Poetry

Bite, Bite

When we moved into town from Rock Creek, I found a cardboard box full of old things. Things that were my mother’s and father’s together. Salt and pepper shakers, photographs of them before I was in the picture, and a yellow baby book. My baby book.

It was like finding gold. It had my mother’s handwriting in it–she has excellent print. And it had a sheet of paper from the hospital I think with my little baby hand and footprints. There was also a section in the baby book that said “Baby’s First Birthday” and a list of what people gave me: jonny jumper, dress, teddy bear. Then there were questions where my mom would fill in the blanks. Favorite toy: stuffed lobster.

Then it ended.

I wouldn’t have a blank baby book, so I took a pen and started to fill in the blanks. I was twelve at the time. I tried to make my handwriting look as much like my mother’s as possible. But it was pointless. Oh well, most likely no one else would see it. I spent all afternoon filling in my baby book. She hadn’t even done hair color, eye color, weight. But I knew those things because I’d asked my dad one-hundred times. Brown, blue (they were hazel now but apparently, like most kids, they’d started out blue), 4 lbs. 5 oz. First word: bite or Da-da but I liked “bite” better. I didn’t know when I took my first step or first smiled. So I just made it up. May 2nd, 1986, February 17th, 1986. I messed up a few times and had to scribble in the otherwise perfect (though blank) book which really pissed me off because my mother hadn’t scribbled even once and here I was ruining the book. My mother’s handwriting was one-hundred times better than mine. Her’s was curvy and girly and mine was just plain ugly.

 

 

I looked at the yellow baby book with the few lines of my mother’s womanly, round handwriting and the baby’s scrawly, childish, boyish handwriting which now filled the pages with mostly lies and I pushed it under my bed underneath where I sometimes stuck boogers when I was lazy and if I wasn’t already disgusted then I really was then.

Later, I was quiet during dinner with dad and great grandma Faith and I snapped at dad then went in the bathroom and cried.

After that I went to Travis’s for a bit, we got high and watched The Simpson’s. I still didn’t feel any better and when I left I bit Travis on the arm really hard and played it off as a joke. I walked home at sunset on a surprisingly warm fall day and I didn’t realize it then, but I do now: I cried in the bathroom and bit Travis because I was pissed about being a forgotten baby. Not even a baby’s book. My dad could’ve filled it out but that would’ve been a lot to ask of a twenty-two year old man. Or would it have been? When I have a baby, she’s gon have the best damn baby book.

I think my baby book had a duck on it. It was yellow satin with a duck. Don’t know where it is now. Got lost along the way.

14 thoughts on “Bite, Bite”

  1. For you, there was a start, an effort and in time you can go back in memory and know that she at least started… For many of us, there was no book. Either way, it can hurt. Nice post.

  2. Ahhh… man what a heart breaker story. I think it is so sweet that you filled it in. Sweet in a ‘mom wanting to give a little girl a big hug’ kind of way. I sense from you as a little girl that you felt then that something was clearly missing.

    I as well did not do great at filling out my children’s baby books. My first child I didn’t too too badly but not everything is filled out that is foresure. Got busy. Having kids is a tone of work. Someone above this post says laziness. I say setting priorities. I took lots of pictures to document things rather than record it in a book. Do you have pictures? Or stories to remind you of what you were like back then? Perhaps we put way to much stock in these material objects. Do other cultures or societies have these baby book trinkets?

    My middle girl, who was suppose to be my last child, got almost nothing in her baby book. My the time I had Teela, 11 years after my ‘last child’, they had these calendars out that served as baby books. This was much better for me. I hung in on the wall and could jot things down or if I had the time I could pull a sticker from the back and past it on a calendar square saying “lost first tooth”.

    Otherwise I put my energy into pictures, looking and re-looking at photo albums with my kids and helping them remember all that we did and where we went. It would help me to remember stories of them, little quirky things they did when they were younger. These baby books are just too challenging for a mother to keep up. That is why so many kids have blank baby books.

    Boy I had a lot to say. Hope it wasn’t too much!

    1. Too much? No not at all! Thank you for your passionate response, I really enjoyed reading it from a mothers perspective. Prioritizing, I can see that. My mother had 2 boys after me and I know she did what she could do with them, took care of them in ways that she had failed to take care of me and only with the wisdom she had gained when she aknowledged the ways she had not been there for me.

      I do wonder too about baby books and rituals in other cultures. I have more than enough photographs and home videos and mementos and stories to remind me of my childhood, all on behalf of my aunts and my grandmother who are important figures in my memoir. My father had lots of photographs and such too but recently his home (cabin) burnt down and we lost some of those valuable things. This too is a poignant scene in my memoir.

      Thanks for your response Marlene.

  3. My mom just gave us our baby books… I looked through my sisters first it was fun tons written even had aviation wings from plane trips… then looked at mine… hardly anything at all. I was shocked and appalled. Lol

    1. Kristen!

      So good to hear from you! You’re still on my blog scene…nice you sneaky thing.

      Gahh your mom! Haha, that makes a lot of sense as we all go through phases…such as your mother may have been spending more time in the home and doing the scrapbook-y stuff and who knows crocheting and watching soaps, who knows and then by the time you were around
      she was trying to be more active then in the past and there you two were at the park and the beach and out in the yard

      1. instead of in the house scrapbooking? All these little factors…

        Are babys allowed to have Facebook? Cause the future of babybooks is somewhere along the lines of that now Im sure…not that I support it, Im all about the good ol fashioned baby book. Keeping the American (or maybe not) tradition alive.

      2. I have you book marked my dear! I do not recieve notification of new posts like I thought I was going to but I stalk your webpage here so I supose I dont really need.them 😉 I need to pull Langdons book out again…. thanks for the reminder! My sister and I are only 16lasts months apart… mom was breastfeeding and had NO Clue she was prego with me until she was 5 months along. SURPRISE! ahahha. She was prob pooped. I have done an okay job on his book. Definitely better on picture taking. I am not much of a scrapper… I dont think you are suppose to have a social site till your 18 but we all know the rules never apply! I post a ton of pictures on my Facebook for the ol fam bam. May be I should print some blurbs out and start scrapping! Lol

  4. Terah, reading your humanity is like diving into a freezing mountain pool of pure water. Thank you for helping me feel more human.

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