Thursday, July 21, 2011

My new niece

The midpoint of summer comes as it always seems to of late—far too soon. Already the newspaper is publishing articles on back-to-school shopping. Looking at the calendar, I see that Bean-girl’s summer camp ends in just a few weeks. We’re in the midst of a dire heat wave, yet fall is just around the corner.

Do you remember when you were a kid and summer lasted forever? At least it did for me. No schedule, no place to be, nothing I had to do: summer was a limitless day, an empty bucket begging to be filled. My sisters and I played with each other and neighborhood friends; we read books, lounged about the house, quarreled. We had to actively look for ways to pass the time. We sometimes complained that we were bored. Now I’m catching my breath from school graduation, getting used to the rhythms of packing lunches for day camp, and suddenly it’s time to think about back-to-school shopping. Do things slow down at your work in the summer? someone asked me recently. No. If anything, my experiments seem to speed up in the summer, as new data comes gushing in.

This doesn’t mean I don’t take any breaks at all. We’re off on a family vacation this weekend—a small getaway Up North to a place on a lake. My husband and I did sneak off in June for our anniversary. And two weekends ago we managed to get away to the Big City where my sister and brother-in-law live. Our new niece lives there, too, who was born this past fourth of July. I would post a picture, but I think that might freak my sister out. So let me just say my niece is the cutest baby that was ever ever born. And I can say this with perfect loyalty to my own children, because they were also the cutest babies ever born.

Baby M, I will call my niece. She was crying when I took her in my arms. I rocked her, and she went silent in surprise, her mouth open, her blue-black eyes staring at me in shock. WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU??! her eyes said. Then her eyes closed and she went right off to sleep.

It’s my sister and brother-in-law, of course, who are the sleep-deprived ones. Baby M will sleep and eat, sleep and eat, coddled and pampered by her loving parents. She’s sooo cute! Bean-girl kept whispering, creeping up to gaze in awe at her cousin’s face. Legume, less impressed, spent her time playing with Baby M’s toys.

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They are doing remarkably well, Baby M’s parents. Almost preternaturally calm and confident. Where did they get that from? Was I like that? Did I give that appearance?

We in the Bean family are looking forward to getting to know Baby M. I envision vacations where our families get together, where the cousins all gather and play. My sister doesn’t know it, but I’m imagining spring break together in some warm family-friendly all-inclusive resort.

I imagine the cousins playing together on the beach. Summer.