Story Time

Bouncing, bouncing on my knees

Bouncing, bouncing on my knees

Bouncing, bouncing on my knees

Just baby and me

I’ll swing you high

I’ll swing you low

I’ll hold you tight

And I won’t let go

Bouncing, bouncing…

At the library’s story time on Tuesdays, Nora has a friend.  He and his mom usually sit beside us on the rug with blocks of primary colors.  When Aiden sees Nora sitting on my lap, he extends his arm, and his fingers wiggle for her.  Sometimes, she returns the friendly affection, and sometimes she remains too caught up in searching the sparse activity room with her wandering eyes.  She seems to forget that he was the one who taught her not to fear tummy time.

I like Aiden, a slender and lengthy boy who is calm but eager (he will probably grow up to be a gentle man of few words), and who frequently shares his confident smile.  But maybe, secretly, I like him because he is partial to my daughter.

Ms. Patsy begins the morning by coming up to each child in the circle with a soft ball; when she approaches us next, I set Nora’s curled tiny palms on the ball and proudly say her name for everyone to hear.  After all the moms and grandmothers introduce their babies, we go into singing.  The wheels on the bus…  Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes…  Then Ms. Patsy announces the special book for the week, reading the few words on each page and holding up the colorful illustrations for us to see (the babies and young toddlers don’t seem to appreciate this as much as the parents do).  When Ms. Patsy finally plays my favorite song, my stomach pitter-patters as though I’m about to embark on a carousel ride.  Aiden’s mom likes the same song — we exchanged this tidbit a few weeks back.  She and I plant our babies on our knees, and the woman’s voice on the CD begins singing…bouncing, bouncing on my knees…  I sing along with her and the rest of the parents, but inside my head, I feel delirious and am screaming the lyrics.  When it is time, I lift Nora high so that her stomach dangles in my face and then dip her low in between my knees, and then I bring her to my chest and press her into me…and I won’t let go.  I squeeze her with my arms, resting my chin on her shoulder, and inside my head, I am about to cry with gratitude.  I am slightly aware of our surrounding, and a part of me is curious if any of the parents are watching me keenly, wondering why.  What is her story?

Sometimes, after Nora has fallen asleep, Danith and I would turn on our phones and go to our photos.  Our fingertips would slowly scroll through our personal photo collection that chronicles Nora’s first five months.  Rarely does either of us forget when a picture was taken.  When we come upon an especially notable one, we would hold up the screen to the other person.  Look at this.  Do you remember when…?  And look at this.  Her eyes, her brows.  Her lips.  Isn’t she magical?  Danith would laugh at what we are doing.  “She is sleeping right there,” he would say, as he grabs my phone to send missing pictures of her to himself.  It is not lost on me what we are doing.  Danith tells me that Daffy’s and Kiri’s passings have helped us to appreciate Nora more, thus, to be better parents.  I am not sure if this is true.  I would like to think that I would savor Nora’s early morning giggles, and hungrily nibble on her fingers while she is sleeping regardless.  But I do know this: her sister’s and brother’s stories started hers.

Bouncing, bouncing…  Nora finally turns her eyes up at Aiden, but she doesn’t smile.  She offers him her hand, though, and he tries to grab it as he flies up and down on his mother’s knees.  His mother is deliriously grateful, too.  I know this because she has shared with me her story.  Oftentimes, when I am strolling down a trail or waiting in a checkout line at the grocery store and a parent and her child appear, I can’t help but wonder.  What is her story?  This woman in the black yoga pants, whose toes are painted a bright red and whose son is dosing off in the shopping cart, is more than this moment that she, and I, occupy.  What brought her to this place in her life?  I take my eyes off Nora and her friend and allow them to brush around the circle, and the many books that this room holds.

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