Writing 101: A Character-Building ExperiencePosted: September 22, 2014
My emotional connection with him is so strong that, before I’d ever met him face to face, I left my husband, my job, my friends, my dog, and my cozy single-wide home in the North Carolina countryside to be with him in Indiana. I don’t really like Indiana, but love makes a mockery of other likes and dislikes; the desire to be with the beloved trumps other commitments. Although I was supposed to get here a week before he arrived, he decided to come early. This disruption of the plans of others might have indicated a selfish personality, but, in fact, his timing was perfect. When I actually met him for the first time, he was literally glowing; the UV blanket he had to sleep on to decrease his bilirubin levels gave him an unearthly purplish aura. He lay on my daughter’s bed, next to her and his six-year-old sister, pretty much unaware of my presence. That did not stop me from picking him up, cords and all, and holding him close….the bonding started at that moment and increases exponentially with each day. I was unable to be with my other three grandchildren for more than a few weeks at a time, scattered throughout the years, so I was determined to be the caretaker for this fourth one, since my daughter has to work. I can only give him a year; I must return eventually to my home in North Carolina and pick up the life I interrupted there. I don’t even want to think about how hard it will be to leave, so I treasure each moment I can spend with Ruben. There was a time during my graduate school years in Cincinnati that I realized I am a baby person and not every one is. Often I hear people say they prefer the older years when they can interact more, when they understand more of a child’s personality. I find that the daily life with an infant is a rich experience. At first, there are simple needs to be met, for food, for warmth, for sleep, for comfort; personality makes itself known very early on and a relationship is built quickly when the hearts are connected. That is what I feel when I hold Ruben – that our hearts are connected with an indissoluble bond. Ruben has been an easygoing baby. Of course he cries in frustration and anger, but mostly he is a lover: a lover of people, a lover of music, a lover of colors and patterns, a lover of movements and shifting shapes. Each day brings a new discovery, a new achievement, and his primary response is a hugely dimpled smile, which easily mutates into a laugh somewhere between a coo and a chuckle. He expresses himself with a wide range of sounds and has the facial expressions to match. At five months, he is a big baby, with fat cheeks and several chins. He is strong, pushing hard to stand on his chunky legs, lifting himself on his arms, sitting up with minimal support. His almond shaped brown eyes and fuzzy brown hair are several shades lighter than his sister’s, and he downs twice as much milk as she did. I love words, but I am frustrated with them right now, because I don’t see Ruben’s essence in these descriptions. It may not only be my own creative limitations but also the fact that, because babies live so much in the moment, any word picture is old almost before it is written. Pictures and videos help catch the personality, but I suspect that the only way to really see and know Ruben is to spend some time with him. Being with him gives me joy, and joy must be experienced to be understood.