I don't remember my nieces and nephews as babies very well. I suppose I held them. I suppose I ohhhed and ahhhed about them. I was young and probably more preoccupied with other things.
Last night my sister, the bone doctor and little Joanna were at our place when I arrived home from the salt mine. The bone doctor took my sister to drop her off at the football and left us in charge of little Joanna. R popped her on her back on a rug on the floor and I interacted with little Jo. Only eight weeks old and she smiles. Amazing. I told her she was about to meet the oldest person she had ever met, Dame M, and that while she may find the smoke unpleasant, it would be good to get a taste of it and not develop an allergy to it later. All children should eat some dirt, be exposed to all sorts of air borne things and have dogs and cats lick their faces.
I am afraid we rather spoilt our dyke friend's birthday by taking little Jo along. Who cares about birthdays when there is a cute baby around.
At Dame M's were the brother friends, Dame M, the boarder, the tenant, the mountain women, the birthday dyke and her girl friend and the ex NT policeman/politician, the Brighton Antique Dealer and her toyboy. Her toyboy has a role in a drag performance of Priscilla at the Exchange Hotel. And us, myself, R, the bone doctor and little Jo.
Some of us went on to dinner at the Dick Whittington. Little Jo had head of the table position.
Apart from a ten minute power nap, little Jo did not sleep and was still awake at midnight when we finally saw her and her parents off.
She moved, she looked around, she gurgled, she smiled. But mostly she looked around. She was absorbing information for the future. She was learning. She was loading things into her brain. She was working out the nuances and personalities. Sights, sounds, touches.
I was sitting in the back seat with little Jo on the way to the MCG to pick up my sister. As the street lights of Punt Road flashed in her retaliatory opening and closing eyes, I could see she was thinking, 'well, what was the weird collection of people all about'. In spite of how hard she gripped, twisted and turned my finger, it would not turn into her mother's breast. She had been fed expressed milk from a bottle, but it was clearly not quite the same.
It is far too late for R and myself and if we were to do it, it would have been done years ago, but I really do now have some understanding of what having a baby and seeing them grow must be like.
Babies learning is an extraordinary thing to observe.