A friend had invited me to the ‘viewing’ of their first grandchild in a community centre, or maybe in the common room of a condo complex. The new baby was teensy, with a shock of bright red hair. We’re talking Beaker hair, here, and it was perfect. When I got there, the Aunties had placed new baby in older brother’s arms (as is the way of things, my friend’s first grandchild also had an older sibling. It’s best not to question these things when one is in the throes of The Dreaming). Older brother was perhaps four, with bright blue glasses and a shirt that said “ASK ME ABOUT MY GRAMMA” (which, for the record, when I have grandchildren, I demand they wear the same shirt).
I sat beside elder sibling and commented on how he was a superlative brother.
“Superlative means ‘the best’,” he said.
“That it does,” I said.
“Would you like to know my secret?” he asked.
“I would,” I said.
He leaned toward me, somewhat conspiratorially, and whispered, quite loudly, “well, if I got a puppy, I’d have to clean up its poop. My mom and dad clean up the baby’s poop. All I have to do is hold him sometimes and go to my room when he cries. I read a lot.”
And that, my friends, is the very best advice I have ever heard in my entire life.
The brother then plopped baby down, face first, on the seat of the chair he was extricating himself from.
“Oh,” I said, reaching for the baby.
“It’s okay,” the brother said, holding his hand out, palm facing me, with his little arm straight as an arrow. “He’s basically Jell-O right now. He might wiggle a bit, but that baby isn’t going anywhere. I’ll be right back.”
I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right on the money with that one. Jell-O baby cooed a little bit and drooled on the chair’s fabric, but didn’t go anywhere.
I got up to congratulate my friend, and there was a moment of weirdness where we weren’t sure if we should embrace or bow or air-high-five. It was a moment in my conscious mind when I recognised that the pandemic has had a profound effect on me, when even in my dreams, I’m reticent to hug people (especially in public). I remember conscious me telling dream me to just hug already because dream me was in a dream and you can’t catch COVID in a dream.
I mean. You *can’t* catch COVID in a dream, right?
/Takes a brief detour to check CDC and WHO websites./
Right. I’m *pretty sure* you can’t catch COVID in a dream. But I’m glad I checked.
Anyone who wants baby-rearing advice from the smartest four year old in the universe, send in your questions and I’ll submit them to that little gaffer.