Baboo has learned to play “Sleeping Bunnies”, after the song. The first verse is very slow, about the bunnies laying in bed til noon, oh so still/ are they ill? And then we wake them with a merry tune. Now Baboo can lie down quietly and patiently for the whole first verse and then jump up and down on the couch for the second. However, when the song plays while he is in his highchair, he scrunches his eyes closed and then peers around blindly turning his head. When the wake up verse begins, Daddy and I start clapping, but Baboo commands, No! Then we must sit quietly, all of us staring at each other but not moving.
Last week for the first time, he learned to wink. One morning I washed dishes and he began screaming from the living room. I turned in alarm to see one eye shut, one open, his forehead collapsed in concentrated wrinkles, his head tilted in sufferance. “Owl!” he shouted. “Owl! Owl!”
It was the result of seeds planted in April when Nana would secretly entertain him at their kitchen table, doing funny shapes with her eyebrows, my dad and I in the dark about Baboo’s sudden quiet and awestruck face. “Ah-boos! Ah-boos!” he would whisper, astonished. My dad and I confused, telling him he had to finish the ham before the apples.
Finally, naughty Nana would confess the secret eyebrow game. And we would all discover none of the rest of us had been born with the wiggly eyebrow gene. But we went one by one around the table, at Baboo’s insistence, demonstrating our ability to wink.
“Can you wink like an owl?” we asked Baboo.
He stared into the middle distance for an eon in babytime, then fluttered both eyelashes rapidly and unnaturally. We clapped.
For the past month, we have been reading a book I don’t really like about a mummy and baby bear. The last page has a wee owl winking and each time we come to it, Baboo twists in my lap to see my face. I wink one eye and then the other. No, he commands. No! So I think it upsets him, but when I try to skip this ritual he becomes equally perturbed. Perhaps he was just expelling frustration with his “no”s. Baboo can’t do it and Baboo is mad.