in his ear. The whole time this was going on my son searched the crowd for me, his cries letting me know his grave displeasure. The photo shoot was only a minute long–I’m sure my kid sped up the process–and when it was all over, we all clapped (yay!). I scooped him up and removed him entirely from the festive scene.
Hanging out in another baby’s pink decorated bedroom, my son and I tussled to get his clothes back on. He was still mad at me for taking them off, putting him on a couch in a fake social situation, and then taking pictures for posterity. I was mad at him for not going graciously into, what would turn out to be, one of the cutest photo sessions of his life, (can’t beat the adorableness of the baby line-up). While I admired the tight decor of our hostess’ baby’s room, my son finally settled down at the sight of a pretty black and white mobile hanging from the crib.
His peace wouldn’t last, however, because then I had the audacity to attempt an art project with him. One of the mothers had provided these really lovely colored canvases for each baby. White paint was produced and it was our job to dip the baby’s feet and then press them on to the canvas: Baby Prints! How adorable! Because I know my son, I offered to go first.
My heart sank as I removed my baby’s socks off and was rewarded with a squeal of complaint. Another mother stepped in to help me, trying to aim the paint brush at his wildly kicking feet. Carefully, we painted the bottom of his feet white while he cried in protest. Then, I hastily pressed his foot to the green canvas I had picked out. Because he was struggling, the first foot print was sloppy. “Heh, heh,” I said to mask my disappointment. The second time the canvas came at him, my son had had it: he pushed it away with his painted foot and left a smeary second print. (His cries seemed to say, “NO GOD NO, not the canvas!”) Instead of two lovely baby footprints, it looked like I had attempted this art project with a baby Sasquatch. The first print was barely recognizable as a foot but the second foot print looked like my kid was literally running away–a quick smear across the canvas. I looked at our finished art project and felt a mix of foolishness and despair.
No surprise: The other babies left much nicer foot prints on their respective canvases. While they wordlessly and silently placed their painted feet against pink and blue canvas, I was left with the task of removing the white paint from my son’s feet in the kitchen sink. He was livid. He was so outraged that I had to stuff him into the Ergo carrier and jiggle him around until he finally passed out into a brief, unsettled, sleep. Our canvas looked so terrible I polled the other moms: “Should I try this project again?” They took one look at my frowning, sleeping baby and discouraged me from a second attempt. One mother said, “It is what it is…it reflects your son.” She had a very, very good point.