When you nurse, your face, eyes closed, features flat except for tongue and jaw, your hands and arms move with a sometimes herky-jerky life of their own. Unrestrainable, like the milk were activating specific nerves which have you tugging my arm down by grabbing my finger, clutching my shirt, my (other) nipple. It’s such strong action, though, inconsistent with your peaceful, contented look. When your arm settles, I know you’re close to sleep.
Today you got much more proficient at turning from front to back. We were at Grannymom’s and, though for the whole time you slept I had you wedged between pillows, when it was almost time to go I moved the pillow just to look at you and then went into G-mom’s bedroom. When Daddy came in a few minutes later from getting the car, you’d turned over onto your belly and were right at the edge of the bed…
…smiling up at me. You smile a lot. You smile at us when you wake up, you smile at me when I get home from work, every time. You smile at everyone (your Mom had to advise me to stop telling people you smiled at everyone and let them each believe that they could be the special object of your happy attentions, why bust their bubble? mom mused, why not let the whole world believe that each and every one of them has some special exclusive connection with Nell). It’s such a beautiful smile, so simple and bright it seems impossible that it could be unaffecting. Yet, the other day, sitting at a table next to the door in a cafe, you were busy beaming at, and getting adulation from, everyone who happened through. When an elderly man, short and therefore closer to your eye-level, came in, and rather than walk briskly by, stopped right next to you to survey the cafe. A prefect target. Perfect. You beamed with all your might…but nothing happened, he only continued surveying. You beamed again, harder, and, as if in response, he headed off to the far side of the cafe. You were confused, you looked at mom, she was crushed by your confusion and picked you up for a consoling cuddle and returned you to your stroller. The effect passed. You resumed your hostess role, greeting each newcomer, brightening strangers’ days with your special Easter smile (some people just don’t want to be brightened, not your fault).