A Baby Present
by Shellen Lubin
May 13, 2022
Story for Friday Night
“I have to bring a present for the baby,” I said matter of factly to my mother.
“Why?” she asked, surprisingly confrontational.
“Because they had a baby,” I said. “And I’m going to see them. Of course, I’m going to bring a present.”
“But why for the baby?” she asked a little more gently.
“Well, I mean, it may not be for the baby, it may be for them, but even if it’s for them, it’s for the baby. You know, a baby food blender, or a baby Snugli, or a baby car seat.”
“They’ve already had one baby," my mother said. "They don’t really need a baby food blender or a baby Snugli or a baby car seat.”
“What are you saying?” I asked her. “I’m not going to go without bringing them a present.”
“I’m not suggesting that you go without a present, but I think you’re thinking about a present for the wrong person.”
“So who should I be bringing a present for?” I asked, as I was growing more and more confused.
My mother smiled. “How old is Joshifer, their first one?”
“Imagine being almost three years old, and there’s a new baby in the house, and everybody is fussing and fluttering around and ooh-ing and aah-ing and bill-ing and coo-ing and coming in with these beautiful wrapped presents, all for this stupid baby who can’t appreciate them at all, and nobody’s paying any attention to you at all. Who do you think most needs a present?”
I was stupefied. “Oh, wow. I never thought of that. Joshifer, the older brother. That’s who needs a present.”
“Exactly. So, what are you going to get him?”
I thought for a while before answering. “Music to listen to?”
She shook her head no. “He’ll just want to play it when the baby is asleep.”
“Hmm. A book? A picture book?”
Mom quickly asked me, “Can he read yet?”
“So, he can’t enjoy it if mom or dad isn’t available to read it to him. Keep thinking.”
I thought and thought. Finally, an idea came. “Blocks! He loves to build. I’ll get him blocks.”
“Blocks?” She was almost angry. “They’re hard … they could hurt—”
I cut her off: “Soft cardboard building blocks, so he can’t hurt himself or the baby or anyone else. Then he can sit on the ground near his mother and the baby, but be doing something completely independently.”
My mother’s smile grew. “Now you’re thinking. I like that. And will you get on the floor and play with him, get him started enjoying them?
The idea was starting to excite me. “First we have to put them together. I’ll help him put them together. That’ll take us awhile.”
“Good. Give you a chance to talk to him, find out how he’s doing, give him more attention. And then?”
“Then we can make a fantasy adventure: create a world, and become characters living in it. And that will be a gift for everyone, because baby, mama, and daddy, too, can all take a nap while Joshifer and I are playing.”
My mother nodded. “Good girl. Now you’re cooking.”