Mar 30, 2010

Treasure Box

(Originally published in my Friendster blog, on February 18, 2006)

Monday morning, nine o’ clock. Time to wake up.
I would have wanted to stretch my sleep a little longer, but I am startled awake by a drool of saliva dropping on my right eye, followed by a very wet kiss which misses my lips and lands on my nostrils.
"Ma? Ma-Ma!" the creature demands.

Josh at 1.5 years old
I open my eyes to a smiling cherub’s face, so angelic it reminds me of my own. Sigh. This is heaven.
Sniff. But what is that thing that smells like hell?
My baby and I troop to the bathroom to wash his poop-covered bottom.

Back at the bedroom, fresh, dry and diapered, it’s time for his vitamins. Oh, he loves his vitamins like I would love to see my ex-boyfriend  again.

He gurgles and laughs as I gently lay him down on the bed, sit beside him wearing a sweet smile, and press his two hands to his belly. Then as he realizes what is in store for him, I swing my leg on top of his hands to pin him down, use one hand to pinch his nostrils closed, and while he screams torture, torment and treason, my free hand quickly presses the medicine dropper into his mouth while I pray that he doesn’t spit, gag or vomit.
It’s a good thing babies are so forgiving. With the vitamins downed, we are friends again. The day marches through its usual beat of swing rides and bike rides, picture books and nursery rhymes.
So soon, the day is through and night arrives. After his evening bath, when he has been soaped, shampooed and soaked in a bucket of hot water while I brushed his teeth, it is bedtime. We name the animals in his wall chart, "read" two picture books four times each and sing a final round of nursery rhymes. Then we lie down to wait for blessed sleep. 
He gazes up at me with those darling eyes: "Ma-Ma?" he coos.
"Yes, baby?" I whisper.
He grasps his hands and pulls them apart: the sign language for "out."
"It’s nighttime, baby," I whisper again in my calmest voice, belying my gathering feeling of impending doom. "No more ‘out.’"
"Maa-aa!" his voice takes on a plaintive tone. He circles his hands alternately forward: "bicycle."
"Bicycle? No more bicycle, baby. It’s late."  It is, in fact, past ten o’ clock. Reading all those books eats up a lot of time. "We’ll bicycle tomorrow."
And suddenly, the world turns upside-down. Who would have thought that such a small body could contain so much voice? Tears mingle with screams so loud, my aunt who lives next door across a wide yard calls me to ask if the baby is sick or in pain.
I tell her he wants to go biking at midnight; I offered to nurse him but he pushed me away. "Don’t worry," I soothe her,"he won’t die from crying." 

She is not soothed.  Being the grand aunt that she is, she can’t stand to hear her grand nevvy crying. At last, I promise her the screaming will stop soon. It has to; it’s been going on for about five minutes and  -- well, have you ever tried screaming for five minutes straight?
We hang up and I return to the rebellious baby. I offer to nurse him again. This time, he grudgingly takes my breast, hiccoughing a sob now and then.
After a few minutes of nursing, he finally falls asleep. I contemplate his long, wet lashes, his half-open lips. I lightly stroke his thin, fine hair. I am unable to resist pressing a kiss on his chubby left cheek.
"What a precious day this was, baby."
He had cheese and banana for breakfast, and ate part of the banana peel.
He played in the garden carrying an umbrella because there was a slight drizzle.
He spent a quarter of an hour this morning playing with an empty can, rolling it around the garage.
He spilt some of the water he was drinking and he wiped it up with a shirt he got from the laundry hamper.
He spent part of the afternoon standing behind the front gate, beaming and waving at the little girls who were playing outside.
He repeatedly climbed on the armrest of the armchair and let himself fall on the cushion, giggling deliciously all the while.
He showered in the garden from a hose that we had hung up on the clothesline.
He splashed me with hose water despite my frantic "No! No!" and giggled like there was nothing more joyful than being naughty.
These are my treasures. This is my happiness.
I write it down so that when my baby is grown up, a year or two from now, I will remember.

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