Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

  March 29, 2004

Tips for and the joys of 'grandparenting'

This Monday finds me in Fort Collins, Colorado, tending to the needs of 3 month old Myles Enrique O'Leary, who has the great misfortune of having my genes, but the incredible good luck of owning the world's best parents, Sean and Sonja Burbano O'Leary.

I had promised I would never boast of my grandchildren if I ever had any. Well, I lied.

Myles is so far above average that it would be a disservice to my readers not to inform them that a star is born. I know, though, that being a baby is already pretty great. My God, aren't they marvelous?

It is utterly fascinating to study babies. After all, they study us. They stare at us all the time, often with a puzzled frown. They have at least 50 different expressions. There is a lot more to them than meets the eye. I dare you to make eye contact with a baby. If you do, they will own you forever.

There are fascinating legends about how they got here. In Japanese culture, there is the idea a baby has come into the human community from very far away. Its soul is strange to this world and, therefore, it is of critical importance that, initially, the child be kept close, that the mother must not ever leave the baby alone. This strange creature must be made to feel welcome. There is something, a fire, inside of this child that comes from elsewhere.

Among the Norwegians there is a beautiful legend that, before a soul is put into the body, the soul is kissed by God and, during all of its life on earth, the soul retains a dark, but powerful, memory of that kiss and relates everything to it.

And then, there is the Jewish legend that says that just before God puts a soul into the body, that soul is asked to forget its preternatural life. Hence, just as the soul enters the body, one of God's angels presses the baby's mouth shut, as a gesture that, during its earthly life, it is to be silent about its divine origins. The little crevice below each person's nose is the imprint of the angel's forefinger, sealing your lips – and that is why, when you are trying to remember something, during your ponderings, your own forefinger spontaneously rises and rests in that crevice.

Crying is how babies communicate. It's not unusual for babies to cry from two to five hours a day. Sometimes you won't know how to make the crying stop. I know I don't.

But, here are some ways for coping with a crying baby, hot off the presses of the baby care professionals.

1. Always respond immediately. You will not spoil a baby by picking them up. In fact, your baby may become even more upset the longer you let them cry.

2. Try to find out what the baby is telling you. Is she hungry or in need of a diaper change? Is he too hot or too cold? Perhaps a pin or a clothing tag is irritating her skin.

3. Sometimes, if you hold a baby close and breathe slowly, the baby will feel your calmness and stop crying.

4. Sing or talk to your baby softly while rocking them or walking them.

5. Put the baby in the stroller and take off on a journey around the house or outdoors. Sometimes, an uneven surface (tile or gravel) distracts the baby and may quiet him or her.

6. Some babies like the soothing sound of a running vacuum cleaner, hairdryer or clothes dryer.

7. Give your baby something to suck, such as a pacifier. This helps a baby to feel secure. When all else fails, pray:

"Lord of all and protector of the helpless, thank you for renewing my faith through the birth of this child that you have entrusted to me.

"Please grant me the maturity, wisdom and patience to lovingly care for my child and help my child grow and develop in a wholesome, healthy way."

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