Today was the joint first birthday extravaganza for the seven babies from my New Mom’s Group. All seven babies and all fourteen of their parents convened at the home of one of the little girls, armed with a gift and a contribution to the potluck. The adults snacked on things that could be eaten with one hand, got some fruit and hummus and guacamole and chips into the kids in some semblance of a lunch, and set them up with a bunch of age-appropriate toys that talk, teach the alphabet and numbers, and spin and open and close in interesting ways.
Here’s what the babies really loved: going into the bedroom of the little girl who hosted the party and taking turns rocking the ottoman for the glider. Taking laundry out of the laundry basket and playing peekaboo with last night’s pajamas. The little girl who hosted carried around a paperback copy of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and graciously allowed the other babies to pull the diapers out from under her changing table. Have you ever seen the PuppyBowl that AnimalPlanet shows during the SuperBowl every year? It was a lot like that.
What I enjoyed so much about the afternoon was watching the babies interact with each other. The last time they were all together in that same house, they were less than three months old and laid in a circle like beetles on their backs, limbs flailing around and emitting muddled humming and squeaking sounds, while we mothers leisurely ate sandwiches. Their “interactions” were nothing more than a few accidental glances at one another and the occasional graze of one baby’s hand against another baby. Today, they made each other laugh. They played with toys together. They looked on in concern when one of their ranks got upset and cried.
I love that my kid has this cohort of agemates to share babyhood and toddlerhood with. Of course, I am ever grateful for their mamas; but today brought a new appreciation of my son’s emerging personhood. It might sound like a really obvious thing, but watching the babies today made me think about how my son and the six of his friends are going to be increasingly social and interactive creatures out there in the world. My son will have relationships with people that I will be only a peripheral part of, and I am happy to get these early glimpses into how he might behave and interact independent of me. What I have learned so far is that he wants to be doing what everyone else is doing, and man does that kid like a game of peekaboo.
The party culminated with a cupcake eat-off, and I am also proud to report that my kid didn’t leave a crumb of his cupcake behind.
So, Fabulous Thing #52: Baby social experiment success.