Note: An old piece…
In my arms, she continued to squirm. So much so that it was difficult for me to hold on to her little wiggling form. She put her tiny hands against my shoulders and pushed backwards with such force that had I barely managed to maintain my grip on her so that she would not fall down on her head.
And she continued to cry. Not in a loud, bawling manner. It was a whimpering sound, small and muted, like a small animal in pain. All I could think of doing was making hushing and soothing noises, in an attempt to assure the little creature that I did not mean to harm her. It was just that she had been thrust upon me, to be given a ‘walk’ around the garden for the mother was currently ill and needed some rest. So, now, the duty to take care of the baby, for a short while, was entrusted to me.
But she would not stop fidgeting. She continued to try to get away. It was with great difficulty that I managed to cling on to her tiny being. She knew which door we had used to come out in the garden. She kept pointing back towards it, while making a burbling sound, as if to tell me that that is where she’d much rather be. Twisting and turning in my arms, she was not getting distracted by any of the things that I pointed out to her. No brightly coloured flower, not the gently rustling trees nor the squawking birds grabbed her attention. Apparently, all she needed was her mommy but I had strict instructions on that score. So, I tried to swing her around but all it resulted in was her howling at me and clawing at my neck for leverage. That was the time I found out babies actually have very sharp nails.
“You know, I’d much rather be doing something else, as well,” I said to her.
It was at the sound of my voice that she stopped crying, suddenly, and sniffed up at me, her eyes watery, thick tears clinging to her lashes.
“Yeah, that’s right. I’m talking to you, little missy.” I told her, my tone even more stern now. I was tired of walking around carrying her around with her not settling down. “I know you want to go back to your mommy but mommy needs a little down time. So, we are going to walk around the garden.”
As I said this, she blinked up at me as if she understood me. Slightly surprised, I silently thanked God for making my job easier and continued to walk. That is when we came to the garden swing and I thought she might like to try it. I tried to sit her down but every time she dug her toes firmly in the seat and refused to budge.
I tried to coax her in saying “It’s a swing dear…you’ll like it!” But it didn’t seem like she was very enthusiastic about it. She just wouldn’t sit and I stopped attempting. Sighing, I decided to sit in the swing myself and have her sit in my lap. That way, she’d know that she had nothing to be scared of and I was getting tired as well.
I put thought into action. She clung onto me, slightly hiccupping, digging her nails in, as if afraid that she’ll fall. I put my arms around her to try to reassure her. At this, she rested her head against my shoulder and snuggled. I smiled at her cuteness.
And then, while swinging, I started talking to her, nothing in particular, just randomly. About everything and anything that came to my mind. I told her about my hectic schedule and how I wished I could turn time back and be as old as her.
“Don’t be in any hurry to grow up,” I told her.
At this, she actually giggled and I couldn’t help laughing a little myself. Thus finding her calmed down, I continued to talk to her. In a little while, she actually sat down in my lap, with me holding on to her back so she didn’t fall backwards. And she looked up at me with big, brown, intelligent eyes that seemed to light up as I pointed out birds and flowers and told her some of the mischief I had gotten into while younger. And I continued to talk and she listened, avidly it seemed to me.
I told her about how hard it was to have to be responsible for things, especially being the oldest, how hard it is to live up to expectations, how hard it is to make certain decisions all on your own, and how difficult it is to maintain a balance in life. She nodded and giggled and frowned at all the right places in my story telling. If I ever paused to take a breath, she would start cooing and babbling, telling her own story to me. And meanwhile, as we continued to ‘talk’, both of us swayed with the rhythm of the swing, a light breeze ruffling our hair.
It was the best time ever. We sat there for a very long time, talking, singing and humming. And the baby – Maira her name was – keenly joined in. It was only when it began to grow dark and the sun was getting ready to set that I thought it prudent to go back inside.
As I handed her back to her slightly refreshed mother, I surprisingly felt a pang as she hugged her mother after being parted for so long. Yet, I was also happy for not only had I managed to be ‘succeed’ at the task handed out to me and pleased my mother, I also had a very good time.
And as Maira waved goodbye to me, I knew we would have other good moments – maybe even better – just like today, on the swing.