Baby Zoomba's due date was yesterday, but he is not the one who is overdue. Rather, I am the late one, just getting around to writing about him on this, his tenth day in the world.
It is dusk, and fireworks are going off all around my neighborhood on this Independence Day. As I write, I will think of them partly as a celebration of this great country and partly as a belated celebration in honor of Grandkid #5. There goes a Roman candle boom-booming for you, Zoomie, and now some Saturn missiles whistling through the night air. This is your official welcome, sweet baby boy, and every fuse lit between now and the time I finish this piece sparks and sizzles just for you.
Zoomba surprised us by arriving eight days early, at 12:18 p.m. on June 25. Before we got out of bed a week ago Monday morning, Pa-pa and I got the call that daughter Cookie was enroute to the hospital. This was my cue to throw a bag together and head west with the hammer down toward my destination three hours away.
My mission was to care for Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie during their mother's absence. That was in itself a joy, but it didn't hold a candle--Roman or otherwise--to the pleasure of watching each one of the kids as they met their new brother in the hospital the day after he was born.
Sooby, just four days away from her fifth birthday, displayed an attitude best described as loving and maternal. Immediately she wanted to hold him, so Cookie wrapped her well-used boppy pillow around Sooby's waist and laid the baby there for her to cradle and inspect. Never known for being speechless, Sooby this time almost was. Never known for being quiet, she just gazed down at the baby and said, in the softest little voice I have ever heard her use, "I knew I would love him."
Pooh, almost three and a half, seemed most impressed by the baby's sheer smallness. "He's so tiny," he remarked. I imagine he was thinking that it would be a while before Zoomie could don a mask as Robin and make any effort at all to help Batman fight the criminal forces run amok in Gotham City.
I think that Bootsie, not quite twenty months, may have the hardest adjustment. Seeing Zoomie in the flesh rather than as a bump under her mama's shirt, she seemed to sense that this meant the end of her reign as the baby of the family. It will be hardest for her to use the gentle touch necessary during these early days and to understand why, for a couple weeks, Mama won't be able to pick her up for the usual nap and bedtime routine.
As for Zoomba himself, he weighed exactly seven pounds and, right now anyway, looks remarkably like his Pa-pa. He seems to sleep and eat well, although sometimes I think that is sheer terror reflected in his eyes as he surveys the inevitable chaos wrought by his three older siblings.
It is no wonder. At any given moment the amplified voice of Sooby resounds through the house as she recites the story of Snow White verbatim through her new Princess microphone. Meanwhile, Pooh, as Superman or Batman or Spiderman dashes through the room with cape flying and foam sword duly brandished. Not to be left out, Bootsie removes her diaper and runs naked along behind him in that herky-jerky fashion of the not-quite-two-year old, declaring herself "Bat Baby" and, everywhere she goes, dropping a trail of gummy fruit snacks from her sticky little fist.
A googie has to love being witness to a scene like this. Welcome to our world, Baby Zoomba. In no time at all, you will find your place in all this craziness. For the time being, though, I will enjoy watching you try to take it all in. Just let me hold you and snuggle you and, somehow, we will make it through these fireworks together.