and there to pick up a bit of nature—a small pine cone, an inviting
stick, a clump of dirt, a handful of grass. He examines these trea-
sures on the fly, maybe tasting them, usually casting them aside for
something fresh that has caught his attention, some new bit of the
world to know.
Marygrace, a brand-new two-year-old, sits on a small chair looking
at a book. In front of the chair, her bare feet rub together in a small
cardboard box; a well-used baby doll blanket drapes her shoulders.
She does her best to obey orders from three-year-old Phoebe: “Sit
still while I pump up the chair. Close your eyes so I can cut your
bangs. Your toes are done soaking, let me paint your toenails. Tilt
your head back; I need to wash your hair. Go look in the mirror;
you’re ready for the ball!” Marygrace is learning Beauty Shop and
many other dramatic play scenarios from Phoebe. Over the last
few weeks, her quickly growing vocabulary and her willingness to
be bossed around a bit have transformed her from a pesky toddler
into a viable playmate.
The drip-drip-drip of warm rain on his head and face call forth
squeals of delight as Adrian’s eyes widen and gleam; his legs and
arms flap with joy. As soon as his hands and knees touch the deck,
he ventures forward a foot or so, pausing to examine his wet fingers
and then pound them against the surface. Fine droplets of water
spray up each time Adrian’s palms strike. His little brain is fully
engaged in this moment as his senses relay information: the sight of
a billion raindrops dancing in the spring breeze, the sound of their
contact with the deck, the taste of the drops that hit his lips and
tongue, the heady smell of wet grass and mulch drifting from the
yard, the feel of the rain and breeze on his arms and legs. Adrian
enjoyed heaps of time on his tummy at our house when he was
younger, and now that he is mobile, he is a fervent explorer.
Babies-Int.indd 2 4/29/09 10:02:44 AM