Babies and Puppies

My brother and I once heard our little sister say, “If I can train a puppy, I can train a baby.” We laughed our heads off. At the time, we had children; she didn’t. We imagined her future children nipping at people, peeing on the rug, chewing on the furniture, and barking all day long. Later, when she actually did have children, we roared out loud when we learned that one had bitten the other.

Needless to say, while babies and puppies are equally adorable (I’ve had them both), we all know the process – and purpose – of training and raising them is radically different.

***

My new grandson’s first eight days were busy ones. He entered a noisy, active world. First, he encountered a medical staff – at the hospital and then at the pediatrician’s office a few days later – that poked and prodded him. He was weighed and measured; had vital signs checked and all body parts examined. Thankfully he was deemed fit enough to be released and entrusted to his parents’ care.

Grandparents, aunts, and uncles gradually descended upon him; each vying for time and attention. Everyone was given the equal opportunity to feed, burp, change, and diaper him. Then the “greats” followed…great grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles – and even a few cousins – to share in the baby’s Brit Milah. He was named, Ryan Isaac, for his paternal great grandfather who passed away in December of 2015 and his paternal great-great grandfather who passed away in January. During the ceremony, and his father’s beautiful words, I wondered if little Ryan could sense the love, hopes, and expectations already heaped upon him.

***

A steady stream of gifts has flown into the apartment. Boxes from Crate and Barrel, Buy Buy Baby, and Amazon are everywhere. If you haven’t been to a baby store, bought any baby gifts, or been around a new baby lately, you cannot begin to imagine how modern technology has taken over the industry. Baby monitors now have cameras, play music, and monitor temperature. Nannny-cams may be viewed on mobile apps. A contraption with a cuff goes on the foot to monitor the baby’s oxygen levels and heartrate. Bouncy seats no longer just bounce; they vibrate in different rhythms and play music. Bassinets wheel, telescope, and vibrate. And don’t get me started on the nature of today’s car seats, high chairs, and strollers. The list goes on and on. While my “poor” children clearly were deprived, my grandchildren won’t be.

***

The last two days have been quieter. Mom and dad have settled quickly into a routine. It’s great to see them experiment and “figure it out.” They are blessed with a calm and easy baby (tfoo, tfoo, hamsa, hamsa!) who is beginning to engage with familiar faces, voices, and surroundings. There’s excitement and wonder in the air as this new family-of-three gets to know each other and lays its foundation for the future. (It’s heart-warming to see my son assume fatherhood so seamlessly, though I shouldn’t be surprised. He always was great with babies and puppies.)

Ryan’s features change daily. I won’t speculate on who he looks like, but there certainly is a healthy dose of both parents in his shayneh zisseh punim.

***

I feel privileged to have been asked to join this new “normal” for a few days. I remained behind to hold down the fort and spend the week with this delightful threesome. My job? Running to the pharmacy and market; preparing a few dinners; washing bottles; doing laundry; and spending quality time with the newest love of my life. Equally or more important, I’m making sure my daughter-by-marriage rests and recuperates.

While this routine is a tad exhausting (it’s been a while since I’ve been around a newborn!), I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Sleep soundly tonight my dearest ones….Bubbie loves you so….

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