Friday, December 5, 2008

The Secret Lives of Babies

Who needs TV when there are baby monitors?

Hours of wholesome entertainment for the whole family! Forget Wii, trash your Nintendo, just rush out to your nearest retail establishment and buy the little box with the big bang of fun! (Batteries and baby not included.)

Seriously. I could watch this thing for hours. Of course there’s no TV in the miniscule “guest room” of the Casa Colina cottage. After I put James down for the night, or for one of his two (alleged) naps of the day, I come in here and sit on my little twin bed to check and make sure he’s settling down nicely. Forty five minutes later, he’s still rolling, and and I’m still watching.

Few people know of the Secret Lives of Babies.

See, they have this secret language that only they can understand. Babies are actually bilingual, but must feign an ignorance of English in order to escape the consequences of disobedience. (“What does ‘NO’ mean, Mimi?”) They pretend not to be able to walk very well, but in reality they are accomplished acrobats and trapeze artists. James is a one-man circus.

He pretends to be all sleepy and cute, sucking his passie while simultaneously rubbing his blankie and his big, brown, innocent eyes. He lies down without a fuss and rolls over on his stomach, presumably off to NiteNite Land. I close the door and listen. All’s quiet on the Front.

I go wash the dishes or whatever. By the time I return to my seat in front of the mini-tube, the show’s already begun.

James has a very busy agenda. First, he has to lecture all the stuffed animals in Babyese. He talks up a blue streak. He makes impassioned speeches, becoming extremely animated and, evidently, so funny that he can’t resist laughing at his own jokes. Then he practices his English on them. He has to tell Monkey, his favorite, “no no” repeatedly. Then he gives him a giant hug and a head crunch, which ends in a move similar to the one we’ve been instructed to use in extinguishing a fire: “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” Next he practices his new favorite word. Unfortunately, my attempt at instilling proper manners has backfired. Now he says “Thank you” alright; it’s just that he thinks it means “Give me some more!” All through every meal now it’s “Dadu! Dadu!” For impact, he sometimes puts the emphasis on the second syllable: “Thank YOU!!!”

After thoroughly thanking his audience, he picks up the tempo. He grabs his blankie, sniffs it, and says, “Ummmmmmmm!” like a seasoned gourmand. He picks Doggy up and bites his nose. Then he pulls Bunny’s ears. To make up for it, he croons strange and exotic melodies to comfort them.

Then the Circus acts begin. He somersaults across the bed! He spins in circles! He does 360’s on his head, butt in the air. He does yoga moves like a yogi...and then has a little toe snack as long as they’re up there. The bed magically becomes a trampoline, then a jail cell which he tries to escape with Houdini-like intensity. Finally, it is a floundering ship. I think he’s yelling, “Man Overboard!!!” as he hurls his animal friends to safety on solid ground, but I haven’t cracked the language code yet. Then he gives himself an enthusiastic round of applause.

In the final act, James plays the tragedian. He stands up and shakes the bars of his cage one last time, then does dramatic flops on top of his animal friends. He hugs them tightly, as if he might never see them again. Then he plays dead. Just when I’m convinced he’s finally asleep, he stands up and does one last dive. He scoots around until he’s facing the camera. He stares straight into the lense, looking at me looking at him. He knows Big Brother is watching. He puts his hands behind his head, elbows out, one foot resting on the other knee....the picture of nonchalance. He looks exactly like Huck Finn lying on the riverbank, chewing on a straw. He gives me a last triumphant glance, then positions himself in the one corner of the bed that’s out of camera’s range.

I hear heavy breathing.


I had a strange thought the other day.

With all of our peregrinations and perambulations...

...machinations and rationalizations...

...titillations and vacillations...

God’s just sitting there at the monitor, shaking his head.


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Leslie Phillips God is Watching You

When your life's about to start - God is watching you
When you have a shattered heart - God is watching you
When you're a slave and when you're freed - God is watching you
When what you call love's really need - God is watching you

God is watching you
God is watching you

When you wake up in the night - God is watching you
When you're dancing in the light - God is watching you
When you don't need to use force- God is watching you
When you don't ever feel remorse - God is watching you


When you're a hero to us all- God is watching you
When you take that fated fall - God is watching you
When you hide your head in the sand - God is watching you
When you find a brand new land - God is watching you


When out of fear you judge your friend - God is watching you
When you let a stranger in - God is watching you
When you always have to win - God is watching you
When love requires that you give in - God is watching you


When you play the cards you're dealt - God is watching you
When you won't reveal yourself - God is watching you
When you believe enough to die - God is watching you
When you say your last goodbye -
(by T Bone Burnett and Leslie Phillips, The Turning)


Kim Godawa said...

Amazing words of wisdom! How thought-provoking - as sometimes I do "look around" when I say something mean out loud to anyone - with a small awareness that God heard it. Thanks for the reminder and the visual of these small moments of pleasure.

Still praying daily for you and yours..
A sister in Christ,
( who only knows you by your blogs..and so grateful we met)

Anna said...

so funny! i could picture every bit of it... on one of those monitors that make everything appear as if you're looking through night vision goggles! you're such a beautiful writer. such an encouragement! it amazes me how God uses you to minister to others through your experiences. continuing to pray for all of you!

Carine said...

Hi Kim - so funny! and amazingly written, as always :) I think of you all the time - the love and kindness that you and your family has given to me...
Much love, strength, courage and continued recovery to Katherine and all...

Amy said...

I've read all your posts since the very beginning (I am a cousin of one of Katherine's Athen's friends) and either laugh, cry or laugh AND cry my way through them. I haven't ever posted a comment though as I normally read up on each update on Caring Bridge and your blog posts and then continue to pray daily for Katherine's healing and full recovery.

However, I had to reply today as I am a HUGE fan of the Secret Lives of Babies myself. I have a baby boy who just turned 1 last week so I can relate to many of your James stories, especially this one! I too have the video monitor and can't get enough of watching my son do his routine in bed preparing for naps and nite nite. The gymanstics moves, the talking to all his animals, sending them "overboard" and then crying because everything, including his beloved 3 or 4 pacifiers, are out of if he can't recall that HE was the one who threw them out! My husband calls it my "spy cam" as I always have one eye on the mini-screen, watching his every move. =)

You are an amazing writer and an even more amazing Mother, MIL, and grandmother. Thank you for letting us be a part of this journey with your family. My family will continue to pray for Katherine's full recovery.

tatiana said...

gotta luv those babies.... :) u & your sweet grandson r formin' such an incredible bond.... in each other, u will find strength.... i've often times wondered myself wat God sees thru his monitor.... He is watchin' us, that i'm sure of....

MJ said...

I read this one aloud to my fiancé -- we both loved it -- thank you!