My new baby girl Anna is now ten weeks old. She has a big goofy, gummy smile and she has discovered her thumb. She curls her tiny fingers around her nose and sucks contentedly and noisily. “Oh no!” people say, and tell me horror stories about thumb-sucking cousins whose teeth grew out horizontally.
“Smart girl,” says my sister, who was also a thumb-sucker and still remembers how good hers tasted. “Maybe you have a particularly delicious-tasting thumb,” I say. “Maybe I do,” agrees my sister. She holds out her thumb. “Want to try it?”
I decline her kind offer.
Anna’s big brother George, who is two, laughs when he sees the baby sucking her thumb. “That’s not a biscuit,” he tells her fondly. He thinks his sister is lovable but sort of dopey. “Oh little one,” he says, shaking his head in exasperation when she loses her thumb and becomes infuriated, banging her fist against her mouth. Where is it? I know it was just here!
“What’s Anna saying?” George asks me.
“She’s saying, ‘I’m so angry and sad! If only I could eat vegetables like George! They look delicious.”
George gives me a look, and thinks about it.
Finally he says decidedly, “No, she’s not.”
I often wonder what Anna really is thinking and what it must be like to be a baby experiencing all those new sensations and seeing my big moon-like face suddenly looming over her cot. I imagine it’s something like this:
Oh! I’m awake! I’m HUNGRY! I’m absolutely STARVED! Where is the Looming Moon Face? Here she is! About time! No need to look so bleary-eyed! Feed me! Now, now, now! What is the hold-up? It’s unacceptable! I’m starving! I’m –
Mmmm. Good. Very good. Food. Lovely. Yes. Delightful! Wonderful!
Wait a minute! I don’t feel so well. It’s unpleasant. It’s horrible! Why is the Looming Moon Face thumping me on the back? That’s not helping!
OK, that’s a bit better. Now I’m happy. Actually, I’m EXTREMELY happy! Oh, and now the Funny Man with the Deep Voice is holding me. He’s hilarious! I love him! I can hear the Looming Moon Face complaining that she’s the one who gets up in the middle of the night and why doesn’t she get smiles like that? Whatever.
Now here comes the Small Noisy One. He’s banging me on the head with a sticky hand and everybody is saying, “Gentle! Gentle!” I admire the Small Noisy One and feel he has much to teach me, but maybe you could take him away, please?
Oh! I’m tired! I don’t like it! In fact it’s making me extremely angry! No, putting me back in the cot won’t help! Are you crazy? Why can’t I just sleep on the Funny Man’s shoulder all night? What? You’re just walking out of the room? Fine, fine. I’ll sleep. For a little while.
Oh! I’m awake! I’m HUNGRY!
And so on…