The Sprout Which Screams
Babies, such strange creatures. At first scream, they are very alien-like, all blue and raising hell with their cries. Then they grow a little, barely resembling the majority of human anatomy. Babies, almost glorified in Indonesia having many people enamoured by incapabilities of speech.
In my host family whenever my Ibu’s grandchild visits, all her daughters and herself circle around the infant. The child lies in this wiggly contraption with lullabies attempting to soothe the protests of what only Allah and the child understand. While the contraption shakes to and fro, blaring some unknown tune, my host family transforms into amateur beat boxers and bobble heads. They circle the infant, jiggling their heads and using their voices to entertain the child who only stares and attempts to imitate her family.
I am not sure about this passionate adoration of infants. Of course, in the past I babysat my nephews, but I frankly have no idea what to do with the tiny human. It screams, I stare at it thinking what in the world it would want to scream about. So I begin with the basics: food, surely the child wants food. Negative. Okay, how about a diaper change. The cries subside a little and then increase. How about walking around, that seems exhilarating. Not so much a fan. So now what?
Despite this apprehension to small humans, I love my nephews considerably and increasingly excited for the incoming little sprout my brother and sister in law are expecting, but I haven’t a clue how to take care of or handle them.
When they stare at me, do I make a face, a sound? Do I speak to them, for example, “Daven, today I shall read to you from Theroux’s contemplations of nature and things”?
Being the youngest I did not experience taking care of people younger than me – I was usually taken care of, being so much younger than my siblings. The first infant I held was about twelve years ago when my last cousin was born. I held him for about ten minutes, and those were very long minutes of questions. Now, twelve years later, I know significantly more and have become more confident around the small humans, but I know there is more to learn from the squirmy miniature being.
Children are delightful creatures, but I still need to gain more knowledge about these little sprouts. Perhaps this is a deep down fear of the tiny being becoming sick or unsatisfied under my care. Or perhaps my own fault of becoming easily frustrated with the constant cries or the inability to understand how to entertain them like my host family knows so well. But over time, perhaps this culture will allow me to become more willing to not sneak away from the squirmy, squealing, and undersized human.
Though, one step at a time.