a visit from a friendly newcomer to the planet (she doesn't do copyreading. Yet.)

We recently had the pleasure of a visit from a new, well, new-ish, baby girl. Having grown up with tales of what a horrible brat I was when small (whined, was fussy eater, spoke when not spoken to, didn't sleep), I was shocked to meet this tiny relative, who gave me a big cheerful grin and held out her right hand. She's just learned to roll over, too, and does it on request! My furniture doesn't frighten her! She lets people hold her! I wanted to ask her mother if the baby was adopted, so unlike our DNA was this behavior. Even if only half of Baby Girl's DNA comes from my family, that half is enough to grumpify Mr. Rogers.

This is our family being grumpy: Himself and I go for a cheap dinner at an ethnic restaurant. We're the youngest people in the place, including the decrepit staff. We are surrounded by people who haven't smiled talked to one another since the Truman administration. They don't look at one another, either. "Let's go," says Me, "this is awful, these people all look like Pop's relatives, and if we don't hurry they'll come over and start correcting us." Himself stifles a laugh: "I was just going to ask you if you'd ever seen such a bunch of dour, grouchy, unpleasant looking--" I interrupt. "Sure. EVERY THANKSGIVING WHEN I WAS LITTLE. Except for that lady in the hat, who could be YOUR Aunt Rxxxx."

Here's the thing: if you grow up with people who are just a touch, um, shall we say, eccentric, you never cease to be amazed by the behavior of so-called normal folk. Our family is multi-cultural, and my sister and I were always taken aback to go to a classmate's home and learn that everyone in her family was the same ethnic group or religion. Not that we kept pagan altars in the living room, but still. On the other hand, we probably surprised a lot of people, too. I still remember the neighbor who wanted to know what we did with all those books.

I had a present all ready for Miss Baby. My baby gifts are usually successful since I'm so immature myself. I give pretty clothes or little tough-guy outfits, BUT I never give anything that's of a size to be worn while Baby is under 18 months old, or even 2 years old. Tiny baby things are adorable, and then you find yourself with a kid who has to be dressed and has - oh, surprise! - suddenly outgrown all her pretty gifties while you were busy trying to find a sitter or were otherwise productively occupied. So I give larger sizes in all-season fabrics. And I never give anything that needs to be ironed or hand-washed - no baby cashmere! Other principles: nothing frilly, nothing  with lots of parts, nothing edible, nothing that makes loud noises. Those rules are really for the benefit of the new parents, and they are appreciated. Money would be nicer, probably, but then Baby might put it in her mouth. I am pleased to report that this Baby grabbed her new dresses and tried to eat them. Well, that's in the DNA for sure.

Do you have a "go-to" baby gift? I guess these days it's like being the Bad Fairy at Sleeping Beauty's christening to give a bond.


  1. A book or two or three - a Pop-Up book by Robert Sabuda, a Sandra Boyton board book, and an illustrated classic (Tasha Tudor)

  2. Fred you crack me up once more.
    One of my good friends is about to have a baby girl and I can't wait. I agree about buying itty-bitty clothes, chances are they'll never be worn. When my babies were tiny they lived in sleepers, flannel blankets were really important but you don't need too many.
    So I'll buy some dresses in sizes 2-3-4, they'll get lots of wear eventually and even when they are too big for baby they can look pretty hanging up in her room.

  3. Hi, anon, I always get lost in a cloud of reminiscence in the children's book section. All you need to say is "Beverly Cleary" and I'm in a trance.

  4. Hi, Dani, lucky babe to have you as her stylist!

  5. Yes, I have been buying each new baby a teddy bear. The kids always seem to remember who gave them their first teddy bear. One of my friend's son just turned 11. Last year they were gathering all his 'kid' toys to give to the newly adopted nephew. The son gave all his toys but refused to give away 'Teddy.' Teddy is also over 3 feet tall and seems like it will be part of the family forever, or until it starts disintegrating.


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