Monday, December 6, 2010

Public Yammering and Parental Buffooning

            The little guy is starting to get everybody’s attention.  He’s completely full of six-month blatherskite, and even though he makes no sense and sometimes erupts into wails, he’s a serious magnet for stares and smiles. I think right now, at this very moment, he’s at the peak age of baby cuteness. And he’s loving every minute of it.
            Every once in a while when he’s been quiet I’ll turn my head to look at him, and he usually gets this wonderfully impish grin. Of course I smile back at him – let’s face it, baby smiles are contagious. A smile from Daddy just makes him smile all the more and gurgle out one of those utterly captivating baby-coos that makes everybody simply have to stop and listen.
            “Awww!” I can hear them all think, “That kid is a darling!” Which, of course, is absolutely true.
            All the new cooing and gurgling have made for some delightful little baby games. My favorite so far is to mimic his babbling and move my head in and out, calling out “Boo!” when I get near his face. This is a wonderful game, although I have to admit that more than once I’ve found myself doing it in random public places.
            “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BOO!” I call out to my little son.
            He shrieks with laughter and a humongous grin. The cackles peter out into little giggles as I pull back, then do it all over again.
            “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BOO!”
            Shrieks of laughter.
            Every once in a while I realize what the heck I’m doing and look around. Usually there are least a handful of people who’ve stopped to watch with big smiles on their faces.
            I shake my head at how ridiculous I must look, but then figure, “Okay, I’ve already made a fool of myself. My son loves it so, what the heck.”
            “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BOO!”
            Of course, there’s always that inevitable moment when the shrieks transform from laughter to perturbation. It happens almost instantly, and when it does, the attention from bystanders shifts considerably.
            Last night when the switch occurred I suddenly found myself rushing to get out of the store. The clerk was doing his best to be polite and patient with me as Joshua wailed in his highest pitch available. I winced and quickly paid the bill without looking at the amount. As soon as I stepped outside in the bitter cold Joshua stopped his complaining, and the moment his car seat snapped into the van, he was completely asleep.
            I shook my head in wonder.
            It’s a delightful age – it reminds me how adorable little babies can be. It’s also a challenging age – where parents have to be constantly on guard, ready to placate the next installment of insanity. But most of all, it’s a comical age – it draws out the buffoon in us parents, and leaves us wondering how we ended up yammering in public places in the first place.
            I’ve never liked to think of myself as a buffoon. I remember back in high school hoping I’d never be publicly embarrassed. Part of me still holds onto a bit of that self-conscious worrying. But then, having kids changes something inside, and somehow it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Who cares if “they” think I’m a goof ball? Maybe I am. My son certainly appreciates it, and that’s what matters most.
            And let’s face it, he’s going to grow out of this stage quickly. I may as well enjoy it while it lasts.

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