Poppy pushes her on the swing. Baby is on the other side, also with the safety bar down. And I watch, settling in to the Adirondack chair as crispy brown leaves crunch under my flip-flops. My insides unwind, releasing toxin filled thoughts and worries, letting them go to the day, so perfectly fall, sunny, warm, not hot, just rapture.
Then he teases her too much. He is used to interplay with her older brother and doesn’t detect the desperation creeping into her voice as she repeats, “No!” reaching for her baby as if to protect her.
Now cuddling her baby doll on her side of the swing, tucked tightly in her arms, Poppy keeps tickling her. I don’t want to interfere, but this little girl needs to know her voice is heard. And respected. Unlike mine. That she has the power to say “No,” and expect that it is both listened to and respected NOW, the first time.
Poppy backs off but can’t seem to quite stop. So I say again, this time with more explanation, “This is different, a different ball game. She is not like William.”
He pauses, seems to think, and sits a bit next to me in the other chair. She brings her little baby to me, and says, “I like you.”
I cradle the baby and sing to it. She tentatively tries resting baby on Poppy’s lap but he is still smirking, so she won’t.
I say to Poppy, “This is real to her. You have to treat ‘baby’ gently.”
He does finally get it. And she does finally allow for baby to sit on his lap.