I watched the rest of the family --a dad and little 2 year old girl, and although the dad took his turn, and the mother sometimes held the little girl on her lap it wasn't the same. The baby owned that woman and knew it. This wasn't a sleepy, gentle Messiah-type baby either. This baby was brash, outgoing, active and wasn't scared of anything or anyone. I couldn't help thinking that although some of this little person's security came from the heavy duty, waistband type elastic bond between her and her mother, this child came with this Danny Devito style personality. It was amazing. She worked the entire row of people sitting behind her --getting a giggle out of each one of my kids, my husband, and me, then started on the family next to us. She flailed her arms and legs, testing out all of the space around her. She chewed on her Peter Pan board book with slobbery gums, then flapped it open and smacked her forehead on the top of the open page --showing us how she reads. I reflexively judged this to be a good mother that reads to her baby ( I was crappy at it when my kids were babies --waiting until they understood the language to read to them so I didn't waste my time). After we saw the baby's demo she opened her mouth up wide in a gappy smile, and with her perfectly round head, I couldn't help think of PAC-man and giggled again.
The little girl squirmed on her mother's lap. She knew this was where she belonged, but she wouldn't be here for long. This wasn't going to be a docile nursery kid corralled into the groove all the other kids were run through. This was going to be a first grader that knew every inch of the playground and her teacher's patience. This was going to be a teenager that experimented and pushed. This was going to be a young woman that picked her own life path and ran down it head first.
Meanwhile in the mother's memory, in the mother's skin, would be lodged that Madonna and Child feeling. It would help the mother not throw her out the second story window when the girl would break her wedding plates. It would help the mother clean up puke off her best Sunday dress when the girl at ten would have the flu. It would help the mother to stick by her child's side even if she found out it was HER CHILD that was the bully in her class. It would help the mother to not be repelled by actions confessed to her by her teenager late at night in the dark, and to pull that daughter back onto her lap where she would belong still.