“What’s the baby’s name?”
I recognize the words as a script, but the young mom with the ten-month old in the baby pool does not. Why would she? The question is appropriate. And wonderful.
From a few feet away on the pool deck, I try to contain my pride.
This is the child who has never been able to tolerate a baby in any form – their coos and cries an all out assault on her nervous system, they were simply too much to bear. Now here she is, wading her way over to a mom to ask her baby’s name.
The mom looks at Brooke for just a split second too long before she answers.
Yes, ma’am, my eight year-old is in the baby pool. Yes, we did see the sign that says it’s for ages three and under, but she likes it here. Particularly when she has it all to herself as she did before you came in. You see, it’s quiet and there are toys here. She likes to ‘water the plants’ with the watering can. Really she just waters the pool deck, but there’s something soothing about watching the water darken the concrete. It calms her when the big pool gets chaotic. But all that doesn’t really matter does it? She’s asked you your baby’s name.
“What’s the baby’s name?” my girl asks again.
Her voice is a little too loud and she’s standing just a little too close. Mom has her guard up, but she smiles.
“This is Lilly,” she says.
Brooke squats down to the baby. They are nearly nose to nose.
I stand up and slowly walk over to within reaching distance. I don’t say a word, but I smile at mom.
It’s OK; I’m here. But please know that I’m not going to intervene unless I have to. I know you don’t know this, ma’am, but my girl is leaping over a huge hurdle right this very second as you and I watch. We’re witnessing something big. Something really big.
She’s ready for this. I’ll be here, but I’ll be here quietly as long as I can.
Still on her haunches, barely six inches from little Lilly, Brooke buries her face in her hands. This is new. I wonder if she’s hiding.
She opens her hands in the baby’s face and shouts.
My heart is so full. I don’t have to tell you why, do I? You get this, right? I am grinning. I can barely contain myself.
She doesn’t get a satisfying reaction, so she tries another tact.
“Baby, smile!” she says. “Smile, baby!”
Lilly looks a little more confused than amused. She leans into her mom.
Brooke reaches out for her foot. “I will do Little Piggy to her,” she announces.
I stop her before she grabs Lilly’s toes to explain that we can’t touch a baby without asking mom if it’s ok.
Brooke looks at mom. “Is it ok?”
The mom very sweetly says, “Sure it is. Lilly loves ‘This Little Piggy!'” She coos at the baby. “You like that, don’t you, punkin?”
Brooke launches in, gently wiggling one little piggy at a time until she gets to “Wee Wee Wee, all the way home!” She pretends to tickle her and Lilly lets out an adorable baby giggle. Brooke laughs in response.
I smile at the mom – perhaps just a little too broadly – and tell Brooke that it’s time for us to leave Lilly and her mommy to play for a while.
We walk back to where she had been sitting before they arrived. I squat down and tell her how proud I am of her. I tell her she is an incredible kid.
“I am?” she says.
“Yes, baby, you are.”
Without another word, she finds her watering can and takes up her work on the pool deck.
My daughter played with a baby.
EVERYTHING is possible.