People keep asking me whether Joey is a good baby—without fail, I reply “He’s a sweetheart.” I’m sidestepping a little, in part because the question feels weird, but in part because of Joey. He’s a sweetheart to me. Oh, sure, he has had some rough afternoons; teething is hard, and he’s frustrated by his helplessness. But overall, he’s a sweet guy and he seems to enjoy my company.
I’ve read in a few different places that babies don’t care who takes care of them for the first six months, just so long as they’re cared for—but someone forgot to tell Joey that. That’s the other part of the answer to that question. I will sometimes go to Starbucks for a few hours so that I can work on the computer, leaving Joey with his Pop, and Joey apparently screams nonstop while I’m gone. He will usually let someone else hold him if I’m in the room, but if I go into another room, he completely loses it. This isn’t just a nursing thing, I don’t think; he doesn’t like the bottle, but will take one if he’s hungry. No, he seems to really want me around—me in particular. I was thinking about this and looking at him yesterday, and I said to Mr. Book, “Cricket didn’t need me.”
Cricket was, as I understand it, perfectly content to be with any friendly person when he was tiny. There was no reason to think that he missed me, or missed either of his moms when he was left with a sitter. I think about that, looking at Joey, and wonder whether Joey insists on having me around because his brother was sent away. Not that he knows that, of course, but maybe there’s something in me that he’s picking up. He’s happy at home, he’s happy out and about, he’s happy in the bath or on the bus or having his diaper changed . . . just so long as I’m there. He’ll sleep or nap only with me. And I’m happy with my little limpet, and am happy to take him with me to the bank or the shower or wherever I need to go, but at the same time I worry that I did this.