An eight-month-old sat on my lap last night. He watched his mother and his father on their chairs across my dining room table, heard their voices speak his name and mine, raised his hands and touched his hair.
It wasn’t clear how long he would let someone hold him when beyond the plates and glasses of our simple Monday meal my niece and her husband were within sight but out of reach. Their attention stayed focused on Paul as they cooed their approval at his ease in a stranger’s arms.
Could I manage it? Could I maintain a comfortable position for him and distract him with bounces and sway him to left and to right and back again and feel him willing to be held?
And suddenly he looked up and saw my face.
And I looked down and instinctively rubbed my beard against his forehead. Gently I joined my coo to the easy movement of my chin against his small head.
And then we started – now touching, now not, now touching, now not. A playful rhythm that made a stranger less a stranger to Paul.
A baby in my arms, an infant in my home, a grandnephew joining the memories that will collect around this quiet table.