I recently met my newborn niece, Madeleine Denis, for our first family trip with the new addition. While she is certainly adorable and has Welch’s Grape Juice commercial baby cuteness, her wisdom was an unexpected virtue that taught this 26 year old adult (trying to be, at least) a few lessons and a way of life I can truly value.
First: Don’t lose appreciation for your hands. My hands do thousands of things for me daily. But watching a baby operate reminds you how great these extremities really are. She’s always grabbing things with profound wonderment and appreciation. I wish I was still as astonished with anything as she is when she grips a chip clip.
Second: when in doubt, cry. It’s amazing. She coo’s out a series of vowels and ‘H’ sounds and she has the attention of 2-4 grown adults ready to appease her. The last time I garnered that much attention through agony, it involved too much alcohol and a significant dose of humiliation. Point: babies.
Third: bowel movements are only endearing when infants make them. When babies poop, people react like they just saw a shooting star. My sister and brother-in-law know their daughter just gave them a nasty job to do, but they accept it like I do when the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. And they look at her like someone just gifted them tickets to Cirque De Soleil, and say something along the lines of “Did you just make a mess?” as Madeleine replies with a face that says “you betcha! Bombs away. It’s a wreck back there.” And call in the National Guard when she farts. Chris Rock doesn’t make you laugh as much as a baby farting. Now while I am not opposed to adult fart humor, at some point it is at its very core, utterly disgusting and often annoying. But a baby? Their farts get a bigger reception than if Paul McCartney went on tour with Bruce Springsteen.
Lastly: A baby reminds us what is really important. My niece was the culminating factor in getting us altogether for the first time in a while and reminding me that your family comes first, and that they are the only group who can tolerate your presence every minute of every day. When you have those people in your life, you don’t take them for granted. Madeleine also showed us that when times seem hectic, just relax. Sure, she’s not responsible for much (she’s 14 weeks old), but whenever the adults got annoyed with schedules or insignificant things like running low on ice or the weather acting up, we looked to the baby in full relaxation (often times wearing hilarious baby sunglasses) telling us to just chill the fuck out (maybe not in those words…maybe). Babies know that nothing is really that bad. They don’t worry about things they can’t control, which is just about everything. Running late? Dinner’s overcooked? It’s going to rain for an hour or two? Look at a baby and the little bundle of awesomeness will remind you that you’re with loved ones, you’re on vacation, and it’s not like you ran out of beer. And if her face wasn’t enough to calm us all down… she could always fart and send us all into euphoric laughter. So yes, the biggest takeaway from spending time with my new niece: Baby farts are always funny.