tales of the small people

When I got home last night Claire was flat on her face on the rug, roaring with grief. This is unprecedented; she is usually happy as a lark with Blanca. Blanca, meanwhile, was in the kitchen wrapping Scotch tape around a broom. She saw me, smiled, and pointed up. I looked up.

Claire’s Dora the Explorer helium balloon, a trophy from Ada’s party, had escaped from its string and was bobbing cheerily among the rafters. Did I ever mention that we have 25-foot ceilings?

I hoiked Tony’s ladder in from the fire escape and, armed with Blanca’s sticky broom, I fished for and caught the escapee. Claire was delighted. Hours later she would still run to me and say: “You fixed the balloon! It’s all better! I’m so happy!”

I want all her problems in life to be that easy to fix.

Two stories about Julia: she had a nasty skin infection above one eyebrow, and the doctor gave us an antibiotic cream. “It was hard to rub it in,” said Jeremy after his first attempt. “She’s so curious she keeps turning her head to look.”

And: while we were moving all the furniture around, Jeremy was hitting one of the useless particle-board Billy bookshelves with a hammer (I love Ikea, but you have to buy the solid furniture – the cheap stuff is awful). Julia nursed contentedly through the banging hammer, but when Jeremy dropped a small piece of wood, making much less noise but out of rhythm, her little chin quivered and she started to cry.

I cuddled her and she was placated. She is easily comforted, a merry and industrious little person, fond of standing on her strong wobbly feet and gesturing and declaiming, as if at Hyde Park Corner. But it kills me that it was the anomaly, the arrhythmia, and not the loud scary banging noise that bothered her.

I keep wanting to say that she is a subtle baby, but I’m not exactly sure what I mean.

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