November 30, 2007

A high chair in the dining room

My brother, sister-in-law, and niece came to New York for the week. It is the first time my sister-in-law, "A," has been north of, say, Washington, D.C. My niece, Kayanna, 10-months-old, had her first airplane ride and encounter with the T.S.A.

I wonder if they looked in her diaper for a concealed weapon. I think the odor of a ripe diaper would have been a perfect way -- and so subtle -- for Kayanna to express what I feel when I am disrobing to go through the metal detector. It would certainly have marked her as a member of Aunt Alice's family. We don't suffer fools easily.

Hard to believe I'm saying "sister-in-law" after my brother has only been married for 14 months. Wives one, two, and three were relegated to the status of "my brother's wife." This one, though, "A," mother of my niece, may be a keeper. Kayanna has my family's bloodline, for whatever that's worth. Meanwhile she's adorable.

I'm hoping Kayanna's gene pool will swim with common sense and high intelligence, and forgo the migraines and depression common to "A's" family and mine. In that sense my brother is brave; I was never willing to take the genetic roulette wheel out for a spin.

I like "A", babe in the woods that she is, more than previous models. She's bright, she's funny, she shares my family's sense of humor, which, if you didn't know us, you would have a hard time following, and not only is she intelligent, she wants her daughter to go to Harvard. She wants Kayanna to have more advantages than she did, and I don't doubt that she will try her damnedest to make sure that happens.

(I don't think "A" realizes that she has married into a family that has the financial advantages to make sure Kayanna gets the best education she can receive, but that is a story for another time.)

"A" and I even like the same TV and books. We are House and Law & Order: CI fans. Her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, which give her the seal of intellectual approval from my over-educated self. (Previous wives were fond of Entertainment Tonight and that ilk, and I don't think any of them touched an actual book.)

Kayanna hasn't quite perfected her crawl: after a few steps on and and foot, she relaxes into the Army crawl, pulling herself along solely with the strength of her arms, and dragging the rest of her 20-pound body behind her. However, she can stand up, and if you hold her hand, she can walk.

This may be banal for anyone who writes a mommy blog or who has had their own children, but I'm the Aunt, and my exposure to babies has been very limited. Judging from my mother's anxiety before the Southern ("A" is from a Tiny Town in the deep South, where my brother had taken up permanent residence) contingent arrived, it would be difficult to tell that my mother had raised two children of her own, and those in the era before the participatory dad.

The stories she tells about us are getting more entertaining. Once, she lost my brother, age 3 or so, in Central Park. Another time she offered him PB&J or caviar for lunch. He was about 4. He went for the caviar. I said, no wonder we aren't mainstream. As a baby, I ditched the house key in another park, so the nanny had to go to the super's office to so we could get into the apartment.

What else happened when my mom was raising us? At Schraff's, circa 1964, I refused to wear a napkin tucked into my chin unless my mother and her friend did the same. They complied. Amazing what power I possessed as a 3-year-old. Then there was the time I tried to drown my brother in the wading pool, a story my mother repeats time and again, as if eventually I will remember the incident. I also don't remember pushing his pram into traffic, but it's another of mom's greatest hits.

Onto the high chair: my brother and "A" came to dinner at my house last night, with the baby. I had invited them in part because my mother has become the take-out queen, armed with menus and her VISA card; no one has seen her apply heat to food since the Southerners appeared. I thought they might like one of my rare home-cooked meals, not to mention a meal without my mom (something I was also looking forward to).

They said they thought they would feed Kayanna in her all-purpose baby seat/stroller seat/car seat, until I said, do you want a high chair for her? Next-door, my neighbor has a grandchild about 2 years older than Kayanna, so I called. In less than 5 minutes we had procured the high chair.

Now it sits, pulled in as close to the dining room table as my grown-up chairs. Kayanna and her parents have returned to my mother's, leaving me with an empty chair that says "your niece ate here."

I hope she comes back for more, soon.

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Blogger The Misanthrope said...

Those are great stories. I wish I would have thought about the pushing pram into traffic idea. You'll just have to get your own special high chair for niece. I'm sure she'll not want to share such a personal dinning accouterment that some other tot has soiled.

12:28 PM  
Blogger the only daughter said...

Mom tells the story of how I bawled like...well, a baby, every time Mahalia Jackson appeared on the tv screen.

I don't get the chance to spend much time with my niece and nephew though they are relatively close, the times we get are indeed precious and treasured.

I too hope your niece returns sooner rather later.

4:32 PM  
Blogger scout said...

I so appreciate my friends who are willing to procreate so that I can enjoy the cuteness of their children without ever having to change a diaper or stand blinking and bewildered beside a crying infant who demands some kind of intervention from me in order to stop.

I missed the childhood of my own niece, who spent her first 13 or so years in Belgium and Iceland (military baby), but happily, my straight friends are now having the children they failed to produce in their 30s. (Oddly, most of my lesbian friends have grown children they produced in their "heterosexual" 20s.)

2:59 PM  

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