My sister will be giving birth to newest baby in the Klatt klan in a few weeks. I saw her at Easter, her hip-length henley bunching at her rounded belly. This will be my 12th niece or nephew.
Soon there will be a newborn crying at the next family get-together, squishing his/her little face and turning beet-red because she/he is hungry or her/her diaper is soiled. (Isn’t that how it is? I’m completely forgotten. It’s so odd how I grew up surrounded by babies as one of the eldest in my tribe of 10. I was the go-to babysitter. More or often than not, I dumped the youngest sibling into the stroller, strapped him/her in and off we raced to the library so I could get more books to read. Wearing a wrap-around red/blue plaid poly jumper I was once actually mistaken for a young mother while I was prowling for new reading material in the children’s section. I was so insulted.)
Babies crying in the crib or in the high-chair...well, it’s all as foreign to me as French (and I’m relearning what I absorbed in high school). Today though, I just cringe when I hear those high-pitch wails. When I hear them on the bus, I go to the farthest unoccupied seat and pray that that family gets off as soon as possible. Or I depart as quickly as I can. Unabated cries just wear on me rapidly, although I do feel for those mothers who can’t escape an unhappy child.
Now there’s nary a play-thing in my house yet when I was a teenager I was accustomed to stepping on Leggo pieces. Ouch! Wait, I take that back: there’s a stash of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys that I’ve received from my best friend in my linen closet. I give those to my nieces and nephews at Christmas. But no diaper bins in the bathroom or baby food in the refrigerator. My life is different: I can scarcely tolerate the sound of humans ages 1-10 in my immediate vicinity. Example: I become annoyed when my upstair neighbor’s kids scamper back and forth on the wood floor above my bedroom. If I’m lucky, I’m distracted by entertaining a guest in my own living room during that time.
So I’ve been thinking about this new addition. Do I make a hat? Knitting one takes a little more effort. Or do I stitch one up out of some inexpensive fleece on my sewing machine? Or do become one of the masses and buy yet another onesie to add to my sister’s already expansive selection in this clothing category?
If I leisurely knit a cap I’ll be thinking about that newcomer a little more. Developing an attachment if you will. It’s much like the time I made a little box embellished with a Victorian letter for my first niece. I had difficulty familiarizing myself to her name, which was pretty, but I felt like it clashed with her last name. So I decoupaged this tiny cardboard box, so I could get conversant with the sound of her name.
I might have to do that same with the newest baby, since my sister is prone to dub her second child after a natural object in another language native to South America. I never heard of her son’s appellation until he was welcomed on this planet. Perhaps I could stitch No. 2’s initial on a hat after the fact? Babies need hats because their hair is so short, it’s like peach fuzz. But I’d no sooner finished my handiwork than the baby would be on her/his way to accept her Master’s Degree diploma. No, I could complete my that hat faster than that - perhaps by the time she/he is in second grade. By then, my creation might be suitable for another person about to be born.
It’s funny how it’s taking me longer to warm up to a name than the bona fide physical presence of this new person. After all, I’m far more likely to ask how __ is doing than I am to be spending time in his or her presence. I’ll be shopping for gifts, sending personalized birthday cards far more often than I will be burping him/her on my cloth diaper-protected shoulder. I’m much more predisposed to be saying “God Bless What’s His Name” just like Sister Maria in The Sound of Music than actually spending time with this child bouncing up in down in a church pew.
A name takes some getting used to. My own name probably sounds quaint to those young ones; to me, it’s what I became acquainted with along with my dark brown eyes and long waist. While I might wrinkle my nose at some of what I consider strange monikers of the younger Klatts, you know what those kids do? They tell me to cut my fingernails. They think they’re too long. One actually bends back my nails when he gets the chance, not realizing that that hurts.