Baby Mind

Mommy is normally home when the Baby-Tristan wakes from his afternoon nap, but on this day he was alone. The breeze blew an occasional thin cloud over the sun. It was Saturday, the day of cartoons, water games and ice cream. Baby had gone through his normal wakeup gurgle, giggle, and fiddle with his blankey posturing, but sounds echoing unimpeded through the still halls and open doors of the empty house became abrasive and annoying. Attempts at being silent and still could not quiet the creaking walls, the clinking of the mobile hanging over his crib, and his tiny breaths easing in and out after a pause. Shadows crept across the walls. Baby caught them in the corner of his eyes, and kept shifting from side to side, peering between the bars of his crib, thinking he was losing out on a little good-morning peek-aboo. The shadows were only of the drapes on the bedroom window blowing in the breeze. Suddenly, wet sobbing protests erupted from the crib. Blankey soaked in warm tears, and face flushed with horror Baby quieted and the house was again silent and still.

A crashing sound from outside thundered through Baby’s consciousness for minutes, consuming every thought and desire. Oh the possibilities! Hope soon gave way to wonder and then, as silence crept back and took hold, all his thoughts disintegrated into a burning desire for the return of the crash. But the stillness of the house swayed all around. The silence mutated wonder to nightmare. It wasn’t Mommy arriving home and slamming the car door. It wasn’t Brother throwing his bike against the side of the house. It was some Unknown, Uninvited-Thing entering the house. Baby swallowed once, and again for good measure, and commanded himself, against all odds, to launch over the wall of his crib.

Baby crawled out of the bedroom, down the hall, across the kitchen’s yellow linoleum floor, and through the cat door that lead into the garage. He pressed his hands hard into the cold cement floor. His diaper reached for the ceiling as he slowly rose to stand, steadying himself with a spastic asymmetrical movement of his arms.

At the edge of the garage fat fingers of heat coiled around Baby. The decision to leave his comfy Mickey Mouse blankey and soft bluesky-white-cloud pillow in the cool circulating central air became increasingly regrettable. He could not remember his reason for this venture. Down the driveway intriguing waves of heat rose from the blistering hot asphalt slabs. The baby had never seen the driveway like this. On even hotter days it had only been the path to the car, or space between laughing Brothers rolling a red ball.

Baby waddled slowly toward the penumbra, between garage safety and unknown asphalt. He stopped, recognizing the familiar sensation of his diaper being weighted down. Mommy’s playful smile usually kept the accompanying reek from overwhelming him. Now, alone with heat and reek united, a thick cloud enveloped him, separating his consciousness from the possibilities of the outside world. The tighter the fingers gripped, the more Baby’s mind escaped to flower print sundresses; applesauce; soft hands rubbing his head; being held high in the air and spun creating a world of streams of color and light; course jean jackets and the playful snapping of purple or pink bubble gum.

One of baby’s pudgy half formed feet stepped onto the asphalt. A familiar pain pulsed through it, slithered up his leg, traveled through his bowels, and sent a flush of blood through his face. The pain was not as bad as tripping and falling face first into the sunny-side door of Mommy’s black Camero as Brother’s count went forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven, but was a swift awakening to the horrible consequential now.

Quick, retreat! To the shade. The smooth concrete soothed like a sink-full of tepid water. It felt more like numbing than soothing. He closed his eyes and floated there like in a sensory deprivation chamber.

Baby would just have to step quickly over the asphalt to the lawn. He took a step, trying not to focus on the downward slope of the driveway. The contrast of the bright-hot air moving across one cheek to the dusty shaded still heat of the garage still on the other split his face in two. One eye adjusted before the other. He began to march in place, so as not to get to far from the safe shade. He scanned the area with squinting eyes, trying to remember his reason for being there. No car sat in the driveway or drove down the street. There was a truck in the dirt to the left, but it was Tonka-made, not his Father’s big one. Tricycle sat half-way down the driveway, upended and forlorn. He hadn’t left Tricycle that way. How did it get way down there to the middle of the driveway? Could it have been rocked out of its place at by the garage’s side door by the wind, and rolled down the slope of the driveway picking up speed until the loose rattling wheels jarred by the lip between the first and second slab of asphalt caused it to spin and flip to its side?  Could it have been Tricycle falling over that caused the mysterious crash, which began this whole errant morning?

Baby took a couple steps towards Tricycle and stopped. Now his supple feet were raw, and the pain, which at first seemed a game he could win, was approaching that of the hot black Camero.

Retreat again to the edge of the shade where the air was heavy, and still reeked of heavy diaper. Beads of sweat were accumulating across his spare pate threatening to drip into his defenseless eyes. Tricycle’s sad helpless state consumed baby’s thoughts more than ever now, and though the distance seemed too great for his sore little feet the sacrifice seemed justifiable.

Thin clouds covered the sun making the darker shade of asphalt appear temporarily passable. Nope, still hot, step back, waver, wonder. Had it cooled yet? The clouds passed and the asphalt was closer to white than gray. His hopefulness vanished. This sequence repeated for over ten minutes until Mommy’s car eased down the road and up the driveway, stopping at Tricycle.

Mommy slammed the car door, and quick stepped up the driveway to Tristan. She lifted him into her arms kissing and gushing all over his red splotched face.

“I’m so sorry, poor baby! I’m sorry I’m late.”

Baby no longer had any thoughts of Tricycle. He had no thoughts at all. He only felt. Pure carefree grateful bliss.

Mommy asked, “How did you get out here? Were you waiting for me?” She seated him on her forearm reminding him of his full diaper.

“Oh, you need a change.”

He opened his eyes for a brief second to see how her lips formed familiarly around her teeth as she giggled, and for an instant he caught a glimpse over her shoulder through the dark driveway half way down the hot-white asphalt driveway of where Tricycle lay forgotten and alone. Baby began to wail. His tears mixed irreverently with the streams of sweat now resting on his cheeks and his upper lip. She gently patted his back and carried him into the cool vacuum of the kitchen.

She began bouncing him on her arm as she walked toward the sink, saying, “You are such a brave little soldier.” She lay him down to change his diaper. She dabbed his face and soaked his swollen feet with a cool, damp rag.


You were raised by:

Both Biological Parents Both Adoptive Parents


Featured photo, a painting by Chelsey Dill

Familiar Education

Tristan was home schooled. In the mornings he would help his father in the garage, or out on the driveway. He fetched tools and held lamps while his father repaired old truck engines, black from seared oil. The kind of trucks that still had carburetors, not fuel injectors.  After lunch was either science or arithmetic followed by a variety of bare-foot skipping exercises in the back yard. His two sisters and mother would take turns playing instruments while they skipped along interwoven astral patterns foot-worn into the earth.