Just a plain old baby

March 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

Sam put her hand on her mom’s belly and smiled.

“Pretty soon?” she asked.

“I sure hope so!” her mother replied as she shifted and grunted.

“What are we going to name it, Momma?” asked Pat, snugglecuddling up under his mom’s arm.

“Well, I don’t know, I think once I see it, I’ll know. It may be a Heather, or a Petra; a Chuck or a Kevin.”

“I hope it’s a boy!” said Pat.

“I hope it’s a girl!” echoed Sam.

“Well, whatever it is, I’m sure that we’ll all love it bunches,” Mom answered.

Sam began, and Pat joined in,

Fudge! Fudge!

Call the Judge!

Momma’s got a baby

Not a boy,

Not a girl,

Just a plain old baby.

And they all laughed together thinking their own thoughts about the almost finished little brother, sister, son, or daughter that was there with them, but not there too.

 ~

Sam and Pat’s eyes bugged out as they watched Mom lying on her bed groanymoaning and gruntysweating. They were a little scared, but they saw Dad holding her tight and kissing her and whispering things in her ear that made her smile in between the groans. Aunt Susan knelt between their mom’s legs looking up and saying,

“Here it comes! One more push now! I see the head!”

Pat and Sam moved timidly over to look too, and there, right in front of them, was the very top of a tiny little head, popping right out of their mom. Their jaws dropped, their eyes bulged even wider, as all of a sudden, whooosh, out it shot. Luckily, Aunt Susan caught it. All the sort of icky feelings they felt seeing the wrinkled little thing all mixed in with blood and slimygoo, melted away as they looked up and saw the gigantic smiles on the faces of their mom and dad.

Aunt Susan wiped the baby off, wrapped it up, and put it on its mom’s tummy where it closed its tiny eyes and with just a tiny little sigh and a whimper, started to suck with its tiny perfect mouth.

“Is it a boy?!” shouted Pat crowding in.

“Is it a girl?! Sam echoed looking over.

Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister all looked to Aunt Susan for the answer.

Aunt Susan responded, “Well…” but no more.

Dad chuckled and asked, “Well… What?”

Aunt Susan added “Well… it’s….”

The mom looked scared and asked nervously, “Well… it’s… what!?”

Aunt Susan replied, “Oh no, no it’s fine, just fine, healthy, happy, beautiful, wonderful, miraculous, perfect… but well… it’s….”

Sam and Pat jumped up “It’s WHAT?!!!” they yelled.

Aunt Susan hesitated as they all held their breath and stared at her “Well… I guess… it’s just a plain old baby!”

The pediatrician, looking a little confused, wasn’t quite sure how the ‘equipment’ between the baby’s legs was going to work when the baby grew up. But, judging by the wet spot on the table, the doctor pointed out that not only was it cute as a button, it was quite clearly working just fine for now. She agreed with Aunt Susan that while it was definitely neither a boy nor a girl, it certainly was a very strong and healthy, beautiful and happy baby.

Pat and Sam agreed that it was indeed a very happy, beautiful baby; and they quickly grew to love it bunches and bunches. It would suck on their noses, and smile and squeal at their sillinesses; and best of all, it would hug them so tightly with its tiny little arms that it would almost make them cry to feel so much love.

But, the mom — especially — felt sort of bad calling her baby ‘it’ all the time, she longed to say,

“Isn’t she cute!” or “My isn’t he strong!”

No one could quite imagine just who or how they would or should be if they were just a plain old person.

“Should it wear pink or blue?” questioned the mom.

“Will it be able to play football?” asked the dad.

“Is it made of snips ‘n snails, or sugar ‘n spice?” both Pat and Sam wondered.

They all disagreed as to how to treat their baby. Each She treated it as a She, and each He, as a He.

But, they all seemed to agree that their baby should live its sweet little life as one or the other, but not neither or both.

And, eventually, they all had to agree that it should realy be their baby’s very own choice.

They also disagreed on what to name their baby. It was definitely not a Heather, and not a Petra, Chuck, not a Kevin and not a Chuck, at least not yet.

They were, finally, able to all agree, that, at least for now, they would call their dear baby, Happy, just because it was.

Sam would carefully carry Happy into her room and spread all her dolls out around the tiny person who would sit so amiably in the middle of the floor, cooing contentedly, sucking on their bald little heads and chewing on their soft little arms.

Pat would take Happy outside and drive his trucks around and around. Between mouthfuls of dirt, Happy would chew on the tires while purring satisfying little motor sounds.

Happy loved being a member of this family. SheHe loved the dolls and HeShe loved the trucks. They both even loved the dirt, but in time began to understand that each of them was wishing for HimHer to be something that SheHe really quite wasn’t. Happy so wanted to be a She for Sam, a He for Pat. But, when Heing with Pat, Happy missed the She-ness; and when Sheing with Sam, missed the He-ness just as much. Happy saw the disappointment each of them would feel when HeShe was Sheheing with the other, knowing they wanted HerHim to choose, but loving each one too much to choose either. Eventually, wrestling such a hard and unbabylike problem left Happy serious and quiet, no longer the contented toy-sucking infant of HerHim’s youth.

~

Then, one day, a repairman came to Happy’s house to fix their TV. Happy crawled over and sat down next to the man as he worked on the big machine that HeShe had never really paid much attention to, being so caught up in HisHer own little dilemma. The man was strong and skillful, and Happy could not help being dazzled by all the glitterygadgety stuff the man had attached all over his body: hung on belts, stuck in pockets, and filling little pouches hanging on other belts. Happy was amazed by the lights and all the fancyblinky machinery that the man as using, and thought that since this was the most amazing and magnificent person that HeShe’d ever met (though Happy had not been alive long enough to meet very many) HeShe resolved to live a glittery and gadgety life as a He.

After the man had left, Happy sat and watched the flickering faces coming from the TV box. As She after He appeared on the glowing screen, (some full of love and glitter, some full of hate and gadgets — others full of hate and glitter and still others full of love and gadgets; even some with only love or glitter or hate or gadgets) Happy again felt not sure of much of anything at all, except that everyone else wished for a choice – She or He.

That night, as Happy lay sadly in HisHer little pink and blue crib, each family member paraded through with a soft and sweet good-night kiss and hug. As each She was followed by a He, Happy’s terrible indecision would swing first Sheward, then Heward. Finally, alone in the darkness, sad confusion washed back over Happy like the quiet, endless seconds spent swirling topsy-turvy beneath the green water of crashing surf.

“First thing tomorrow,” Happy thought, “I must decide, I will decide!” but as the saltysad and lonely tears filled the tiny sleepy eyes, Happy began to fear that it was a decision that was too terrible to ever make.

Before tomorrow could arrive, Happy was pried, twirling from HisHerHerHis dreams of glittering gadgets and into a dark middle-of-the-night by the loud crying of dear Pat.

“Ohhh Mmommmmyyyyy!” he wailed between bouts of spraying his dinner all over his bed.

Happy stood up, clutching on the rails of the little crib in terror, looking out into Pat’s bedroom to see the fear and pain in his eyes as Mom and Dad held and cleaned and comforted him. With that awful sight, Happy, too, began to wail, bringing Dad quickly over to snatch HimHer from the crib and back to Pat’s side. Seeing Pat curled up all sad but cozywarm in his mom’s lap made Happy feel a little better and the crying slowly turned to whimpers as Happy pulled Dad closer, with little fists that grasped tightly on Dad’s sleeves. Mom held her hand on Pat’s forehead, and shook her sleepy head,

“We better get you to the doctor!” Mom said to the poor limp Pat as she rocked him in her arms.

Soon they were sitting in the little room that the doctor used for an office in her little house. The doctor’s own little baby looked all sleepyeyed around the doorway to see what was what, and when Happy’s eyes met hers, she chirped out a little giggle and scurryhurried away, only to be brought back in the arms of her mom. Well, Happy had never met a She quite like the doctor. Without even putting the shy little girl down, the doctor opened the doors on a big white metal cabinet that was absolutely filled with all sorts of amazing and mysterious gadgets. Strapping a big shinybright light gadget on her head and taking out a whole tray of glittery things, the doctor began to gently talk to and comfort Pat.

With more skill than even a TV repairman, the doctor began pulling gadget after glittery doohickey out of her cabinet and off of her tray. And very soon (after a short siege of crying when the doctor stabbed Pat with some glittering pointy gadget) the doctor had Pat feeling, at the least, a little more confident and certainly more awake.

While Happy’s mom and dad talked with the doctor in the other room, Pat felt himself all over and exclaimed,

“Hey! I think I’m feeling better, Yup, I think I may be!” and then, Pat gave Happy a huge old hug and a kiss. Happy was dazzled, so much glittery stuff, so many wonderful gadgets, and so, so much warmsoft love. The doctor was still more amazing and magnificent than Happy had imagined anyone could be, and Happy’s heart began to ache to be just like the doctor: a She.

But once again, as Happy watched Dad gently lift Pat into his strong arms and carry him — whispering loving little words into his warm little ears — the clear resolve of the moment before melted away like cotton candy, and Happy’s awful indecision returned.

~

On the way home Happy sat quietly looking out the window of the car at all the quiet houses and empty streets that whizzed past, wondering about all the people sleeping in all the houses on all the streets, wondering and wondering while slowly falling asleep. As Happy’s sleeping little head rolled limply over onto the padding of the car seat, SheHe dreamed a dream of all the people in HerHis life. Happy dreamed that they stood around arguing, all at the same time, about why Happy should choose his Heness over her Sheness. The doctor was there, and Pat and Sam and Mom and Dad and even more big people whom Happy didn’t even know. But all their arguing voices just mixed together into a funny sounding buzzyhum. Happy looked up at their receding faces as they grew larger and larger, or perhaps as Happy shrank smaller and smaller, and felt lost and all alone in the whole wide world, and very very sorry for HerHis sorry little plain old self.

Then, quietly at first, off to the side, Happy heard a tiny voice, and there crawling over and calling Happy’s name, was the doctor’s shy little daughter. The two babies met in a ring of giant shoes as a distant echoing hummybuzz fell from above like a gentle drizzle.

“Ya’ know,” said the doctor’s baby without moving its lips, “there’s a lotta different ways to be. Sometimes I wish with all my heart that my mommy wasn’t a doctor with all her glittery gadgets. Sometimes I wish she would just be some kind of repairmom. Sometimes, in the middle of the night when I’m scared, I wish that she would just throw all these other people’s babies right out the window and take care of only me. And sometimes, I wish — oh sometimes I wish so so so bad that we had a daddy of our very own to take care of all the other people’s babies so my mommy could be with me and just me.”

Happy’s melancholy mood vanished before the strange but soothing dilemma of this other baby, and SheHe listened carefully to the clear and simple thoughts of this new friend, who continued, “Sometimes, daddies come to my house with their babies curled up all sadsick and sore in their arms. And sometimes those babies don’t even have any mommies at all. But ohh, sometimes, babies come to my house that don’t have any mommies or any daddies, but just the police to take care of them. And I bet those babies wish that they had just any old kind of plain old person to have for their very own to just hug em and love em and kiss em and take good care of them!”

All the giant shoes were suddenly gone, and now, in Happy’s dream, there were just two babies. Two giant babies sitting on top of two little hills like two little stools. And all the houses and roads and cars and cities surrounded them like teenytiny toys. Happy looked out over the tiny world, and wondered about all the decisions that waited to be made by all the people that lived in all the houses on all the roads in all the cities.

But the doctor’s baby wasn’t finished, and pointing out across the miniature universe spread out before them, she continued, “We are just babies. We have our whole lives rolling out ahead of us just like all these tiny little roads. We will travel without the slightest idea of what we may find around the next bend, or what life might ask from us. We have no way to know what we might discover if we choose to turn to the right, or if we choose to turn to the left, or even if we choose to just go straight on. But no matter how far or in which direction we go, someday, we will all come to just exactly the same end of the road. All we can do is to try and pick the way that feels like it’s just our way, and decide to be just whoever we happen to turn out to be.”

“Being a plain old person may turn out to be just the best thing ever, or the worst. Sure, you could act like a He, but you would still be just exactly you — or, you could be a She, but it wouldn’t really change a thing. Inside you’d still be exactly the same plain old person. I may be a She on the outside, but ya know what? On the inside, I’m just a plain old baby just like you, and just like every other person ever was.”

“Sometimes,” said the doctor’s daughter very quietly, “that plain old person inside me can’t quite be the She its supposed to be; sometimes that me just isn’t very She. But since I met you — the very first person ever to stay just a plain old person — I feel a whole lot better about being the me that’s not too She. And it’s a whole lot easier for me to be just me and not somebody’s idea of what a She should be.”

The wise little DreamShe leaned over to give Happy a little thank you kiss just as Dad accidentally bumped Happy’s head against the side of the seat as he was taking Herhim out of the car and inside into HisHer’s very own bed. Happy’s friend disappeared as SheHe jerked awake and heard Dad coo, “Oooo, sorry my lil’ bug,” as he bundlecuddled Happy securely into his strong arms and up onto his shoulder.

Feeling safe and warm and loved and happy, Happy began to fall back to sleepydream in Dad’s arms. Happy wondered how HerHis life would turn out. HeShe wondered where SheHe would go, what HeShe would do, and whom SheHe would love, but didn’t wonder anymore about being a He or a She, for Happy realized that SheHe was very happy to be just a plain old baby, and they were.

 

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