Mondays with TJ and Bailey

Today was Monday so I went to Pasadena to babysit my grand-nephew, TJ. With traffic, it’s an hour-and-a-half schlep from Laguna Beach to there. But it’s worth it. I’m his Nonnie Lee Lee.

TJ is so cute, and so easy.  He’s a mixture of many races, and he has this gorgeous olive skin and huge brown eyes that gaze right into your soul.  Also he never cries – not when I’m there anyway – which is an amazing feat for a seven-month old.  Kudos to Nonnie, too!

Oh actually, wait. No.  I take that back. He did cry once – big time – when Bailey came and we took him shopping at Nordstrom Rack.   One moment he was smiling up from his stroller as happy as a clam … and the next he was screaming bloody murder. It went on and on forever.  Bailey did a quick disappearing act and and later I found her at Tilly’s.

Bailey is my twenty-four-year old daughter, and she isn’t going to be having kids anytime soon. She has other goals right now, like living the dream with my husband and me in Laguna Beach.  In fairness, she’s also working hard to get into Vet School.  But suddenly she’s questioning if she’ll ever have children at all.  Which is a surprise.  Until recently, she’d talked like having two little girls someday was a forgone conclusion.

Bai was a little peeved that we didn’t give her a sister. A twin sister. How could we give birth to one little girl, she asked, and expect her to go through life all alone?  So she had it in her mind, early on, that she would have – specifically — twin girls. The three of them would shop together and buy cute clothes together and do all the things she was denied in her childhood.

Bailey’s change of heart coincided with the day we went shopping with TJ.  I think it hit home that 1) she might end up with a boy and boys don’t like to shop, and 2) that babies in general are real things that you give birth to and that the actual birthing process would be painful. Horribly so.

But anyway, since that day, TJ’s been as easy as can be, and there have been absolutely no tears.  A miracle, right? I mean, he’s content staying home, at my niece’s place, and just hanging out.  This involves feeding him a lot, holding and tossing him around. Just basically keeping him entertained by making a real fool of myself.

But I have to say, the strangest thing happened today.  For the life of me, I couldn’t get him to laugh. He cracked a little smile a few times, but boy did that take work.  Today he was serious and observant, watching me with those penetrating brown eyes.

It threw me for a loop.  It had me questioning my Nonnie abilities. Most women – and a few men too – are such naturals at the goo-goo gaga baby talk.  They have the gooey sweet voices and use the cutesy baby lingo – “Oh you’re my angel baby,” and “Oh look at you, look at you!!!” –  kinda like how you talk to a parakeet. The babies laugh and gurgle and clap their hands.

But maybe I just don’t have it anymore.  I mean, I was doing the whole song and dance, making silly noises and faces, and tweaking his nose and cheeks, and sticking out my tongue. I gave it my all ‘til my veins were nearly popping.  But all TJ did was study me with crinkled eyebrows like I was some strange being from Mars.

(God forbid that Jessica and Travis have a hidden camera.  I could just see them making a night of it, fully entertained while they ate popcorn and watched the video.)

I know I shouldn’t beat myself up over this.  I mean, hey. Maybe this is who TJ’s going to be  – a very serious, studious kind of dude, an academic perhaps, who loves physics or engineering. Heck perhaps he’ll work in aerodynamics or be an astrophysicist someday.

Or perhaps, instead, he’ll be one of those really contemplative, spiritual, people.  I wouldn’t be surprised. Heck, TJ could be the next Dali Lama… wouldn’t that be great?  Or maybe he’ll be a Zen Master.  Or a guru of some kind. Or just a really thoughtful guy.  When I go to Pasadena next, maybe we can meditate together.

Except… Bailey  is now saying she might come with me to babysit on Monday. Oh Lord.  She’s going to want to go shopping.

In which case, all bets are off.