* * * *
“Mom, do you need help? He sounds fussy today.”
It had only been a few months since her mother and brother had come home from the hospital. Her mother had not yet returned to work and her brother was not quite sleeping through the night yet. The sister took it as her own personal duty to help out her mother whenever possible.
Upon hearing the sister’s voice, her mother looked up from the large bed where she lay next to her brother. Her brother was lying on his back with his arms and feet happily waving in the air, large blue eyes wide open. Apparently he wasn’t quite ready to sleep yet, even though it was over an hour past his normal bedtime. Her mother had been trying to put her brother to sleep since eight o’clock but nothing she had tried seemed to soothe him. She had tried the rocking chair, walking him back and forth across the room, slow dancing with him, singing to him, laying him down on the bed – but nothing would calm him. As, she got up from her place on the bed, she wondered to herself how would her daughter do it. If she were unable, at least she would be allowed a moment of peace while big sister had a go.
In ten minutes, her brother was asleep, enfolded in the arms of the big sister.
Her mother stood outside the door, relieved to get a moment to herself, relieved that the boy had finally closed his eyes to sleep.
* * * *
A few months have passed. Her brother is crawling now and getting into everything. Keep everything you care about out of his reach. He’s already ripped up the sister’s February issue of Teen Magazine that she left on the living room coffee table and the fur of her favorite brown teddy bear has been matted with baby drool. He puts everything he can get his hands on in his mouth and up his nose. The sister has learned to shut her door and to keep everything she cares about up high and out of reach. There are too many things that she can’t risk loosing at the grabbing hands of her brother.
You can’t loose sight of him for even a moment. He’s already been onto the second shelf of the entertainment center before her mother caught him and pulled him off. The sister laughed as her mother told the story to the entire family at dinner. Who knows what he was trying to reach and how high he would have gotten if left on his own for even a moment more. He loves to climb on anything and everything possible (the backs of the striped couches in the living room, the tiled counter tops in the kitchen, the overfilled bookshelves in all of the bedrooms). His sister swears that he must be part monkey.
Keep doors closed, stairways guarded, eyes open. Watch out, he’s on the move.
* * * *
Her brother is constantly smiling, happy, and full of laughter. His favorite game is to play peak-a-boo while he is in red swing in the back yard. Back and forth he goes. As he swings toward her she uncovers her face and shouts, “Peak-a-boo! Stevie, I see you!” She pushes him higher and covers her face again. His smile is contagious. He laughs and she laughs even harder.
He has even learned to smile for pictures now. Only he smiles, not necessarily at a camera, but at its flash – or any other flash of light. If a light switch is flicked on and off, if a flashlight is turned on in a dark room. It’s funny how little babies pick things up.
One Sunday night, her mother, brother, and the sister go to the grocery store. As they are in the minivan in the parking lot about to go in, the car parked in front of them turns on its headlights as it begins to back out of its parking space. As her mother and her start to step out onto the dark pavement, the headlights fill the interior of the car. Laughing, they both turn and watch her brother as his face instantly ignites with a brilliant smile. He thinks the light is the flash from a camera.
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