This weekend we did some pinch-hitting babysitting for the parents of a five month old baby girl. Their babysitter had bailed on them at the last minute, and they had a Christmas party to go to. And as Clay says, I'm not always rational when it comes to babies, so I thought it was a great idea. Two babies in the house, I thought! What fun!
And for the first twenty minutes or so, it was just as much fun as you'd imagine two babies would be. Madison was fine until her parents left, then she looked around, developed a wobbly lip, and started to cry. Sophia looked at her with great alarm and warned me severely, "Baby. Baby. BABY." Then she developed wobbly lip of her own, and started to cry too. This was somewhat inconvenient, because Clay was gone, taking Max to a friend's house.
Then I made a terrible mistake. Sophia was getting quite upset, and that was getting Madison more upset. So I figured if I could put Madison down for a second, I could comfort Sophia, and then we could stop this massive spiral into cry-land. So I put her down. Ahem. In Sophia's crib.
That was NOT OKAY. Sophia FREAKED OUT.
When Clay came home, I was walking in circles, with one distraught girl in each arm. Thank God for that man, is all I have to say. He took Sophia downstairs and got her happy again, and in short order I had Madison resembling the joyful, easy going infant her parents swore she was.
The rest of the night was lovely. Madison smiled at everyone, sucked down her bottle, and fell asleep like she'd been drugged. Clay and I were sort of amazed by the way she just...fell asleep. And stayed that way. It was freaky. We're used to Sophia's sleep style, which is more like a prolonged hostage negotiation than a bedtime routine. (I might point out that she is, right now, bellowing protests from her crib. She is nothing if not consistent.)
And once Madison stopped crying, Sophia was fascinated with her. All through dinner and the Friday night movie (Miracle on 34th Street - not appreciated by the youth of today. Raphael punctuated the showing with heavy sighs and Tre fell asleep), she stared at the baby and chirped, "HI! Hi, baby! Hi! Hi!" She wanted to cover the baby up with her blanket, and hold her hand, and kiss her head. If she and the baby had been employed by the same company, she would have gotten a strongly worded warning about her attentions from HR. When Madison lolled on the floor, on her blanket, appreciating her fist, Sophia dragged her favorite blanket out of her room and flopped down on the floor next to her.
And looking at the two of them, I had to admit something to myself. Although I think of Sophia as the tiniest person in the whole world, all sprite-like and prancing, she is not, in fact, a baby. She is a great big huge whacking toddler.
Looking at them together, Madison all small and soft and wobbly, and Sophia, giant and and active and talking, I realized something. Someone has stolen my little infant girl, and replaced her with this loud wee wild child. It's true, what people have been saying - she's not actually a baby anymore. She's a little girl.
Of course, it's also true that if you ask her to say "Sophia," she will look at you with a particularly stubborn set of the chin and chirp, "BABY." The boys try to convince her to say her name.
"Can you say SO?" they ask.
"So," she murmurs.
"Can you say FEE?"
"Can you say AAAH?"
"Can you say Sophia?"
And she may be a great big girl, but that's the truth too.
She IS the baby.