Leo the Grouch

7.7.08 Baby's 8th Week


New babies don't really party—but they love to dance. That's the conclusion I draw from a long weekend in the Poconos at my sister-in-law's wedding. We had a great drive there, and Leo had slept till 5 am for two nights beforehand, so we were all feeling pretty chipper. When we got to the inn, it was so wonderful to be surrounded by supportive, loving family members, so many of whom have kids, and all of whom were ready to dote on our little angel and hold him to their hearts.

Then Leo started screaming. The grandparents, aunts and uncles tried bouncing him, letting him suck their fingers, patting and massaging him—whatever they could think of, just like we do. But in the end, we would take the red-faced baby back, begin the exuberant, jiggling dance that he likes best, and eventually work him down into the sling where he would slouch into fetal position and fall asleep out of sight, waking only to gripe if we paused in the Leo jig. Yup, he's a party animal.

Of course, we love him even though he spends a good portion of his waking time wailing. And so do his grandparents, aunts, and uncles. But I can't help feeling like this baby is not living up to someone's expectations—like he should be smiley and calm, snuggling up in anyone's arms, and generally taking delight in life.

"Sorry he's so fussy," I heard myself telling people. But then I thought about it. He's alert enough now to look around, gaze at faces, enjoy the songs we sing, feel the breeze in his faux-hawk, observe the creatures in his favorite books, Squishy Turtle and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, and generally pay attention to goings on outside of his little two-foot frame. But add a booming sound system, 150 new people, an entirely unfamiliar set of sounds and smells, and Leo reaches the end of his interest in the outer world quite quickly. So it's back to the sling, where the predominant smells come from mom or dad, the view is limited, all his limbs are smushed up around his head, and voices are pleasantly muffled. Come to think of it, I would probably enjoy a break like that during a big party too.

And hey, a week later, Leo's still sleeping through the nights, a development I could definitely get used to. True, he gets cranky at some point every day, but after a solid night's sleep, I can provide a sense of humor and the energy to dance the day away. Being a bit of a curmudgeon myself, I can only marvel at how happy this little grouch has made me.