Sunday, February 01, 2004

Helena meets a puppy

On Friday our little family scooted off to visit friends in Wakefield, to wine and dine and talk into the night, and play and brunch into the next afternoon.

For the first time, I felt, hmmm, uncomfortable in their home, like something's changed. I've changed, I think. We've been there with Helena before, but this is the first time the household featured an 11-week-old puppy.

Helena and the puppy excited each other greatly. Jennifer and I hovered close. I watched to make sure puppy didn't scratch Helena, poke her eye, or bowl her over on hard, ceramic tile floor. Jennifer watched, obviously anxious, to make sure Helena didn't hurt the puppy.

[I never understood how people could refer to themselves as "Mommy" (and less often "Daddy") regarding their pet "children." I consider myself an upstanding pet-owner, and never would I consider using these terms, and never did I presume that the relationship is at all analogous. Maybe it's that kind of sense that makes me fit to be a mother (of a human baby) after all.]

I guess I'm more permissive than not when it comes to baby. But on the whole I see Helena's exploration as harmless. I'm always there and I try to explain how stuff works and what it's for. We do rein her in somewhat, and she exhibits remarkable self-control, in other people's houses. But after Jennifer had asked a few questions about the age at which one can train baby, it was evident to me I should not have allowed Helena to open and close, open and close, open and close the kitchen cupboard, even though it was the kitchen cupboard of a very close friend.

And so it begins, the great divide between those with children and those without. I always said I would never let it happen to me. But undeniably, things are different now.

As other mommy bloggers have noted, inevitably the childless one kindly suggests that toy phones etc. are available at a store near you. Jennifer: "Those toys — they're so good, aren't they?" Well, no. Babies want the real thing. Somehow, they can tell the difference.

I'm starting to see a lot of differences.

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