Babies

A few months ago, I bought a bunch of craft supplies for Yen and the kids. You know, glitter glue, paper plates, construction paper, and little brightly colored puff balls. They make interesting, complex projects every week, and I always enjoy seeing what they have come up with when I get home. But the little puff balls have never been incorporated into the crafts, because Linus and Mina adopted them as their babies.

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There are a maybe 30 of them, and they come in two sizes. The kids call the smallest ones the “baberies,” which they say means they are the teeniest tiniest babies, so small that they haven’t begun to grow yet.

They take their parenting duties seriously. They make tiny houses for them to live in. Linus drives them around in his trucks. They speak to them in tiny, high-pitched voices. And one very strange evening I came home to find Mina “nursing” them by holding them up to her nipple by the handful. We have played along thinking this phase would pass, but it goes on and on.

I made a horrible mistake on Christmas day. We had several friends over, including our neighbors and their kids. That wasn’t the mistake – that was sheer brilliance, as it couldn’t have been a more fun and loving atmosphere. But when our neighbors’ 7 year old daughter asked if she could make a little spider out of one of the puffballs, I said yes without thinking. She made a real cutie with googly eyes and pipe cleaner legs.

And then Linus saw her work. He began to wail like a banshee, and I finally had to carry him upstairs, kicking and screaming. “The baby is dead! She killed the baby!” He was inconsolable, and the grief was very real. I held him a long time and apologized, and finally left him in my bed with YouTube as a distraction. The poor little girl apologized, and I told her she had done nothing wrong.

Later that evening, Linus came to me perfectly collected and said, “Mama, I realized that all those babies are actually baby spiders. That one isn’t dead, it just grew up!” He seemed almost proud that his baby had grown and left the house. So that was mended.

To protect them, yesterday the kids and Yen constructed a “house” complete with a locking door out of a cardboard box. Yen made a sign so we can all remember what’s housed safely inside.

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We’ll see how long this continues. For now I’m just enjoying this sure sign that the kids will be good parents one day, and in particular that Yen staying home has shown Linus that it’s OK for a man to be nurturing and fully demonstrative with his love. Even if it is aimed at a tiny ball of cotton.