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Wednesday, July 24, 2002  

A couple of nights ago, Trash and I spent the evening with someone special. I’d spent the evening with her before, but that was half a lifetime ago. Half of her lifetime, that is, because she’s only six months old. I’m speaking, of course, of my brother-in-law’s daughter, Deniece.

When her mom brought her in on Tuesday night, she seemed to be little more than a wide pair of eyes in a baby car seat, just goggling up at our ceiling. I “beeped” her gently on the nose and she smiled hugely at me. Ready to puke yet?

Deniece spent a while taking in her surroundings, looking as if she was trying to swallow the whole world with her eyes. She was clearly thinking, “What’s going on? Where am I? What the hell is that? Who are these people?” But then babies are always thinking that, at least when they’re not thinking “HUNGRY!” or “WET!” or “VAGUELY AND INEXPLICABLY BUT ENTIRELY INCONSOLABLY PISSY!” That last one’s my favorite, by the way.

She’s focusing quite a bit better than she was last time I took care of her. She noticed things more this time. I was holding her while standing in the living room, and she tirelessly tracked our cats’ movements around the floor while cutting her eyes back and forth between them. In turn, the cats seemed to sense her attention somehow. They were more interested in her this time, even regarding her with slight suspicion. “Hey, Orca,” I said to our congenitally prickly female kitty. “What do you think of your replacement here?”

My cats never think I’m funny.

I’d have to say that Deniece’s favorite game that we played was the one where I would hold her at arms’ length right up in front of the mirror, then pull her back towards myself. Then I’d do it again. And again. I think the reason she dug this is because she got to watch herself getting bigger over and over again, which helped her to visualize permanently attaining a size where she can lay down a little smack. In any case, it sent her into gales of hysterical laughter. Baby laughter is of course much funnier than grown-up laughter, because babies don’t have any appreciable vocal or respiratory control. So where you or I might go:

Ha, ha, ha.

Deniece goes:

EEEEHHAAIIGGHGHGHHG! KHKHULLLGGNGN! [sound that would deafen a porpoise] YYAAAAghgeaiuiaghjWOAIGANGAA!

That may not sound happy if you’re just reading it, but you can tell she’s laughing because she’s also smiling. Now why would anybody want that to stop? Oh, yeah, there’s the fact that my arms just fell off. Six months isn’t exactly in the featherweight category any more, my friends.

She’s also learning how to sit up, and she can kind of stand, if you don’t leave the actual balancing and weight supporting up to her. Sometimes you’ll sit and hold her in your lap, and she’ll start wiggling around, alternatively going totally limp and totally stiff in an apparent effort to slide onto the floor. What she plans to do after that, I have no idea. It’s not like she can outrun you or anything once she hits the carpet.

Her other big new thing is rolling over. Used to be that you could put her down and she would just have to wiggle and grunt and accept being helplessly immobile on her back. Now she has the power to take control of her situation and become helplessly immobile on her face. It must be quite liberating. Especially since she doesn’t have to give up the wiggling and grunting to do it. We did a thing where she would roll onto her stomach, and Trash or I would flip her back over, and she would be all, “Dammit!” but in a good-natured way, and we’d do the whole thing over again. That kept her happy for a few rounds, then “HUNGRY!” I guess the baby version of pro wrestling made her work up an appetite.
Deniece’s mom says that she’s starting to crack the mystery of crawling. Except she can only do it with her legs so far. That means her front end just sort of slides along, making her look like the world’s slowest, smallest, softest snowplow. Obviously she’s not going to cover a lot of ground that way. In fact, she didn’t cover any at all while we were watching her. I hope it wasn’t because we made her nervous with all the cameras and studio lights.

Her mom came to pick her up shortly thereafter. She was asleep before they’d gone two blocks. The baby, not the mom. This would be an entirely different entry if that were the case.

Listen, I’m not going to apologize, but if you’re worried about these Deniece entries becoming a regular thing, don’t. The reason we were watching her is because her parents were busy packing up to move to Des Moines. In, like, a week. And they’re taking the kid with them, darn the luck. So no more evenings of taking care of Deniece in the near future. We’re going to miss the little peanut.

All right, you can puke now.

posted by M. Giant 3:18 PM 0 comments


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