Saturday, July 5, 2008

Socializing the Baby

Bhavana brought her new baby to work. We gathered and adored the baby. His name is Nishant. Then Bhavana took the baby into in the breakout area near our cubicles and asked who wanted to hold the baby. Tonya took him and sat down. She has a baby of her own and she cradled Nishant in her arms. The rest of us stood by and chatted. Everyone was a bit uneasy about holding a baby.

Craig stood at the entrance to the breakout area and someone asked him if he'd hold the baby. Craig joked that he was afraid he'd drop the baby. It had been years since I'd held my own children as babies and, though it made no sense, I think I too was afraid I'd drop the baby. Strange babies move strangely.

We all stood there, chatting while Tonya coddled the baby. Eventually, the baby fussed and so back to mom. Then Dorota kindly took the baby for a while and then back to mom. The chit-chat continued, but it seemed like no one else was going to take the baby.

I gazed out the window where traffic throbbed on the city's main artery. All shapes and sizes of cars and trucks sped by. In the distance, on the lake, a large ship appeared to be completely immobile. Cloud shadows slowly swept across the city.

"Bhavana," I said, "we need to socialize the baby. We need to move the chairs into a circle." I remembered my former urban commune landlady, the late Judith Merill, talking about this. She had said that socializing the newborn was a developmental necessity. We needed to pass the baby around. Once the tables were cleared out of the way and the chairs arranged into a circle, we all sat down.

I took the baby. "Hi Nishant," I said softly, "my name is Kenneth and I was born in Saskatoon. Your mother's name is Bhavana." The baby's eyes blinked and met mine. For a moment, the baby was awestruck. "Aw, look at his face," Bhavana laughed. "Yeah," I smiled. I carefully passed the baby to Christine. For baby, it was another new face and voice. "Hi Nishant," the cheerful voice said. "You're a beautiful baby. My name is Christine and I was born in Hamilton."

And so the introductions went, one after another, as the baby was passed around the circle to William, Craig, Dorota, Olga, Tonya, Syam, and back to mom.

The baby seemed to enjoy this ride around the circle and gently floated around for a second time. On the start of the third circuit, however, he fussed, and so back to the comfort of mom.