January 12, 2012

All Jacked up


The kid and me
A wee human sat beside me often during two holiday visits. Now and then he’d kick me in the ribs or kidney as a reminder to stop thinking and write, or just as a man-to-man gesture of affection. Sometimes, in truth, it was only bound-up gas.

More accurately, he’d lie on the pillow I arranged at an angle to keep his head a little higher than his belly. It seems a terrible injustice that, at only two months old, he suffers gastric reflux without having earned it through repeated exposure to his fellow humans over a long period of time.

Jack contemplates binky
Our grandson Jack, our first grandchild, has all his parts (though one has yet to “descend”) and is as nearly perfect as anybody could pray, from the unmarred soles of his feet, to his workmanlike fingers, soft but brawny little shoulders, cleverly crafted ears, oddly knowing eyes, and usually sweaty head, which is crowned with long, tawny silk. His skin is quite pink but with some of the tones of his Native father.

Because he’s our first grandchild, we’re easily entranced by just about everything he does. I arranged his pillow – Vicki calls it his “cloud” – with another over his head to shade him from my reading light. This way I could study him, awake or asleep, while I worked.
Baba Rhum Jackie
He was born two weeks early, pretty tiny, and it was clear that his nervous system was still being tweaked even two months later. Sleepy or mid-nap, his arms often popped straight up over his head, looking like a “Praise Jesus!” or an “It’s up, it’s good!” Sometimes his arms and his legs flailed around like those of a crazy little man who’d just walked into an unseen spider web. Hold him near your face, and sooner or later you’d get a couple of good schmecks in the eye or nose.

While he slept, his breathing might be fast, then abruptly slow down, then turn into a pant, all within a few minutes. Do infants dream?

Awake and on his cloud, he stared for many minutes on end at the plain white ceiling above his face, or at the painting of fishing vessels hung behind and above me (oh, Jackie, we’re going to do some fishing), certainly at the lights on the small Christmas tree at the end of our couch.

Getting ready for goodbye
He gets a little stuffy sometimes, and while he was here, reedy peeps came from his nose as he slept. It reminded me of a column one of my close friends wrote after taking my oldest son owl watching for the day when Nate was only about four. As they rode home, Nate slept and whistled while he snored.

Jack now snores like a Munchkin dockhand, and for proof his mom, Jamie, sent us an audio file of it.

She also emails daily Jackie-grams with cellphone photos of him in various outfits or poses or moods. We like to name them for what his image in each one suggests: Baba Rhum Jackie, Bubba Jack, Preacher Jack (“Praise Jesus!”), Jackie the Lounge Lizard, JackWurst (when he’s swaddled tightly for sleep), Smilin’ Jackie the Catskills Comic.
Whenever I get one of his great big crooked smiles all to myself, it feels like making the A-List for a party with piles of steamed shrimp and stone crab claws, and Keith Richards.

No one has or will mistake our Jack for a girl. Still, when we look at him he’s shatteringly beautiful. I suspect any grandparent who is pleased to be one has the same intense feeling while looking into the face of his or her own wee human.