Monday, January 04, 2016

Who knows what goes on in the minds of babies

    Babies.  They are the most wonderful and important product we human beings can ever possibly manufacture or invent.  There is nothing in this world quite as wonderful as a baby's smile.  Nothing.

     The other day, I was going through some old boxes and stumbled across something entitled "Our Baby Book," filled with stories my mother had written about my own first few years of life.  Apparently I was a very happy baby.  Can you believe it?  Wow.  Somewhere along the line, I must have gotten the happy knocked out of me -- almost completely.

    Raising a child often just seems like a race to see how long our babies can last before they too get the happy knocked out of them.  In California, sometimes a baby can make it all the way through high school and even into college before that happens.

     In the Middle East, however, a baby's precious smile may only last a week or two before some American weapons manufacturer or oil baron wipes that smile right off of his or her face -- often along with the whole face as well.  But I digress.

     Reading my baby book has convinced me that birthing practices have really changed for the better since the time I was born.  "Daddy insists that our baby was born on a Wednesday," wrote my mother, "but I had too much ether to remember.  All I do remember is that some nurse kept yelling at me to keep my legs shut until the doctor got there, but I fought her off and shouted, 'No, this baby is coming!' and pushed the nurse out of the way."  That's my Tiger Mom for ya.

      And as for breastfeeding, the hospital apparently subtly discouraged that too.   "My new baby was brought in to nurse after three days," wrote my mother.  But then the doctor told her to give up trying to nurse because she was unable to produce any milk.  Yeah, well.  No surprise there.  After stalling around for three days before bringing me in, no wonder.  But then doctors back then thought that nursing a baby was disgusting -- either that or they were trying to sell Nestle's.  Or both.

     "Gave her ultra-violet ray treatments for a month when she was six months old.  Whooping cough shot at six months.  Tetanus and diphtheria shots at one year."  And those were all the shots that I got.  No comment about that.  I also got ten drops of "Oleum Percomorphum" daily.  Cod liver oil.

     Anyway, I obviously survived -- but only after many bouts with bronchitis, according to my baby book.  "At three months, she was underweight, soft and weak.  Every day, twice a day, I would massage her all over to strengthen her.  After four or five months of constant work and care, day and night, we finally brought her out of it.  Every night we rubbed her chest with warm camphorated oil, put on a flannel [shirt?], gave her cough medicine and burned tincture of Benzoin fumes."

     How much of this do I remember?  Nothing.  But who knows what goes on in the minds of babies?  They look into our eyes so intently that you start to think they must be Einstein or something.  And although we adults may choose to believe that babies are only contemplating eating and sleeping, the real truth is that nothing gets past a baby.

     How do I know?  Besides from constantly observing my granddaughter Sofia, the world's happiest baby?  Because I was hypnotized, that's how.  "You are going to remember as far back as you possibly can," the hypnotist told me.  And it worked.  Instantly I was back in the womb -- never wanted to leave.  But then I got unceremoniously kicked out and suddenly became dangerously cold and painfully lonely.  And then suddenly there was my mother, who kept me warm.  And then, later, there were my TOES.  Good grief, how much I loved my toes!  Who woulda thought that toes could make me so happy?

      And then my father came home from The War and my mother became unhappy and my father worked 14 hours a day and yelled at my mother and my older sister beat me up every day and we moved away from my mother's extended-family support system and -- by age seven, there was no more happy.

    Thank goodness the hypnotist brought me back out of that trance just in time!  It was like being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past.

     And now that I actually do know what goes on in the minds of babies, all I really want to do is start being really really nice to babies -- and go back to smiling at my toes.